Scripture Text: Isaiah 9:1–7
Last week we looked at one of Isaiah’s prophesies about the “latter days” when mankind’s Savior shall come. This prophecy gave hope to God’s people who had forgotten their calling and the promises of God. Isaiah prophesied about seven hundred years before the earthly birth of Christ and Israel was facing some difficult times. Even so, it was a time of great hope. We read how the coming Messiah was going to inaugurate a time of great peace and how all the nations would flow to the mountain of God. They would go to be in God’s presence and to be taught by Him. Today we see another prophesy about the Savior of the world where God revealed several names of Him. We find one name in chapter seven where God gave King Ahaz the following sign:
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
This famous passage tells us about a sign of hope in which a son will be miraculously born and his name will be called Immanuel. Then in chapter eight, Isaiah wrote of the coming invasion from a ruthless people, yet God gave this promise to them:
Isaiah 8:10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.
The son’s name was Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” God’s promise was intended to give His people hope and to let them know that He was still with them. It is a promise for us now as God is still with us through His Son and through the Holy Spirit. God is forever with His children. Even with that hope, though, not all was well for the Israelites. At the end of chapter eight, Isaiah prophesied doom and gloom for Israel as a result of their unbelief to which God said, “They will be thrust into deep darkness.” And that is how chapter nine begins where Isaiah described God dealing with this darkness. We also get a clearer picture of the Savior of mankind.
Out of Darkness, There is a Great Light
The Assyrian Empire brought a great devastation (darkness) on the Israelites, but the people still had reason to hope. Remember, God had not forgotten His people. His promises were still true. Those who had experienced the darkness, who were in anguish under God’s punishment, who wished for a better day, would see it. They would see the light. If you are in a particularly dark place, you will probably long for some light. If your life seems dark, you will likewise wish for things to get better. Sometimes, it is difficult to see a better day when today is so bad. We might wish for it, but we may doubt it will come. The good news of the Gospel is that there is a better day. There is hope. We may walk through periods of darkness, but God has shown a great light.
And the hope we have, the light in the midst of darkness, is Jesus Christ. He is the hope for all nations, though, not just for Israel or just for us. In verse one, the hope of the Israelites extended to the other nations. It was a hope for everyone who shall hear the name of Jesus Christ. Matthew, a disciple of Jesus, quoted the first couple of verses of Isaiah chapter nine in regards to Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus brought the light to Galilee through His preaching. Darkness may have overshadowed mankind, sin may have wrecked God’s creation, mankind may be under condemnation, but God has shown a great light on us, and this is a joyous thing. Verse three described this joy:
Isaiah 9:3 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.
If the lights go out in this building, and we sit in darkness, we would probably be very happy when the lights come back on. When the darkness of trouble overshadows our lives, we are probably very happy to hear good news. This is true for everyone. In this passage, God multiplied the nation and they were glad. Remember how last week we read God was drawing the nations to Himself. The people of the world flowed to Him. God increases His people with all peoples around the world. No longer are they a small remnant but a mighty nation – and they are glad. They rejoice as a farmer might rejoice when he sees the fruit of all his work and the abundant harvest God has provided. Isaiah described this great joy of God’s people with three statements:
Oppression is Broken
Isaiah 9:4 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.
We may at times find it hard to believe that God will see us through problems. Our trust in God can be tested when we face difficult times. God reminded His people through Isaiah that He was faithful and trustworthy. Israel had been oppressed and would be oppressed, but God reminded them that He was faithful. The “yoke” and “staff” and “rod” represent the oppression the Israelites had experienced. Isaiah reminded them that God breaks human oppression as He did, when Gideon miraculously defeated the Midianites with only three hundred men. God was faithful then and He is faithful now. He is a fighter who frees His people from oppression.
Peace is Established
Isaiah 9:5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
Not only will God end oppression, He will bring an end to war. As we read last week, there will be great peace. The garments of war will be destroyed never to be used again. Don’t you desire a day when all fighting will cease? A day when people will just get along? Most of us long for peace. We have not seen it yet, but we will. God has promised a time of peace. What a wonderful day that will be. But wait, there is more!
A New Kind of King is Born
The third statement is about a birth. People love babies. A new-born life is a precious thing, but not as precious as a born-again life. But this child was unlike any other.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
Some have claimed that this child was one of Judah’s earthly kings that came some time after Isaiah. Some have suggested that this child was King Hezekiah or King Josiah. However, God revealed through Isaiah that this child was far different than any earthly king. Even the best kings of the world are a poor comparison to the one Isaiah prophesied. The names given to this child show us that He is unlike any other in human history. After all, He was Immanuel (God is with us). Isaiah provided four names here:
Wonderful Counselor: A “counselor” is one who is able to make wise plans. This child would grow up to be a king whose wisdom is beyond human capabilities, unlike the foolish kings of Israel. God will work through this king to have extraordinary wisdom. Have you ever wanted wise counsel? This child is the source!
Everlasting Father: A “father” is a protector, which is the task of the ideal king. This is the way God Himself cares for His people. However, Isaiah is not identifying the child as God the Father, but rather portraying Him as a Fatherly King – a loving father to His people. His life and His rule will also be “everlasting,” something that does not apply to any human ruler, except for the one who will rule on the throne of David forever.
Prince of Peace: Peace implies an end of war and this king will make it happen. This is reminiscent of the peace we read in Isaiah 2:4, where the nations will not “learn war anymore.” This future king contrasts with even the best of Israel’s kings who reigned during difficult war times. This King will usher in peace unlike any the world has known.
Mighty God: No other person ever has God’s name. God is never called Moses, Abraham, or David, so there must be something very special about this son. “Mighty God” assures us that this child is unlike any human king and is indeed Immanuel – God in the flesh.
Isaiah also described a different kind of kingdom for this future King.
Isaiah 9:7 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.
All governments in human history are limited by geography and time. Every government has borders and will cease to exist at some point. Many of us think that the United States will remain forever, but it will not. This new kingdom Isaiah prophesied, however, will not be limited by borders. It will be vast. It will also not be limited by time, but it will exist for all eternity. Have you wished to be a part of something that endures for a long time and is not threatened by outside forces? That is the Kingdom of God. This new child will rule His kingdom forever, and justice and righteousness will mark His kingdom. No longer will we have to worry about injustice. No longer will we have to worry about crime, or security, or healthcare, or bad leaders. This will be a new kingdom with a new King Who will take care of His people.
In closing, the last verse of this passage indicates that these things will not come to pass by human endeavor, but by the “zeal of the Lord.” Mankind will not bring it to pass but God will accomplish it by His own will and might. We can be absolutely sure that our God will sovereignly fulfill His wonderful plan. Politicians promise us all sorts of things and most of it never happens. God is faithful, though. He promised it and He made it happen. He gave to us this child. He gave to us His one and only Son. When mankind broke His creation and was alienated from Him, God promised to reconcile us to Himself through the birth and death of His only begotten Son. That is Who this child is – our Savior, our King, our God. His name is Jesus Christ.
What are you wishing for this Christmas? Is it a new gadget? A better job? A piece of jewelry? Peace around the home? How about this: Do you desire to know your Savior better? Do you wish for others to know Him. God wants all nations to come to Him, to be a part of His kingdom. Do you wish for all people to know the child God gave to us who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I hope you do wish for that, but do not only wish for it – work for it. Share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Tell people about Him. God uses us to share the hope found in Jesus Christ. Do you want others – your family, your neighbors, your community, the whole world – to have the greatest gift in Heaven and on earth? If so, what are you willing to do about it? How much are you willing to sacrifice to make that happen?
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.