“God Promised a Righteous Lord”
Lesson Text:Isaiah 9:1-7
Background Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-7
Devotional Reading: John 8:12-19
Isaiah 9:2-7 (KJV)
1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
To explain how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-7.
To know that God would fulfill His word by bringing a great light of deliverance and hope to His people.
To show that by proclaiming the Gospel, we can share the gift of peace through faith in the Savior, the true Prince of Peace.
Time: about 733 B.C.
Shear-jasub. This name means "A remnant shall return," and the return of the Jewish remnant to their land is a major theme in these chapters (Isaiah 10:20-22; 11:11-12, 16). When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), the nation was never restored but became what we know as Samaria. After the Babylonian captivity (606-586 B.C.), the people of Judah were given another chance to establish themselves in the land, and through them the Lord brought the Messiah into the world. Had a remnant not returned, God's plans for redeeming a lost world might have been frustrated. How much depended on that small remnant and God’s mercy!
However, God did not intend for His people to experience anguish and gloom forever. In fact, He promised to one day honor them and make their land great. Today’s lesson text shows us how God would directly address the needs of His people (Isaiah 9:1-7). This chapter opens with a striking two-fold (present and future) prophecy from Isaiah.
CHANGING STATUS (Isaiah 9:1-3)
1. How can, and will the troubles of Israel end according to Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 9:1)?
God’s people had rebelled against Him by embracing idolatry and witchcraft. Their spiritists and mediums, however, had brought them “no light” (Isa. 8:20). There was trouble, anguish, and dark despair (v. 22). In Isaiah’s prophecy, chapter 9 stands at a pivotal turning point.
Isaiah continued the theme of light and darkness from the previous chapter by announcing hope and deliverance (9:1). The “dimness” of Israel’s rejection was especially prevalent in the northern tribal areas of Zebulun and Naphtali, which suffered grievously under the Assyrian invasion that was shortly forthcoming. God’s people have a choice to make. They can either live in this dark and anxious world where they have abandoned God, or they can return “to the law and to the testimony” (8:20).
But the prophet also looked beyond, to the coming of Christ. We know this prophecy also refers to Christ because of the way it is quoted in Matthew 4:13-15. The geographical areas named in Isaiah 9:1 were especially devastated when the Assyrian army moved in, but these areas would be especially honored by the ministry of the Messiah. Jesus was identified with "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matt. 4:15), and His loving ministry to the people brought light and joy.
2. What does Isaiah mean by the people “have seen a great light” (v. 2)?
Notice that the prophecy in verse 2 uses a tense that indicates past action: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; … a light has dawned” (emphasis added). It reads as if what is described has already taken place. This is a common feature of Hebrew prophecy, indicating absolute certainty that a declaration will come to pass. (The prophecies of verses 3 to 7 also use a past tense.) The prophecies of chapters 9-12 may have applied in a limited degree to King Hezekiah or to another king of Judah. But they apply in the fullest sense to Jesus, the Messiah. He would bring a great light of deliverance and hope to His people. The Messiah would offer salvation to both Jews and Gentiles (42:6; 49:6). As we know from biblical history, the people of Israel had to wait over 700 years before Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), shone in splendor upon them.
Matthew quotes this verse to refer to Jesus (Matthew 4:16). Jesus’ ministry, centered in Capernaum (see 4:13), is like a great light bursting on an unworthy people. Yet in spite of Jesus’ great miracles and authoritative teachings, most choose not to walk in the light. As a result, Jesus condemns them (see Matthew 11:21, 23).
What Do You Think?
How do your experiences with darkness help you appreciate the great light of Christ?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Experiences of spiritual darkness | Experiences of physical darkness
3. In what ways would God enlarge the nation and bring joy (v. 3)?
The prophet Isaiah looked even beyond the first coming of Christ to His second coming and the establishing of His righteous kingdom (Isa. 9:3). Instead of protecting a small remnant, God would enlarge the nation. Instead of experiencing sorrow, the people would rejoice like reapers after a great harvest, soldiers after a great victory, or prisoners of war after being released from their yoke of bondage. Of course, some of this occurred when God defeated Assyria and delivered Jerusalem (Isa. 37). But the ultimate fulfillment is still future; all military material will be destroyed (9:5) because the nations will not learn war any more (2:4).
What Do You Think?
How will God use your church to increase joy this week?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
In meeting spiritual needs | In meeting physical needs | In meeting relational needs
THE OPPRESSOR’S YOKE SHATTERED (Isaiah 9:4-5)
4. What yoke of domination was on Israel in Isaiah’s day (v. 4)?
One reason for the great joy mentioned in Isaiah 9:3 is that the Messiah would lift the people’s burdens from their shoulders (v. 4). They bore a heavy yoke. (This was a wooden frame that was placed on the necks of animals to hold them together while they worked.) The people also carried a massive bar across their shoulders and were beaten with a rod by the enemy. Isaiah thought about the time when the Israelites were delivered from Midianite oppression.
Despite the fact that the Midianites once had a powerful army, God used Gideon and 300 Israelite soldiers to overwhelm their foe (Judges 7:19-23). Similarly, the Messiah would release His people from their burden by shattering the power of their oppressors. This prophecy had a more immediate fulfillment in Jerusalem’s miraculous deliverance from an Assyrian siege in 701 B.C. (Isa.37:36-37).
5. What is the purpose of burning the warrior’s blood-stained garments (v. 5)?
In ancient times, nations such as Assyria often used bloodstained uniforms from past battles as a deliberate scare tactic to frighten enemies in an upcoming battle. Perhaps Isaiah had this background information in mind when he declared that in the day of peace, uniforms would never again be bloodstained by war. Likewise, battle gear would no longer be issued. Moreover, the prophet declared that the boots of the enemy that had marched across God’s promised land and desecrated it with their violence and wickedness would be thrown into the fire. Also, every uniform of the oppressor stained with the blood of slain Israelites would be incinerated (lsa. 9:5). The idea is that the clothing of war would be rendered obsolete at the Messiah’s coming. There would be no more need for such clothing, since Jesus’ reign would be characterized by perfect peace. From this information, we see that the Lord’s triumph over the enemy would be complete, and His redemption of His people would be absolute.
THE MESSIAH’S REIGN (Isaiah 9:6-7)
6. What reason for joy and celebration is there in verse 6?
The final reason for joy is the birth of a child. He is to be extraordinary! He is given to us.
Isaiah 9:6 declared both the humanity ("A Child is born") and the deity ("A Son is given") of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice, using the prophetic perfect, the prophet speaks of Him as though He were already born!
The real significance of this unique Child comes in His names, which give the character of this child and His perfect rule.
If His name is "Wonderful," then there will be nothing dull about His reign! Wonderful is a word that can stand by itself. It simply means “wonder,” as close to the idea of supernatural as we have in Hebrew (see Psalm 78:12, where the same Hebrew word is translated “marvellous things”). It refers to something out of the ordinary (see Isaiah 29:14). Since this child is “God-with-us,” then He is a wonder!
“Counsellor” describes the true wisdom of this child. Solomon, David’s son, also was given great wisdom that could be explained only supernaturally (see 1 Kings 3). This child perhaps is presented as the “new Solomon,” who gives supernatural counsel to His subjects (see Isaiah 11:2). Even so, the child will be greater than Solomon (Luke 11:31). The child’s wise, supernatural counsel is the exact opposite of that of the supposedly “wise” counselors of Isaiah 19:11.
“The mighty God” describes the child’s divinity (see John 1:1). The exact title the everlasting Father is found only here in the Old Testament. The child will bring about conditions in the new government that will fulfill the role of the divine fatherhood of God (see Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 63:16). His rule will be for all eternity (see Isaiah 57:15).
“The Prince of Peace” is the chief characteristic of this child’s rule. War is the character of earthly kings. The only son of David we know of who did not go to war was Solomon, yet Solomon established his kingdom with bloodshed (1 Kings 2:25, 46). Solomon’s name means “peace,” but the promised child will be the ultimate Prince of Peace. He brings peace between God and humanity by way of reconciliation and redemption (see John 14:27; Romans 5:1-11).
7. What is the “zeal of the Lord” (v.7)? How will it be accomplished during His reign?
The prophet now leaps ahead to the Kingdom Age when Messiah will reign in righteousness and justice from David's throne. God had promised David that his dynasty and throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16), and this is fulfilled literally in Jesus Christ.
We learn from Isaiah 9:7 that the reign of the Messiah will be characterized by peace. His government will be ever expanding and never ending. Fairness and justice will be the hallmarks of His rule, and His passionate commitment for His people will guarantee that all the divine promises to them will be fulfilled. This verse mentions “the zeal of the LORD Almighty.” This phrase depicts God as a jealous lover who refuses to desert His people. His zeal is filled with devotion and single-minded allegiance, and this is the reason why His promise to the Israelites concerning the Davidic kingdom would be fulfilled (37:32; 42:13).
Jesus came over six centuries after Isaiah’s prophecy, and He came as a suffering Servant who would bring more than an earthly blessing. He came to bring all people-not only the Jews-an abundant spiritual life that would continue throughout eternity in heaven. Thus, God’s Son would be the light that would pierce through and shine on a dark and sinful world. By proclaiming the Gospel, we can share the gift of peace through our Lord and Savior. And why shouldn’t we do this, for He came to make people whole by filling their lives with justice. What He has to offer really counts-both now and in eternity.
POINTS TO PONDER
1.God does not intend for His people to walk in darkness. What am I doing to bring light? (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 5:16).
2.Aren’t you glad that God has a plan to lift our burdens, even when we are disobedient (vs. 3-4)?
3.Sometimes we just need to surrender, for the battle is not ours (v. 5).
4.Why not call on the name(s) of Jesus? After all, He was born for our benefit (v. 6).
5. Our God reigns today, tomorrow, and throughout eternity (v. 7.)!
Government Increase, Good and Bad
Historians often see the American Civil War as the great dividing line in U.S. history. Part of the reason for this viewpoint is that the federal government took on a greater responsibility for things during the war, and this trend continued after the war’s end. For example, the government gave railroad companies millions of acres of land to facilitate the building of transcontinental railroads.
Most Americans agree that certain instances of increased governmental authority are beneficial. After the Civil War, housing laws regulated the safety of urban construction of apartment buildings. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 regulated products for consumer safety and health. New laws prohibited various forms of child labor. The list goes on.
Some instances of governmental increase, however, are not always regarded as positive. I don’t want to get into a political discussion, but the nightly news reminds us of the continuing protests of those opposed to what they see as governmental intrusions into their lives. But imagine a perfect government whose increase is also identified with peace. We should all long for such a government, and indeed it is coming. It is the government of God’s eternal kingdom. —J. B. N.
Father, teach us to depend on Your righteous rule through our Lord Jesus Christ. In these dangerous and difficult times, help us not to fear the power and evil of human governments. Rather, help us to embrace Your kingdom and work for peace and righteousness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
He is wonderful!