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Jesus: Our Everlasting


Peace: The Promise of An Extraordinary Child and King

Wednesday, December 13 | by Dr. Ken Gore

Today's Reading

Isaiah 9:6

A perennial favorite Christmas song is "When a Child is Born," most successfully sung by Johnny Mathis. The song envisages the hope that is brought each time a child comes into the world. The hope is that a child—any child—might make the world a better place.

The prophet Isaiah knew about the hope that children could bring, for he listed many children in his early prophecies (Isaiah 7-9). When Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Damascus urged Ahaz of Judah to join them in the battle against Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria, Ahaz wanted no part of it. With his son in tow, Isaiah assured the king of God's faithfulness. If Ahaz would trust the Lord, he would have nothing to worry about. As proof, Isaiah gave Ahaz a sign: a child would be born named "Immanuel" ("God with us"). This child, along with Isaiah's own son Shear-Jashub ("A remnant would return"), were signs for Ahaz to trust in the Lord (Isaiah 7).

Not heeding Isaiah's advice, Ahaz instead bribed Tiglath-Pileser III and thwarted the plans of Pekah and Rezin. Although Ahaz thought he was out of harm's way, Isaiah told Ahaz of the dilemma that he had caused. The child born in Ahaz's day would no longer be called Immanuel; instead, he would be called "Mahershalalhashbaz" ("Quick to the Plunder, Swift to the spoils"). The destruction of Israel and Damascus would issue only a short-lived peace, and the name Immanuel would become a sarcastic byword (Isaiah 8:1-8).

Now that the kingdom of Judah was in jeopardy, and the nation continued to move toward chaos, Isaiah shared a startling declaration: a new child would be born, one that would be greater than anyone had imagined (Isaiah 9:1-6). Those walking in darkness would see a great light, and this new child would issue in a kingdom the likes that they had never known.

This new child would have several titles, each of which explained the type of king he would be. "Wonderful Counselor" described how he would lead politically. "Mighty God" referred to the kind of warrior he would be. "Everlasting Father" illustrated the great care the child would have for his subjects. Greatest of all the accolades, "Prince of Peace" would create prosperity beyond compare.

"Peace" (Shalom) is not simply the absence of war. It is the understanding of "wholeness" or "completeness." When this new king emerged in his kingdom, his subjects would have a fullness of life that had never been experienced. This was no ordinary king because this was no ordinary child. This child brought a stillness of soul, a completeness not found in any kingdom that preceded it.

When this child was born, however, everything would change. He would be different: He would live up to Isaiah's prophecy, and He would issue a time of true peace in the world.  That peace, however, did not come from without, nor did it come from within. Instead, this peace came from above.

By the time Isaiah declared his message, the people realized that no king of Israel or Judah was ideal. All of them had feet of clay; most of them brought gloom and sadness. When this child was born, however, everything would change. He would be different: he would live up to Isaiah's prophecy, and he would issue a time of true peace in the world. That peace, however, did not come from without, nor did it come from within. Instead, this peace came from above.

Long after Isaiah issued his prophecy, the dream child would become a reality. When the child was born, he was declared "Immanuel," and was the one who said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Indeed, peace is here—if we will allow it to come upon us.

Dr. Ken Gore serves as a Professor of Biblical Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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