The Expository Files.


Christ and His Kingdom In Isaiah 9

Isaiah 9

One of the best ways to introduce the book of Isaiah is to use the first verse. In that first sentence some of the basic matters about the book are given. "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah."

The word "vision" here - as used in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament - is equal to DIVINE REVELATION; so this book called Isaiah contains that which the Lord revealed to this prophet, who was the son of Amoz.

These things concerned "JUDAH AND JERUSALEM." At this time, there was the northern kingdom, called Israel. And some of the things that pertain to the northern kingdom do come up in the prophecies of Isaiah. However, Isaiah's message was directed primarily to God's people in Judah and Jerusalem.

As to the time when Isaiah lived and prophesied, this verse says, "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." The basic facts about this O.T. book are given right here in the first verse.

Another verse we can use to introduce this book is Isaiah 6:8, where the call of Isaiah is reported. It says there, that Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "WHOM SHALL I SEND, AND WHO WILL GO FOR US?" Then this man, Isaiah, replied: "HERE AM I! SEND ME." This indicates two things: One, that this man was called of God to prophesy these things. Two, that he was ready and willing to serve in this capacity. You might be interested to know - the book of Isaiah is quoted 83 times in the N.T., 12 of those quotations in the book of Matthew. With these things in mind we turn our attention to chapter nine.

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
In Isaiah, chapters seven through twelve - the prophet is dealing with what could be called THE ASSYRIAN CRISIS.

You remember - from verse 1 - that one of the kings in Isaiah's time was Ahaz. Well, in the days of Ahaz, the king and his people were "worried to death" because, just north of their border, the Northern kingdom and Syria were joining forces and it seemed like they were planning to conquer Judah.

Now God - through Isaiah - had something to say about all this. God sent word to king Ahaz, telling him NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THIS NORTHERN CONFEDERATION. The exact words are (7:4): "Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted..." God said, about this confederation or plan, "IT SHALL NOT STAND!" (Isa. 7:7). So what Ahaz should have done WAS TO BELIEVE GOD. But, he didn't pay much attention to God. KING AHAZ WENT ON TO FORMULATE AND EXECUTE HIS OWN PLAN OF DEFENSE; a plan that eventually backfired. King Ahaz hired the nation of ASSYRIA, to come over and crush this northern confederation. He even agreed to pay them for their help; he paid them well - in silver and gold from the house of the Lord.

When Ahaz didn't pay attention to God, and when he devised his own plan, he was guilty of unbelief; and for that unbelief he was to be punished. What happened was, after the Assyrians had crushed the northern confederation (as Ahaz had paid them to do) ... THEY JUST KEPT COMING SOUTH, RIGHT INTO JUDAH AND JERUSALEM, where Ahaz was. So, because of his unbelief, the king got more than he bargained for.

Isaiah chapters seven and eight tell us about these things: THE ASSYRIAN CRISIS. Chapter eight tells how God used Assyria to punish both kingdoms, Israel and Judah. At the end of chapter eight, there is a picture of the gloom and darkness there would be, as the Assyrians came through with their devastating military force. The last verse of chapter eight shows the people looking around - and seeing trouble, darkness, and the gloom of anguish.

As chapter nine opens, the prophet is saying: THIS GLOOM WILL NOT LAST FOREVER! THE PICTURE OF TOTAL GLOOM WHICH CLOSED THE
PRECEDING CHAPTER GIVES WAY TO A PICTURE OF BRILLIANT LIGHT. Things would be bad, in the aftermath of this Assyrian crisis -- BUT, THEY WOULDN'T BE BAD FOREVER!!

There was still reason for hope, as to the future. God's plan would be carried out! A time would come, Isaiah says, WHEN DARKNESS WOULD BE DISPELLED BY LIGHT; GLOOM WOULD BE REPLACED BY DARKNESS, AND GOD WOULD HAVE A NATION OF PEOPLE, RULED BY A
PERFECT KING.

These things, I'm persuaded, refer to Christ and the church.

ISAIAH 9:1-7
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy; They rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden And the staff of his shoulder, The rod of his oppressor, As in the day of Midian. For every warrior's sandal from the noisy battle, And garments rolled in blood, Will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isa. 9:1-7, NKJV).

There isn't any doubt in my mind, this passage is Messianic. I believe Isaiah is giving a prophecy of Christ and the church. I say that with such boldness for these reasons:

MATTHEW, in Matt. 4:12-17, QUOTES THIS PASSAGE - AND HE APPLIES IT TO CHRIST! In the absence of any New Testament reference, it is sometimes difficult to locate the specific fulfillment of an O.T. prophecy. But in this case we have an inspired commentary, or inspired interpretation: MATTHEW, WRITING BY INSPIRATION, TELLS US that these things in Isaiah nine pertain to Christ!

Matt. 4:12-15ff...Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: (Matt. 4:12-15, NKJV).

Secondly, in Isaiah 9:2, it says that "the people who walked in darkness HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." Isaiah is using what is called, "the perfect of prophetic certainty" -- that is, HE IS DESCRIBING EVENTS TO COME AS IF THEY WERE ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED; he was so certain these things would happen, he spoke of them AS IF THEY HAD ALREADY HAPPENED: "upon them a light has shined." But what I want us to see is: THIS GREAT LIGHT! This great light can be none other than Jesus Christ. {See Lk. 2:32; Jno. 1:4; Jno. 12:46; Col. 1:13}.

In addition, THIS GREAT "NATION" THE PROPHET FORESAW WOULD NOT DEPEND UPON CARNAL WEAPONS! Look at verse 5: "For every
warrior's sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire." You see, Isaiah was looking to a time when the equipment and weapons of carnal warfare would be thrown away, rolled up and burned. This is like what Isaiah had said about the kingdom of Christ earlier - back in 2:4, where he talked about beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. This looks to the spiritual kingdom, that is not of this world - Jesus said, in Jno. 18:36. And, on two occasions, Paul made the point - that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Cor.10:4, and Eph. 6:12).

So we have the evidence of Matt. 4, the mention of the "great light," and this statement about no carnal weapons. All of this pointing to the object of this passage in Isa. 9 -- Christ and His church.

I submit a fourth point of evidence: I BELIEVE VERSE 6 IS ONE OF THE PLAINEST REFERENCES TO CHRIST YOU'LL FIND ANYWHERE IN
THE PROPHETS.

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Here we have a clear picture of the birth of the Messiah; the character of His person, the nature of His reign and His eternal deity. Some orthodox Jewish commentators and modernists will say THIS WAS HEZEKIAH, who reigned after Ahaz. Well, Hezekiah was a better man than Ahaz; Hezekiah carried out some good plans and policies BUT HE WASN'T GOD; he wasn't "everlasting Father!" Verse 6 is one of the clearest references anywhere in the Bible, POINTING TO THE MESSIAH, JESUS CHRIST. And, one more point: I BELIEVE WE SEE IN VERSE 7, Jesus reigning over His kingdom! Hezekiah's reign came to an end - in fact, not a very pleasant end.During His reign, Isaiah prophesied of the Jews being carried into captivity in Babylon - and in the reign of Zedekiah, THAT HAPPENED. Even though - after 70 years - God let them go back to Jerusalem, the Jewish city re-fell in 70 A.D. BUT HERE IN ISA. 9:7, reference is made to a kingdom that would never end! Another point that lends support to the belief that this passage is a prophecy, ABOUT
CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH.

A LITTLE BIBLE GEOGRAPHY LESSON
In the first two verses of Isaiah 9 - the prophet talks about how oppressed the land of Zebulun and Naphtali were in the aftermath of the Assyrian crisis - BUT A TIME WOULD COME WHEN A GREAT LIGHT WOULD SHINE "IN GALILEE OF THE GENTILES."

The land allocation for Zebulun and Naphtali is the area called Galilee. In other words the land given to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali after the conquest of Canaan, WAS LATER CALLED GALILEE. Now - here's the point we want to look at, in Isaiah chapter 9. In the Assyrian invasion of the northern kingdom, this area was turned into a wasteland of gloom and darkness; it was LIGHTLY ESTEEMED AND HEAVILY OPPRESSED (2 Kngs. 15:29).

BUT ISAIAH WANTS TO SAY: It won't be this way forever! A TIME WOULD COME IN GALILEE, when the people who were walking in darkness would SEE A GREAT LIGHT. Now -- WHERE DID JESUS BEGIN TO PREACH AND TEACH? Matt. 4:13 says, "in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali!" So - in the Assyrian invasion, this territory of Galilee was lightly esteemed and heavily oppressed; there was suffering. But, in this future time of light and joy, THE PEOPLE OF GALILEE WOULD HAVE THIS GREAT LIGHT SHINED UPON THEM - Jesus Christ.

THE STATEMENTS THE PROPHET MADE ABOUT THE MESSIAH IN VERSE 6It says: "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given," then there is this statement: "AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE UPON HIS SHOULDER."

When it speaks of the government being "upon his shoulder," THIS DOESN'T MEAN WHAT WE USUALLY THINK OF; something distasteful; a trouble or burden we wish we didn't have. In Isaiah's day -- kings and rulers often wore some symbol of authority on their shoulder; a golden chain, or article of royal clothing. Placing something ON THE SHOULDER meant to give power or authority to (Isa. 22:22). So when it says, "the government will be upon His shoulder," THIS HAS REFERENCE TO AUTHORITY GIVEN TO CHRIST. The passage indicating fulfillment would be, Matt. 28:18, where Jesus said, "All authority has
been given to me, in heaven and on earth."

SO, THOUGH THERE WOULD BE GLOOM AND DARKNESS UPON THE LAND AND UPON THE PEOPLE, A FUTURE TIME WOULD COME, when this Child would be born; when this Son would be given AND THIS PERFECT KING WOULD HAVE ALL AUTHORITY.

Notice what is said about His name:

First, "His name will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR." A counselor is a person to whom you can go, for comfort and strength; for help and guidance. In the word "counselor" there is the suggestion of wisdom and knowledge. So, Isaiah is saying: THE MESSIAH WOULD BE A WONDERFUL COUNSELOR.

MIGHTY GOD would be His name. I believe we need to see, in this expression, "a genuine attribution to deity," (Young). Bro. Hailey, in his commentary: "The name MIGHTY GOD identifies the Child with the Godhead, both in deity and in power," (p.#103). In another prophetic passage, Jeremiah says: "He shall be called: JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS," (Jer. 23:6).

EVERLASTING FATHER. You may read this as "one who is eternally a Father." Or, you may read this as "the father of eternity," in the sense of - GIVING ETERNAL LIFE. In either case, Jesus is exalted far above the kings and rulers of men (and we have further evidence THIS COULDN'T REFER TO HEZEKIAH).

FINALLY, prince of peace. A RULER, WITH PEACE AS HIS MEANS OF GOVERNING. All through Isaiah, and in the New Testament fulfillment, Jesus is pictured as the great peace-maker; by Him, peace is made between men and God. When a sinner comes to Christ He comes to the single One who can impart real peace; true peace with God.

So the subject of this prophecy is the reign of the Messiah; the nature of that perfect King; the effect of His work - and in revealing these things, Isaiah was giving assurance to the Jews of his day -- that the darkness and gloom that was caused by the Assyrian invasion WOULD NOT LAST FOREVER. A time was coming when a great light would shine in Galilee.

I would remind you - these things were written about 700 years before Christ came. This is a good example of DIVINELY INSPIRED PROPHECY, whereby God revealed history before it happened and these things were fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who took His place on the throne of David over His Kingdom. Today, we have the grand opportunity of being saved and being members of a multiplied nation, a joyous nation and a spiritually armed nation.

 By Warren E. Berkley
 From Expository Files 3.9; September 1996

 

 

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