Isaiah 9

God’s Light in the Darkness

What message of hope did Isaiah have for those experiencing darkness?
Isaiah 9:1 sets the stage for the messianic poem contained in the verses to follow. This verse informs us of the calamity which was experienced by the two northernmost tribes of Israel (Zebulun and Naphtali), which were the first to experience the wrath of Tiglath-pileser’s Assyrian army.

Isaiah 9:2-7 contains a wonderful message of hope to the north that finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ (although scholars generally agree that its immediate fulfillment was in Hezekiah). Isaiah envisioned a day of victory (9:2) in which the rod of the oppressor will be broken and the people will be released from the yoke of servitude (9:4). In that day the people will rejoice as at harvest-time or as in the dividing of the spoil of battle (9:3). In that day the gear and implements of battle will be burned for fuel (9:5). The king that would inaugurate such a state would be the final king in the Davidic line rather than a king in a continuing succession of kings, as suggested by the phrase “From then on and forevermore” (9:7). The throne-names given to this ideal king emphasize the uniqueness of His person and office (9:6): “Wonderful Counselor” emphasizes administrative ability; “Mighty God” or mighty warrior, stresses supremacy over enemies; “Eternal Father” emphasizes love and care for His people; “Prince of Peace” stresses the nature of His rule and what His people will enjoy.

9:6 For to us a child [God is able to overcome His enemies by becoming vulnerable] is [used to emphasize certainty of what will take place in the future] born [looks back to prophecy of 7:14], to us a son [Isaiah looks beyond the immediate to the ultimate coming of a son who would bear titles beyond those any normal human could claim] is given [gift from God (cf. Jn. 3:16)], and the government will be on his shoulders [he will have all authority; cf. 9:7; cf. Matt. 28:18]. And he will be called Wonderful [may refer to Son’s miraculous origin and ability to do miracles] Counselor , Mighty God [a divine title], Everlasting Father [not oppressive monarch but like a father to His people; enduring fatherly care], Prince of Peace [describes the nature of His being and reign].

9:7 Of the increase of his government and [note three characteristics of kingdom] [1] peace [coming Ruler would make peace possible among individuals and between an individual and God] there will be no end [fulfillment of promise to David in 1 Chron. 17:11-14]. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with [2] justice and [3] righteousness from that time on and forever. [assurance that God’s promise would be fulfilled by God’s power] The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

God’s Judgment of Unrepentant Israel a Lesson for Judah

What measures did God take to deal with Israel and warn Judah?
This section of Isaiah has been called “the refrain song” because it is divided into four stanzas, each ending with the refrain “In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, And His hand is still stretched out” (9:12, 17, 21 and 10:4).

The first stanza concerns the chastisement of the Northern Kingdom because of the nation’s stubborn refusal to listen to and obey God’s Word (9:8-12). The people however, failed to learn from the calamities they suffered and boasted that they would simply rebuild better than before (9:10). The refrain emphasizes that God would send even greater destruction in the future (9:11-12).

The second stanza also concerns the Northern Kingdom (9:13-17). Those who experienced calamities designed to turn them back to God refused to turn back to God (9:13). The people continued to be hard-hearted and obstinate. God therefore warned that He would deal with both the civil and religious leaders who were responsible for leading the people astray (9:14-15). God’s judgment would even fall on widows and orphans (9:17).

The third stanza describes the chaos in the Northern Kingdom in its final years (9:18-21). The nation is pictured as being consumed by its own evil as well as by God’s wrath (9:18-19). The people are pictured as being destroyed by strife and division (9:20). The only thing that temporarily unites the people is their mutual hatred for Judah (9:21).

The fourth stanza is addressed to the people of Judah (10:1-4). In spite of the chastisement of Israel, Judah continued on its sinful course. In spite of the judgment of God on the Northern Kingdom, Judah did not turn away from injustice, oppression, and exploitation of the poor. As a result, Judah would feel God’s stern judgment at the hands of the Assyrians.

Note: God does not take sin lightly.
Sin is a serious matter to God. His judgment of the Northern Kingdom of Israel illustrates that He does not take sin lightly. God’s judgment of Israel should have served as a warning to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Judah, however, failed to learn any good lessons from Israel’s bad example. 

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