From Isaiah 9-12
I’ve mentioned before that amongst Isaiah’s judgment are pockets of hope. Today’s reading is one such passage. Its a prophecy predicting the end of Judah’s punishment and oppression. What kind of system of government would you prefer and why?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil. (Is 9:2–3)
The people described is Judah. They are in darkness. People cannot see in darkness. They stumble about blindly and don’t know where they are going. I suggest Isaiah is referring to their spiritual darkness. They have rejected the LORD and his law. But on these people light has shone. A reversal of their current situation. They rejoice. Their land will produce crops and they will be satisfied.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire. (Is 9:4–5)
A yoke is used to control cattle to make it go in a certain direction. Its a symbol of slavery. Here the yoke is attributed to the foreign power which is in power over Judah. The rod is used hit and break people. Their oppressor has a rod and uses it on them. But things have changed. The enemy will be conquered and their garments burned. Now Isaiah gives a sign by which these things will happen.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Is 9:6–7)
A child will be born. This is a special child. He shall rule and shall be called four names;
Wonderful Counselor – People will seek him out for his wisdom
Mighty God – He will be God or God’s representative
Everlasting Father – Again the same relating to God the Father.
Prince of Peace – Princes were God’s representatives on earth. He will bring peace.
The names seem to be a precursor to trinitarian thought (Son, God, Father). Like God’s promise to David of an everlasting kingdom in 2 Sam 7, his government and peace will have no end. The LORD will do so in justice and righteousness. Isaiah combines God’s kingdom justice with his covenant righteousness. His zeal will make it happen.
Story of Israel
In Isaiah 9.4 the day of Midian is mentioned. This recalls the story when the Midianites were in control over Israel during the time of the judges. You may remember the cycle;
Israel sins against the LORD and abandons him.
So he raises up a foreign power to punish and oppress them.
Israel remembers the LORD and cries out to him for help.
The LORD raises up a judge to save and guide Israel.
The judge dies and the pattern repeats itself again.
Gideon is one of the judges God raised up to defeat the Midianites.
19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.
24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. 25 And they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. Then they pursued Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan. (Jdg 7:19–25)
Isaiah uses the story to reinforce his prediction that the LORD will be restoring Judah. He will raise up a son who will conquer their oppressors and bring in the promised everlasting kingdom.
Story of Jesus
Many years later God is faithful to his promises and a child is born.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Lk 2:8–12)
The baby boy Jesus, was prophesied to come in Isaiah. He is the Christ. He is the king who bring in peace and rule forever.
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