Ichabod explores the Age of Apostasy, predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, with an emphasis on UOJ, Church Growth, and Emergent Church heresies. The antidote to these poisons is trusting the efficacious Word in the Means of Grace. John 16:8. Most readers are WELS, LCMS, ELS, or ELCA. This blog also covers the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the mainline denominations.
The Glory Has Departed
Lutheran book boxes sent to three African seminaries -
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Isiaah 7:10 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.
13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah's Christmas Passages
Isaiah 7 is a wonderful passage to consider, becase so much effort has been made to dispel its importance. Evil King Ahaz was in deep trouble for asking the Assyrian king to help him stay in power. Ahaz also promoted the worship of idols.
The prophet Isaiah had good news to offer him - God would give him a miracle. A sign is a good enough word, but we have watered it down quite a bit. This miracle can be anything Ahaz wishes, either on earth or in heaven.
Of course, God knew the mind of Ahaz, so the hypocrisy of the evil king made this miracle a central event in the entire book. A believer would welcome a miraculous sign from God, but Ahaz said something almost comical - I will not put God to the test.
When God offers a miracle, this is not an excuse for someone to become suddenly modest and super-pious.
Isaiah erupted in anger, "You are not content with making my people weary, and now you will do the same with my God? He will give you a miracle.
What this setting does is clear - it underlines and accents the importance of this message. The words themselves are remarkable, but the language of the prophet shows this is a miracle of miracles, as it indeed is. And even if sceptics quibble at the language, as unbelievers do, there is a final confirming phrase - God with us, Immanuel.
Here is the miracle, which has been under attack ever since the Age of Rationalism. "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. And you will name Him Immanuel."
The first quibble is almah - Virgin. Oh, that just means "maiden." Aha, the maiden voyage of a ship is one which that ship has never made before. The fact is, maiden and virgin are interchangeable in this context, as shown by the Greek word used - parthenos, which is both young maiden and virgin.
So they want to claim, "This means the king's married daughter will have a son." How can that be a miracle. Married women have babies all the time. And not one is named "God with us." Jesus did not take on that name in ordinary life, but Jesus does mean salvation, a word that fits in well with many Psalms.
In the last century, Methodists took "offspring of the Virgin's womb" out of their own hymn and hymnal. A Wesley hymn!
That is like taking Justification by Faith away from the Lutheran Reformation and draping that error around Luther's neck, as Jay Webber did so maladroitly.
Some so-called scholars wondered if Jesus existed, and other allowed He did exist, but was only a man.
No matter what they say, this Virgin Birth prophesy is central to Isaiah, to the Old Testament, and the New Testament.
The Child prophesy is taken up again in Isaiah 9
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
This is a not just a child and a child give for us. That suggests faith in Him, since is He is given for us. The repetition "for us" emphasizes the meaning of His birth.
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
This implies the government of the entire world, as the following words spell out. That cannot be an ordinary prince of a tiny nation. We can see from history how God has moved entire nations to change all future developments, sometimes to punish, at other times to bless. The Stuart kings "left an indelible bad impression on the British." Because of their cowardly and deceitful support of Roman Catholicism, they forced many to go into exile to America, where our Founders swore they would never let the government be tied to a given church body.
As a result, this almost unknown world became central to evangelism around the world and an anchor for peace as well. Now we know what happens when our country no longer exerts its power to protect that peace.
and his name shall be called
If this birth is royal but ordinary, why are such glorious titles attached to a child? Precious few people would name anyone in the House of David remarkable, after David and Solomon. Satan pursued Israel until barely a stump was left when Jesus was born, a green twig growing from a fading, dying stump, owned and punished by Rome.
Is there a better Name for Jesus? We sing from time to time, a favorite of some members. What a friend we have in Jesus. All the verses really spell out what this title means. Those who believe in Christ are in Him, and He is in us, just as He is in the Father and the Father in Him. John
Jesus guides and blesses us. Without His help and His Means of Grace, we could not continue. And yet He promises us endless blessings and forgiveness for remaining with Him, abiding with Him. John 15.
The mighty God,
There is that title again - God. This child is God, which explains the glorious titles and beyond-human characteristics. If the Child is God, and He is born, this is another statement of the Incarnation, God in the flesh.
And how many times is this found in the New Testament? Not just Matthew and Luke, but John 1 as well. Look at the opening of Romans, both God and man. And so many more places. Like the light on the tree my wife could not see today, the clear references are there as long as people look at the plain words and not the distractions.
She saw what looked like cardboard on the tree. Since the light was bent, a solar light, and at an odd angle, as long as she thought "cardboard" she saw cardboard. God shows us the Incarnation from many perspectives, many different but equivalent phrases so we know, believe, and have comfort that Jesus is our Counselor.
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
"I and the Father, We are one." This is a mystery. Jesus and the Father are two Persons, but also One, and the Spirit. God's Kingdom is the only one described below - not any human government.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of theLordof hosts will perform this.