Recently I heard of one of our members being a victim of stolen identity. Someone had access to their social media and bank accounts. Money was taken and purchases made that were not from the account owner. When someone steals your identity, you must deal with the hassle of phone calls, paperwork, and closing accounts. Additionally, you must process the shock and sting of deceit. The emotional feeling of having your privacy invaded is disturbing to say the least.
A person’s possessions can be replaced, currency can be refunded, but their identity can never fully be secure as scams and suspects can easily attack again. You never want to share your personal information or identity with someone you do not trust.
The same is true about God.
- Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
- Isaiah 48:11 God’s glory is profaned if He were to give it to another.
- 1 Timothy 6:15-16 Only God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light.”
- Revelation 4:11 Only the LORD is “worthy to receive glory and honor and power”
Yet, Scripture says about Jesus,
- John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
- Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.”
- Colossians 1:15-19 “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God… For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him”
- Philippians 2:10-11 “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Today we reflect upon another name given to this unique child who was prophesied by Isaiah. As we shared last week, Isaiah’s day was faced with an evil and aggressive Assyrian empire. They were too powerful for Israel and would defeat God’s people. Land was captured, loved ones were killed, and their legacy was shamed and humbled. Essentially, this happened in the middle of the time of Judges – where everyone did what was right in their own eyes, and upon the birth of Christ, where Roman rule had conquered every known land at the time. The people despaired and lived in darkness.
Yet, God’s prophet spoke about the hope of a promised child to rescue and rule God’s people with justice and righteousness. Amid darkness, a great light would show and burdens would be lifted. Their rescuer had four names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Today we are focusing on the second name.
Jesus is the Mighty God
The phrase Mighty God (el gibbor) refers to a hero, champion or warrior. It implies both divinity and power. Israel understood supremacy and strength as they faced the reign of Assyria. They wanted freedom from this evil empire and their only hope was in God to send a deliverer. Like the book of Judges (6:12), God’s warrior would be raised up to rescue Israel.
This phrase is a title most often used for deity.
Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.”
Nehemiah 9:32 “our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love…”
Job 36:5 “Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding”
Psalm 89:8-13 “O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them… The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them;… You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.”
Revelation 19:6 “Then [John] heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.’”
Most people believe in general about God but not a specific trust in Jesus. Yet, if we fail to affirm Jesus as God, then we are failing to understand who Jesus claimed to be.
Jesus claimed to fulfill Scripture.
- Mt 5:17 “I have not come to abolish the Law or Prophets but to fulfill them.”
Jesus claimed power over creation.
- Mt 8:27 “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Jesus claimed power of the human body and the soul.
- Mk 2:10 “So you can know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, – he said to the paralytic – ‘rise, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he rose immediately and went out before all the people, so that they were amazed and glorified God saying, ‘We never saw anything like this.’”
Jesus claimed power over the spiritual world.
- Lk 11:20 “it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, – the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Jesus claimed to be one with God.
- “I Am” bread of life, light of world, good shepherd, resurrection life, the only way/truth, the true vine
- Jn 10:30 “I and the Father are one.” (cf. 5:18; 8:58)
So, Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic claiming divinity – or He really was Lord.
Yet, what if someone claims another option? What if someone claims Jesus was not a liar, lunatic, or Lord – but the Jesus of the Bible is literary fiction. In other words, the question is not merely can we trust Jesus, but can we trust what the Bible says about Jesus?
A couple helpful facts:
- Early secular writings confirm people believed and worshiped Jesus was the divine Son of God and resurrected Lord.
- Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus reports how Emperor Nero blamed the Great Fire of Rome of 64AD on “a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd called Chrestiains” [Christians]. Tacitus says, “Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judea, the home of the disease, but in Rome itself”
- Pliny (Roman Governor in Turkey, 109-11) wrote a letter to the emperor asking for advice on persecuting Christians who sang hymns to Christ as god; and that the “contagious superstition” of Christianity had spread to people “of all ages and ranks and both men and women.”
- Early Scripture writers were eyewitnesses of Jesus. I go into more detail about this in previous message. The short version is, the Gospel authors (Luke 1:1-4) and other accounts (1 Cor 15:1-9) about Jesus are too soon to be legend with actual eyewitnesses to verify or disprove what was spoken/written. Additionally, the followers of Jesus were originally skeptics and persecutors until they were confronted with the realities of Jesus’ identity and actions. The biblical accounts reflect humans struggling to understand the incarnation, much more the implications of the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet, afterwards, their faith became fixed after seeing prophecies fulfilled and the resurrected Christ (cf. Lk 24:44-49). Moreover, the majority of early Christians suffered cruel persecutions and violent deaths not because they made up a story but because the message shaped every fiber of their being.
The point of all this is found in another Lewis quote,
People try to view life as a Jenga game, where you remove a block to merely keep building the tower. But extracting Jesus from the fabric and faith in our world isn’t like sliding out a Jenga block as much as it is like pulling the pin on a grenade. Life’s meaning and purpose explodes without Jesus, our Creator & Sustainer, Savior & Lord. “He is before all things and by Him all things hold together” (Col 1:17)
Jesus is the Merciful God.
Despite Israel’s sin and dismissal of following God, the Lord was still merciful.
- He says in 9:17, “For all this his anger has not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.”
- 10:20-21 “In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will not more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”
- 12:1 “You will say in that day, ‘I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.”
- 14:1 “For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob.”
- Isaiah 25:6-9 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
The merciful God will give a mighty invitation. In the coming days, God’s salvation would not only be available to Israel but all peoples (v.5). The invitation will be to a feast of delicious food and refined beverage. There are very few things that we can’t live without, nor enjoy more than food and fellowship. God’s promise to feast with humanity is restoration of creation. God placed man and woman in the garden to eat fruit and enjoy. Yet, they sinned and ate from the tree they were told to abstain. The symbol of Jesus mending the broken and restoring what was lost is bread and a cup, representative of His body. We return by eating from God’s source of salvation and not our own. The culmination of God’s restoration is described as the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). Likewise, Scripture exhorts us to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps 34:8), and to “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy. Listen diligently to me and eat what is good and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isa 55:1-2). Jesus invites all to feast and fellowship at His table.
The feasting of God’s people is centered around a promise. God promises to swallow death forever, and wipe away the tears and reproach of the people. He comforts our grief. He corrects the world’s wrongs. As the El Gibbor – Mighty and Merciful God, He conquers the great enemy of death for it never to return.
During this season, one of the many favorite stories is Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The classic story appeared as a children’s book in 1957, and about a decade later became a cartoon special. Then, in 2000, Jim Carey popularized the story with a full-length movie. Dr. Seuss says,
“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot.
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight or his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”
Regardless if you read the book or viewed the cartoon or movie, the Grinch is a familiar character who seeks to rob our Christmas joy and ruin our New Year hope. And for as long as there has been a Christmas – since the birth of Jesus Christ – there has always been a Grinch seeking to steal, kill, and destroy the life of Christmas; whether it was an Inn Keeper who had no room, Herod killing newborn children, a ferocious dragon seeking to devour the male child who would rule the nations (Rev 12); or persons today seeking to eclipse the Christ of Christmas; or circumstances causing us to groan and grieve until the Second Advent.
Isaiah’s prophecy reminds us that God whispers through creation, speaks in the coming of Christ but will roar in the return of Jesus. Death will be defeated fully and finally at His return. As Christians, we are mindful that Christmas is only merry because Jesus is mighty over death.
One of the greatest ways we can have merry in our Christmas is by messaging others about Jesus.
- Message others by inviting to SPBC.
- Message others by sharing the gift of salvation.
- Message others by giving to LMCO missions.
One of the greatest boxers in the world – Muhammad Ali – was on an airplane. The flight attendant requested Mr. Ali to buckle his seat belt numerous times. After going through the flight checklist and getting all the other flight attendees to buckle their seat belt, she came to Ali one more time to make her request. “Everyone has to buckle their seat belt, including you sir.” Ali, in typical fashion, denied the request and said, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.” The flight attendant calmly said, “Superman don’t need no airplane either. Now buckle your seat belt so we can all get this plane up in the air.”
All of us think we are stronger than we are and attempt situations and circumstances without God’s help. But there comes a time when we have to recognize our limitations. Mighty God has come into the world through Jesus to not just be our help, but our hope and everything. Won’t you turn your life to trusting in God’s way?
 Cf. Deut 10:17; Joshua 22:22; Neh 9:32; Job 36:5; Psalm 89:8; Isaiah 1:24, 10:20-21; Jer 32:18; Revelation 19:6
 Mere Christianity, 55-56.
 The following apologetic is summarized by Rebecca McLaughlin: Is Christmas Unbelievable?
 Tacitus, Annals 15.44
 See https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2021/05/15/why-believe-in-christianity-can-we-trust-the-bible-john-2030-31/
 Last line inspired by Rich Mullins, https://genius.com/Rich-mullins-creed-lyrics
 He Gets Us: Dinner Party https://youtu.be/rUUG3aXWiA0