One of my earlier Advent essays focused on this promise through Isaiah: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. . . .” You can find it here.
The ‘great light’ Isaiah spoke of in his ninth chapter has a Name. It is the same Name that delivered me from my own darkness. It is the same Name that has delivered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands of men and women during the last 2000 years from their darkness.
The Holy Spirit told us that Name in the 7th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy. He is called “Immanuel’. In the 9th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, God reveals more about that Name:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us . . . And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace . . . . (Isaiah 9:6-7)
But unless I make an intentional effort during the busy-ness of Christmas – and in the commotion of the other 11 months of the calendar as well – I do not often think of Him who both Immanuel and ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.’
I easily intellectualize the doctrine of the incarnation, but am too often too busy to contemplate the ramifications and the application of God-With-Us to my life.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, several science fiction writers imagined a ‘dimension’ beyond our reality, a time-space continuum which co-exists with ours but is utterly undetectable to us.
To borrow from that other ‘dimension’ idea, what if the Kingdom of God Jesus spoke of is much closer to our time and space than even science fiction writers imagined? What if the reason Jesus so often said the Kingdom of God is ‘in our midst’ is because the Kingdom is actually ‘in our midst’ – an imperceptible world co-existing with our space and time continuum.
And if that is true, then Immanuel – the ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace, is also unseen, but very much present and ‘in our midst.’
Think of that possibility for a moment: The Kingdom of God existing outside of our natural world simultaneously, yet undetectably, co-exists with ours; A kingdom as real and tangible as was the resurrected Jesus when, in that locked room, He stepped into our space and time and said, “Here are my hands and my feet. Touch me and believe.” (John 20)
In the busy-ness of this Advent season, buying gifts, preparing meals, visiting family and friends – how unruffled would our sometimes-frenzied preparations be if we knew the Kingdom – and the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace – is literally with us? How would our perspective of not only Christmas, but of work schedules, politics, finances, health . . . . how would our perspective of all the affairs of this life change if we knew in the depths of our spirits the Kingdom of God is not somewhere ‘up there’, but is as close as the air we breathe?
What if Jesus really meant it when He said the kingdom of God is in our midst?