The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. (New International Version)
I am the youngest of five siblings. I have a brother two years older than me. When he was younger, my brother spent summers doing bench press contests, and won most of them. This kind of big brother in very handy all through school growing up because, believe it or not, I could sometimes be mouthy toward kids I thought were jerks, who were much bigger and stronger than me. On more than one occasion, my big brother became my bully-buster.
Sometimes we all need a warrior who will take care of the enemy, the bully, who is too big and strong for us to handle on our own.
On this final day of Advent, Christmas Eve, let’s consider one of the titles in today’s Old Testament lesson: “Mighty God.”
The prophet Isaiah spoke to the spiritually backslidden nation of Judah. They faced continual war, not always looking to God to handle their predicament. Yet, despite the people’s failings, the Lord is a God of grace and hope. Conflict and war won’t always exist; hope will come, not by a larger military or more weapons, but through a child.
Jesus has become our warrior, our bully-buster, defeating the powers of sin, death, and hell, and bringing salvation to us.
The adjective “mighty” comes from the noun form of the Hebrew word “gibbor” which means “warrior.” In other words, God in Christ is our Warrior.
God is the One who fights our battles. This reality has a rich history in the Old Testament, beginning with the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt:
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)
God in Christ fights to uphold justice and righteousness, using divine power to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The ultimate “bully” is the devil himself, and Christ has defeated him on the cross and brought victory and deliverance from sin to our lives.
“With good reason does Isaiah call him strong or mighty, because our contest is with the devil, death, and sin, enemies too powerful and strong, by whom we would be immediately vanquished, if the strength of Christ had not rendered us invincible. Thus we learn from this title that there is in Christ abundance of protection for defending our salvation, so that we desire nothing beyond him; for he is God, who is pleased to show himself strong on our behalf.”John Calvin
While we were yet 90-poiund weaklings, the cross of Christ became our strength and our hope:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15, NIV)
Jesus is our Victor. Christ’s vicarious atonement for humanity brought victory over sin and evil through the cross. Thus, the devil is defeated; the prince of this world cast out. Jesus has brought a great moral triumph over the powers of darkness. The evil yoke of slavery to sin has been broken through the blood of Christ. The Son overcame the tyrant of our souls and secured liberty and salvation from the dogged effects of Satan upon us.
Jesus as our Warrior, the Mighty God, brings a big dose of hope and confidence to our lives.
I walked the halls of my school without fear because of my big brother. So, how much more can we move about our lives, not cringing in fear, but confident and full of hope because we have Jesus the Warrior who has taken care of the sin issue once for all, and puts the devil in his place?
The Divine Warrior
Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. (Isaiah 11:5, NIV)
He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (Isaiah 59:17, NIV)
If those verses sound familiar to Christians, it’s because the Apostle Paul had them in mind when he wrote to the church at Ephesus:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17, NIV)
Our response and responsibility, in light of Jesus as our Victor and Divine Warrior, is to take our stand as we continually deal with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Jesus has won the war, yet there are still mop up operations that need to take place, that is, pockets of resistance which must be dealt with.
We face the enemies of our souls with the equipment given us and move ahead with confidence – and not fear – because we have protection from God. We have all we need, because we have Jesus, the bully busting, divine deliverer who is working on our behalf and growing his church.
Jesus is the Mighty God, the Divine Warrior, the powerful One who has conquered sin and death. Christ’s divine power was evident from the very beginning of his birth: conceived by the power of the Spirit; led by the Spirit; living, teaching, and healing in the Spirit; and resurrected with divine spiritual power.
Therefore, put your trust in Christ.
Are you carrying a heavy yoke of trouble? Give your troubles to him because he is “the mighty God.”
Do you have burdens that weigh you down? Cast all your anxiety on him; he is “the mighty God.”
Is someone oppressing you? Go to Jesus in all your dilemmas; when the enemy comes in like a flood, this mighty God shall make a way for your deliverance.
Are you overcome with grief and sorrow over a situation? The mighty God can deal with it. Tell him everything. He’ll handle all the bullies.
If you have royally messed-up or feel as though you have screwed-up everything, then go to Christ because he is “the mighty God.” Fall on your knees. Confess your guilt and shame. Lay bare your poor, guilty, helpless, naked, and defenseless soul before his mighty power. For the Lord is able to save completely all those that come to God by him.
Silent night. Holy night. The Prince of Peace is entering this world. The Mighty God is our joy and our song of deliverance, now and forever. Amen.