113-109 Isaiah Chapter 9
Birth and Reign of the Prince of Peace
The gloom in this verse is the gloom that is carried over from Chapter 8. Isaiah warned the people of Judah of the coming invasion of the Assyrians. “Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness.” (Isaiah 8:22) The Assyrian invasion would be devastating for the Jewish people and even worse for the Northern lands of the Promised Land. The lands of Zebulun and Naphtali. For the people of Judah, there was a promise for them. The gloom would not affect the people who were distressed. The invasion would be much worse for the Northern regions of the Promised Land. It would affect the area of the Sea of Galilee where the Gentiles inhabited. They would be more ravaged as the Assyrians invaded from the north. The promise is that this land one day would have a special blessing.
The northern tribes of the Israelites would be the first to suffer from the Assyrians in their invasion, so in the mercy of God, they would be the first to see the light of the Messiah. It was here in Galilee that Jesus began his ministry. (Matthew 4:13-16) It was here around the Sea of Galilee that Jesus began and this was the blessing that the people there would receive.
In the land of Israel, the coming of the Messiah would bring joy and gladness. Jesus had said that His ministry would be as a wedding party. (Matthew 9:14-15) It will be a time of the harvest when the hard work has produced its profit. The people will divide the spoils of the harvest and it will be a time of rejoicing.
In the day of Midian refers to the great victory that Gideon has over the Midians. (Judges 7) The coming of the Messiah and His ministry will be as victorious as in the day of Gideon. So too will be the rejoicing of the Messiah’s ministry. The Messiah’s victory will be complete as when the garments of the soldiers are used to fuel the fire, a signal that the battle is over.
The promises of these verses, the great joy, the breaking of the yoke and rod of the oppressor, and the complete victory over the enemy have the spiritual application of the work that Jesus does in our lives. These promises are ours through Jesus. Jesus will lift His people up with Him to sit together in the Heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6) As the follower of Jesus is with Jesus they shall also share in His victory. His love for us makes us more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)
The Prophet Isaiah emphasizes the point by the use of repetition, “The Child is Born, the Son is Given.” We also can see the hand of the Holy Spirit in the specific wording of this text.
The prophecy of the coming Messiah is a reminder to Israel that the Messiah would be a man. The Messiah could have been an angel or He could have been God without the humanity. If this would have been the case, then the Messiah could not have been the Savior and High Priest as Jesus is. The Child had to be born. This must have been a mystery in the minds of the people. There is nothing weaker and dependent than a child. The Messiah could have come a full grown man as Adam had. Jesus had to fully identify with men and live His life in a servant nature. He came as a man making for Himself no reputation and came as a bondservant. (Philippians 2:7)
The Child to be born is a man but more than a man He is the eternal Son of God. This is the glorious truth that man needed a perfect infinite being to offer the perfect infinite atonement for the sins of the world. Mankind needed Immanuel. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
The Child was born of a virgin woman and therefore Jesus has a starting point in humanity. Before His birth as a man, Jesus did not have humanity as part of His deity. The Son had to be given because Jesus is the Second Person in the Trinity and is eternal. His existence as the Son has always been, from the eternity past and into the eternity of the future. While Isaiah may have used repetition as a mark of emphases we should rejoice that in the guidance of the Holy Spirit Jesus, the Messiah, is fully man and fully God. Adding humanity to His deity did not make Him less a God, He added the human nature to His divine nature.
Jesus the deity being born into Jesus the man is proof that man was truly created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26) It also shows that humanity, when perfect, is compatible with deity. The problem then is not our humanity but are fallen state. The difference is that Jesus added humanity to His deity but it was not the fallen humanity that we have and He had the perfect blood of the Father. The humanity of Jesus was perfect as Adam and Eve’s before the fall in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus will remain a man in eternity. (Acts 7:55-56) At His ascension, He did not relinquish His humanity. Jesus is not in His resurrected body as we will someday have. If Jesus was not fully man, then He could not have stood in the place of sinful man. Jesus could not have been a substitute for the punishment that man deserves. If Jesus was not fully God, then His sacrifice would not have been sufficient. If Jesus was not fully God and fully man, then we all would be lost in sin.
His reign in the Millennium is when the government will rest fully on His shoulders. At that time Jesus will rule the earth as the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 20:4-6) What might the government of the King be like? The Government would be like its King. Instead of politicians who look for what they can get from the people, Jesus will be looking for He can do for the people. Leaders of our day surround themselves with servants but Jesus would surround the people with His servanthood. Leaders of our day work to build their empires but Jesus uses His power to wash our feet and make us comfortable. Leaders of our day trade their influence for bribes but Jesus loves and therefore gives. The Generals of this day need wars and weapons to keep their skills at the ready but Jesus brings peace. The higher leaders of this day achieve the more they become inaccessible but Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us.”
The names that the King will be called are not so much Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, but they are representative of His character. They are descriptive of who He is and what He has come to do.
The Messiah ruling as the King of kings and Lord of lords will be wonderful. When we see who He is and what He has done this alone should fit the description as wonderful. One cannot know Jesus on a personal base and be bored with His splendor. He is wonderful and will fill the heat and mind with amazement.
Jesus is the One who best fits to be the guide for our lives. He is the immediate resource of the Christian as a counselor. Jesus is our only true help through the problems of life. He may use the presence and words of another Christian to accomplish this but it is He that is our counselor. “It was by a Counsellor that this world was ruined. Did not Satan mask himself in the serpent, and counsel the woman with exceeding craftiness, that she should take unto herself of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the hope that thereby she should be as God? Was it not that evil counsel which provoked our mother to rebel against her Maker, and did it not as the effect of sin, bring death into this world with all its train of woe? Ah! Beloved, it was meet that the world should have a Counsellor to restore it if it had a Counsellor to destroy it.” (Spurgeon)
The God of all creation and glory, is the Lord who reigns in Heaven, the One who is worthy of our worship and praise. “We extend the right hand of fellowship to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, but we cannot exchange our Christian greetings with those who deny him to be ‘very God of very God.’ And the reason is sometimes asked; for say our opponents, ‘We are ready to give the right hand of fellowship to you, why don’t you do so to us?’ Our reply shall be given thus briefly: ‘You have no right to complain of us, seeing that in this matter we stand on the defensive. When you declare yourselves to believe that Christ is not the Son of God, you may not be conscious of it, but you have charged us with one of the blackest sins in the entire catalog of crime.’ The Unitarians must to be existent, charge the whole of us, who worship Christ, with being idolaters. Now idolatry is a sin of the most heinous character; it is not an offense against men it is true, but it is an intolerable offense against the majesty of God.” (Spurgeon)
The idea of the Everlasting Father in these Hebrew words is that Jesus is the source and author of all of eternity. That Jesus is the Creator Himself. This does not mean that He is the Father in the Trinity.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, as He is the one who makes peace between God and man.
The reign of the Messiah will not last a mere 1000 years as the millennium is a part of His eternal reign. There is no end to His reign as He will reign for eternity. Handel had it right in the Hallelujah chorus of Messiah: “And He shall reign forever and ever.”
Jesus will rule from the throne of David over the Kingdom that is his Israel. This is in fulfillment of the covenant that God made with David in 2 Samuel 7.
God, the Lord of Host, had promised that all these things will be accomplished and some of them already have. Jesus can be the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, and the Prince of Peace for everyone now. One day these promises will be imposed upon all people of the world. But for now, they are real for those who receive and submit their hearts to Jesus and follow Him.
God’s Anger with Israel’s Arrogance
These verses 8-12 are called by some as “The Speech of the Outstretched Hand.” The message from the Prophet comes in four parts each ending with, “His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out.”
The reference to Jacob means that this message is to all of Israel, the North and the South. But the Lord strikes the first hit on the Northern Kingdom of Israel first. The tribe of Ephraim is the largest in the Northern Kingdom and the most influential. Often in Scripture, the Northern Kingdom is referred to as Ephraim. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom, as Jerusalem was to the Southern. Therefore there is no doubt as to who this prophecy was directed to.
Because of the arrogance of the people in the Northern Kingdom they had no concern that God would judge them. Whatever is destroyed in judgment they would rebuild with better things. They had no fear of the Lord and were not concerned with what He would bring against them.
They should have been humbled by the calamities that had already come upon them but they had not. They maintained their lighthearted optimism in regards to their future. “What a brief but deeply psychological picture this is of an unfaithful generation that keeps dreaming of better times to come and lightheartedly ignores the severe judgments of God.” (Bultema)
The Northern people believed that they could weather the storm of God’s judgment and then rebuild. So God promises to send waves of enemies against Israel. The Syrians and then the Philistines to follow. The destruction of these foes was complete and their proud promise to rebuild was unfulfilled.
This is followed by the chorus, “His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out.” God had judged them for their pride but He still was to judge their sin. Their judgment was not over.
With each judgment, the people of Israel did not turn back to the Lord. They were like animals which resist even when they are beaten.
The leaders of the people, the elders and the prophets who teach lies will be cut off, which means they would be killed. “The expression branch and rush indicates the same thing as head and tail. A branch grows upward and hence refers to the high and important people of the population; the rush grows in muddy marshes and refers to the lowest element of the population, the scum.” (Bultema)
Again we see the chorus, “His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out.” Still, God would have to judge their sin.
The prophets view the wickedness of Israel as a raging fire that is unstoppable and swift. The wickedness us uncontrollable and destroys everything that comes into contact with it.
In two ways the people are fuel for the fire. The first is their wickedness gives supply for the fuel of the fire of God’s judgment. If the people would repent the fire would go out. Second, the people are burnt up and destroyed by the fire.
The prophet gives detail of the carnage that the Israelites will inflict upon each other. The fire of God’s judgment burn but God let their own evil and hateful passions burn among themselves. It was not God who started the fire and He did not need to fan the flames. God simply took away the retardant that had held the evil of the Israelites in check.
Again the chorus is said, “His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out.” Still, there was the sin to judge and God was not ready to stop His work of judgment.