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—DECEMBER 22.—ISAIAH 9:1-7.—
TODAY'S STUDY relates to a subject which has thrilled the civilized world for centuries—a subject which will never grow old—a subject which, on the contrary, shall to all eternity be a theme of angels and of men. The birth of Jesus, to be rightly understood and esteemed, must be considered from the standpoint of a Gift of Love Divine. Any other view of the matter is merely the casket without the jewel. The Scriptures give us the key to the thought: "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."—John 3:16.
The world was under sentence of death; mankind had been dying for more than four thousand years. God had pitied humanity from the first. Yea, before sin entered, Divine Wisdom saw the end, and would not have created man, or would not have permitted the condition which led to sin and the sentence of death, had Divine Wisdom not foreseen and arranged in advance for human Redemption.
God had purposely arranged the matter so that it would require the death of a perfect man to redeem Adam and the race which lost life in and through him. God knew from the beginning that no such perfect man could be found, because all men were of Adamic stock and had a share in Adamic weakness, imperfection and condemnation. From the beginning God in the Divine Plan contemplated that the Only Begotten of the Father, the Logos, the active Agent of Divinity in the work of Creation, should be granted the great privilege of being man's Redeemer, and thereby securing a great reward—"Glory, honor and immortality," the Divine nature, through a resurrection from the dead.
The primary step in man's recovery necessarily was that the Logos should be made flesh and dwell amongst us and taste death, by the grace of God, for every man. (John 1:14; Heb. 2:9.) It is this first step that we celebrate at this season of the year—the birth of Jesus. He who was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be reclaimed.
Today's study points out that the ministry of Jesus would be in Galilee; that those people of the Jews who at the time were supposed to be in greatest darkness would see the great Light of Divine Truth, as represented in Jesus and His ministry. This had a primary fulfilment in Galilee, where the major portion of the mighty works of Jesus were performed. But its real fulfilment lies in the future, when the great light of the Millennial Kingdom, "the Sun of Righteousness, shall arise with healing in its beams." Before that glorious Sun, sorrow and sighing will flee away; ignorance and superstition will vanish; sin and darkness will be no more; every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. Jesus is the great Center of that Sun of Righteousness, but, as He points out, the Bride class, in process of selection during this Age, is to be with Him in the Morning, shining forth His glory. They shall sit with Him in His Throne. After the "Wheat" of this Age is gathered into the "garner" by the power of the First Resurrection, the Bride of Christ will shine forth with the Bridegroom, to heal earth's sorrows and to scatter earth's night. (Matt. 13:43.) All this will come to us because "unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;" because "the Government shall rest upon His shoulders"; because "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty, Mighty One, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
We are to understand verses 3 to 5 as referring, not to Natural Israel, but to Spiritual Israel—nominal. The holy nation has phenomenally increased without increasing the joy. There are many false children in the nominal family of God; there are many "tares" in the wheatfield. But in the Harvest time of this Age there will be a joy; the faithful "will rejoice as they that divide the spoil." The burdensome yoke of the creedal superstitions will be broken, and the rod of the oppressor, Satan, will be broken as in the day of Midian, when Gideon with his little band put to flight the army of the Midianites and set the people free. Verse 5 intimates that the fall of Babylon and the breaking of the yoke and the rod will be in the great "time of trouble." "For all the armor of the armed men and the turmoil and the garments rolled in blood shall even be for burning, for fuel of fire."
Our great Redeemer, highly exalted, is eventually to bear many titles in commemoration of the many wonderful Offices He will fill and services He will accomplish. But these are yet future. His great work in the past, the Redemption work, was the foundation of all His future work. On account of His faithfulness He will have a right to assume these various Offices and use these various powers; and as each comes into exercise it will be used by Jesus. The right to govern the world is His since He died on our behalf, but He awaits the Father's time for taking to Himself His glorious power to reign; and the Government must come to Him before He can begin to fulfil the various titles.
First of all, His revelation to the world will be as the Wonderful One, the embodiment, the Expression, of Divine Justice, Divine Love, Divine Wisdom and Divine Power. As yet the world knoweth Him not. He will be revealed to mankind "in flaming fire" in the time of trouble, and subsequently, in the rescue work of His Millennial Kingdom.
He will be the world's Counselor, to give assistance, guidance, direction, whereby they may return through Restitution into harmony with Jehovah and to the enjoyment of the blessings provided through Redemption. As the Head of the Church He has been her Counselor, but our text refers to Him as the Great King or Governor of the world, and as the world's Instructor, the Great Prophet, or Teacher, whom God promised through Moses.
His title, The Mighty God, or Mighty, Mighty One, will be recognized then, on earth, as well as in Heaven—"that Him hath God set forth to be a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance and remission of sins to Israel," and "to all that are afar off."—Acts 5:31; 2:39.
The title, The Everlasting Father, will apply to Him as the Life-Giver of the world, during the thousand years of His reign. In all that time He will be giving "life more abundant" to mankind—everlasting life to all who will obey Him—therefore His title, The Everlasting Father, or the Father who will give everlasting life to humanity. All the world of mankind, regenerated on the human plane, will obtain their right to everlasting life as human beings in an earthly Paradise from their Redeemer, who will then be their King. Not so the Church, for Jesus is not the Church's Everlasting Father. On the contrary, St. Peter declares "The God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hath begotten us again to a hope of life."
His title, The Prince of Peace, will not apply to Him at the beginning of His reign, when He will be breaking in pieces as a potter's vessel every human system out of accord with the Divine standards (Rev. 2:27; Psa. 2:9), but true peace shall speedily be established, and He shall be known as The Prince of Peace, and One whose reign will be undisputed and unmolested. "Of the increase of His Government and of peace there shall be no end"; there will be no rebellion; His Kingdom will not pass away. When His reign shall terminate finally, at the close of the thousand years, it will be because "He will deliver the Kingdom over to God, even the Father," that He may be the Great All in All.
Messiah's Kingdom is styled "the Throne of David" for two reasons: first, the name David signifies Beloved, and the Messiah, as the Beloved of God, of the Father, is the Antitype of David, even as Messiah's Kingdom will be the Antitype of David's kingdom. David merely "sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord"; it was not his. So the Greater than David will sit upon the Throne of the Kingdom of Jehovah, to order it and to establish it to completion, during the thousand years of His reign. Then He will deliver it up. "The zeal (love) of Jehovah of Hosts will perform this," operating through Messiah.