The Roman playwright Horace, who lived and wrote in the days of Julius Caesar, criticized the other poets and playwrights of his day because every time they presented a problem, in the plot line of their stories, they utilized one of the many Roman gods to resolve it. In regards to their propensity to interject such gods, Horace said, ”Do not bring a god onto the stage unless the problem is one that deserves a god to solve it.”
In Isaiah 9:6 we read a Messianic prophecy written nearly seven hundred years before the birth of Christ which says:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
This is a popular passage this time of year when many people choose to focus on the birth of Jesus because of its association with Christmas. For the record, Scripture does not indicate when Jesus was born nor does it instruct us to celebrate the day of His birth. Regardless of the absence of such information from Scripture, many in our culture still associate the birth of Jesus with the holiday that is celebrated on December 25. Interestingly, Isaiah’s prophecy challenges us to focus not so much on Jesus’ birth, but on Jesus’ identity because understanding who Jesus is allows us to comprehend why Jesus came. So, over the next few weeks, as the birth of Jesus is prominently displayed and mentioned in our culture, we will explore the identities associated with Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 in order to answer the question posed by the popular hymn, “Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted an article on their website entitled, “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic,” which documented research from the past decade on sleep-related behaviors. According to their research, thirty percent of adults report getting an average of less than or equal to six hours of sleep per night when they actually need at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night. In other words, many people fail to get the rest they need even though it is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and I would contend that many Christians fail to get the rest they need because they fail to recognize that rest is an expectation of God.
Although the Thanksgiving holiday traces its roots back to the 17th century and was first observed nationally under the presidency of George Washington, it did not become an annual holiday until 1863 by proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. In Lincoln’s address regarding the Thanksgiving holiday, he noted that all blessings “are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” His statement is reminiscent of Habakkuk 3:2 in which Habakkuk prayed, “LORD, I have heard of your fame, I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” It is only fitting that recalling God’s awesome blessings and seeking His constant mercy, like Habakkuk, should ignite within us a heart of gratitude. But are we constantly grateful or does the thanksgiving mentality only impact us once a year?