For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
The above verse from Isaiah is often thought of as a Christmas verse. The images can’t help but make a Christian think of Jesus. And if you have heard Handel’s Messiah you probably can hear the words to music. You may even know them so well that you can sing them yourself.
But from the other side of Jesus, when Isaiah wrote those words, they weren’t words that pointed to a known person. These were words of hope to a people in trouble. As enemy forces from neighboring countries closed in on the people of Israel, there was fear and struggle.
Into this world of fear and pain, Isaiah spoke these words of hope. God could still be counted on. A child was to be born who would grow to be sent from God and who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” In the midst of their worst moments, Israel would be reminded that God continues to act and is trustworthy.
That reminder continues to this day. We each have moments in our personal lives and collectively their are moments in our society’s life together where we are stunned or find ourselves questioning what is going on. A relationship suffers, a job is lost, a loved one dies and we wonder how we will move on. We hear words of mass shootings or corruption among leaders or a terrorist attack and we wonder how much longer the world can survive humanity’s sinfulness.
Yet the God who has come to us in Christ continues to work toward life. Into lives of despair, God brought words of hope to people over 2500 years ago through Isaiah. Those same words bring hope to us today.