|One of the most congregationally sung and choir presented piece of music during the Christmas Season is founded on one verse from the oracles of the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament.
In 1741, the maestro Frederic Handel collated a combination of prophecies in the Old Testament and the truths found in the New Testament to show how powerfully and dramatically Jesus the Messiah fulfilled the Scriptures. Handel’s famous oratorio, Messiah, in three parts, maps out Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.
One of the most popular pieces located in the Christmas section of this oratorio is from Isaiah 9:6 – “For 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.”
This prophecy was given in the 8th century BC, when God’s people faced a tumultuous and unsettling time. The Assyrian empire under powerful kings [TiglathPilesser III, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II and then Sennacherib] were reasserting domination over the world.
God’s rebellious people under King Ahaz, were scurrying to find human alliances as they craved worldly securities. They had chosen not to trust in their God who beckoned them with these words found in Isaiah 30:15 – “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it".
In the unpredictable and prolonged upheaval around us today, as we look for relief, peace and assurance, it is most timely that Christmas reminds us once again that in spite of the appearances of the situations around us – we have the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” born to us. Our world today is tormented by an unprecedented number of troubles: terrorism, racial strife, religious intolerance, ethno-centric politics, the desperate plight of refugees and the rising cost of living. These are among the many insomniac concerns.
At Christmas, may God’s people called Methodists continue to choose to trust in our Emmanuel God Who is with us. He is the very personification of the angel’s declaration to an innocent, wide-eyed and shell shocked young virgin in Luke 1:37 – For nothing will be impossible with God.
Our sovereign and omnipotent God of history is the Wonderful Counsellor –
He wants to guide our lives, teaching and directing us in the way to live. As our Mighty God
Who has authority over all creation, He gives us the grace and the power to live according to “the way, the truth and the life”. He is our loving Everlasting Father
Who caringly takes responsibility for us, who walks and encourages us all the way. He is the Prince of Peace,
offering us His immeasurable consolation as we face an unsettling world and myriad challenges so
that we can find peace in and through Him in these unpredictable times.
When life causes you to ask “how am I supposed to live in such a time and world like this” –
may you never forget the Emmanuel God Who “tabernacled” among us - being born in the manger. He experienced firsthand and personally knows many of our joys and hopes, challenges and disappointments, tests and distresses that we face.
May you choose during this Christmas and into the New Year, to be in the constant presence of this absolute Guide and Counsellor, to always hope in this omnipotent and sovereign God, to be embraced by the eternal love of the Father and Source of life. Then the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in and through the Prince of Peace!