“The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Friday, December 24, 2010

“The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

“The era of big government is over.” So declared President Bill Clinton in his State of the Union address in January of 1996. Of course, in the fifteen years since then, our big government has gotten even bigger. The size and scope of the federal government, its power, its spending, its intrusion into our lives–way beyond the limits set for it by the Constitution–big government is bigger than ever. “The era of big government is over”? Really? I must have missed it.

As you may have guessed, and as anybody who knows me could tell you, I am an adamant opponent of big government. So it may come to you as a bit of a surprise when I tell you that tonight’s message–and this is something I’m actually happy about–the message for us on this Christmas Eve is this: “The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning.”

What, have you lost your mind, Henrickson? No, I’m serious! The era of big government is just beginning, and this is a good thing! You heard it in our reading from Isaiah: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” What is that, if not a prophecy of an ever-increasing, ever-expanding, unending government? This is big government on steroids! And it’s a good thing! In fact, it is good news of great joy for all people, including all of you here tonight.

Of course, the difference between bad big government and good big government depends on who’s doing the governing and how it’s being done. And Isaiah tells us who will be doing the good big government and what that will mean for us. He writes: “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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

This big government, God’s big government–the kingdom of God, you could call it–will be placed upon the shoulder of . . . a newborn child! “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Hmm, that prophecy sounds like something the angels would announce some 700 years later: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And it’s no coincidence. The child whose birth Isaiah foretold would turn out to be the Babe of Bethlehem, the great Son of David, the Messiah, Christ the Lord. It is his birth we are celebrating here tonight.

Isaiah has other names, four other names here, by which we call this child: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Each title tells us who this child born to us, this son given to us, is.

“Wonderful Counselor”: His plan, his wise counsel, for how he will run his government will be wonderful, marvelous, something to behold. Peace, justice, righteousness–not just lofty words, but living realities to be put into action.

“Mighty God”: This child born will be God himself, the Almighty One. Can you imagine that? The child to be born will be the Mighty God himself, and it’s prophesied in the Old Testament? But here it is! This is the mystery of the little boy born in Bethlehem. For in truth he is the very God, the eternal Son of God come in the flesh. And he is mighty. He will defeat our enemies for us. Sin, Satan, death, hell–all defeated by this little warrior.

“Everlasting Father”: Not that the Son is the Father, but he makes the Father known to us, and he will be the greatest expression and enactment of the Father’s warm care and protection for us. We know the Father only through his Son, Jesus Christ.

“Prince of Peace”: The rule and reign of Christ will be marked by a peace that passes anything any king of earth can bring about. Christ Jesus will make peace between heaven and earth, peace between God and man, by himself atoning for the rebellion of sinful men against their Creator, by himself suffering the just wrath of God against sinful humanity. “The government shall be upon his shoulder” precisely as and because he bears on his shoulder the awful weight of our sins, that heavy load you and I could not bear. Christ did this when he hung on a cross, suspended between heaven and earth as our Mediator, the blessed Peacemaker par excellence.

And now this peace extends to you and me. The war is over! Peace is made and declared. God is no longer angry with you, because of the coming of this child! “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

“And the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Now I ask you: Who would not want this kind of big government, when it can do big things like this and be governed by such a Lord and Savior–this risen, ascended, and coming-again King, whose kingdom will have no end? Bring it on, I say!

“Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” Yes, the era of big government is just beginning. We even mark our eras, divide them, by the arrival of this child: B.C., Before Christ, and A.D., Anno Domini, “In the Year of the Lord” so-and-so. It’s a whole new era since Christ our Lord has come. The kingdom of God has come into our midst. The rule and reign of Christ has been growing and expanding, worldwide, for 2000 years now. Christ is building his church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

“You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy.” More and more people, men and women and children from every nation, have been coming into the blessed realm of Christ’s governance, where he bestows joy and every blessing upon his people. It happens as the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed and believed and people are brought into the church, people like you.

What a joy and a blessing it is to be in Christ’s kingdom! What a delightful change from the domain of darkness and death we were trapped in! Think of those Chilean miners who were trapped in that mine for so many days and weeks until finally they were freed. What joy there was! That’s a picture of what Christ has done in bringing us out of our dark dungeon of death and bringing us up into the light of life. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” From deep darkness to great light? This truly is change we can believe in!

“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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” Friends, the era of big government is just beginning–and it’s a good thing! God’s big government starts out small with this baby born in Bethlehem, but it has grown to include us in its joyous kingdom of peace and light. It begins on Christmas, and it will never end. Glory to God!

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Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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