First Reading (Christmas Midnight): Isaiah 9:1-6

Why a Prophet Speaks

1 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, on them the light has shined.

2 You have multiplied the nation.

You have increased their joy.

They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

3 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as in the day of Midian. 4 For all the armor of the armed man in the noisy battle, and the garments rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. 5 For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 6 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of YHWH of Armies will perform this.

World English Bible

Prophets usually arise in times of looming disaster or present trouble. They connect present conditions and woes with consequences of divine judgment. Sometimes the judgment was negative, sometimes positive. Isaiah spoke of the later. Better days were coming.

Isaiah was concerned about the influence regional powers had on the small kingdom. At the time, aligning one’s kingdom with Assyria to the north or Egypt to the south meant adopting their gods and worship customs. It could even mean paying tribute. Obviously this was not acceptable to the prophet. No, he looked forward to a true king who had not been tainted by the world. A king who could offer YHWH true and pure worship. The child he envisioned in these verses would break the strangle hold that these powers had on Judea and would allow worship of only one God: YHWH, the God of the nation.

Christians have taken the words of Isaiah about the birth of a new king and have applied them to Jesus of Nazareth. But his birth did not break political bonds. It broke cosmic shackles. Death and sin no longer have power over us. The demonic force no longer have their day. The power that propped up tyrants was now gone.

Why did Isaiah speak? He wanted the people to know a better day was coming. He did not completely understand, however, that this day would not be just good. It would be a great day. The day the Savior was born!

How is Christmas day a day of hope and fulfillment for you?