And he will be called … Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign … with justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Thank God for Christmas! And we are looking forward: It is always a time of great rejoicing and refreshment, a time of celebration and renewal. The Christian’s prayer is that this Jesus Christ will be at the center of the feast, and it will not end at mere human enjoyment. Every successful birth of a child brings great joy after a time of anxiety and expectation; but for baby John, the events around Zechariah astounded everyone, and they asked “What then is this child going to be?” (Luke 1:66) This question would be even more proper for baby Jesus – the circumstances were more provoking. The answers would consume countless volumes of books… but let us visit just one name that Isaiah called him – Prince of Peace. The name depicts the child as a ruler in the making, and one of unique excellence.
Governments of different kinds exist today and have existed in many places among different peoples; they are praised and criticized, hated and loved, ushered in and ousted, built and destroyed; they benefit some and oppress others – governments come and go. The great prophets Isaiah, Hosea and Micah exercised their ministries in the days of kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Jotham’s character is represented in a moderately favorable light; the wisdom and vigor of his administration, and of his policy for the defense of the country, are recognized. It was owing to his completion of his father’s plans for the protection of Jerusalem, and of the building of country fortresses, that Hezekiah, a few years afterward, was able to show so stout a resistance to the attacking King Sennacherib of Assyria. But within the state itself corruption and oppression were rife. In the pages of the prophets we have graphic picture of the moral condition of the time.
But it was to King Ahaz that the most comforting words of the prophet were directed. As he faced threats from stronger neighbouring kingdoms, chief of whom was Syria, Ahaz sought favourable alliances to fortify his stand; these are the common warfare and power tactics common in our own days. But the prophet points these rulers to God Almighty who demands both justice and righteousness – good rule and good morals. The demands are backed up by the promise of a coming Prince of Peace whose government will be the expression of these virtues. As Uganda struggles to keep a credible democracy and deal with resistances both peaceful and violent – questions linger, and comments are made; other nations elsewhere do the same for their governments. May this Advent season brings a loud reminder that the Prince of Peace is here, and his government will be of perfect peace and justice, and the better news is that it will be an everlasting one.
God bless you all.
A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
… the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:3, 8)
We celebrate Bible Sunday today, and it is a great opportunity for us to remember and reassure one another that you can trust God’s Word. The Bible Society of Uganda is rallying us to join the noble task of sending the Word of God to the masses at affordable prices and in languages they understand. The Bible Society therefore engages actively in translation and distribution among many other activities. I was baptized as an infant, and the only memory I have of that day was a Good News Bible that I received as a gift and lived to read it years later; there are numerous testimonies of people whose lives have been transformed since they got hold of a Bible in their hands and started reading it. We applaud the Bible Society and similar efforts.
It is also the second Sunday in Advent – the days of commemorating the waiting of the Messiah, and the days of recalling that we await His second coming. Numerous prophecies were fulfilled in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Isaiah is one of the prophets from whom we hear the Messianic promises: the words in Chapter 40 are used by John the Baptist to describe himself – ‘a voice of one calling, … prepare the way for the LORD’. Isaiah prophesied these words of comfort in Judah soon after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel; it was a season of fear and uncertainty due to the surrounding enemies who were still interested in conquering neighbors. Isaiah prophesied comfort not only in the immediate future but also ultimately – pointing them to a Messiah that would rise according to earlier promises from the days of Moses. This Messiah would manifest some seven hundred years later. The Word of the Lord stands firm indeed even through lengthy periods of time.
The season of Advent is partially meant to help believers focus on the prophecies and promises of God that would eventually be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Isaiah stands tall among the prophets and in his long book that was placed first among the Major Prophets in the Bible, Matthew and other New Testament writers find and quote a great number of significant prophecies that were fulfilled. This helps us to see the faithfulness of God’s Word not only in Isaiah but also in the entire Bible. It is good to have friends we can trust, but God’s Word goes beyond just a friend. Many times we wonder in our limited timeline and seem not to see God’s favorable answers to our questions and complaints; or we seem to run out of patience when we wait on His promises; but one thing for sure is that His Word stands forever; it is not limited by time or space. May this Christmas season bring you back to firmly hold onto the Word of God that is trustworthy all the time.
God bless you as you all.