[I’m so bummed to take so long to write this post. Actually I just got too busy today and realized I hadn’t blogged until this evening. Bloggus interruptus…]
A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace… (Isaiah 9:6-7 Today’s English Version)
Our new series called The Gift is based on these ubiquitous Christmas card verses. Isaiah’s prophecies are just downright chilling, eerie and profound with predictive force. As a matter-of-fact, some Bible experts and higher criticism scholars believed the book had been tampered with by Christian scribes to make the messianic passages more explicitly Jesus-directed. The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls blew that away, with nineteen copies of the book of Isaiah radiocarbon-dated between 335 BC and 122 BC. That’s a lot of years before Jesus appeared on the scene. The manuscripts were nearly 1000 years older than any Isaiah manuscripts existing before.
I mentioned in the message that the new Ruler of this coming kingdom was reclaiming the planet:
“When God created man in His image—male and female—He said they were to rule over all that He had created, and were commanded to subdue all creation. Earth was given to them. After Adam and Eve decided Satan had a wonderful plan for their lives, then disobeyed God and fell, they abdicated their role in governance and in essence turned the deed of the planet over to the deceiver. That’s why millennia later when Jesus was being tempted by Satan just prior to beginning His ministry, Satan shows him in a heartbeat all the kingdoms of the world in all their power and glory and says to Jesus, ‘…I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ Luke 4:6-7 (New International Version). Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn’t argue that point. He simply says, ‘It is written, worship God and serve Him only.’ The birth of Jesus was an invasion, a hostile take-over, of the earth. That’s why the apostle Paul calls Jesus ‘the last Adam’. As a man—and God—Jesus was taking the deed back. So when Isaiah prophesies that this man-child will be our ‘Ruler’, he’s revealing a Big Story.”
There are actually several different theories as to why Jesus was born, crucified and resurrected…this idea of reclamation and spiritual warfare is just one of them. All have merit; I actually believe there is an element of truth in all of them and they aren’t mutually exclusive. The one I threw out may be a little more controversial, but a verse in John’s gospel lends a bit more credence here:
Now is the time for this world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be overthrown. When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” In saying this he indicated the kind of death he was going to suffer. John 12:31-33 (Today’s English Version)
Three times in John’s gospel Jesus refers to Satan as the ruler of this planet. We might consider this more of an illegal Mafioso power-grab, but regardless of the legalities or whether we consider Satan’s remarks as bluff and smoke-and-mirrors (that would fit the character of the “father of lies” in John 8:44), Jesus still referred to him as the ruler. Even Paul refers to him as a ruler—or prince—and John, in his old age, says that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”. It sounds a little Star Wars-ish, but this is the original cosmic story, way before George Lucas was a gleam in his daddy’s eye.
Two worlds in conflict.
And don’t you sometimes feel the gravity of both?