My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE PREACHING OF THE APOSTLES (Part III)
by Saint Irenaios of Lyons
Understanding the Fulfillment of Prophecy
Christ's Kingdom and the World's Response
Isaiah the Prophet also says, "And they shall wish that they had been burned with fire; for unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given, whose government is upon His shoulders, and His name is called Angel of Great Counsel. For I will bring peace upon the rulers, against peace and health to Him. Great is His rule, and of His peace there is no end, upon the throne of David and upon His Kingdom, to guide and to uphold with righteousness and judgment, from this time forth and forever" (Isaiah 9:5ff).
This passage announces both that the Son of God is to be born and that He is to be an everlasting King. The words "they shall wish that they had been burned with fire" are said of those who do not believe Him and who have done to Him all that they have done. At the Judgment they will say, "Oh, if only we had been burned with fire before the Son of God was born, rather than not to have believed in Him after He was born!"
For those who died before Christ appeared there is still hope of salvation at the judgment seat of the Risen Christ. All those who feared God and died in righteousness, having the Spirit of God in them, such as the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and Righteous people, have this hope. Those, however, who did not believe in Christ after He appeared, will face only unbending vengeance in the judgment.
The words, "whose government is set upon His shoulders," are a picture of the cross which was against His back when He was crucified. The cross, which was and is a disgrace to Him, (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23; Psalm 21:9; 1 Corinthians 1:23) and because of Him for us, is, says the Prophet, His "government," for it is a sign of His Kingdom. "Angel of Great Counsel" means that He is the Messenger of the Father, for He announced Him to us.
Christ the Ruler
What has been said shows clearly how the Prophets foretold the birth of the Son of God on earth and the manner of that birth, as well as the fact that He would be revealed as the Christ. They also foretold in what land and among what race of people He was to be born. In Genesis Moses says, "There shall not fail to be a ruler of Judah, nor a leader from his loins, till He come for whom it lies in store; and He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles; washing His robe in wine and His garment in the blood of the grape" (Genesis 49:10f).
Judah, a son of Jacob, was an ancestor of the Jews, and it is from him that they get their name. There was always a ruler from among them until Christ came. From the time of His coming, however, their power was taken away, the land of the Jews was given over to Roman rule, and they no longer had a ruler of their own.
He "for Whom lies in store" the Heavenly Kingdom had arrived; He Who "washed His robe in wine, and His garment in the blood of the grape" had come. His "robe," His "garment," is those who believe in Him, whom He has cleansed, redeeming us by His Blood. It is His Blood which is called "the blood of the grape." No man makes the "blood" of the grape, for it is made by God, to "make glad" (cf. Psalm 104:15) those who drink it. Similarly, no man produced the flesh and blood of Christ, for it was made by God. "The Lord Himself gave the sign" (cf. Isaiah 7:14) of the Virgin, that is, Emmanuel, Who came from the Virgin. He it is Who makes those who drink Him glad (cf. Psalm 104:15: Genesis 49:12); that is those who receive His Sprit receive everlasting gladness (cf. Isaiah 35:10).
He, therefore, is "the expectation of the Gentiles" of those who "hope in Him" (Isaiah 11:1-10) because we expect Him to re-establish the Kingdom.
Moses also says: "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a leader shall spring up from Israel" (Numbers 24:17). Here again it is clearly shown that His coming in the flesh would be among the Jews. He was born from Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, coming down from heaven and carrying out the plan set forth. The "star" in fact appeared in heaven, and He came. By "leader" is meant King, for He is King of all the redeemed.
At His birth the star appeared to the Magi, who lived in the East, and through it they learned that Christ was born. Led by the star, they came to Judea, following until it reached Bethlehem, where Christ was born. There, they entered the house where He lay wrapped in swaddling clothes. Above His head shone the star, showing the Magi the Son of God, the Christ (cf. St. Matthew 2:1-12).
The Second Coming
The Root of Jesse
Isaiah the Prophet tells us further that:
"There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall come forth from the root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of might, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness. The spirit of the fear of the Lord shall fill Him. He shall not judge according to appearances, nor reprove according to report, but He shall give just judgment to the humble and show mercy to the humble of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the word of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the ungodly. And He shall be girded with righteousness, and the truth shall encompass His flanks. And the wolf shall feed with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid, and the calf and the lion shall pasture together. And a little child shall put his hand in the hole of the viper, and on the nest of the brood of the vipers, and they shall not hurt him. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and He who rises up to rule over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles hope; and His rising up shall be honor" (Isaiah 11:1-10).
By these words he tells us that Christ is born of her who is descended from Abraham and David. Jesse was a descendant of Abraham and was the father of David--and the Virgin who conceived Christ was a descendant of David. The "rod" is from her. As to that rod, because of it Moses used a rod to work miracles before Pharoah. Further, a rod is for mankind a sign of rule. The "flower" refers to Christ's body, for the Spirit caused it to bud forth, as we have already said.
The Judgment and Mercy of a Righteous God
His Divinity is shown more clearly and strongly by the words: "He shall not judge according to appearance, nor reprove according to report, but He shall give just judgment to the humble and show mercy to the humble of the earth" (Isaiah 11:3). Judging without respect of persons and without partiality, not favoring highly placed people, but giving just, fair and equal treatment to the humble, is characteristic of the great and glorious qualities of God's righteousness. He is not subject to influence and favors only the righteous. Mercy is especially characteristic of God, Who is able to save by mercy.
But, "He shall strike the earth with a word and slay the ungodly" by only a word. This also is proper for God, Who does all things by His Logos/Word. When the Prophet says, "His loins shall be girded with righteousness, and His flanks encompassed in truth," he proclaims both the outward human shape and the inward Supreme Righteousness of Christ.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God