We are in the very heart of the Christmas season. Postmillennialists can easily use Christmas texts to present the postmillennial hope. In doing such, they show that Christmas should not simply create a momentary joy as we turn our attentions away from our problems for a brief period. Rather Christmas is deeply embedded in the postmillennial hope.
One of the key prophetic texts that speaks of the coming incarnation and the resulting story of Christmas is Isaiah 9:6-7. There we read:
- “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; 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, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
To understand this passage contextually, we must note the close connection between the birth of “the son” (his redemptive humiliation, v 6) and his receiving universal government (at his exaltation at the resurrection/ ascension). The promise is that this kingdom will grow, issuing forth in peace (v 7). When Messiah comes into the world he does so to receive a kingdom. The preceding context points also to Christ’s first coming as inaugurating this prophecy’s fulfillment. The reference in verse 2 to the people in darkness who see a great light is fulfilled in Christ’s ministry (Mt 4:16). In fact, the great light is Christ who is the light of the world (Jn 8:12; 12:46).
In Isaiah 9:3 the Lord promises to multiply his people Israel. This is according to the Abrahamic Covenant’s promise of a great seed and influence among the nations. God will accomplish this by calling the Gentiles to be the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:29). This involves their ingrafting into Israel’s stock (Ro 11:16–19), the merging of Jew and Gentile into one body (Eph 2:11–17). The increase of Israel’s joy (v 3) indicates the joy in the Savior’s coming (Lk 2:10; Jn 3:29). According to the New Testament, Christ brings joy to his people (Jn 15:11; 16:20ff); and where Christianity goes, joy follows (Ac 8:8; 13:52; 15:3; Ro 14:17; 15:13; 1 Pe 1:8; 1Jn 1:4). As in Isaiah 2:3–4 Christ’s coming results in oppression and war ceasing (vv 4–5), which Isaiah portrays in the burning of soldiers’ garments as a symbol that they will no longer be needed. This is similar to the earlier casting off of swords (Isa 2:4).
Christ’s reign over his kingdom begins at his first coming (Mt 4:17; 12:28) and will gradually increase over time (Mt 13:31–33). In prophecy Christ appears as the son or branch of David (Jer 23:5; 33:13), or as David himself (Jer 30:9; Eze 34:23, 23; 37:24; Hos 3:5). After his resurrection he ascends to David’s throne (Ac 2:30–31), which represents God’s throne (1Ch 28:5; 29:23). His reign brings peace, for he is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). Calvin puts it well in his commentary on Isaiah (vol. 1, p. 96). This peace grows incrementally through history in that Christ “extends its boundaries far and wide, and then preserves and carries it forward in uninterrupted progression to eternity.”