- Sermon Notes
A Weary World Rejoices
December 18-19, 2021
This is a weary world. It’s been almost two years of dealing with this pandemic. People are truly tired and tired of it, just in time for new variant to arise. But God has sustained us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. He promises to walk with us through every trial and tribulation. Even if you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, do not fear, for God is with you. And if God is for you, who can be against you?
But the world is wearied not just from the pandemic, but also by so many other conditions and events in the world. The nation is more divided than ever, anger and animosity loom just under the surface. Russia has amassed troops on the border with Ukraine bringing Europe to the precipice of a great conflict. China’s heavy hand is a growing concern as it exerts its will over the world. Iran is one step away from developing a nuclear weapon.
You’re probably wondering, “Where are you going with all this? Great job, pastor, I brought friends and now you’re depressing all of us.” Here’s my point, the world was also weary when God sent His Son into the world; to a dry and weary land where there is no water. Rome was oppressing the world and poverty and hardship were everywhere.
That’s why the theme of Christmas is rejoicing. When God sends light into the darkness, when the hopeless find hope, when the weary are strengthened, it’s time to rejoice.
If you think about it, all the traditions of Christmas have something to do with rejoicing. Lights and candles, beautifully wrapped gifts, songs of celebration, bells on bobtails that ring, making spirits bright, eggnog, hot chocolate, candy canes and Christmas carols. They’re all traditions of Christmas that bring joy in the darkest part of the year.
Cultures around the world have Christmas traditions that speak of rejoicing. Although some are rather interesting.
In Japan, the traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken. That would make anyone rejoice! This is so popular in Japan that families must make reservations well in advance to be certain they’ll have KFC on Christmas Day.
In Finland, it’s tradition to visit a cemetery over Christmas. Graveside candles are lit; entire cemeteries are lighted. Three-fourths of all Finnish families visit a cemetery at Christmas, mostly on Christmas Eve. Special traffic arrangements are needed to handle the crowds.
If you think about it, there’s a beautiful and powerful message behind the Finland tradition of visiting a cemetery on Christmas Eve. God sent His Son to conquer death and give eternal life to all who trust in Him. So, yes, putting lights in cemeteries is a beautiful picture of a powerful truth!
In Hawaii, the tradition is to eat Spam on Christmas. Which, I’m sure brings joy to them, but as for me, I have a spam filter, so, no Spam for me.
In Venezuela, people go to Christmas Eve service on roller skates. So many people roller skate to church on Christmas Eve they close the streets. Which gives new meaning to the expression ‘holy rollers.’
And of course, who could forget our own American tradition of Christmas fruitcake? It’s kind of an ironic to call it fruitcake, however, because it is neither fruity nor cakey. However, fruitcake has a rich history. It was originally used by Roman soldiers as MREs, or “meals ready-to-eat” because they could hold so much nutrition without spoiling. Eventually it became a gift of royalty and is even today served at Royal weddings in England. Tradition has it that fruitcake was brought over by the pilgrims. I think people are still passing on the same fruitcakes they had on the Mayflower. Interestingly, so-called Figgie Pudding is actually fruitcake. When carolers sing, “So bring us the Figgie Pudding,” they’re actually demanding fruitcake!
We must be careful, however, that traditions don’t replace the meaning and message of why God sent His Son. The world is weary and needs hope. The world is becoming more dangerous. Many with spiritual discernment have sensed the storm clouds on the horizon for some time; a deep evil is rising.
This is a broken, evil world and while there is great darkness, there will also be a time of revival. Darkness will get darker, but a light will also dawn. Even during the Great Tribulation of the latter days, there will be many who turn to Christ for hope and salvation.
When Isaiah wrote the prophecy of Isaiah 9 it was a dark time for the nation of Israel. A terrible, wicked king ruled in Judah who turned Israel away from God to go after the gods of the world, gods of worldliness and licentiousness. The result was predictable; their souls became sick, and they became weaker as a nation as darkness and turmoil came over them.
At the darkest hour, God gave the greatest promise. There is no question that these verses give the greatest promise known to man; that God would send an answer to darkness.
God’s answer is His Son. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” And the promises, hope, and help are given to us in the name spoken of in this prophecy.
God doesn’t stand by idly and watch as people destroy their lives, He does something about it; God is on the move, He is pursuing relationship. God sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost. He is knocking on the door of hearts; He wants people to have life.
Isaiah speaks of the name that is given to the One who is coming as the hope of the world. You gain great insight in the purpose and meaning of Christmas when you understand the significance of His name.
I. Keep Watching and Waiting
- Verses 2-3 – “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light… You will increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence.”
- Darkness is oppressive to the soul… When you live in a time of trouble and there is darkness in the world, you need to keep watching and waiting for the fulfilling of God’s promise of hope and help.
- The same is true today. This is a troubled world and God wants you to keep watching and waiting. Hope is on the way.
- The message of Isaiah 9 is that hope is on the way. Take heart, be comforted in a weary land where there is no water, God is giving a promise of help. Keep watching and waiting.
A. A promise brings hope to a soul in anguish
Illus – Reading the news has become an anxious exercise. What is happening in this world causes many to be deeply concerned.
History is changing before our eyes as troubles are increasing in the world. This has been an epic two year of troubles and people are weary and tired. Then, when you read biblical prophecy, you come to understand that this is merely the beginning. It’s like the pangs of childbirth; troubles will grow greater in intensity and closer together as the latter days draw near.
- It’s one thing to groan in anguish under a massive burden of troubles, it’s another thing to yearn for God’s answer to those troubles.
Job 19:25-27, For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. Oh, how my heart yearns within me!
B. Rejoice in the soul when God sends help
- The land of Zebulun and Naphtali received the worst of the oppression in those days when Assyria brought their armies from the North to destroy and take captive.
God will make glorious the place of darkest oppression because it is there that God would send His Son…
Matthew 4:13-14, And leaving Nazareth, He came and settle in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet…
- When God fulfills His promise, when God answers the hurt and anguish of the soul, the response should be joy and gladness; like the gladness of harvest, like when men rejoice after a great victory.
- Verse 4 – When God breaks the yoke of your burden and the staff on your shoulders and the rod of your oppressor, joy is the right response.
Psalm 126:1-3, “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; and we are glad.”
- That’s why Christmas should be a happy and joy filled time of year, because it’s based on the hope of a promise.
- That hope, that promise, all that God gives is found in His Son… And given in His name.
- You receive God’s answer when you receive God’s Son; everything is based on your relationship to Him.
II. God’s Hope is Found in His Name
- Jesus is also called Immanuel, God with us, that’s God answer, God will be with us.
- “And His name shall be called…” In other words, God’s answer, God’s hope, God’s promise is found in Jesus’ name.
- How powerful is His name? Some people use His name as a cuss word. “Jesus Christ!” they exclaim. Why? They want to reduce the power of the name. That’s the only way they can handle saying His name.
- But those same people would be very uncomfortable saying his name in a way that is holy and reverent.
- But hey, if they get to bring up His name, then I get to also. When I was in the work-a-day world and someone would say, “Jesus Christ!” like a cuss word, I would sometimes say, “That’s a powerful name you’re using there. Did you know that at that name every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord?”
- How great is His name? …
Philippians 2:9-11, God has bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.
- …And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor…
A. He is Wonderful Counselor
- The scripture tells us that the Lord will do marvelous, wonderful
1 Corinthians 2:9, Things which no eye has seen and ear has not heard; and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.
Ephesians 3:20, Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all we could ask or even think.
- He is filled with all wisdom; His counsel is good and wise. In this messed up world with messed up lives, wonderful counsel is needed.
Illus – It’s a light of revelation, like when a teenager, who was absolutely convinced that you didn’t know anything, that they’re going to figure everything out on their own, then grows up and then actually asks you for advice.
- In Hebrew, the word, counselor means to “stand alongside.” You can imagine the help we would have if God were whispering in our ear.
Isaiah 30:21, Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Luke 11:21, “Behold; one greater than Solomon is here.”
- His counsel is only helpful if you walk in it; if you take hold and apply it to your life.
Luke 6:47-48, “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”
B. He is Mighty God
- Is there anything clearer to declare that Jesus is God? He has power over all things.
- He turned the water into wine, healed lepers, raised the dead, has authority over demons and calmed the storm with a word of His command.
Luke 8:25, And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey Him?”
App – Life is heavy, and it is only when you recognize Him to be your “Mighty God” will you turn to Him to help you carry it. This is the stuff of faith. And He would ask the same question of you and me, “Where is your faith?”
C. He is the prince who brings peace
- The government will be on his shoulders and there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.
- He is the Prince who brings peace; peace with God as we will see, but it also means peace on earth. Why?
- Because He is the only One with the authority to bring peace and silence the enemies of God. As He spoke to the storm, so He will speak to the rulers of the earth.
Isaiah 40:23-31, It is He who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He many blows on them, and they whither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” Says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them each by name; and because of the greatness of His might and strength of His power, not one of them is missing. So why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due to me escape the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.
- True peace comes when people are right with God.
Colossians 1:19-20, For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
John 14:27, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let your heart be fearful.”
Illus – We love nativity scenes and have several displays. It is a picture of those who come to honor Jesus at His birth. There is an old saying, “Wise men still seek Him.” That is true, but you need to know that He is the One seeking you, He knocks on the door of your heart, you open the door of your heart and let Him into your life.
Isaiah 9:1-7 NASB
1 [a]But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He will make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the [b]Gentiles.
2 [c]The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
3 You will multiply the nation,
You will [d]increase [e]their joy;
They will rejoice in Your presence
As with the joy [f]of harvest,
As people rejoice when they divide the spoils.
4 For You will break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders,
The rod of their oppressor, as [g]at the battle of Midian.
5 For every boot of the marching warrior in the roar of battle,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
6 For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us;
And the government will [h]rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace
On the throne of David and over [i]his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.