On Christmas Eve’s reading in Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide Through Advent, Rick Brannan takes readers back to an Old Testament promise of the coming of the Messiah, Isaiah 9. The wording begins in unfamiliar territory, but soon it calls up the familiar strains of Handel’s Messiah (this and all Bible quotations on the guide come from the Lexham English Bible):
For a child has been born for us;
a son has been given to us.
And the dominion will be on his shoulder,
and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
But the passage doesn’t stop there. The unfamiliar words are still Messianic and still very, very rich:
His dominion will grow continually,
and to peace there will be no end
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and sustain it
with justice and righteousness
now and forever.
The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will do this.
Brannan guides families through the meaning of these important prophecies:
1. Isaiah 9:6–7 is often read at Christmas. What do verses 2–5 add to our understanding of the whole passage?
Response: Verse 2 contrasts darkness and light to introduce the light. Verse 3 introduces the joy this light brings. Verses 4 and 5 recall trouble and cast the light as the solution to the trouble. Into this, verse 6 explains the light, the child that is to come.
2. How does this passage show that the incarnation is important to remember during Advent?
Response: The one who brings the light; the one who brings the joy; the one who is the solution to present troubles—this one comes born of a woman. The one who saves us was born of a woman and was human himself. During Advent we remember his first arrival and look forward to his second coming.