Here is a set of verses that we hear often at Christmastime, from Isaiah 9:2-7
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
3You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Your presence
As with the gladness of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders,
The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
5For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
I know that many times I read these verses half-heartedly, thinking 'I already know this!' But to read them with intention to me means to put myself in the shoes of the people for whom this was originally given and it reminds me again what a word of HOPE this passage embodies.
Remember that Israel had been oppressed, embattled, enslaved and for generations had led very difficult lives. And now to be told that that oppression would not last forever, but would be lifted by a saviour in the form of a child.
This is where all the famliar attributes of the Messiah are listed: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God...Prince of Peace. Read those words slowly. Let them sink into your heart, because they are the heart of the Gospel. Jesus is all of those things to those who love Him.
In the midst of the crazy, hectic season of Christmas let us remember to rejoice for our salvation is at hand!