Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mighty God

During these Sundays in Advent, we have been using Isaiah 9:6 as our focus. In this passage, it’s the eighth century. The Assyrian Empire lurks at the borders of Israel (the northern kingdom). Israel has entered an uneasy alliance with Syria in the hope of keeping the Assyrians back. But, all Assyria wants is to gobble up every small country on its way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Soon Israel will be overwhelmed by the Assyrians and Judah (the southern kingdom) will be threatened by the approaching empire. But, something happens, an act of God, and Assyria turns away. Judah will go another 150 years or so before being overrun by the Babylonians.

In this darkness, in a world that is changing rapidly, in a world threatened by empires and kingdoms, Isaiah speaks his word. Isaiah 9 foresees the coming of Messiah. A child will be born; a son given to us. His name shall be called: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The church looked back at that passage and heard Isaiah speaking his word and saw in Jesus the fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus is: Mighty God. He is Messiah come to save the world.

Last Sunday I talked about “Mighty God” and its meaning. We know about might in this world. We think of power and strength. The word for God here is “el”, a familiar name for God in the Old Testament. We see it in the name of our church- Bethel which means house of God.

Messiah is God mighty in power, wisdom and love. You can see why those who expected Messiah did not see it in Jesus. Jesus is born in a stable, the place where animals lodge. He, who had no place to lay his head, comes to offer himself is love for the world.

This is “mighty God”. This is God’s might clothed in weakness and wonder. Isaiah was probably foretelling the coming of the king Hezekiah. But, the church looked at it and said: “More is going on here than we know.” Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem is the Messiah. He is might clothed in weakness.

Every Christian knows that this is the way God does business. God does not come to live in palaces or great kingdoms. His kingdom, his reign, is present in weakness, and in suffering love.

At a recent graduation, I heard a woman from the Middle East crying out in faith and in celebration: “El,El,El”. She sang it rapidly in that high, squealing, voice which which we are familiar. We hear it on television sometimes when there is a funeral procession in the Middle East. She is crying out: “God, God, God…”

During Advent, we yearn for that Messiah who has come and will come. We yearn for his kingdom of love and light. We yearn for the one who will make true peace. To him and for him all our prayers ascend.

Dave Nichols

1 comment:

  1. Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
    anyhow thanks for the good read!



Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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