A Glorious Battle

Dear Church Family,

My daughter is in charge of maintaining our “Christmas countdown” calendar in our home. Beginning at the end of November, each day she dutifully turns the manual wheel, counting down the days until Christmas. This week, she excitedly called to me, “Dad, guess what? There’s less than two weeks until Christmas!” She’s very excited.

Christmas is an exciting time as we remember God’s sending His Son to take on human flesh, born in weakness in a cattle stall, the Savior of sinners – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This time of year is filled with Christmas music and carols praising God for His love to mankind which was proclaimed through the host of heaven, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). Indeed, Christmas is often marked by warm thoughts and feelings – for God and for our fellow man. When we think about God in the flesh, wrapped in ‘swaddling cloths,’ it seems only natural.

A Glorious Battle

At the same time, there is a harsh reality that is also attached to Christmas. The work of Jesus Christ in His incarnation is also described in Scripture as the victory of a holy war – the holy war of God against the enemies of God’s people: sin, death, and the devil (Hebrews 2:14-15). The prophet Isaiah tells us that one of the things that will mark the coming of the Messiah is a great battle. A battle which he describes with the language of violence, of breaking, of blood-letting, and of burning: the ‘child who will be born to us’ will break the rod of the one who oppresses His glorious people (Isaiah 9:4-5).

In the sermon this coming Sunday, we will be examining this “glorious battle” as we continue in our series from Isaiah 9:

(Dec. 9)  A Glorious People (Isaiah 9:1-3)
(Dec. 16)  A Glorious Battle (Isaiah 9:4-5)
(Dec. 23)  A Glorious Child (Isaiah 9:6)
(Dec. 30)  A Glorious Kingdom (Isaiah 9:7)

At the heart of Isaiah 9:4-5, Isaiah says that this glorious battle in which the Messiah shall be victorious will be like the “day of Midian” (Isaiah 9:4). In my mind, this phrase is the key to understanding what Isaiah is talking about. To the original recipients of Isaiah’s prophecies, they most likely would have immediately understood and connected the dots. For us today, describing the glorious battle in which Christ is victorious over His and our enemies as being like the “day of Midian” may not be so apparent.

The “day of Midian” is a reference to the time in Israel’s history when the Lord raised up a judge and deliverer by the name of Gideon to defeat the Midianites. So, in preparation for the sermon this coming Sunday, I encourage you read about the “day of Midian” from the book of Judges, chapters 6-8. There, you will read of Gideon and his exploits as the Lord used him to put an end to the oppression of the Midianites. Gideon’s victory over in the “day of Midian” is a paradigm by which we may better understand the victory of God in the work of Jesus Christ.

The Day of the Lord

Another concept which is helpful in understanding how the “day of Midian” is a paradigm for the redemptive work of Christ is the concept of the “day of the Lord.” This is a technical phrase which several of the prophets employ to speak of the coming of the Lord – the coming of the Lord in salvation for His people and judgment for His enemies (see, for example: Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 2:31; Amos 5:18-20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:14; Malachi 4:5).

In the New Testament, this “day of the Lord” is described as being fulfilled in three ways: the first coming of Christ, the second coming of Christ, and all the time in-between. For example, the Apostle Peter explains on the day of Pentecost how the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a fulfillment of what Joel had written concerning the “day of the Lord” (Acts 2:17-21; cf. Joel 2:28-32a). In another place, Peter also spoke of the “day of the Lord” as being fulfilled in the future second coming of Christ (2 Peter 3:10). And, according to the Apostle Paul, the day of salvation which would come through the work of the Suffering Servant and Prince of Peace is now! (Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2)

Thus the “day of the Lord” as foretold in the prophets is fulfilled in three phases: (1) the inauguration of the kingdom of God in Jesus’ first coming, (2) the continuation of the kingdom of God as Jesus’ builds His Church today, and (3) the consummation of the kingdom of God in Jesus’ second coming.

I look forward to this coming Sunday as we explore the “day of Midian” and the “day of the Lord” together. Indeed, it is a glorious battle! That is what we celebrate at Christmas: the good news as prophesied through Isaiah – through His only begotten Son, God has been victorious: “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7). All those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ are blessed and privileged to share in the victory of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch