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Mighty God

Dec 06, 2017

Passage: Isaiah 9:6

Preacher: Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Category: Advent, Wednesday

Detail:

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes we just need a hero: like young men who pull drivers from their burning vehicles, nurses and doctors who save lives through their medical gifts, police officers and fire fighters who literally save those threatened by violence or storm, federal officers who stop acts of terrorism, military personnel trained to defend our country saving us from unfathomable threats, or those people who by virtue of their constant sacrificial service to us are our day-to-day hero’s who just keep us going (like faithful parents, spouses, or friends). Perhaps we are so enamored by the idea of hero – as depicted by the few decades of Hollywood DC and Marvel fantasies on the big screen – that we in fact betray our secret yearning for hero’s, because we believe (at some level) we need them.

Back in 1984 Bonnie Tyler released the song, “Holding Out for a Hero.” The lyrics are catchy and easily flow from those who sing along:

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn
And I dream of what I need

I need a hero 
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life!

The lyrics describe the “hero” in spectacular fashion (if not spectacularly cheesy), but a song like this can only fall short from the truly amazing depictions of real-life hero’s in the Old Testament.

“In the first analysis, might and mighty men were causes for celebration in the O[ld] T[estament]. During much of the biblical period Israel was in a heroic age. Thus the feats and exploits of her champions were causes for delight and storytelling. Such an exploit was that of David’s three mighty men as they broke the Philistine lines to bring him water from Bethlehem (1 Chr 11:15-19) (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 1, Harris, Archer, Jr., and Waltke, Moody Press: Chicago, 1980. 148).”

These hero’s or “mighty men” included Josheb-basshebeth, the chief of King David’s “three mighty men,” followed by Eleazar and Shammah, all empowered by the Lord to defeat large numbers of Philistines. In one instance Josheb-basshebeth defeated 800 of Israel’s enemies with a spear (2 Sam 23). This guy was like Bruce Lee on steroids.

The reason, however, this background is important is not for us to glorify men who turn to dust, but much more importantly helps us better know Jesus. Isaiah calls Him “Mighty” (the third title) and “God” (the fourth title). Jesus is Mighty God or the Hero God; the hero-champion; the great warrior who is greater than all others; no one is mightier than He. It is a title that we aren’t accustomed to. It is much easier for us to picture our Savior as meek and mild. He is that too, but He is also the Mighty God who saves over all of God’s enemies that stand against you and me. He is “God a mighty hero (Holladay, William L., Ed., A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of The Old Testament, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988. 53).”

God was known this way in the Older Testament. “It is not surprising that in such a society God was often depicted as a warrior. God is the true prototype of the mighty man, and if an earthly warrior’s deeds are recounted, how much more should God’s be. Thus the psalmists recount God’s mighty acts (106:8; 145:4, 11, 12; etc.) and in various places those attributes which a warrior-king might be expected to possess – wisdom, might, counsel and understanding – are attributed par excellence to God (Job 12:13; Prov 8:14) (Harris, et al., 148).”

The people of Israel – the Old Testament people of God – knew about needing hero’s. Isaiah the prophet revealed Israel’s sin; their unfaithfulness to God. And in response to their rebellion, God judged them by permitting foreign powers to invade. As a result, they also needed saving.

They needed champions, real hero’s to fight their enemies – enemies like the Assyrians and Babylonians -- who came representing God’s judgment against His own people. Interestingly, the Lord who righteously permitted judgment to fall on His people, was also responsible for granting mercy to His people by sending them hero’s. It was God’s way of maintaining His constant justice and constant mercy at the same time.

And these hero’s were of the battling kind. Much of the Old Testament context (including the book of Isaiah) is militaristic. For example, Isaiah the prophet witnessed the military siege against Jerusalem by the Assyrians. “Assyrian military operations were accompanied by ruthless brutality. Some earlier kings had shown great brutality to all whom they attacked, but Tiglath-pileser [whom Isaiah predicted would come (chapter 7)] and his successors used cruelty as a planned policy (Bruce, F.F., Israel and the Nations, Paternoster Publishing, 1997. 53).” That is, Israel’s enemies presented a terrible threat and they had every reason to be filled with fear.

But without a hero, so do we. On our own, our enemies are myriad and it is easy to fill overwhelmed. One brother in Christ posted a picture on Facebook of his wife who is very ill. My heart sunk for them. The world tries to generate superficial joy through things, sights, and sounds, but when people are confronted by enemies that threaten life itself, then it is just a fact that there is a real need to bear each other’s burdens and to weep with those who weep (Gal 6 and Ro 12). The enemies are not make-believe. The enemies threaten to rob our joy and absolutely spoil our Christmas, not to mention, the rest of our lives.

And this is the reason we need to know Jesus as our Mighty God. The scene of the rider on the White Horse in Revelation is presented both in chapter 6 and chapter 19, but only in chapter 19 is the Rider Jesus our God-Hero. He is presented as a very mighty-warrior-hero indeed. Scripture says the Lord Jesus “in righteousness…makes war.” We are presented with the powerful imagery of where that war took place, especially at the place that made His “robe dipped in blood;” when The Word of God defeated the devil on the cross of Christ that won His and our victory over sin and death (enemies infinitely more powerful that the Assyrians and Babylonians), though the Lord saved Israel from these as well!

In the Lord Jesus, we learn that praising God for being mighty is not just something we do to demonstrate piety and humility. Sometimes Christians think that to simply acknowledge the Lord’s might is, in-itself, to know the Lord. But to simply know that the Lord as omnipotent does not make Him known. If anything, such bare knowledge should cause us to be terrified: “But what will the Lord do with such power, especially if I am uncertain as to how He views me?” To know the Lord in His sheer power is for us to be destroyed. If powerful angels in their glory, cause people to hit the deck in fear; what of God’s glory, power, and might?! These are overwhelming for poor sinners like us.

But to truly know the Mighty God-Christ is to know what He does with His almighty power. He uses it to save us! “This king [has] God’s true might about him, power so great that it can absorb all the evil…hurled…until none is left to hurl (53:2-10; 59:15-20; 63:1-9) (Oswalt, John N., The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39. Grand Rapids: Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986. 247).”

The Mighty God Jesus has taken for you everything your enemies could hurl and have hurled – first intended to destroy you – but since the Lord Jesus stood in your stead, then hurled at Him. All the flaming arrows; all the terrible attacks; all that rouses fear in our hearts…all of it was hurled at Him. And in His saving, merciful and loving might; all these were deflected and brought to nothing. Your Hero took it and beat it, for you.

Our Great Hero God met your enemy called “sin,” and covered it with His blood; our Great Hero God met your enemy called “the world,” and rendered its every attack to ruin your life as futile. Our Great Hero God met those who dragged you off to be accused and stoned, and caused them to cower in defeat. You stand up before your Hero and He asks you, “Where are your accusers?” You look around and say, “They are all gone!” And He says, “Then neither do I accuse you!” Our Great Hero met your enemy called “the devil” and his every evil attack against you intended to destroy your faith has only led you back to your Hero God who has crushed the devil’s head. Rejoice this Advent Christians. The Mighty God is your Savior! The Mighty God uses His might and power to save! The Mighty God is your Hero! To prepare for His coming is a joy! Come Lord Jesus! Come, Mighty God! Come, our Hero!