Mighty God

December 5, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Isaiah 9:1-7 |

Series:

Mighty God | Isaiah 9:1-7
Brian Hedges | December 5, 2021

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 9.

As you’re turning there, let me ask a question. This should be a pretty easy one. How many of you have ever seen a Marvel movie? Let me see your hand. I think that’s almost every hand in the room. It’s fine if you’re not a comic book fan; that’s no problem. But the Marvel cinematic universe is something that has never really been done in movie history before. There are 26 films—I think I’ve seen all but one—and another 12 in development.

Now, I’ll admit, they are not all equally good, and occasionally there are some moral problems or things that we might object to that do not reflect a Christian worldview. But for the most part these movies have been high quality, family-friendly entertainment, with characters such as Ironman, Thor, and Captain America.

Now, if you don’t like comic books, you don’t like superhero movies, that’s totally fine. You might think, “That’s just fantasy; it’s escapism; it’s great for the kids, but I’m not particularly interested in that.” That’s fine. No need for you to like those.

But it is interesting that scholars have kind of studied the phenomenon of comic books and superheroes in the 20th century, and have said that the whole pantheon of superheroes in our current American culture is something like a modern mythology for the secular age. I actually have a book in my library called Supergods, and it talks about how a lot of the comic book heroes draw their inspiration from ancient mythology and from archetypes and from religion. These heroes are seen to have certain powers that mimic, in some ways, stories of ancient gods in Greece or Rome, and sometimes there are even echoes of Christianity in these stories.

I think it speaks to a deep need in all of our hearts, even in a secular age, where more and more people are atheist or agnostic or nonspiritual in some way or another, or are rejecting traditional religion, Judeo-Christian religion; even in a culture like that, there is a hunger for something supernatural, something divine. There is an innate need that we have in our hearts for a rescuer, for a hero, a champion, someone who will come to deliver us; and that gets expressed in our literature and in our films.

That relates to the passage we’re looking at this morning in Isaiah 9, as you’ll see here in a few minutes. We began a series last week on Isaiah 9:6, and we’re looking at the Messianic titles of Jesus Christ. There are four titles that are given to us in Isaiah 9:6.

Last week we looked at Christ as the Wonderful Counselor. We saw how the Messiah is this divine, supernatural being—the wonder of the Messiah—but he’s also characterized by wisdom, by counsel; he’s a Wonderful Counselor. But he comes as a child, he comes in weakness as a child. That was the theme last week.

Today we look at the next of these titles, the title Mighty God. Now, what I want to do in the course of all these messages is not only expound the meaning of the title in question each week, but also understand it in light of its context within the prophecy of Isaiah, and then connect the dots with the biblical, theological themes in Scripture that find their fulfillment, find their culmination in Jesus Christ. I think if we will keep all those things in mind—the immediate context, the broader biblical context, and then the fulfillment of these things in the ministry of Jesus Christ—it will help us to understand what’s going on in this passage.

I want to begin by reading Isaiah 9:1-7. This is the larger segment within which verse 6 falls. Let me read that passage to us, and then we’ll dig in. Isaiah 9, beginning in verse 1.

“But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
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.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

This is God’s word.

The message outline is very simple this morning. I want you to see three things. I want you to see that our king is the divine warrior; secondly, that he rescues us from darkness; and thirdly, that he rescues us through self-sacrifice. Our king is the divine warrior who rescues us through self-sacrifice. That’s the message.

1. Our King is the Divine Warrior

I want you to just understand the meaning of this phrase, “Mighty God.” In Hebrew it’s the phrase El Gibbor. Two words, and we need to understand each one of those words.

The word Gibbor is an important word, and it really carries the idea of a mighty warrior. This word is used many, many times in the Old Testament, and most of the time in a military context. Let me give you a few examples.

In the story of David and Goliath, Goliath in that story is called the champion of the Philistines, and it’s the word gibbor. He was the champion of the Philistines; he was their supreme, premier warrior, fighting on their behalf.

In Genesis 10:8, Nimrod is called the first on earth to be a mighty man. In the stories of Joshua and the armies of Israel as they conquered the land of promise, they took Canaan’s land and they conquered the pagan inhabitants of that land, their soldiers were called “men of valor.” The word is sometimes translated as a warrior.

In 2 Samuel 23, David’s mighty men—these men who were loyal to him and were famous for their exploits of courage in battle—they are called the mighty men, right, these soldiers, and it’s this word.

The word is even translated in the ESV as “heroes” in Isaiah 5:2. There’s the connection to the concept, the idea of a hero.

The idea here is that the Messiah is not only the Wonderful Counselor, the Messiah is also the divine warrior, the God warrior. That really comes from the other word in this phrase, El Gibbor. El, of course, is one of the names for God. It’s often paired with other words—El Shaddai, which means God all-sufficient, God the almighty one; or El Elyon, the Lord [Most High]. Here it is El Gibbor, the God warrior, the divine warrior. That’s the idea.

Our king is the divine warrior. This phrase, El Gibbor, any other time it’s used in the Old Testament it’s always a reference to God himself. For example, Deuteronomy 10:17, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords; the great, the mighty, the awesome God.”

Or right here in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah 10:20-21. “In that day, the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.” Same phrase as right here.

Or remember this phrase from Psalm 24, asking, “Who is this king of glory?” Psalm 24:8, “Who is this king of glory?” Here’s the answer: “The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, mighty in battle.”

This is the King. He is the mighty God, the divine warrior.

John Oswalt in his commentary says, “Wherever El Gibbor occurs elsewhere in the Bible, there is no doubt that the term refers to God.” It is, once again, another line of evidence for not just the Messiah being the son of David, but the Messiah actually being this divine figure, the Son of God.

It alerts us to a theme in the Bible, an important theme, and it is this theme of the divine warrior. There’s a number of Old Testament scholars who have done work on this, and two in particular are guys named Trempor Longman and Daniel Reed. They wrote a wonderful book called God Is a Warrior, where they show us this theme as it’s developed in Scripture. You can see it on this chart here.

There are really five phases to this theme, the divine warrior theme, and phase one (in the earlier books of the Bible) is where God fights on behalf of his people’s flesh and blood enemies. Think, for example, of the exodus. God delivers his people, the children of Israel, from slavery in Egypt, and he does it by an act of war against Pharaoh and the hosts of Egypt.

You see this also in Joshua and Judges, where God is delivering his people from the Canaanites and from the Philistines and the Ammonites and all these different groups of people—God fighting on behalf of his people. Oftentimes, when they would go to war there would actually be a supernatural element to their victory. Like the fall of Jericho; when Joshua marches around the city seven times and the walls fall down, because God is fighting for his people. He is the divine warrior.

But there’s a shift that happens as the tribes of Israel become the people of God, they become instituted as a nation, but then they begin to depart from God. Right? You have this in the story of the kings of Israel and many of the prophets who wrote in the context of these kings. They are turning away from the Lord, and what happens is God begins to fight in judgment against Israel itself. God turns against them; he judges them because of their sin, because of their apostasy.

But the prophets (here’s phase three) look forward to the future, and they are proclaiming the advent of a divine warrior, a Messianic figure who’s going to come and deliver God’s people once again. That’s what you have right here in Isaiah 9 with this divine warrior theme, as well as at the end of the book of Isaiah. There’s another figure; it’s another Messianic figure that combines with this one to give us a picture of the Messiah, and the picture in Isaiah 59 and 61 is the picture of an anointed conqueror who comes to bring redemption for God’s people and to bring justice and righteousness to the earth.

Then we get to the New Testament Gospels and the letters reflecting on Christ’s earthly ministry, and they often picture him as a divine warrior who comes and who fights against evil. Remember Jesus facing off against Satan, the devil, in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. Think about his conflict with demons and how he’s exorcizing demons, casting out demons. And of course, the final battle on the cross against the powers of darkness.

I love the way one old hymn writer put it. He is imagining here Jesus as the second Adam, to use the language of the apostle Paul, who comes and who fights in our place. He says,

O loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

That’s the idea. Jesus comes as the divine warrior, he comes as the second Adam, he comes as the champion, the representative for the people of God, and he fights to come to our rescue.

The final phase of this divine warrior theme, of course, is yet to come. It is the second coming of Christ, the advent of Christ, the final battle, when Jesus Christ comes again. Read the book of Revelation; what do you have? You have all kinds of warfare imagery as Jesus comes conquering and to conquer; as he comes to defeat the enemies of God—wickedness, sin, and evil—once and for all.

This is the theme in Scripture, and it’s important when we read passages like this that we connect the dots, we see how it all holds together and how it points to Jesus Christ.

Now, there are implications from this for our own lives, and one of the implications is this: it shows us that the kingdom of God comes to us through a mighty rescue. It shows us our need; it shows us that we were in bondage, we were slaves, we were defeated, we were captives to the enemy. This passage talks about breaking the yoke of burden and the rod of oppression. How does he do it? He does it by an act of war.

When we think about Christmas, we often think about what is visible on the surface of Christmas. We think about the quiet, peaceful, idyllic scene of a child’s birth in Bethlehem. But you know what that moment was? It was an invasion! It was God sending his Son, invading the realm of darkness, invading enemy-occupied territory. It was God sending his Son on a rescue mission. That’s what the incarnation is. It is God’s act of war against the kingdom of darkness, as the Son of God, the mighty warrior, comes to rescue his people. Our king is a divine warrior, and he comes to rescue us from darkness. That’s point number two.

2. The Divine Warrior Comes to Rescue Us from Darkness

You see that in the context of this passage, verses 2-5. Let me read it again, and notice here the situation, how the situation is described for the people of God, the context into which this child is born and this son is given.

Verse 2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Okay, darkness is a metaphor for all that is wrong. Here are people who are in darkness rather than in light.

That passage, of course, is quoted by Matthew in the Gospel of Matthew 4, applied to the ministry of Jesus Christ in Galilee.

Look at verse 3. “You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy. They rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.” So, there are three references to joy, and then also gladness—this abundant joy in the people of God, but it’s joy that’s coming in the place of the darkness, of the gloom that has been over the land.

How does this come? Look at verse 4. This gives the explanation. “For the yoke of his burden, the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.”

What is this? This is breaking the weapons of war; it’s breaking the instruments of their oppression. It’s bringing freedom to the people of God.

Verse 5, “For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. That means the war will be over.

That’s the picture, and the context here, of course, which I described last week, was the Old Testament people of God. This was their literal experience of living through exile, judgment, bondage, slavery to other nations, other kingdoms. They had been rescued from bondage in Egypt, but then, because of their sins, God’s judgment came, and it came in several stages; first of all, for the northern kingdom of Israel. Damascus fell, then Samaria fell to Assyria in 733 B.C.

There was still the southern kingdom, and it lasted for over another hundred years, but by 597 B.C. (or 586, depending on whose date you follow) Babylon comes, conquers Jerusalem, and takes captive many more of God’s people, carrying them off to Babylon.

Those are the two situations that are in view in the prophetic ministry of Isaiah: the Assyrian invasion, in view right here in Isaiah 9, and then the Babylonian captivity in view in Isaiah 40 and following.

It was exile, and it’s that context of historical exile that we often sing about when we sing our Advent hymns. For example,

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

I mean, that’s the situation that’s being described. Their exile, as they were waiting for deliverance, when the Messiah, the Davidic king, would come.

But listen, their historical exile is a picture of our spiritual exile, because we all live east of Eden. We all live banished from the garden, exiled from the world as God originally intended it to be. We are all, in a sense, in darkness, and we need light.

J.R.R. Tolkien, the British author famous for The Lord of the Rings, wrote a series of letters that were also published . . . and in one of his letters he says, “We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it. Our whole nature is... still soaked with a sense of exile.”

Isn’t that an interesting way to put it? “Our whole nature is soaked with a sense of exile.” What does he mean by that? I think he means our longings for peace, for justice, for beauty, for righteousness; our longing for the world to be better than it is; the sense that we are not at home, that we are strangers in a strange land. Then the sense of estrangement in our souls, that we feel sometimes far from God, that we feel that we are in darkness, that we feel that we are without hope.

Do you remember how Paul described the Gentiles in Ephesians 2:11? He says, “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having now hope and without God in the world,” or, as one commentator put it, they were “Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless, and Godless.” That’s our condition before the gospel comes: without God, without hope in the world.

But the good news is that Jesus has come, and he comes to rescue us from the darkness, to rescue us from sin and death.

One of the ways this is seen in the New Testament is how the New Testament uses the language, the structures, the motifs of the Old Testament Scriptures in telling the story of Jesus. We don’t have time to go into this in a lot of detail. There’s been a lot of academic study on the Gospel of Mark, showing in the Gospel of Mark that it is structured using the story of the exodus as read by the prophet Isaiah. There are all kinds of structural markers that retell the exodus story, and there are all kinds of literary quotations and allusions to Isaiah, who also retells the exodus story as he looks forward to the people of God being set free from exile.

Let me just show you one example in Mark 5. In the context here, it’s fairly early in Jesus’s ministry. At the end of Mark 4 Jesus is found in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and there’s a storm with his disciples. Do you remember this? The disciples are scared to death that they’re going to drown, and what does Jesus do? He simply speaks, he calms the storm, and they make safe passage across the sea.

Then, in Mark 5 you have the story of Jesus casting out a demon from a man in the country of the Gerasenes. I want to read the passage, Mark 5:1-13, and I think when you see this you’ll never read this story quite the same again. This is really amazing. Here’s how the story goes.

“They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”

Can you imagine a more desperate situation than this? Here’s a man who is possessed by darkness and by evil; absolutely hopeless. Can’t even live among other people; self-destructive in every way.

Verse 6 says, “And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he was saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion [mark that], for we are many.’ And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, ‘Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.’ So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.”

What the scholars have shown—this is really significant—is that, first of all, you have a lot of military terminology in this story. Just take the word “legion”. What was a legion? A legion was an organized army, the Roman army, organized according to legions. It would be something like 6,000 Roman soldiers.

But even the word “herd”, when it speaks of a herd of pigs, that word is not generally a word used for animals, it’s a word, rather, that carries the idea of a band of military recruits.

Then this phrase “rush down,” they rushed down the hillside into the Sea of Galilee, that’s the word that’s usually used for rushing into battle.

So you have military terminology, and then you also have a pattern of events. Here’s the pattern: Jesus with his disciples give them safe passage through the sea in Mark 4, but then in Mark 5 Jesus sends an army, a legion of demons, and they are drowned in the sea. Does it remind you of anything? The story of the Exodus, where God makes a path through the sea and takes his people safely across, and then Pharaoh and his armies and this chariots are drowned in the sea.

Isaiah 43:16-19, “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise; they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: ‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?’”

All of this is showing us that Jesus comes on the scene as the divine warrior. He comes bringing the new exodus. He comes releasing his people from bondage and from slavery. He comes to conquer and vanquish the darkness.

Now, apply this to yourself this morning, and just ask yourself the question now: where are you enslaved to darkness? Maybe it’s an addiction—alcohol or drugs, or an eating disorder, or pornography. Maybe it’s your past—bitterness, anger, resentment. Wherever you are enslaved, Isaiah tells us that the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.

Listen, just as this man who is possessed of demons—they tried binding him with chains, right? They tried constraining him, restraining him, reforming him. Nothing would work! The only thing that would work was a power encounter with Jesus Christ.

Listen, whatever your bondage is this morning, wherever you’re struggling with darkness and brokenness in your life this morning, you will not get better by resolutions. You will not get better by trying harder. You only get better as you have an encounter with Jesus Christ, the mighty warrior who sets you free from sin and death.

Paul tells us we’ve been delivered from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of his dear Son. If you are longing for freedom today, the way to find it is by looking to Jesus Christ, the mighty warrior, who fights on behalf of his people.

What’s a practical way you can do that? Here’s a suggestion. Take the Gospel of Mark—it is my favorite of the Gospels; I just love the Gospel of Mark. It’s so simple, so straightforward, so filled with the work of Jesus. Take the Gospel of Mark, read through and journal as you go, and note down every encounter Jesus has with another person. Watch him as he heals the leper, as he forgives sin, as he calms a storm, as he casts out demons, as he raises the dead to life. As you read, observe his compassion, marvel at his power, and pray, “Lord Jesus, rescue me.” See yourself in those stories.

Listen, he can cleanse you of the leprosy of sin. He can raise you from spiritual deadness. He can deliver you from the torments of evil and of darkness in your life. He can forgive your sin, he can win the victory in every battle that you are facing. Our King, the divine warrior, rescues us from darkness.

3. The Divine Warrior Rescues Us from Darkness through Self-Sacrifice

But there’s more. Here’s the third point: he rescues us through self-sacrifice. He is the divine warrior who comes to rescue his people from darkness, but he rescues them through self-sacrifice.

Last week, the last point in the sermon was the weakness of the Messiah; this Messiah, this Messianic figure, this king, comes as a child. He comes in weakness, the weakness of the incarnation. But in the broader context of Isaiah this Davidic king is not only the Messianic king, he is also the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, who bears the sins of God’s people. He is the anointed conqueror of Isaiah 59 and 61, who defeats the enemies of God, brings redemption in the power of God’s Spirit.

Even in this passage, there’s something like a hint of a transfer. Verse 4 says, “For the yoke of his burden and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken,” and then in verse 6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.”

I love this comment from Alec Motyer, an Old Testament scholar, on Isaiah. He says, “His people’s shoulders are delivered when his shoulders accept the burden of rule.” But the first thing he took upon his shoulders was not a king’s mantle, it was the wooden beam of the cross. In order to reign, he first has to die.

You see, this is the twist. This king comes as a divine warrior, fighting evil, but the way in which he wins his victory is by dying in our place, becoming the sin bearer, laying down his life for his people.

We already read it in Colossians 2 in the word of assurance this morning. It tells us that Christ disarmed the powers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. That’s how he wins the triumph! It’s by the cross. It’s by dying in their place.

Or take Hebrews 2:14-15. It tells us that “through death Christ destroyed the one who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

I love the way Martin Luther puts it in his commentary on Galatians 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. As it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’”

Luther here imagines Christ coming to fight our enemies, and he imagines our three enemies: sin, death, and the curse. He pictures a battle. This is very vivid preaching here from Luther. Listen to what he says.

“Let us see how Christ was able to gain the victory over our enemies. The sins of the whole world—past, present, and future—fastened themselves upon Christ and condemned him, but because Christ is God, he had an everlasting and unconquerable righteousness. These two, the sin of the world and the righteousness of God, met in a death struggle. Furiously, the sin of the world assailed the righteousness of God. Righteousness is immortal and invincible; on the other hand, sin is a mighty tyrant who subdues all men. This tyrant pounces on Christ, but Christ’s righteousness is unconquerable. The result is inevitable; sin is defeated, and righteousness triumphs and reigns forever. In the same manner was death defeated. Death is the emperor of the world; he strikes down kings, princes, all men. He has an idea to destroy all life, but Christ has immortal life, and life immortal gained the victory over death. Through Christ, death has lost her sting. Christ is the death of death. The curse of God waged a similar battle with the eternal mercy of God in Christ. The curse meant to condemn God’s mercy, but it could not do it, because the mercy of God is everlasting. The curse had to give way, therefore Christ, the power of God, righteousness, blessing, grace, and life, overcomes and destroys these monsters, sin, death, and the curse, without war or weapons, in his own body and in himself.”

To which we might say, hallelujah and praise God! He’s won the victory. He is the mighty God.

Back to the Marvel universe for just a minute. Spoiler alert: we’ve been in a pandemic for two years. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, you don’t really want to see it, right? At the end of Avengers Endgame you have this final, climactic battle between the avengers, all these superheroes, and the forces of evil, led by Thanos and all these different alien figures.

Dr. Strange has already seen that there’s only one way the victory’s going to be won. There’s one path by which earth survives. There comes this moment where the only way to win is to take the weapon of Thanos, this glove, this gauntlet that he wears—take the weapon of Thanos away from him and use it against him. But no one is powerful enough or strong enough to do that without the loss of their own life. It’s my favorite moment, maybe, in all of the Marvel movies, is when [after Thanos says, "I am inevitable,"]  Tony Stark (Ironman) puts the glove on his hand, and he says to Thanos, “I am Ironman.” He snaps his fingers, and the battle’s won. Thanos dies and the aliens all die. But Ironman doesn’t do it without great cost to himself. He only wins through self-sacrifice.

Listen, in an infinitely greater way, when Jesus the Messiah, our King, came to save us, there was only one way. It was by taking onto himself a burden that no one else could bear, the burden of our sin and our guilt, and by facing off against the one who had the power of death, the devil, in taking the weapon out of his hand, using it against him, through death he defeated the power of death once and for all and delivered us from the fear of death.

That’s the gospel. He’s the mighty warrior. He’s the God warrior. He is the champion for his people.

What’s the application? Simply this, brother or sister, friend: believe the gospel. Look to Christ, your brother, your captain, and your king, the one who died in your place, and believe with all your heart. Believe this! This is the truth: there is no enemy so strong that he cannot defeat it. There is no situation so hopeless that he can’t bring rescue. There are no sins so dark that he can’t forgive. There are no demons so deep that he cannot cast out and overcome. Christ is Savior because he is the divine warrior, and he will fight on your behalf. Look to him for deliverance this morning. Let’s pray.

Almighty God, we thank you that you loved us so much that you did not leave us in our sin and in our darkness, but that you sent your Son to be our champion, the pioneer of our salvation, the divine warrior, the hero who would come and would rescue us through self-sacrifice.

Oh God, I pray that you would help us to take this good news to heart, that our deliverance does not rest in our own hands, it rests in the hands of Christ, the mighty warrior. We can’t save ourselves, we can’t rescue ourselves from the darkness, but we can look to the one who has given himself for us. I pray that the light and the beauty and the glory of that love and of that grace, of that good news, would so invade our hearts this morning that the shackles would fall off, that we would be released from the things that enslave us.

Lord, for those who do not know Christ this morning, would you bring new freedom today as they look to Christ as their champion, their rescuer? For those of us who are in Christ, would you help us this morning to see that though the victory has been won, a conflict still continues, and that we are called to walk as children of light, to clothe ourselves in the armor of God, and to trust in Christ, our mighty captain and king, to defeat the remaining vestiges of darkness in our hearts. Help us be honest with where that is, and help us avail ourselves of the resources of the gospel, trusting in your grace, in your word, in your Son, and in your Spirit to overcome.

As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, I pray that you would help us to come with faith in Christ and with hope in our hearts, looking away from ourselves and looking to him. May it be a time of real friendship with you as we set our hearts on you. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.