Isaiah 9:1 – 7

Let me invite you to open your Bibles with me.  We’re going to be back in Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter 9 this morning.  And if you’re a guest joining us for the first time, welcome home.  And as y’all are turning there, I also want to remind you that this Sunday is our last Sunday with our college students with us.  They’re right in the middle of finals week, about to wrap those up and head off.  And if you love having college students wired into the life of our church, will y’all just let them know you’re glad that they’re with us this semester?  We love investing in that next generation.  And one of the ways that we do that is not just by serving students but also seeking the lost.  And that’s why last Sunday, we asked you to take one of these prayer cards that was in the seat back in front of you.  There should be more there today.  And the challenge was we want you to write down the names of people in your life that don’t yet know Jesus and we’re going to do that again this morning.  Uh during the response song, after the message, you’re going to make your way to get the Lord’s Supper elements and you can just take this card and drop it in the basket.  We came into our year with a goal as part of our NEXT Initiative, that we’d form one thousand Gospel relationships with people that don’t yet know Jesus.  And coming into last Sunday, we had reached about 600 names that you had written down in the past.  But y’all blew it away last Sunday.  We climbed from 600, blew right through 1,000 and are currently at 1,524 names of people in your life, in your world, who you have a burden for as seeking, so that they can seek and find and follow Jesus.  And we want to keep that momentum going and that’s why we want to invite you to keep taking that step during the response song today.

Now, we’ve been going through this series, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, looking at the prophetic passages in Isaiah that point ahead to the Christmas story.  And last week, we saw it all began in Isaiah 7 with our first week where we focused on one dimension of that coming.  But this week, we focus on the subject of peace.  And I wonder how you’re feeling this morning 15 days away from Christmas.  Some of you might be excited.  You’re seeing the number of presents growing under the tree.  Some of you are overwhelmed by that intense holiday schedule you have to to keep.  Some of you are feeling apathetic because you’re just done with it all.  Some of you are discouraged because things aren’t coming together in the way that you hope.  But I imagine if we polled the room this morning, there’d be very few of us if we said, “How are you doing right now?”  Your answer would be, “Man, I’m just peaceful.  It’s calm, smooth, easy.”  Every one of us feels the pressure of our problems.  We feel the weight of our worry.  And at the core of that is the question, where can we find our peace?  And Isaiah 9 gives us that answer in a surprising way.  So, let’s pick up in verse one and see how the text talks about it here.  Isaiah says,

            1But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.  In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.  2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.  3You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.  4For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  5For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.  Now get this.  6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;  and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

I’m just curious by I show hands.  How many of you have ever gotten a flat tire while you were driving your car?  Okay, that happened to me a few months ago this summer.  Some of us from the church were heading off to a conference, driving down to the airport in Houston.  And right there on the Beltway, one of our tires blew out.  We had to pull off into a gas station and by a miracle of God, we had Matthew Emery on our team with us who changed that tire faster than a Formula 1 pit crew.  He just crushed it.  It was a perfect provision for us.  But you know that feeling when that flat tire happens, that sense of frustration and helplessness and inconvenience.  And I’m sure that’s what a man named Jesse Luketa felt last month whenever he got a flat tire in Phoenix, Arizona.  See, Jesse was heading to the Arizona Cardinals NFL football game on a Sunday morning.  But he wasn’t a fan on the way early to tailgate.  Jesse Luketa is a linebacker for the Cardinals.  How do you get to the game when your tire goes flat?  He pulled off 30 minutes from the stadium.  He didn’t have the tools he needed to change it in time.  Roadside Assistance couldn’t make it.  And so, he was trying to rack his brain.  What could he do?  And right about that moment, another car pulled up in the gas station and out popped an entire family decked out in head to toe in Cardinal’s gear.  So, he walks up and he introduces himself and says, “Hey, my name is Jesse.  I’ve got a flat tire.  I’m a player for the Cardinals.  Is there any chance you would drive me to the game?”  Now, imagine if you’re that dad and this giant of a man comes up to you.  I’m like, okay, show me the roster on the website, let me match your faces here.  But he goes back with this family, they talk about it, and they say, “Come on, man.  We got you.”  So, he loads up.  I’m sure they had to stuff him in the front seat.  That’s the only place he would fit.  They might have even had to leave a kid behind just to get him there.  And so, they zoomed down to the stadium.  This family gets access to the player parking area.  They’re brought back behind the scenes.  They get to meet players.  Jesse even hooks them up with some tickets to the next Sunday’s game.  In fact, I think we might have a picture of Jesse and some of the kids up here on the screen just so you can see how big of a guy he was.  And you can see the excitement he had because he made it to the game.  He was in this moment where there was no peace, and he couldn’t find the solution to his problem within himself.  He had to look to someone else for the deliverance that he could not achieve on his own.  And I wonder if some of you find yourself in a moment just like Jesse this morning.  Now, when I say that, I hope it doesn’t mean that you got a flat tire here on the way to church.  Although maybe Matthew can help you out if you’re in a pinch in the parking lot.  What I mean is more of a spiritual or metaphorical sense.  You’ve been heading down the highway of life this Christmas and all of a sudden, there’s been a blowout in your life.  Maybe it was the unexpected news you got at work this week right before the holidays or that difficult conversation that you had with someone close to you after they texted, “Hey, can we talk?”  Something that’s disoriented you, discouraged you, depressed you.  You find that sense of restlessness now and you’re looking for peace and the only place you’re going to find it is not from within but from without.  In the same way that Jesse couldn’t look to himself, he didn’t have what it took to find deliverance from the problem he was in.  It was only once he looked to someone beyond himself that he could find the freedom and the deliverance and the peace that he needed in that moment.  And how much more so is that true for us spiritually this Christmas season?  That the path to peace in our lives is not through an inner strength but a total surrender.  Because peace comes not through the absence of problems but through the presence of a promise.  And if there’s any people that needed a promise of peace, it would have been the people of God in Isaiah 9.

If you remember last week, they’re under oppression all around them.  The Assyrian army is closing in against them.  They have a wicked king ruling over them.  And in that moment, they’re longing for deliverance.  They’re longing for peace.  And one of the things I hope you noticed when we read this passage is it’s a prophecy of the future, but almost all of it is written using past tense language.  Now, why is that significant?  Well, it’s because the prophet is signaling that even though these things haven’t yet happened, he’s writing as if they’re already done.  That even though it’s in the future, these things are a done deal.  God is going to keep His promise.  And what we’re going to find this morning is that Christmas offers eternal peace for exhausted people.  And the path to that peace this Christmas is through the promise of Christmas that unfolds in several ways in this text starting in verse one.  Notice with me first that the peace of Christmas comes through the promise of a new light.  Through the promise of a new light.  So maybe you notice over here we have this Advent candle table.  And if you’ve been with us at Central long enough when we started doing this a few years back, the very first Sunday, I think there was a warm front in Bryan/College Station, unlike today.  And we had lit the first candle and then midway through the sermon, the air conditioner kicked on and blew the thing out.  Like a total fail.  Our first attempt at Advent.  The light had blown out.  The candle had been snuffed out.  That would have been the kind of moment that Israel was in in this time period.  It seemed as if the lights were out.  The hope was gone.  But yet there’s a promise of peace here rooted in this prophecy of a new light.  And that new light affects our peace in several ways.  You’ll notice the first one down in verse one, a new light will restore our peace.  So, notice what it says,

            1There will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.  In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

And so you see that word gloom there in verse one.  If you like to mark your Bible, circle that because that is the the situation that Israel finds themselves in here.  What comes into your mind when you think about gloom?  Maybe it’s that deep darkness, maybe it’s a foggy and dreary morning.  Maybe it’s that feeling you get when you pull into the Chick fil A parking lot only to realize it’s Sunday and they’re closed.  Maybe it’s the experience that some of those BCS marathoners are having this morning on mile 20 when they hit the wall and they wonder, “What was I thinking?”  We know what gloom is like.  And yet what we find here in this passage in verse one is that God meets them in their gloom, and He offers a hope that comes through a new life.  They needed that hope.  The the Assyrians have already been attacking portions of them in Zebulon and Naphtali.  They feel the danger all around them and yet what this prophecy shows is that the new light will restore their peace.  But that’s not all, because in verse 2, we also see how this new light will transform our peace.  Notice what it says,

            2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

So, you remember what that feeling is like when the the power goes out in your house at nighttime and what was once lit up is now dark.  You can’t watch anything.  You can’t do anything.  You can’t see anything.  And in those moments, normally, all we want is for the power to be restored and for things to return to the way, the way they were before the light went out.  And I imagine for Israel, that’s all they wanted.  We just want the peace we had.  We want the freedom and deliverance and to go back to the way things were.  And yet in verse 2, we see that God doesn’t just restore their peace, He transforms it.  That this new light is even better than what they had before.  It’s even more significant and it will transform our peace.  Now, how does that happen?  Well, we see the answer to that question in the New Testament because in Matthew chapter 4, beginning in verse 13, you’ll see it on the screen in just a minute.  Jesus picks up on this exact part of the passage.  Now, remember what’s happening in Matthew 4.  Jesus has just been baptized.  He’s walked through the wilderness temptation and now in verse 13, it’s starting to talk for the very first time about His public ministry.  He sets up the home base for that ministry in a city called Capernaum that’s right here in the heart of of Zebulon and Naphtali.  This place that’s been conquered already in Isaiah 9 and listen to how Matthew explains the coming of Jesus, this new light as a fulfillment and transformation of this promise of peace.  It says in Matthew 4:13,

            13And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — 16the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”  17From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

So, Jesus makes this connection between the dawning of a new light and the dawning of the kingdom.  And if you go all the way back in the Scriptures from the very beginning, you see this pattern of the darkness being pierced by the light.  So, think about the darkness of the universe in creation.  Pierced by the light as God speaks the world into existence.  Or the darkness and gloom of the flood in Noah’s day that is pierced by the light of a rainbow.  The darkness of Pharaoh’s heart in Egypt is God leads His people out through the Exodus and pierces the darkness through the light of a pillar of fire.  Or here in Isaiah 9, the darkness of of despair and difficulty all around the nation of Israel and God pierces it with the promise of a new light.  And here in Matthew 4, Jesus says that pattern is coming true in Him, that the darkness of the moment, hundreds of years of waiting since Isaiah’s promise that one day, God would bring that darkness and pierce it with the new light that’s now come through Jesus.  You remember that star shining that the wise men saw on that Christmas day.  Signaling the coming of the light of the world who would transform our peace by rolling back the darkness.  But what you might not notice if you look back at our passage in Isaiah 9 is a little phrase buried at the end of verse 2.  It says,

            2…those who dwelt in the land of deep deep darkness, on them the light has shown.

You see that phrase, deep darkness?  It’s what Matthew 4 calls the shadow of death.  And I can’t help but wonder this morning, how many of you find yourself in that kind of place?  The darkness is deep for you.  The shadow of death all around you.  Maybe it’s that miscarriage you just suffered and your body is healed but your soul hasn’t.  Maybe it’s the weight of those marriage problems that leave you sitting here wondering, I’m not sure we’re going to make it.  Maybe it’s that financial anxiety that’s weighing you down at the end of the holiday season.  At the end of the year, I don’t know if we’re going to have enough to pay our mortgage much less provide for our children.  I don’t know what’s bringing the gloom in your life.  But what I know is that Jesus meets us in the darkness and He transforms our peace.  That’s why Ephesians 5:8 shows us that where to turn when that gloom sets in.  Paul writes there and says to us,

            8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light

So, the way out of the darkness, the way we overcome the gloom is not trying to foster an inner light within ourselves.  It’s to look to this new light that’s transformed our peace.  The peace that surpasses all understanding that guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

So, as we look back here in Isaiah 9, we’ll see a second thing here.  First, we had already seen that the peace of Christmas comes through the promise of a new light.  But now, second, we see that the peace of Christmas comes through the promise of a new victory.  And there’s a shift that’s going on right now from this picture of light to victory.  And that’s what Israel would’ve wanted to hear in this moment because they felt the oppression of an enemy.  They felt the threat and the danger of the surrounding nations who wanted to destroy them.  Their joy was gone.  Their land was in danger.  Their enemies were powerful.  And what they know is that the greater the danger, the greater the deliverance.  And so, when the prophet speaks here, and tells them of the coming of a new victory, they see the way that secures their peace in ways that transform their perspective and can reshape ours as well.  You’ll notice to begin with in verse three, that victory secures a joyful peace.  So, notice how it speaks of joy there.

            3You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And we all know what it feels like to have that joy of victory.  Whether that’s a seven overtime win against LSU or finishing your last finals of the fall semester or finding that last close parking spot to the store when your Christmas shopping, you’re winning.  And you feel that joy that comes through the victory.  That’s the picture that the prophet is giving us here.  One that’s a joy as if the harvest is coming in.  As if the spoils of victory are being provided through the defeat of the enemy.  It is a joyful peace that is promised through this new victory.  But notice down in verse 4, a second thing.  This victory also secures a lasting peace.  And verse 4 tells us,

            4The yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

So, many of you have been troubled this week as you’ve watched several Ivy League presidents meet with Congress and be asked, could they condemn students on their campus who advocate for the genocide of Israel.  And their their lack of ability to condemn that and to confront that has just been mind blowing.  We see that and we know that something is wrong, that the genocide of any people, much less those who are of the heritage of the people of God, is awful to imagine and yet right here in Isaiah 9, this is exactly what the enemies of God wanted to do in this moment.  To wipe the Jewish people out, to destroy them.  And the language that Isaiah uses to speak of that here is slave language.  About a yoke, an oppression.  And what he’s telling us is that this, when this new victory comes, it will bring a lasting peace because it will bring freedom for the captives.  Deliverance for slaves.  That they will replace the yoke of burden that comes from people like Midian with a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.  That new victory brings a lasting peace.

But notice how it goes on.  In verse 5 you’ll also see that victory secures a future peace.  So, it says,

            5For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.

Now, notice this as you’re still looking at verse five.  As I told you, most of the language in this passage is past tense in nature, signaling that even though this is a future promise, it’s as good as done.  But right here in verse 5, the prophet does use future tense language.  He speaks about what will happen.  He’s signaling how this victory will bring about a future peace.  It’s not something that will just provide for God’s people now but into the future itself.  This promise will be sure.  It will be fulfilled.  And here’s what this means for us today.  What we need to recognize is that the principle within this part of the passage, when it’s speaking about how a new victory brings peace, is that our hearts are a battlefield.  There’s constantly a war being waged for our hearts.  And we only find peace when the right one is ruling our hearts.  So, who’s ruling your heart this morning?  What’s ruling your heart this morning?  Is it the the worries and the care and the anxiety and the uncertainties?  Is it the the deadlines and the stress and the desire for approval and affirmation?  Or is it the promised one of Isaiah 9?  Because he tells us that there is one who is coming who will achieve this peace for us.  And that’s exactly what Paul speaks about elsewhere in Colossians 3:15.  See this on the screen when he tells us that we can’t rule our hearts.  Someone else must do it for us.  And who is that one?  Colossians 3:15 says,

            15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.

Is Christ ruling your heart this morning?  Or are your circumstances ruling your heart this morning?  One leads to peace, the other leads to problems.  And when Isaiah 9 is writing here of this reality, he’s showing us that the the new victory that Isaiah promises has come about through the the promised one in this passage.  That Jesus takes on flesh.  He comes to wage a war against all the spiritual enemies of God: satan, sin, death.  He goes to the cross in our place to receive the wrath of God for weary people like you and me.  To satisfy God’s judgment so that we can be set free so that your sins that you stand condemned before God on the basis of can be forgiven.  So that Jesus can rule in your hearts.  It’s one of the reasons our church is committed to finding all sorts of ways to help Jesus rule your heart on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis.  It’s one of the reasons in January and February, we’ll have our next men’s retreat and our first and several years, women’s retreat.  Because we know those weekends where you had to focus in on the things of the Lord and you focus in on connections can recenter your hearts on Jesus.  It’s also why every Sunday night at five o’clock, we have our re:generation ministry that meets together to help us face our sin and our suffering in a way that recenters our life on King Jesus so that He alone is the ruler of our hearts.  If you don’t find peace right now in your life perhaps it’s because Jesus is off the throne of your heart.

But notice one more dimension of this passage, it picks up down in verse 6.  We’re going to notice last that the peace of God come through the promise of a new birth, a new birth.  So, you see in Isaiah 9, this great reversal takes place.  It goes from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from gloom to joy, from judgement to deliverance, from hostility to peace.  And you might say to yourself, okay, how is this going to happen?  And our assumption is it’ll be coming through a conquering king, through a mighty deliverer.  But instead, Isaiah 9 answers that question of how this will happen in the most unexpected way possible.  That the peace of Christmas doesn’t come through a king with a crown but through a child in a cradle.  That would have been just as stunning to the people in Isaiah’s day as it should be for us.  There is this promised one here, this promise of a new birth.  And as this promised one is described, there are four names given that help us see the path of peace that we can find this Christmas.  You’ll notice first that this new birth brings a wonderful peace.  So, look back at the start of verse 6.  It says,

            6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,

So, you’ll notice the first description of this coming King is not about warfare but about wisdom.  Wonderful counselor.  This this word wonderful, it brings in in the original language this idea of supernatural or divine.  He’s he’s a divine counselor.  He is a supernatural sage, the wonderful, wise one.  That’s why it’s no surprise that when Colossians 2 speaks of Jesus in the centuries ahead, it tells us about how in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  He is our Wonderful Counselor.  But you’ll see right after that, the second thing here, the new birth brings a powerful peace.  So look in the middle of verse six, his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God.  So if that first name shows us that the coming one is good, the second name shows us that the coming one is God.  Mighty God.  In fact, this same word El Gibbor that’s used here in Isaiah 9, is used in the next chapter in Isaiah 10:21, not about the coming Messiah but about God Himself.  The prophet is putting this coming deliverer on the same level as Yahweh, the King of the universe.  He is the mighty one who has the power to shape the world and to save us from our sins.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve loved our digital devotional that we’ve been reading day in and day out.  There was a quote that came from BB Warfield, a a American theologian from the late 1800’s.  He used to serve at Princeton University.  And listen to the way he talks about this powerful piece.  He says, “The glory of the incarnation is that it presents to our adoring gaze not a humanized God or a deified man but a true God-man.  One who is all that God is and at the same time, all that man is, on whose mighty arm we can rest, and to whose human sympathy we can appeal.”  That’s the picture here when it speaks about mighty God.  That Jesus is all that God is and all that man is at the same time so that He can be all that you need in your moment of greatest trouble.  He’s that mighty arm you can lean on.  He’s that one who you can depend on.  He is mighty God.  That’s a powerful peace.

But then look right after that at that third name which brings a reminder that this new birth brings about a loving peace.  So, verse 6 goes on to say, his name should be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.  So, that phrase everlasting father would have been shocking to the people at that time because it would be very unusual in Old Testament days for anyone to speak of a king as a father.  And what we know when we look through our Old Testament is the primary time that the idea of an everlasting kingdom is ever introduced is when the promise comes to David.  In 2 Samuel 7 that the the kingdom will not depart from him.  And those two things are fused together in the promise of this coming one.  That He will be an ever everlasting Father.  Think about it.  Jesus.  The Son of God comes down to Earth.  He’s made man and now the Son is described as a father.  One who loves us.  One who is with us and for us.  One who stands with us in the midst of our sin and in our suffering so that we might experience a loving peace.  But notice the last of these names there at the end of verse 6.  It brings a  reminder that the new birth offers a royal peace.  The verse six ends with that last name, Prince of Peace, and then it goes on to say,

            7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

And so now the whole picture comes together that this new birth will bring about a new king who will about a new victory because He is the Prince of Peace.  And this maybe the only time in human history where the increase of government is portrayed is a good thing.  Just saying.  But this language that’s right here in Isaiah 9 is picked up in the birth announcement of Luke 1.  I want you to see it on the screen.  When the angel appears to Mary and tells her that she will have a child who will be the Messiah.  Look at what Luke 1, verses 32 and 33 say,

            32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

You can just hear the echoes of Isaiah 9 there.  That everlasting kingdom, that sense of peace, the promise of a Prince of Peace is now becoming a reality because of the Christmas story.  Have you ever noticed something that I experienced this weekend as we inch closer to Christmas?  More and more presents start to fill up under the tree.  And I had the boys out yesterday for a couple of hours and when they came back, some new wrapped presents were under the tree.  And as soon as they noticed new things there, they raced over to look at them.  And the first thing they’re doing is trying to figure out who’s name is on the present.  Is it their name or a brother’s name?  And how they react to seeing that new present is very different if it’s for them or if it’s not.  If it’s not for them, they might notice it, kind of briefly size it up, but they’ll quickly set it aside.  But if it’s theirs, what happens?  They pick it up.  They shake it around.  They’re feeling on all the edges.  They’re they’re trying to discover what it is because they know, this present is for me.  This gift is mine.  And if we know that a gift is ours, it changes how we look at the gift.  And that’s exactly what we need to understand about Isaiah 9 this morning.  This prophecy, this promise was not just a gift to the people of God in Isaiah’s day; it is a gift for you and I.  That the peace of Christmas can rule in our hearts through the Prince of Peace no matter what we’re facing.  So, maybe right now you are staring down the barrel of an impossible decision and you have no idea where to turn.  Remember Jesus is your Wonderful Counselor that gives you wisdom.  Or maybe in this season, you find yourself staring at a situation where it seems as if there is no way forward.  You don’t know where to turn or what to do or where to go.  Remember in those moments that Jesus is your Mighty God who can make a way where it seems like there’s no way.  Or maybe for you, you are in a moment now where it seems as if everyone in your life, they’ve turned their back on you.  They’ve given up on you.  You’ve never felt more isolated.  In those moments, the call of the Gospel is to remember that Jesus is our Everlasting Father who loves us to the very end.  And as I know many of you probably feel right now, maybe you’re in a season of intense anxiety or stress as the year end comes.  Wondering if that deal is going to close, wondering if everything’s going to work out, wondering if your expectations are going to be met.  And in that time of uncertainty and anxiety, we can lean into the fact that Jesus is our Prince of Peace who can and who cares, who provide for us what is best so that we can find the peace we can never make on our own.  Have you found the peace of God this morning?  Maybe, maybe you walked in here today, maybe it’s your first time back in church in a long time and your heart is restless.  It’s divided.  You’ve turned your back on God.  You wonder if He would ever receive you back.  And what Isaiah 9 tells us can change everything for you.  Look back at the very end of verse 7, the last phrase that we read there where it says to us, the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.  You came in here this morning wondering if God would receive you if you ever started seeking Him again.  What this text tells us is that God is already seeking you.  He offers a place of rest for the weary.  He offers a place of hope for the hopeless.  He offers a place of eternal peace for the exhausted.  And the way that He does that is through the blood of His Son who makes a payment for your sin, who comes as a Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father so that He can be the Prince of Peace in our lives today.  Have you received that peace this morning?

It’s one of the reasons why it’s fitting we’re going to come again to the Lord’s Supper table after the response song today.  It’s because these elements, the the bread and the cup, they’re reminders of the peace that we have only through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  When Paul is writing about what Jesus has done for us in Colossians 1, he speaks about how we are reconciled to God.  We have that peace with God through the body of Jesus’ flesh.  And when we take that bread, we taste that reality.  Later on in Colossians 2, he speaks about how through the cross we have experienced peace through the blood of that cross.  And when we take that cup and we drink of it, it’s a is a reminder to us of His blood poured out for our forgiveness, for our freedom, and for our peace.  So, in just a moment, we’re going to pray and then we’re going to head to the tables and this is a family meal for you.  If you’re a baptized believer following Jesus, we’re going to feast on this peace together this morning.  And as you make your way to the tables, I encourage you to bring another one of these prayer cards that the Lord has laid more names on your heart of those that don’t yet know Jesus.  Let’s ready our hearts now for this moment of response as we pray together.

Father, in this world, we have many troubles.  Yet, in this moment, we take heart because we know that by Jesus, You have overcome the world.  So, whatever’s going on in people’s hearts today, God, the anxiety, the animosity, the tension, and uncertainty.  Lord, I pray that it would fade.  I pray that even now Lord that people would put King Jesus back on the throne of their hearts to rule and to reign as You have called them to.  And as we ready ourselves to take of this Lord’s supper, Lord, I pray that we would taste and see that You’re good.  That we would remember the way that You provided for us and that You might allow us to be a people of peace in this broken world.  Lord, there so much darkness and gloom around us in our culture, even in our community, even in our own hearts God, and we pray that we’re men and women of peace that take the truth of Your new victory and shine a new light into a world of deep darkness.  May we be a light this Christmas season and we ask these things in Jesus name.  Amen.

In just a moment, we’ll stand and sing in response.  You’ll make your way to the tables.  But also, we’d love to pray with you or to talk to you about a next step and we’ll have ministers here at the front.  And if you’ve got anything in your heart you’re wrestling with this morning don’t do that alone.  Come let us walk you through it.  Let’s stand now and respond in the way the Spirit leads us in this time.