|Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.: (Gloom: Isa 8:22)(In earlier times: 1Ki 15:19,20 2Ki 15:29 2Ch 16:4)(Later on: Lev 26:24,28 2Ki 17:5,6 1Ch 5:26) (By the way: Mt 4:15)
|Judgment & Character
|Comfort & Redemption
|Holiness, Righteousness & Justice of Jehovah
||Grace, Compassion & Glory of Jehovah
"A throne" Is 6:6
"A Lamb" Is 53:7
To help keep this chapter in context observe the preceding table and the following outline adapted from Talk Thru the Bible which summarizes the first section of Isaiah dealing primarily with prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Judah…
Prophecies against Judah
A The Judgment of Judah Isa 1:1–31
B The Day of the Lord Isa 2:1–4:6
C The Parable of the Vineyard Isa 5:1–30
D The Commission of Isaiah Isa 6:1–13
E The Destruction of Israel by Assyria Isa 7:1–10:4
1 Sign of Immanuel Isa 7:1–25
2 Sign of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz Isa 8:1–22
3 Prophecy of the Messiah’s Birth Isa 9:1–7
4 Judgment on Ephraim Isa 9:8–10:4
F The Destruction of Assyria by God Isa 10:5–12:6
1 Destruction of Assyria Isa 10:5–19
2 Remnant of Israel Isa 10:20–34
3 Restoration of the Messiah’s Kingdom Isa 11:1–16
4 Thanksgiving in the Messiah’s Kingdom Isa 12:1–6
Isaiah 9:1,2 is quoted by Matthew in Mt 4:15, 16.
The last verse of chapter 8 reads…
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)
Comment: Clearly the content of Isaiah 9:1 flows from the the previous verse (E.g., notice how Isa 9:1 begins with a contrast which forces one to return to the previous passage to determine what is being contrasted). In fact this is not the best chapter break (remember the chapters and verses are not inspired but determined by men). In the Hebrew Bible Isaiah 9:1 is classified as Isaiah 8:23. In the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 9:2-21 is 9:1-20. Beginning with Isa 10:1 the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible are again the same.
Criswell adds: This verse is actually the last verse of chapter 8 and is so arranged in the Hebrew text.
Thomas Constable has an interesting introduction to this chapter commenting that…
In contrast to Ahaz, who refused to listen to and obey God, the Lord would raise up a faithful King (Ed: Referring to Jesus at His return as King of kings - Rev 19:16-note) Who would be born and reign in the future (the Millennium). This pericope (Ed: technical term for successive passages that together form a unit of coherent thought or deal with a common subject) climaxes the present section (Isaiah 7:1-9:7) dealing with the signs of God’s presence. Again a child (Isa 9:6,7) is the centerpiece of the prophecy and provides a sign and hope for the future. (Isaiah - Expository Notes) (Bolding added)
But… no gloom… anguish - Strong contrast with the gloom and anguish of Isaiah 8:22. The gloom and anguish of Isaiah 8:23 probably refers to the Assyrian conquest of Israel in about 734-733BC, when Tiglath-Pileser III annexed much of Israel’s territory and making Samaria a virtual puppet state. Although this was still prophecy at the time Isaiah recorded it, the prophet's vision projects his thought from the present as if it had already come to pass.
In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon and Abel-beth-maachah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilean, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria. (2Ki 15:29).
Comment: Jews were removed from their homelands by the Assyrians (Gentiles) and were replaced with Assyrians and other non-Jews (Gentiles). This set the stage for this area becoming a "melting pot" of Jews and Gentiles and helps understand the name of this area as Galilee of the Gentiles. The large percentage of Gentiles in Galilee explains why when Christ left Jerusalem to minister in Galilee, many questioned His move (Jn 7:41). The Pharisees went so far as to say "no prophet arises out of Galilee" (Jn 7:52). One wonders if these "learned" men had ever read Isaiah 9? More likely they had read Isaiah 9 but their eyes were blinded to the truth of its prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah to this region! (cp 2Co 3:12, 13, 3:14-note , 2Co 3:15, 16-note, 2Co 4:4-note)
Motyer comments on Isaiah's moving in these opening verses from past anguish to future glory reminding all believers that…
The eye of faith looks at all this but affirms that, real though it is, it is not the ‘real’ reality (Ed: Like Paul Harvey used to say this was not "the end of the story!"). As always, the people of God must decide what reading of their experiences they will live by (Ed: In other words, all believers live in the present but have a future hope which can serve as the anchor of our souls in the midst of "stormy times"… we must however receive this truth in humility so that God's Spirit can use it to renew our hearts and minds!) Are they to look at the darkness, the hopelessness, the dreams shattered and conclude that God has forgotten them (Ed: The Assyrian invasion and subsequent defeat would certainly suggest that might be the case, but Isaiah is saying it is not!)? Or are they to recall God's past mercies (Cf. 1Chr 21:13), to remember His present promises (Isaiah 9:1,2) and to make great affirmations of faith? (Cf. Ps 74:2-17; 77:6-16.) Isaiah insists here that hope (Ed: See word study on hope) is a present reality, part of the constitution of the ‘now’. The darkness is true but it is not the whole truth and certainly not the fundamental truth. (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
Comment: Beloved, what is your present reality - unemployment, sickness, wayward children, persecution for your faith, etc? If you are a follower of Christ, then take Paul's advice (actually these are commands in the present imperative, calling for us to make this our "lifestyle", our daily practice, the "general direction" of our lives) to seek and set our minds on the things above (Col 3:1-note, Col 3:2-note). This is not denying that you have present distress or saying that the distress is "fun", but it is choosing (by faith) to look "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co 4:17-note, 2Co 4:18-note)
In earlier (former) times He treated… He shall make it glorious - In context He refers to Jehovah. The earlier times would obviously include the times of the Assyrian invasion and eventual defeat (722BC) of the Northern Kingdom. God's prophetic promise however was that this land which was now experiencing gloom and anguish would not always be in darkness.
The land of Zebulun (map) - Zebulun was the 10th son of Jacob, the 6th borne to him by Leah in Paddan-aram. Nothing is known of this patriarch's life, save in so far as it coincides with that of his brethren. For additional historical summary see entry for Zebulun
Zebulun - 46v in Scripture - Ge 30:20; 35:23; 46:14; 49:13; Ex 1:3; Num 1:9, 30f; 2:7; 7:24; 10:16; 13:10; 26:26; 34:25; Deut 27:13; 33:18; Josh 19:10, 16, 27, 34; 21:7, 34; Jdg 1:30; 4:6, 10; 5:14, 18; 6:35; 12:12; 1Chr 2:1; 6:63, 77; 12:33, 40; 27:19; 2Chr 30:10f, 18; Ps 68:27; Isa 9:1; Ezek 48:26f, 33; Matt 4:13, 15; Rev 7:8
Zebulun… Naphtali - These were the two northeastern tribes of the land west of the Jordan and later came to be known as upper (Naphtali) and lower (Zebulun) Galilee.
MacArthur comments that…
The region of Galilee originally had been given by the Lord to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali when Israel began to settle in Canaan (see Josh 19:10–39). But, contrary to God’s command, Zebulun and Naphtali failed to expel all of the Canaanites from their territories (Jdg 1:30, 33-note). From the beginning, therefore, these unfaithful Jews suffered the problem of mixed marriages and the inevitable pagan influence which that practice brought. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
The land of Naphtali - See location of this tribe in an excellent Biblical historical review at The Tribe of Naphtali.
Naphtali - 50v in Scripture - Gen 30:8; 35:25; 46:24; 49:21; Ex 1:4; Num 1:15, 42f; 2:29; 7:78; 10:27; 13:14; 26:48, 50; 34:28; Deut 27:13; 33:23; 34:2; Josh 19:32, 39; 20:7; 21:6, 32; Jdg 1:33; 4:6, 10; 5:18; 6:35; 7:23; 1Kgs 4:15; 7:14; 15:20; 2Kgs 15:29; 1Chr 2:2; 6:62, 76; 7:13; 12:34, 40; 27:19; 2Chr 16:4; 34:6; Ps 68:27; Isa 9:1; Ezek 48:3f, 34, Mt 4:13, 15, Rev 7:6.
Here is the summary of Naphtali…
The inheritance of Naphtali fell in the region of Galilee. Centered around the shores of the Sea of Galilee, this tribe possessed the most fertile and productive region in all of Canaan. Shepherds and farmers alike found the soil and vegetation of this area extremely fertile, and able to support large flocks and herds. The whole of the land is fed by hidden springs emanating from Mount Herman. This area is well watered by multiple sources; principally the Jordan River, the springs of Mt. Herman, and the Sea of Galilee…
The tribe of Naphtali figures in prominently to the history of Israel. This tribe followed in the footsteps of its founder, the sixth son of Jacob, Naphtali. As he was a godly man, so was his tribe. However, they eventually fell into apostasy, as did the other tribes of the Northern Kingdom. (Ed: Recall that in about 931BC in punishment for Solomon's idolatry [see 1Kings 11:1-43 for one of the sadder chapters in Israel's history] the 12 tribes were divided into 10 northern tribes, which included Naphtali and Zebulun, and 2 southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin.)
Naphtali left an imprint on the Old Testament through their exploits on the battle field. They were praised by Deborah in the Song of Deborah. They provided one of the major workers on the Temple. Naphtali produced officials in both the courts of David and Solomon. Despite their later falling away from God, the tribe of Naphtali was blessed by God.
They are one of nine tribes which appear in all lists of the 12 tribes of Israel. They are mentioned in the only New Testament list of the tribes, found in Revelation 7. In the final days of God's judgment, the tribe of Naphtali will produce 12,000 people sealed on the forehead as servants of God. (Tribe of Naphtali)
Treated… contempt (NET = "humiliated", CSB = "humbled"; lightly esteemed) (07043) (qalal) has the basic sense of something with the quality of slightness. The idea in the present context is to treat lightly and is used this way later in Isaiah…
The Lord of hosts has planned it, to defile the pride of all beauty, to despise all the honored of the earth. (Is 23:9)
But later (NLT = there will be a time in the future) - But marks another contrast with between treating Zebulun and Naphtali with contempt and later making them glorious. While they deserved God's allowing them to be treated with contempt because of their unfaithfulness and their sins, they did not deserve the gracious promise of a Savior Who would minister powerfully where sin had previously abounded greatly. Such is the amazing grace of God! As Jesus said He did not come for the healthy but for the sick (Mt 9:12)!
As Ray Ortlund observed…
God came to His people first where they had suffered the most, and from that place He launched salvation for the world.
He shall make it glorious - Who is He and When will He make this land glorious? Jesus Christ will shine on the land at His first coming. Zebulun and Naphtali came under the yoke of Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (see 2Ki 15:29 above). But because Christ would later live, and minister, in Galilee (the same geographical area), these lands are described as glorious.
John MacArthur comments that…
One of the most beautiful metaphors used to describe Jesus’ nature and character is that of light. It conveys the idea of the illuminating, truth-revealing, and sin-exposing ministry of the Son of God. After first presenting Jesus Christ as the creative Word of God, John tells us, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4, 5). (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
Her who was in anguish - This refers to the lands that were occupied by the Northern Kingdom of Israel after the split in 931BC. These lands experienced gloom and anguish at the hands of the Assyrian invaders. These were the same geographic areas that fell by lot to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali.
In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious - This states that these regions in northern Galilee, the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali which had suffered the most from Assyria, would experience deliverance.
Refer to the Map of Israel During the Time of Jesus - Observe that Galilee lies north of Samaria.
Galilee of the Gentiles - Galilee means "circuit" (other meanings from various sources include = cylinder, ring, circle, hence a "district, region" [latter definition from New Bible Dictionary], Dictionary of NT Background = "We derive the name Galilee historically from the Hebrew word for "area" or "region" = galil. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible names by Cornwall & Smith says Galilee means "Circuit - as enclosed or rolled around; rolling; revolving"). So this phrase might read something like y "the circuit or region or district of the Gentiles" and was called by this name because this northernmost part of ancient Israel was the gateway through which Gentiles entered the land of Israel, either as traders or invaders (in the present context the Gentile invaders were the Assyrians).
Young adds that…
The circuit of the nations is the northern boundary of Palestine in which there was a large mixed population… Being most remote from Judah it was nearest to the foreign countries and so subject to heathen influences. Not only the location of the district contributed to its disgrace, but it had been the first to tremble in awe before the might of Assyria. This despised district, despised even in New Testament times, was glorified when God honored it, and the fulfillment of the prophecy occurred when Jesus Christ the Son of God dwelt in Capernaum (Matt. 4:13ff.). (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young) (Logos) (Wordsearch)
Regarding Galilee of the Gentiles, Smith's Bible Dictionary writes that…
Upper Galilee embraced the whole mountain range lying between the upper Jordan and Phoenicia. To this region the name Galilee of the Gentiles is given in the Old and New Testaments. (Isa 9:1; Mt 4:16) Galilee was the scene of the greater part of our Lord's private life and public acts. It is a remarkable fact that the first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord's ministrations in this province, while the Gospel of John dwells more upon those in Judea. (Galilee)
By way of the sea - The way of the sea was known in later centuries as the Via Maris (map - purple line = Via Maris) and was a portion of the most important international route through Israel. It ran about 1,770 miles from Ur in Mesopotamia, northwest through Haran, then southwest through Palestine to Thebes in southern Egypt. Parts of the road had names. The way of the sea was the portion that ran from Gaza to Hazor, often coming near the coast, and passing along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The NET Bible Note offers another interpretation for the way of the sea…
The way of the sea is the province of Dor, (Dor on map) along the Mediterranean coast, the “region beyond the Jordan” is the province of Gilead in Transjordan, and Galilee of the nations (a title that alludes to how the territory had been overrun by foreigners) is the province of Megiddo located west of the Sea of Galilee. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Another sources adds that…
The Via Maris was an ancient trade route which connected Egypt and Syria, running along the Mediterranean coastline of Palestine. At Dor, the Via Maris cut through the Jezreel Valley en route to Damascus. This cut through the tribe's land (Naphtali and Zebulun), thus opening them up to a number of outside influences and threats. These influences seemingly played a role in the Israelites losing focus of God's call, and mingling with the foreign gods and pagan religious practices and lifestyles of their neighbors.
Gentiles (01471) (goy, plural goyim) means people or nation. Gentile refers to all who are not Jews. While some of the uses of goy refer to nations in general (before Israel became a distinct national entity - Ge 10:5, 25:23), the majority of the uses of goy translated nations refer to Gentiles. Goy is used over 500x in the OT and is translated -- every nation(2), Gentiles(1), Goiim(1), Harosheth-hagoyim*(3), herds(1), nation(120), nations(425), people(4). In a very real sense the Bible can be divided into Jews and non-Jews or Gentiles. Most of the Bible deals with the Jews (even the early church was primarily Jewish!).
The introduction of Gentiles shows how God's heart is for all mankind, both Jew and Gentile. Peter expresses the Father's heart this way…
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (Yes, repentance is an integral, inseparable aspect of genuine salvation contrary to much modern teaching which "jettisons" the need for personal repentance!). (2Pe 3:9-note)
And so here in the midst of a description of wrath that is to be poured out soon on God's chosen people (especially the northern kingdom, but later on the southern kingdom), God remembers mercy and offers hope not only to His chosen people, the Jews, but to the Gentiles. Notice how Jesus phrased it near the end of His earthly ministry…
I have come as light into the world, that everyone (This would include both Jew and Gentile) who believes in Me may not remain in darkness (Ed: Unbelief is spiritual darkness!). (Jn 12:46)
Paul reminds his primarily Gentile converts in the church at Ephesus of their former plight before the great light!…
Therefore remember (present imperative = Continually have this mindset. We Gentiles are so prone to forget how desperate our situation was without the intervention of the great light of the Jewish Messiah. May we continually be great "rememberers" so that we might continually be great "thankers" who are motivated to by our gratefulness to walk worthy of our calling as redeemed Gentiles in Christ our Light and Life - Hallelujah!), that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh (in context physical flesh, not the old "flesh" nature irrevocably opposed to God and all that is good), who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," (the ethnic Jews - remembering that not all Jews are really Jews in the sense of being sharers in the divine life of Christ by grace through faith - Ro 2:28, 29) which is performed in the flesh (removal of the foreskin) by human hands--remember that you were at that time (1) separate from Christ, (2) excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and (3) strangers to the covenants of promise (Abrahamic - Ge 12:1-3, New Covenant - Jer 31:31, 32, 33, Ezekiel 36:24, 25, 26, 27- see Abrahamic vs Old vs New Covenant), (4) having no hope and (5) without God in the world. (Ep 2:11,12-note)
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them: (walk: Isa 50:10 60:1-3,19 Mic 7:8,9 Mt 4:16 Lk 1:78,79 2:32 Jn 8:12 Jn 12:35,46 Eph 5:8,13,14 1Pe 2:9 1Jn 1:5-7)(Land: Job 10:21 Ps 23:4 107:10,14 Amos 5:8) Our Daily Bread devotional - Isaiah 9:1-7 A Great Light
OCCURRENCE OF A GREAT LIGHT
ESV = The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
Comment: Notice that some versions like ESV (as does the KJV, NIV - not every one agrees with this interpretation - e.g., New American Commentary disagrees) sees these future prophetic events as so sure that they are described in the past tense (have seen… has… shined), which is what is known as the "prophetic past"! That is how certain God's promises are beloved!
Walk in darkness (cp same Hebrew word choshek in Isa 8:22) - In Scripture the metaphor of walking is repeatedly used to refer to the way one lives their life or how they behave. In the Bible life is viewed as a journey and walking pictures the course of one's life. These people were living their lives in total spiritual darkness! Where have you "walked" this past week, dear holy one (saint) of the Most High God?
Darkness (02822) (choshek) is first seen in Genesis 1:2 describing "darkness… over the surface of the deep." Choshek means “deep shadow” and is poetical for intense darkness. In the present context the darkness is figurative and refers to spiritual darkness (cp Job 12:25, 37:19, Pr 2:13, Ezek 8:12). The Lxx translates choshek with skotos (word study) which can describe physical darkness (eg, Jesus' crucifixion! = Mt 27:45, Mk 15:33, Lk 23:44) but also is used to describe spiritual darkness (And thus skotos is used in the NT quote from Isaiah 9:2 = Mt 4:16, cp similar meaning of skotos in Jn 3:19, Acts 26:18, Ro 2:19, 2Cor 6:14, 1Pe 2:9, 1Jn 1:6). Sins are described as "the deeds of darkness (skotos)" (Ro 13:12).
Choshek - 77v in the NAS - Ge 1:2, 4f, 18; Ex 10:21f; 14:20; Dt 4:11; 5:23; Josh 2:5; 1 Sam 2:9; 2 Sam 22:12, 29; Job 3:4f; 5:14; 10:21; 12:22, 25; 15:22f, 30; 17:12f; 18:18; 19:8; 20:26; 22:11; 23:17; 24:16; 26:10; 28:3; 29:3; 34:22; 37:19; 38:19; Ps 18:11, 28; 35:6; 88:12; 104:20; 105:28; 107:10, 14; 112:4; 139:11f; Pr 2:13; 20:20; Eccl 2:13f; 5:17; 6:4; 11:8; Isa 5:20, 30; 9:2; 29:18; 42:7; 45:3, 7, 19; 47:5; 49:9; 58:10; 59:9; 60:2; Lam 3:2; Ezek 8:12; 32:8; Joel 2:2, 31; Amos 5:18, 20; Mic 7:8; Nah 1:8; Zeph 1:15
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light - A future prophetic hope for a land that in Isaiah's day appeared hopeless and forsaken. And yet God had not forgotten nor forsaken this land!
Vine feels that from this verse…
to the end of verse 7 the prophecy stretches across another interval and passes to the overthrow of the Antichrist, the oppressor, and the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom of peace and righteousness.
Light - Isaiah makes frequent use of the idea of light (sometimes referring to literal light and other times using light figuratively, sometimes contrasted with darkness as in the present passage) - Isa 2:5; 5:20, 30; 9:2; 10:17; 13:10; 30:26; 42:6, 16; 45:7; 49:6; 50:10, 11; 51:4; 58:8, 10; 59:9; 60:1, 3, 19, 20; Elsewhere God is the light (Ps 27:1) or God’s words are compared to a light (Ps 119:105; Isa 8:20). (Compare the frequent use of darkness in Isaiah - Isa 5:20, 30; 9:2; 29:18; 42:7; 45:3, 7, 19; 47:5; 49:9; 58:10; 59:9; 60:2)
Motyer observes that…
The darkness-light motif points to a creative work of God, Who alone can make such a transformation (cf. Isa 4:5-note; Ge 1:2, 3; 2Co 4:6-note).
Great light - This figure is a prophecy of none other than Jesus Christ. This prophecy was fulfilled, at least in part, when Jesus--the Light of the world--ministered in Galilee, Matthew recording that
(Context - Nothing in God's plan happens by accident!) Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew (often to convey the thought of escaping danger) into Galilee and leaving Nazareth (cp Lk 4:24 - His hometown rejected Him!), He came and settled in Capernaum (map), which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. (Mt 4:12-13)
This (Jesus change of ministry venue from Judea to Galilee) was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 15 "THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES--16 "THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND TO THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED." From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
(Mt 4:14,15, 16, 17 cp Isa 42:6, 7, How the Light shone in Cana of Galilee [map] is recorded in Jn 2:1-11).
Pulpit Commentary: For thirty years he had dwelt at Nazareth, in Zebulon. There he had first come forward to teach in a synagogue (Le 4:16-21); in Galilee he had done his first miracles (Jn 2:11; 4:54); at Capernaum. “upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali.” he commenced his preaching of repentance (Mt. 4:13-17). The “light” first streamed forth in this quarter, glorifying the region on which contempt had long been poured.
Jesus identified Himself as the "great light" Who Isaiah had prophesied of over 700 years before His first coming…
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (Jn 8:12)
Comment: See other allusions to light in reference to Jesus - Jn 1:4, 5, 3:19, 20, 21, 9:5. 12:35, 36, 46 Ps 36:9. 78:14. Is 60:1-3 Lk 1:78, 79. 2:32. Acts 13:47, 48. 26:18, 23 2Cor 4:6-note 1Jn 2:8.
According to Jewish tradition, Light was one of the names of the Messiah. (Isa 9:1, 2; 42:6; 49:6; 60:1, 2, 3; Mal 4:2; Lk 2:32). In this passage Isaiah presents an indisputable prophecy of the coming Messiah.
Those who live in the dark - KJV = "they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death", ESV = "those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness"
Just as Isaiah had predicted eight centuries earlier, the despised, sin-darkened, and rebellious Galileans were the first to glimpse the Messiah, the first to see the dawning of God’s New Covenant (study)! Not mighty and beautiful Jerusalem, the queen city of the Jews, but Galilee of the Gentiles would first hear Messiah’s message. Not the learned, proud, and pure Jews of Jerusalem, but the mongrel, downcast, nontraditional mixed multitude of Samaria and Galilee had that great honor. To those who were neediest, and who were most likely to recognize their need, Jesus went first. The fact that Jesus began His ministry in Samaria and Galilee, rather than in Jerusalem and Judea, emphasizes the fact that His gospel of salvation was for the whole world… It was no coincidence of history that “the light of the world” (John 8:12) first proclaimed Himself in Galilee of the Gentiles. It was in and around Galilee that Jesus had spent all but a small part of His childhood and early manhood, and it was there that His ministry first developed and began to spread. As the new day of the gospel dawned, the first rays of light shined in Galilee. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
Isaiah 9:3 You shall multiply the nation. You shall increase their gladness. They will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil: (multiply: Isa 26:15 49:20-22 Ne 9:23 Ps 107:38 Ho 4:7 Zec 2:11 8:23 10:8)(They will be glad: Isa 12:1 25:9 35:2,10 54:1 55:12 61:7,10 65:18 66:10 Ps 4:7 Ps 126:5,6 Jer 31:7,12-14 Ac 8:8 Php 4:4 1Pe 1:8)(As when: Isa 16:9,10) (as men: Jdg 5:3 1Sa 30:16 2Ch 20:25-28 Ps 119:162 Lk 11:22)
OCCASION OF GREAT JOY
You - This has to be Jehovah because of the effects He produces.
Multiply the nation - What nation? This may seem obvious but some commentators veer off course and generalize these promises to all nations (e.g., Ray Ortlund fails to interpret these passages as specifically related to Israel in Isaiah: God Saves Sinners - Preaching the Word - Ortlund also refers to the "church" 282 times in his comments on a prophecy that never mentions the church once!). If context is king (and it is!) in assuring accurate Interpretation, the present context leaves no doubt that the nation is Israel. However since the nature of the promises (eg, end of wars Isa 9:5) begs a future fulfillment of the promise to Israel, some who believe that God is finished with Israel are forced to find some other way of trying to explain these great promises. God is not finished with Israel (The miraculous re-birth of Israel as a nation in May, 1948 should be sufficient support that God still has some "unfinished business" with and in Israel! See related study - Israel of God - Is God "Finished" with Israel in His prophetic plan?)
As an aside, dear reader, if one jettisons the literal interpretation of Isaiah's prophecy and tries to explain the prophetic references to Israel as actually speaking of "the church", then many passages in Isaiah become almost impossible to interpret. But if one holds to a literal (I am a literalist, not a dispensationalist!) interpretation of the text and believes firmly that God is not finished with Israel, the prophecies of Isaiah which are not yet fulfilled become exciting and imminently understandable. The reason this point is being emphasized is to alert the Acts 17:11 (note) "Berean" reader that he or she needs to be very careful in reading commentaries on Isaiah (including the one you are reading), because many of the commentaries are geared to be compatible with one's overall theological leaning (eg, reformed theology, dispensational theology, covenant theology, etc) rather than simply allowing the text to speak for itself (See Read the Text Literally).
So what Isaiah is saying here is that God will cause the nation of Israel to grow and will also increase their joy. What has been only a small believing remnant of Jews over the centuries will be increased at the end of this age (As an aside, the number of Jews coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in recent years [these notes are written in Dec, 2011] is reported to be dramatically increasing! Praise the LORD!) - see Zech 13:8, 9 which teach that 1/3 of Israel will believe in the Messiah (see why they will believe in Zech 12:10 - it is not because they are good but because God is good and keeps His covenant promises forever!), which is far more than at any time in history (See also Is 26:15; 54:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 66:7-14).
They will be glad in Your presence - This indicates Jehovah will be in their midst (presence).
Gladness… glad… gladness… rejoice - This will be a time of great joy (cp Isa 29:19; 35:10; 61:7). As alluded to above a number of commentaries on Isaiah seek to explain the promises to Israel in an indirect manner. For example, Ortlund (see note above) comments that "this miraculous joy's breaking upon the world." (Bolding added) That is not what the text teaches. This multiplied joy relates specifically to the nation of Israel. That does not preclude the joy spilling over to all nations, but all nations are not the primary recipient of this prophetic promise!
As with the gladness of harvest - This is a term of comparison for harvest time was well known to be a time of great joy (cp joy at Feast of Weeks - Dt 16:9, 10, 11,12), and a similar joy describes the times when Jehovah is present. Is this not our time of greatest joy today, when we sense His presence in our lives. If you are missing that joy that comes only from fellowship with Jehovah (1Jn 1:3), you might ask God's Spirit to search your heart for any unconfessed sins. In Psalm 51 we see David repeatedly allude to joy in the context of confession of sins and a broken and contrite heart.
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil - A second simile ("as" or "like" identify similes), emphasizing the greatness of the joy in this presence of Jehovah.
W E Vine comments that the events described in this passage have…
never been fulfilled in the nation yet. Only a remnant returned from the captivity. The very opposite of these conditions has prevailed under successive Gentile domination. At the close of the coming great tribulation, when the Lord comes in Person to deliver His earthly people, they will joy over blessings granted and destruction averted. The Millennium will see a vast increase in the nation’s population. They will joy before the Lord. That ever should be the character of our joy—not mere exuberance of natural feeling, not merely joy in mercy and prosperity, in deliverance and supply, but joy before the Lord, a joy that exults in Him, His power and presence. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson or Logos)
Isaiah 9:4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian: (Break: Isa 14:25 47:6 Ge 27:40 Lev 26:13 Jer 30:8 Na 1:13)(staff: Isa 10:5,27 14:3-5 30:31,32 Ps 125:3)(As at the battle of Midian: Isa 10:26 Jdg 6:1-6 7:22-25 8:10-12 Ps 83:9-11)
REASON FOR PROMISED JOY
For- This term of explanation explains why the Jews will have such an overflowing joy (Isa 9:3). As the subsequent verses show, burdens, staffs and rods will be removed! Notice that the next two passages also begin with for, together giving a threefold explanation for the "four fold joy" in Isa 9:3 (Gladness… glad… gladness… rejoice).
You - This is Jehovah, the "Mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6) the One Who is a Warrior for Israel and Who is supernaturally able to break the yoke… staff… rod!
For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff (cp Lev 26:13)- Picture an ox weighed down by a heavy yoke. Using this very picturesque comparison, Isaiah continues his description of Jehovah's hand of blessing on His people. Here he foretells that they will be set free from the yoke of their burden (the Gentile nation's burden).
As at the battle of Midian - Isaiah uses another term of comparison which would have been familiar to his readers -- the improbable odds ( = supernatural because God reduced Gideon's army from 32,000 to 300!) against victory over the formidable Midianite forces (Jdg 6:5 "they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable and they came into the land to devastate it") which God gave to Israel through His instrument (leader) Gideon (Jdg 6:1-40-note, Jdg 7:1-25-note) It is also notable that Gideon was the deliverer of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali (Jdg. 6:35), which are two of the tribes addressed in Isaiah 9:1.
Break… the staff on their shoulders - cp Ps 81:6. Presumably this pictures a staff laid to their backs.
The rod of their oppressor - Oppressor is literally a taskmaster which is the same word used of the Egyptian taskmasters (Ex 1:11, 2:11, 5:4, 5, 6, 6:6,7)
When will these supernatural effects take place (the yoke, staff, rod removed)? When Messiah returns. It is sad but Scriptural that there will be no peace for Israel until the Prince of peace returns.
Oswalt comments that…
It is not necessary to look for some specific liberation which Isaiah has in mind. It is apparent from the whole context that it is final deliverance which is in view. (Ed: The final deliverance of Israel at the end of this age) This is what God holds out to His people and that for which they justly pray and believe.
Two extremes are to be avoided here. One extreme is to take the way that the Christian Church has often taken, saying that true bondage is to personal sin from which Christ frees us, and thus turning a blind eye on actual physical oppression (Ed: In other words they spiritualize a passage which can be interpreted literally! Edward Young takes this approach in his highly respected 3 volume commentary on Isaiah). The other extreme is the way of certain forms of liberation theology that seem to suggest that the only sin is the sin of political oppression, and that Christ’s only purpose in coming was to give human beings political freedom. (Bolding added) (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)(Logos) (Wordsearch)
Isaiah 9:5 For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.: (Tumult: Isa 13:4 1Sa 14:19 Jer 47:3 Joe 2:5 Na 3:2)(Burning: Isa 4:4 10:16,17 30:33 37:36 66:15,16 Ps 46:9 Eze 39:8-10 Mal 3:2,3 Mt 3:11 Ac 2:3,19 2Th 1:8)(fuel: Lev 3:11,16)
For- The second successive term of explanation - see comment related to "for" under Isaiah 9:4. How will Jehovah put an end to "the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor"? This verse explains that He will accomplish these ends by putting an end to wars! Another way to describe no wars is "peace on earth." Has this prophecy been fulfilled? Obviously it has not been fulfilled and awaits a future time when war will be brought to an end. This can only transpire with the return of the Prince of peace, Who alone can bring about world peace!
Fuel for fire - Isaiah describes a future day when the weapons of warfare will only be good for burning because there will be a God ordained time of peace.
Some commentators side step trying to explain Isaiah's prophetic promise of global peace and absence of war. Has this utopian dream of world peace ever occurred in human history? Certainly not. Therefore Isaiah is speaking a prophecy that awaits a future fulfillment. And yet Young in his highly respected commentary on Isaiah explains it this way…
They are no longer needed, for a Child will be born, and His birth will bring peace to His people, for He will Himself be the Prince of Peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of his good pleasure” (Luke 2:14).
Comment: Beloved, Young's explanation that Christ's first advent brought global peace is simply not true. Yes, Young is correct that the Prince of peace has come (and for believers there is now peace with God Ro 5:1), but literal world peace still alludes us (have you read the newspaper today?). World peace will not be realized until the triumphant Second Coming of Christ when He crushes all His enemies under His feet (Rev 19:15-note). It is worth noting that in all 3 volumes of Young's commentary (some 1000 plus pages), he mentions the Second Coming only two times!
This passage is reminiscent of the description of world peace in Isaiah 2…
And He (Messiah at His Second Coming) will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples (i.e., Gentiles) and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war (The Millennium will be a time of peace). (Is 2:4).
In the Psalms we read the wonderful prophecy of a future glorious day when…
He (Jehovah) makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. (Ps 46:9)
J Vernon McGee comments on Psalm 46: The Messiah comes to the earth in judgment. He is the One who will make wars to cease, breaks the bow, cuts the spear, and burns the chariot in the fire. This picture sets before us the last days on earth, when the One who is “the Stone cut out of the mountain without hands" (whom Nebuchadnezzar saw in his vision in Da 2:45-note) will deal an annihilating blow upon this earth.
The prophet Zechariah describes this same glorious time when all war will end…
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zec 9:10).
MacArthur comments that: Zechariah moves to the Second Advent of Christ and the establishment of His universal kingdom
Comment: If you do not believe in a Millennial kingdom, with Christ reigning on earth, note the passage in Zechariah 9:10 says clearly that "His dominion will be… to the ends of the earth." In short, Messiah's kingdom is predicted to be a worldwide kingdom!
Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace: (For a child: Isa 7:14 Lk 1:35 2:11)(a son: Jn 1:14 3:16,17 Ro 8:32 1Jn 4:10-14)(government: Isa 22:21,22 Ps 2:6-12 110:1-4 Jer 23:5,6 Zec 6:12,13 9:9,10 Mt 11:27 28:18 1Co 15:25 Eph 1:21,22 Rev 19:16) (name: Isa 7:14 Jdg 13:18 Jer 31:22 Mt 1:23 1Ti 3:16)(Counselor: Isa 28:29 Zec 6:13 Lk 21:15 Jn 1:16 1Co 1:30 Col 2:3)(mighty God (KJV): Isa 45:24,25 Ps 45:3,6 50:1 Jer 23:5,6 Jn 1:1,2 Ac 20:28 Ro 9:5 Tit 2:13 Heb 1:8 1Jn 5:20) (Father: Isa 8:18 53:10 Pr 8:23 Heb 2:13,14)(Prince of Peace: Isa 11:6-9 53:5 Ps 72:3,7 85:10 Da 9:24,25 Mic 5:4,5 Lk 2:14 Jn 14:27 Ac 10:36 Ro 5:1-10 2Co 5:19 Eph 2:14-18 Col 1:20,21 Heb 7:2,3 13:20) Our Daily Bread devotionals - Isaiah 9:1-7 Wonderful!, Isaiah 9:1-7 A Promised Gift, Isaiah 9:1-7 Isn't He Beautiful!, Isaiah 9:1-7 A Great Light, Isaiah 9:1-7 No Other Name. Sermons by C H Spurgeon: Isaiah 9:6 His Name--The Everlasting Father, Isaiah 9:6 His Name--Wonderful, Isaiah 9:6 His Name--Counselor, Isaiah 9:6 His Name--Mighty God
THE FOUNDATION FOR THE PREVIOUS PROPHECIES: A PERSON!
Note that some of the translations present this prophecy as if it was fulfilled in Isaiah's day (ESV - "For to us a child is born". Also KJV, NIV). The idea is that the future prophecy was so certain to transpire, that it was presented as if it were an accomplished fact in Isaiah's day.
For- The third successive term of explanation - see comment related to "for" under Isaiah 9:4. This third "for" introduces the reason the accoutrements of war are no longer needed and can be burned (Isa 9:5), why there will be a removal of burden, etc (Isa 9:4) and why there will be overflowing joy (Isa 9:3). In other words, joy comes from divine deliverance from oppression which God brings about by ending war, all of which related to the coming of a Person, a Child, a Son -- The foundation for all the previous prophecies is the ultimate prophecy of the Messiah, in Whom all the promises of God are "yea and in Him amen" (2Cor 1:20KJV)
A child will be born to us (Other versions such as ESV, NIV have "is" instead of "will be") - Us is the Jews - for their benefit. This child will come from the Jews and is the well known prediction of the birth of the Messiah. The fact that He will be born indicates that has human parents and thus speaks of the incarnation of Christ, Who is born of a the virgin Mary (Mt 1:20, 21, 23) so that He might become Immanuel, God with us (Isa 7;14), fully God and fully Man (Jn 1:14; Col 2:9-note)! It should also be emphasized that Jesus remains a man eternally (Acts 7:55, 56, 1Ti 2:5) and did not relinquish His humanity on His ascension. And while He emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives, He never ceased being God (Php 2:5, 6, 7-note, Php 2:8, 9, 10-note).
The Child was not be a created angel but a Man. In order to become our Redeemer, He had to first become our Kinsman, which the writer of Hebrews phrases this way…
Since then the children (Those who have believed in Messiah and are born again) share in flesh and blood, He Himself (Messiah) likewise also partook of the same (humanity), that (Explanation of the purpose) through death (This sums up the purpose of His Coming) He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Heb 2:14, 15-note).
Comment: For more detailed discussion see study of Goel - Our Kinsman Redeemer - In Shadow (Type) & Substance
Oswalt comments that…
Medieval Jewish commentators, combating the prevailing messianic claims of Christians, argued that all this was simply in recognition of the birth of the crown prince, Hezekiah, and was only a simple royal birth hymn. However, this view flies in the face of the chronology of Hezekiah’s birth, and even more seriously, it is evident from the language that no merely human king is being spoken of. This is clearly an eschatological figure, the Messiah. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)(Logos) (Wordsearch)
Joseph Alexander says that…
The modern Jews, in order to sustain their antichristian exegesis, have devised a new construction of the sentence which applies all these epithets, except the last, to God Himself… The doctrine that this prophecy relates to the Messiah, was not disputed even by the Jews, until the virulence of antichristian controversy drove them from the ground which their own progenitors had steadfastly maintained. (The Prophecies of Isaiah)
A son will be given to us - God is the giver of this good gift! (Jas 1:17-note) This description emphasizes that Messiah is a gift and that He is a male (son). While He was a Son, He was the unique, only begotten Son of God. Israel did not deserve His coming (none of did for that matter), but God gave His begotten only Son as the supreme manifestation of His infinite grace!
By first describing Him as a child and then as a Son, Isaiah is using the Hebrew literary tool of repetition for emphasis.
The apostle John describes this same event in the Revelation emphasizing His humanity and His maleness…
And she (the nation of Israel) gave birth to a son, a male child (Messiah's First Coming, born as a Man - Now notice how the text fast forwards at least 2000 years signifying a prophetic time gap) Who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron (This describes Messiah's Second Coming to set up His kingdom in which He rules for 1000 years - the Millennium); and her child was caught up to God (The Ascension of Christ after His resurrection) and to His throne (At the right hand of His Father in Heaven). (Rev 12:5-note)
Psalm 2 speaks of Christ's sonship (and future rule over the nations)…
I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ .(Ps 2:7, 8, 9 - commentary)
The government will rest on His shoulders - What government? While not everyone will agree with this interpretation (especially if you do not accept a literal millennium), this almost certainly refers to Messiah's rule from Zion on earth during His 1000 year reign (Millennium). In John's passage quoted above we see that the Messiah is to "rule all the nations" which clearly parallels the "government… on His shoulders".
Note also how ‘their shoulders’ (Ed: In context referring to Israel) are released from burdens (Isa 9:4) when He (Ed: Messiah, Mighty God) shoulders the burden of rule. (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
Summary of Some of the Political Characteristics during the Millennium (for complete list of a Biblical description of the Millennium see Millennium)…
1. Israel reunited as a nation -Jer 3:18; Ezek 37:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
2. Israel at peace in the land - Deut. 30:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; Is 32:18; Ho 14:5, 7; Am 9:15; Mic 4:4; 5:4, 5a; Zec 3:10; 14:11
3. Abrahamic Covenant land-grant boundaries established - Ge 15:18, 19, 20, 21; Ezek 47:13-48:8, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
4. Christ in Jerusalem rules over Israel - Isa 40:11; Mic 4:7; 5:2b
5. Davidic Covenant fulfilled with Christ on the throne of David - 2Sa 7:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Is 9:6, 7; Jer 33:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26; Am 9:11,12, Lk 1:32, 33
6. Christ rules over and judges the nations - Is 11:3, 4, 5; Mic 4:2,3a; Zec 14:9; Re 19:15-note
7. Resurrected saints reign with Christ - Mt 19:28; 2Ti 2:12; Re 5:10-note; Re 20:4-note
8. Universal peace prevails - Is 2:4-note; Is 32:17,18; 60:18; Ho 2:18; Mic 4:2, 3, 4; 5:4; Zec 9:10
9. Jerusalem made the world’s capital - Jer 3:17; Ezek 48:30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35; Joel 3:16, 17; Mic 4:1, 6, 7, 8; Zec 8:2, 3
10. Israel exalted above the Gentiles - Isa 14:1, 2; 49:22, 23; 60:14, 15, 16, 17; 61:5, 6, 7, 8, 9
11. The world blessed through Israel - Mic 5:7
12. Righteousness and justice prevails - Is 9:7; 11:4; 42:1, 2, 3, 4; Jer 23:5
His name will be called - In the OT names were a "commentary" on one's character or attributes or essence of one's being and so we are given insights into multi-faceted picture of the Messiah, the glorious Son of God Who will one day reign on earth.
Motyer comments that…
God has come to birth, bringing with him the qualities which guarantee his people’s preservation (wisdom) and liberation (warrior strength). Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace describe the conditions the King’s birth will bring. (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
Wonderful Counselor (Literally - "Wonder of a Counselor") - Note that some translations see two titles for the Messiah (e.g., Isa 9:6KJV, Isa 9:6ASV - see Vine's comment below). This name means something like "either ‘a supernatural counselor’ or ‘one giving supernatural counsel’" (Motyer). This coming King will be a wise counselor in contrast to King Ahaz who was clever in fleshly terms but was not wise in the sense of godly wisdom. King Ahaz's decision to not ask God for a sign and to seek security in the arm of flesh (alliance with the Assyrian king) resulted in God's hand of judgment against the entire nation. The counsel of a nation's ruler has great impact on the course of that nation. The coming King will rule with the wisdom of God for He is God and the nation will reap the benefits thereof. Even in Christ's first coming, He never sought the counsel of man, and He never asked for the advice of man. He needs no counselor! (cp Ro 11:34-note).
Vine sees Wonderful Counselor as two distinct names writing…
For the first of these titles compare Judges 13:18; for the second, see Isaiah 11:2; and for the two together, Is 25:1. These two are not to be combined into one phrase as if the first was an adjective describing the Counselor as wonderful: each is a noun. Contrast Is 28:29, where the phrase is different.
The Lxx has "great (megas) Counselor (boule - speaks of inner deliberation which results in a plan, a resolution, a decision)"
Wonderful (06382) (pele') means a miracle, a marvel, a marvelous thing or something extraordinary, unusual or astounding which causes a sense of great amazement. This word is always used in a context of God's acts or words, except for La 1:9.
Pele' - 12v in the OT in the NAS - Ex 15:11; Ps 77:11, 14; 78:12; 88:10, 12; 89:5; 119:129; Isa 9:6; 25:1; Lam 1:9; Dan 12:6 (KJV adds a use in Isa 29:14). NAS = astonishingly(1), wonderful(2), wonders(9).
The TWOT commenting on this word group adds that…
Preponderantly both the verb and substantive refer to the acts of God, designating either cosmic wonders or historical achievements on behalf of Israel. That is, in the Bible the root pl, refers to things that are unusual, beyond human capabilities. As such, it awakens astonishment (pl) in man.
Young adds that…
The root (of wonderful) is used to describe the miracles which God performed in Egypt, namely, the dividing of the sea, the safe crossing of the Red Sea, the leading by pillar of cloud and fire, the cleaving of the rocks in the desert and the providing of water. All these mighty miracles are characterized as wonders. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young) (Logos)
The glory of who He is and what He has done for us should fill us with wonder. You can never really look at Jesus, really know Him, and be bored. He is Wonderful, and will fill your heart and mind with amazement! As well, this is a reference to the deity of Jesus; “The word ‘wonderful’ has overtones of deity” (Grogan) (Cp Jdg 13:18 - the name of Angel of the LORD is wonderful). (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Comment: The Angel of the Lord replies to Manoah that His name is wonderful and is a clear indication of the deity of the Angel.
Counselor (03289) (ya'ats) means to advise, give counsel, guide, devise, plan (First use Ex 18:18 of Jethro telling Moses "I shall give you counsel"). Most often ya'ats describes giving of good advice. What Jehovah has "planned (ya'ats) so it will stand" (Isa 14:24). What the "LORD of hosts has planned (ya'ats)… who can frustrate?" (Isa 14:27). Isaiah asked "With whom did He (Jehovah) consult (ya'ats)" (Isa 40:14).
Isaiah used ya'ats in recording a prophetic promise that…
Then (see comment below) I (Jehovah) will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. After that you (Jerusalem - but used as a picture of the believing, righteous remnant of Israel) will be called the city of righteousness, a faithful city.” (Is 1:26).
Comment: Then (see expressions of time in inductive Bible study) marks sequence and in this case marks the termination of this present age which is brought to a close by the Second Coming of Messiah at the end of Daniel's Seventieth Week, the time period in Israel's future history which Jeremiah referred to as the time of Jacob's distress (Jer 30:6, 7). This period constitutes the last three and one-half years of Daniel's Seventieth Week, the time Jesus referred to as the Great Tribulation (see notes; Mt 24:15, 21, 30, cp Da 9:27-note)
Ya'ats - 74verses in the NAS. Notice that Isaiah uses ya'ats in some 17 verses - Isaiah 1:26; 3:3; 7:5; 9:6; 14:24, 26, 27; 19:11, 12, 17; 23:8, 9; 32:7, 8; 40:14; 41:28; 45:21; Ex 18:19; Num 24:14; 2Sa 15:12; 16:23; 17:7, 11, 15, 21; 1Kgs 1:12; 12:6, 8f, 13, 28; 2Kgs 6:8; 1Chr 13:1; 26:14; 27:32f; 2Chr 10:6, 8f; 20:21; 22:3f; 25:16f; 30:2, 23; 32:3; Ezra 4:5; 7:28; 8:25; Neh 6:7; Job 3:14; 12:17; 26:3; Ps 16:7; 32:8; 62:4; 71:10; 83:3, 5; Pro11:14; 12:20; 13:10; 15:22; 24:6; Jer 38:15; 49:20, 30; 50:45; Ezek 11:2; Mic 4:9; 6:5; Nah 1:11; Hab 2:10
Spurgeon comments on Jesus as Counselor exclaiming…
How we need Jesus as our Counselor! “It was by a Counselor 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 Counselor to restore it, if it had a Counselor to destroy it.
CLEAR DECLARATION OF DEITY
Mighty God - (El Gibbor) - This could be rendered "God is a Warrior" or "God is mighty." Ultimately this name speaks of God's military might for no enemy will be able to prevail against Him. He has the power to deliver which is exactly what He will do to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 9:4 (where "You" in context is a reference to Messiah, the "Warrior God" Who supernaturally breaks the yoke and the staff and the rod from Israel.)
See Related Resource: Christ Mighty God - El Gibbor
In using this name, Isaiah is clearly teaching that the child/son that was to be born was God an interpretation that is supported by the use of the same phrase in the next chapter…
A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty (gibbor) God. (Is 10:21).
Clendenen has an interesting comment related to this verse: By itself, this name does not automatically mean that this son is a divine person, because many names include the name of God in them. But the later use of this same name to describe God himself in 10:21 demands that this son be identified with God in a very close manner. No other person ever has God’s name and God is never called Moses, Abram, David, or Jeremiah, so there must be something very special about this son that causes him to have God’s name. (New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39)
El means God and is the last syllable of Immanuel, testifying to the deity of Christ. El or God is contrasted with men (Dt 10:17, Hos 11:9).
Jeremiah depicts God as a great warrior…
Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, Who showest lovingkindness to thousands, but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name (Jer 32:16, 17)
M ighty (01368) (gibbor cp related verb gabar = be strong, accomplish, excel, prevail) is from a root which is commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior. And thus this adjective means powerful, strong, brave, mighty. Warrior. Hero. Mighty man (cp "mighty [gibbor] men of David" - 2Sa 23:8).
See discussion of this word group from TWOT - Gibbor Word Group
Jehovah is "the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty and the awesome God" (Dt 10:17), the "King of glory, Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle" (Ps 24:8), "a victorious warrior (gibbor)" (Zeph 3:17), the "Mighty One (gibbor - in context a prophecy of the Messiah)" (Ps 45:3)
Vine writes that…
In the context of battle, the word is better understood to refer to the category of warriors. The gibbor is the proven warrior (eg "valiant warriors [gibbor]" Josh 1:14)… The Septuagint gives the following translations: dunatos (“powerful; strong; mighty; able ruler”) and ischuros (see studies of related words - ischus and ischuo) (“strong; mighty; powerful”).
Gibbor - 150v in NAS - Ge 6:4; 10:8f; Dt 10:17; Josh 1:14; 6:2; 8:3; 10:2, 7; Jdg 5:13, 23; 6:12; 11:1; Ruth 2:1; 1 Sam 2:4; 9:1; 14:52; 16:18; 17:51; 2 Sam 1:19, 21f, 25, 27; 10:7; 16:6; 17:8, 10; 20:7; 23:8f, 16f, 22; 1Kgs 1:8, 10; 11:28; 2Kgs 5:1; 15:20; 24:14, 16; 1Chr 1:10; 5:24; 7:2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 40; 8:40; 9:13; 11:10ff, 19, 24, 26; 12:1, 4, 8, 21, 25, 28, 30; 19:8; 26:6, 31; 27:6; 28:1; 29:24; 2Chr 13:3; 14:8; 17:13f, 16f; 25:6; 26:12; 28:7; 32:3, 21; Ezra 7:28; Neh 3:16; 9:32; 11:14; Job 16:14; Ps 19:5; 24:8; 33:16; 45:3; 52:1; 78:65; 89:19; 103:20; 112:2; 120:4; 127:4; Pr 16:32; 21:22; 30:30; Eccl 9:11; Song 3:7; 4:4; Isa 3:2; 5:22; 9:6; 10:21; 13:3; 21:17; 42:13; 49:24f; Jer 5:16; 9:23; 14:9; 20:11; 26:21; 32:18; 46:5f, 9, 12; 48:14, 41; 49:22; 50:9, 36; 51:30, 56f; Ezek 32:12, 21, 27; 39:18, 20; Dan 11:3; Hos 10:13; Joel 2:7; 3:9ff; Amos 2:14, 16; Obad 1:9; Nah 2:3; Zeph 1:14; 3:17; Zech 9:13; 10:5, 7. NAS = champion(2), great(1), helpers(1), heroes(3), men(3), men of outstanding(1), Mighty(1), mighty(27), mighty man(15), mighty men(57), Mighty One(1), mighty one(2), mighty ones(3), mighty warrior(1), mighty warriors(2), strong(1), strong man(1), valiant warriors(1), valiant*(1), warrior(14), warrior has over another(1), warrior's(1), warriors(17), who is mighty(1).
Eternal Father (In Hebrew actually Abi'ad [ab = father and ad = eternal] - which literally means "The Father of Eternity") - Isaiah is not saying the Son is the Father which is the false teaching of modalism. In context the Son Who is the King functions as a father would over his children -- He acts like a father -- he protects them, he, feels affection and compassion for his children, etc (cp to a similar sense in Isa 22:21). Another example of this meaning of father is found in Job where he says…
I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. (Job 29:16)
The NET Bible Note adds that…
This figurative, idiomatic use of “father” is not limited to the Bible. In a Phoenician inscription (ca. 850–800BC) the ruler Kilamuwa declares: “To some I was a father, to others I was a mother.” In another inscription (ca. 800 b.c.) the ruler Azitawadda boasts that the god Baal made him “a father and a mother” to his people. (See ANET 499–500.) (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Vine writes that the idea of Father is that
He is loving, tender, compassionate, an all-wise Instructor, Trainer and Provider.
Motyer comments that…
Probably the leading idea in the name Father here is that his rule follows the pattern of divine fatherhood (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
Guzik on eternal Father…
The idea in these Hebrew words is that Jesus is the source or author of all eternity, that He is the Creator Himself. It does not mean that Jesus Himself is the Person of the Father in the Trinity. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Clendenen notes that
Father is a relatively rare way of describing God in the Hebrew Bible (Dt 32:6; Jer 3:4,19; Isa 63:16; 64:7; Mal 2:10) and a rarer way of describing a king (1Sa 24:12), though the Israelites are frequently called God’s sons (Ex 4:22, 23). (New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39)
Eternal (05703)('ad) is a noun that means forever, always, continual, without end (or beginning). Below are some representative uses related to God as Ruler or King as well as some other uses in Isaiah.
The Lord is King forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. (Ps 10:16).
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. (Ps 45:6).
For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death. (Ps 48:14)
He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah. (Ps 66:7).
Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever. (Ps 111:3)
Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. (Is 26:4)
Israel has been saved by the Lord With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity. (Is 45:17)
For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite. (Is 57:15).
Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever; Behold, look now, all of us are Your people. ( Isaiah 64:9)
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness. (Isaiah 65:18)
Ad - 49v in NAS - Ex 15:18; 1Chr 28:9; Job 19:24; 20:4; Ps 9:5, 18; 10:16; 19:9; 21:4, 6; 22:26; 37:29; 45:6, 17; 48:14; 52:8; 61:8; 66:7; 83:17; 89:29; 92:7; 104:5; 111:3, 8, 10; 112:3, 9; 119:44; 132:12, 14; 145:1, 2, 21; 148:6; Pr 12:19; 29:14; Isa 9:6, 7; 26:4; 45:17; 47:7; 57:15; 64:9; 65:18; Da 12:3; Amos 1:11; Mic 4:5; 7:18; Hab 3:6
Young commenting on eternal Father writes…
He is One who eternally is a Father to His people. Now and forever He guards His people and supplies their needs. “I am the good shepherd,” said our Lord, and thus expressed the very heart of the meaning of this phrase. What tenderness, love, and comfort are here! Eternally—a Father to His people! (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young) (Logos)
Prince of Peace (Sar-Shalom) - Jesus is the one Whose rule will bring peace (cp Isa 32:17). At His birth (and death) He made possible peace between God and man. At His Second Coming He will establish His kingdom in peace at the onset of the Millennium. Beloved, the world is desperate for peace in the middle east, but it will not transpire until the end of this age when the Prince returns and bring His peace. In Isaiah 11:6, 7, 8, 9 this peace is discussed in more detail.
Peace (07965) (shalom - see word study) conveys a range of meanings including safe, well, happy, friendly; welfare, health, prosperity, absence of strife, completeness, harmony, fulfillment.
Peace is the absence of war. Nations have been at war since the fall of man. But when Jesus returns as the Stone "cut out of the mountain without hands" (Da 2:45-note), He "will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it (He, His Kingdom) will itself endure forever." (Da 2:44-note) With the crushing and end of all these world kingdoms, comes the end of war.
Micah prophesies of this future kingdom of world wide peace…
And He (Messiah) will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great To the ends of the earth. And this One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, When he tramples on our citadels, Then we will raise against him Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. (Micah 5:4,5)
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace (word study) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ro 5:1-note)
Prince (08269)(sar) means a leader; commander; captain; chief; prince; ruler, chieftain, etc.
Vine writes that…
He is a Prince who will in Person completely subdue every opposing foe, banish every disturbing element and thus bring peace to His people and to the nations. This the angels heralded at His Birth (Luke 2:14).
NET Bible Note says that Prince of Peace…
pictures the King as One Who establishes a safe socio-economic environment for His people. It hardly depicts Him as a meek individual, for He establishes peace through military strength (as the preceding context and the first two royal titles indicate). His people experience safety and prosperity because their invincible King destroys their enemies. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
John Calvin applies these various names of the Messiah…
Whenever, in short, it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called Wonderful, because he has inconceivable methods of assisting us, and because his power is far beyond what we are able to conceive. When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the Counselor. When we need strength, let us remember that he is Mighty and Strong. When new terrors spring up suddenly every instant, and when many deaths threaten us from various quarters, let us rely on that eternity of which he is with good reason called the Father, and by the same comfort let us learn to soothe all temporal distresses. When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is The Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for Him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings. This will these titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself.
Isaiah 9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this: (increase: 2Sa 7:16 Ps 2:8 72:8-11 89:35-37 Jer 33:15-21 Da 2:35,44 Da 7:14,27 Lk 1:32,33 1Co 15:24-28)(establish it: Isa 11:3-5 32:1,2 Ps 45:4-6 72:1, 2, 3,7 Heb 1:8 Rev 19:11)(zeal: Isa 37:32 59:16,17 63:4, 5, 6 2Ki 19:31 Eze 36:21, 22, 23)
THE KING'S REIGN
PERPETUAL & PROGRESSIVE
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace - No end means Messiah's reign will be perpetual. Increase means His rule will be progressive until He has universal rule and universal peace. To state it another way, when Messiah's rule spreads, peace spreads. Indeed, no one will be able to successfully oppose Messiah's authority, undermine His government or destroy His peace.
Scientists speak about the how the universe is continually expanding. Perhaps. But when the King and Creator of that universe (Jn 1:3, Col 1:16-note, Heb 1:2-note) returns to rule and reign in power and majesty from Zion, the Holy City of Jerusalem, all God's children will be witnesses to His forever expanding kingdom of grace--forever ascending, forever enlarging, forever accelerating, forever intensifying. Paul alludes to that "growth in grace" in Ephesians writing…
(God) raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places (He speaks of this as an accomplished fact - in some mystical sense it is true now, but it is so certain to be true in the future that it is spoken of as a completed act!), in Christ Jesus, in order that (Why were were resurrected and seated with Christ?) in the ages (Beloved we are in an "age" now [Jews divided all time into 2 ages - present age = wholly bad and the golden age to come - cp Mt 24:3, 13:39, 40, 49, 28:20, Da 12:13-note] - it will end with return of the King to inaugurate the new age of justice and righteousness in His Millennial Kingdom) to come He might show (demonstrate, put on display) the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6, 7-note)
Ortlund helps us understand why our future will never be boring (as I often hear skeptics charge) explaining that the truth of Isaiah 9:7 clearly states that…
There will never come one moment when we will say, “This is the limit. He can’t think of anything new. We’ve seen it all.” No. The finite will experience ever more wonderfully the infinite, and every new moment will be better than the last. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Hallelujah! Maranatha! Amen!)
Joseph Alexander comments on how it is beyond any doubt that this prophecy speaks of Jesus Christ…
Upon the whole, it may be said with truth, that there is no alleged prophecy of Christ, for which it seems so difficult with any plausibility to find another subject; and until that is done which all the Rabbis and a Grotius could not do, we may repose upon the old evangelical interpretation as undoubtedly the true one.
Notice how Isaiah 9:6 begins with a Child and Isaiah 9:7 describes a King on the throne of David. Young says this kingdom cannot be the Millennium because it begins with a child and a child could not be king over a much later "millennial" kingdom (He would no longer still be a child). What Young discards is the time gap between Jesus' birth (First Coming) and His return (Second Coming), this latter event described in Revelation 19:16-note at which time He presents Himself as King of kings, takes the throne of David and establishes His Messianic Kingdom (See events leading up to the Millennium). Isaiah 9:7 has not been literally fulfilled so that there has been a time gap now of almost 2000 years (See another passage which has a clear time gap). (Related resource: Jesus' Teaching on "Time Gap" in prophecy and Time gaps in interpretation of prophecy)
The throne of David and over His kingdom - Isa 9:6 says a son will be given to us (Israel) and here we see that He must be the "son of David", the rightful heir to David’s throne Who will fulfill all the promises of the Davidic Covenant (2Sa 7:12, 13, 14, 15, 16; cf. Ps 89:1-37; Mt 1:1). This verse refers to a literal throne which Jesus will occupy at His second coming (cp Rev 20:4-note, Rev 5:10-note). These truths in Isaiah's prophecy shed an entirely new light on a familiar Christmas carol which addresses Christ's first coming, but which might be more accurately classified as a Millennial hymn of praise to the King of Glory at His Second Coming…
Joy to the World
by Isaac Watts
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, and wonders of His love.
Luke describes the throne of David writing…
He (Messiah) will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David (Lk 1:32).
H A Ironside explains the throne of David…
God made a covenant with David that his Son should sit upon his throne and reign in righteousness forever. This has not yet been fulfilled. When the forerunner of our Lord was born, his father, Zacharias, declared that God had raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David (Luke 1:69). These prophetic declarations make clear that David’s throne was to be established forever, and that he should never be without a man to sit upon that throne. Our Lord, on His mother’s side, was from the line of David, as we know, and because of her marriage to Joseph, who was heir to the throne, the throne-rights passed to Jesus. But He has never taken His seat upon the throne of David: this awaits His Second Coming. Even as He declared through His servant, John, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne (Rev. 3:21-note). He is sitting now at the right hand of the Majesty on high, on the throne of Deity. Soon He will return in glory and will take His own throne, which is really the throne of David, and will reign in righteousness over all the earth. (Isaiah 9 - The Promised Deliverer)
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness - Earlier Isaiah had declared that Jerusalem had previously been "full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, but now murderers" (Isa 1:21-note). In chapter 5 God "looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress." (Isa 5:7-note). When Messiah rules He will restore and uphold… justice and righteousness.
I love Peter's encouraging words which are based on our blessed future hope (absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future!)…
But according to His promise (cp Nu 23:19, Josh 23:14, 2Cor 1:20KJV) we are looking for (present tense = Continually. Daily. As the general habit or direction of our life!) new heavens and a new earth (Rev 21:1-note), in which righteousness dwells. Therefore (term of conclusion), beloved, since you look for (present tense) these things (Are you looking expectantly for them beloved? What you are looking for will determine what you are living for! Twice Peter emphasizes the importance of believers maintaining a future focus of upward looking!), be diligent (aorist imperative - Command to be eager, energetic and zealous! Don't delay! Do your utmost for His highest! What are we to hasten to do?) to be found by Him in peace, spotless (James 1:27-note) and blameless (2Pe 3:13-note, 2Pe 3:14-note)
As Ortlund says King Jesus…
will not come back to tweak this problem and that. He will return with a massive correction of all systemic evil forever.
Jeremiah describes Messiah's righteous reign…
Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I shall raise up for David (In fulfillment of the promise made to David in 2Sa 7:12, 13, 14, 15, 16) a righteous Branch (Messiah) and He will reign as King and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. (Jer 23:5)
In those days and at that time (at the end of this age, at the end of the Daniel's Seventieth Week) I (God) will cause a righteous Branch of David (Messiah, the "Son of David") to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved (cp Ro 11:25, 26, 27-note. At the Second Coming) and Jerusalem will dwell in safety (When? In the Millennium, Why? Because the Prince of peace will increase peace); and this is the name by which she (Jerusalem) will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ (Jer 33:15, 16).
From then on and forevermore (Ex 15:18 Ps 10:16, 110:4 145:13, 146:10 Da 2:44 4:3, 7:14,18,27 Mic 4:7 Mt 6:13 Lk 1:33 Heb 1:8 2Pe 1:11) - Messiah's kingdom will be forever. Although Paul explains that one day Christ will subject Himself to the Father (1Cor 15:25, 26, 27, 28), it by no means Messiah will cease to reign (Rev 11:15-note).
I like the ESV Study Bible description stating that…
The empire of grace will forever expand, and every moment will be better than the last. (ESV Study Bible)
The zeal of the LORD of hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth) will accomplish this - This prophecy will be literally fulfilled. Why? Because Jehovah is jealous to perform what He has prophesied. Jehovah Sabaoth is an apropos name in this context, for it speaks of the Almighty as the One Who commands armies (a host of angels), leaving no doubt that He has the wherewithal to accomplish what He purposes to perform!
Zeal (07068) (qina from qana = to be zealous) means ardor, jealousy. The picture is that of intense fervor, passion, and emotion. Zeal is an eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something and implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause.
Qina - 39v in the OT in the NAS - Nu 5:14f, 18, 25, 29f; 25:11; Deut 29:20; 2Kgs 10:16; 19:31; Job 5:2; Ps 69:9; 79:5; 119:139; Pr 6:34; 14:30; 27:4; Eccl 4:4; 9:6; Song 8:6; Isa 9:7; 11:13; 26:11; 37:32; 42:13; 59:17; 63:15; Ezek 5:13; 8:3, 5; 16:38, 42; 23:25; 35:11; 36:5f; 38:19; Zeph 1:18; 3:8. NAS translates qina as - anger(1), envy(1), jealousy(24), passion(1), rivalry(1), zeal(14).
Isaiah describes God's promise to bring forth a believing remnant from Israel…
For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall perform this. (Isaiah 37:32)
Comment: While this promise had a literal historical component that spoke of the Jews being delivered from Sennacherib in Hezekiah’s day, it was also a foreshadowing of a future, final restoration of Israel (specifically the remnant who would believe in Messiah at the end of this present age during the time of Jacob's distress). And so in the context of Isaiah 37:32, the LORD’s “zeal” refers to His intense devotion to and love for His chosen people, an ardor which prompts Him to protect and restore them (those who believe).
In Psalm 69 David declares…
For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
Comment: John quotes this passage as applied to the Messiah (Jn 2:14).
Spurgeon adds: His burning ardor, like the flame of a candle, fed on his strength and consumed it. His heart, like a sharp sword, cut through the scabbard. Some men are eaten up with lechery, others with covetousness, and a third class with pride, but the master passion with our great leader was the glory of God, jealousy for his name, and love to the divine family. Zeal for God is so little understood by men of the world, that it always draws down opposition upon those who are inspired with it; they are sure to be accused of sinister motives, or of hypocrisy, or of being out of their senses. When zeal eats us up, ungodly men seek to eat us up too, and this was preeminently the case with our Lord, because his holy jealousy was preeminent. With more than a seraph's fire he glowed, and consumed himself with his fervor.
Motyer adds that…
Zeal (qina) is that ‘jealousy’ which is a component of all true love and pre-eminently of the Lord’s love. His love will brook no rival and is provoked by disloyalty (Nu. 25:11; Ps 79:5). It is equally, however, the power of love moving the Lord to make his people’s cause his own (Is. 42:13; 59:17; 63:15) and the passionate commitment of his nature to fulfill his purposes for them (37:32). All this zealous determination is that of Yahweh, the exodus-God, whose nature it is to save his people and overthrow his foes. It is backed by divine omnipotence (for Almighty/‘of hosts’ see on 1:9) and pledged to achieve this, the advent and kingdom of the Messiah. (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
Isaiah 9:8 The Lord sends a message against Jacob, and it falls on Israel.: (Message: Isa 7:7,8 8:4-8 Mic 1:1-9 Zec 1:6 5:1-4 Mt 24:35)
A MESSAGE TO THE NORTHERN KINGDOM
This verse begins a new section addressed to the Northern Kingdom (also known as Jacob, Israel, Ephraim) which continues through the next chapter (Isaiah 10:4) and is divided into 4 subsections (Isa 9:8-12, 13-17, 18-21, 10:1-4) each ending with the same refrain…
In spite of all this His anger does not turn away,
And His hand is still stretched out.
(Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4)
Alexander introduces this next section…
Having repeatedly interchanged the three great subjects of this prophecy (1) the deliverance of Judah from the power of Syria and Israel, (2) its subsequent punishment by means of the Assyrians and (3) the reign of the Messiah, for Whose sake the kingdom was to be preserved, the prophet Isaiah passes here abruptly from the last to the first, and again predicts the punishment of Ephraim. He reverts to this event, which had already been repeatedly foretold, for the purpose of declaring that the blows would be repeated as often and as long as might be needed for the absolute fulfillment of God's threatenings. He begins by showing that Israel had already been forewarned. (The Prophecies of Isaiah)
Constable adds that Isaiah 9:8-10:4 is written in the form of a poem which…
consists of four strophes each ending with the refrain, “In spite of all this His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out” (Isa 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4). The progression of thought is from pride (Isa 9:9-12) to flawed leadership (Isa 9:13-17) to selfishness (Isa 9:18-21) to social injustice (Isa 10:1-4). (Isaiah - Expository Notes)
Lord - See study of Adonai - My Lord, My Master. The Lord now shifts from a hope filled description of the time of the Messiah's rule back to the punishment of God's people.
A message (Literally "a word") - This is God's Word through His mouthpiece Isaiah and it is living and active, able to cut like a sword (Heb 4:12-note). Clearly this is a negative message (as emphasized by the words "against" and "falls on"). The Septuagint makes this even clearer for the English translation reads
The Lord has sent death upon Jacob, and it has come upon Israel.
In Isaiah 55 we see the supernatural, energetic aspect of God's Word, God Himself testifying…
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Comment: In the present case His Word will accomplish divine judgment on the Northern Kingdom, despite their failure to receive it personally
The prophet Hosea alludes to the cutting power of God's Word writing…
Therefore (see context Hos 6:1, 2, 3, 4) I have hewn (Hebrew = killed; Lxx = mown down, cut off) them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light (NIV says lightning but others consider this a reference to the morning light or dawn - i.e., His judgments are as inescapable as light) that goes forth. (Ho 6:5)
Comment: The Lord had sent messages of judgment and condemnation through His messengers, the prophets, which had the effect of "mowing down" those who were unfaithful to Jehovah. As J Vernon McGee puts it "In other words, God says, “I skinned them alive by the prophets.”
See Related Resource - Power of God's Word
As Young says…
Sometimes God sends plagues; sometimes He sends help; now He sends a word, and this word was sent into Jacob. (Ibid)
Jacob - This refers to the 10 Northern Tribes. Isaiah had primarily addressed the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin in chapters 7 and 8, but now turns his attention to the 10 northern tribes with a similar but not identical message.
Israel - The name Israel in this context again refers to the ten tribes which in the next verse are referred to as the kingdom of Ephraim. While a play on words was probably not intended with the phrase a message… falls on Israel, the truth as the subsequent passages demonstrate is that the message has fallen on spiritually deaf, staunchly defiant ears. Irregardless the word spoken would come to pass just as it was predicted.
Isaiah 9:9 And all the people know it, that is , Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart: (All the people: Isa 26:11 1Ki 22:25 Job 21:19,20 Jer 32:24 44:28,29 Eze 7:9,27 Eze 30:19 33:33)(Ephraim: Isa 7:9 10:9-11)(pride: Isa 46:12 48:4 Pr 16:18 Mal 3:13 4:1 1Pe 5:5)
THE FIRST STANZA:
PRIDE AND ARROGANCE
And all the people know - God's prophetic Word (His divine threatening) had permeated the entire society of Ephraim (even without email!) No one will have an excuse when the Word falls! Everyone would know. This was not a dropped call like we all encounter with our cell phones but a message from the Lord which was "loud and clear." In short, this prophecy of judgment was not cloaked in mystery or doubt but was one that was to be known by everyone in the Northern Kingdom. Why? Because when the prophecy was fulfilled, they would understand that it was clearly from the Lord (for only the Lord can tell the future because only the Lord controls the future.).
Ephraim… Samaria - These names (along with Jacob… Israel in Isa 9:8) signify the northern kingdom (the 10 tribes that joined Jeroboam when God tore the undivided kingdom of Israel from Solomon's son Rehoboam, circa 931BC - for background read 1Ki 12:16-33).
Ephraim was the largest and most influential tribe in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. So, often the Lord refers to the Kingdom of Israel by the name Ephraim. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. There isn’t any doubt whom this prophecy is directed to. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart - All the people of Ephraim had heard and understood but they continued to indulge their pride and self-security. This is the condition of the people's heart and it sets the stage for the words they speak in verse 10 (cp Jesus' teaching on heart condition and the words out of our mouth - Mt 12:34, 35).
Pride (01346) (ga'avah from gaa = to be high) is an interesting Hebrew word which in some contexts can describe the violent agitation of a body of water (Ps 46:3), in other contexts can mean "majesty" (loftiness of God) (Ps 68:34), but which usually signifies pride (loftiness of self!), arrogance, conceit as in the present passage.
Ga'avah - 19v in NAS - Deut 33:26, 29; Job 41:15; Ps 10:2; 31:18, 23; 36:11; 46:3; 68:34; 73:6; Pr 14:3; 29:23; Isa 9:9; 13:3, 11; 16:6; 25:11; Jer 48:29; Zeph 3:11. NAS translates as arrogance(2), back(1), haughtiness(1), majesty(3), pride(8), proud(2), proudly(1), swelling pride(1).
Arrogance (01433) (godel) means greatness in terms of size (Ezek 31:7), of divine power (Ps 79:11), of divine dignity (Dt 32:3), of divine majesty (Dt 3:24), of divine mercy (Nu 14:19), of the false greatness or bravado of one’s heart (Isa. 9:9) and was used to describe the extreme arrogance of the heart of the king of Assyria (Isa. 10:12).
Godel - 13v in NAS - Nu 14:19; Dt 3:24; 5:24; 9:26; 11:2; 32:3; Ps 79:11; 150:2; Isa 9:9; 10:12; Ezek 31:2, 7, 18. NAS = arrogance(1), arrogant(1), greatness(11).
Regarding arrogance Motyer comments…
Arrogance (gōdel from gādēl, ‘to be great’) is the spirit of Moab in Isa 16:6 (not godel but 01347 = ga'on), not to be beholden to any, superiority blended with self-sufficiency. The heart is the organ of thought, feeling and response, and is coupled here with pride and arrogance to depict one who stubbornly backs his own judgment, trusts his own responses, depends on his own resources and puts his own policies to work. (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
Beloved, it behooves us all to be on "high alert" for the subtle rise of pride in our hearts because God is always forced to oppose such an attitude. James writes that God
gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED (antitasso = set an army in array against, to arrange in battle order, to line oneself up against and so to resist, oppose or be hostile toward) TO THE PROUD (pictures a sense of superiority, haughtiness, inflated opinion of self), BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." (Jas 4:6-note)
Comment: This is a verse all believers should memorize and upon which they should frequently meditate. Ponder for a moment being continually opposed (the verb antitasso is present tense = continuous action) by the Omnipotent God! We also do well to notice how pride shuts off the flow of God's grace in view of our continual need for His grace to live the supernatural life (cp 1Co 15:10-note).
Heart (03824) (lebab) (LXX = kardia - see word study) refers not only to his intellect per se only but in Hebrew speaks of that which rules one's very being, the very center of human life -- the seat of affections, emotions, desires. The heart connotes "the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature." Israel's root problem was the problem with their heart. And beloved when we begin to backslide, you can usually trace the pathogenesis to a "heart condition".
Watch (command) over your heart with all diligence (watching takes spiritual alacrity = a cheerful readiness or promptitude), (Why is guarding one's heart so critical to our spiritual lives?) For from it flow the springs of life. (Pr 4:23-see in depth note on this vitally important topic!)
Isaiah 9:10 The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones. The sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.": (bricks: 1Ki 7:9-12 10:27 Mal 1:4)
The very words of the self-confident Ephraimites are now recorded. Instead of being warned and instructed by what they had already suffered, they presumptuously look for greater prosperity than ever!… The oriental bricks are unburnt, so that most of their brick structures are as little durable as mud walls. The sycamore is durable but too light and spongy to be used in solid building. The latter is accordingly contrasted with the cedar and the former with hewn stone, the two most highly valued building materials. (The Prophecies of Isaiah)
The bricks have fallen down - This is Israel's prideful declaration and this portion of their arrogant assessment was accurate - the bricks had fallen down!
But we will rebuild with smooth stones… but we will replace them with cedars - Sin (and pride is the height of sin) is deceitful (Heb 3:13) and so here we see a but, which in context marks a change from an accurate statement to an inaccurate statement! It is as if the Northern Kingdom was saying "Who cares if God judges us, for we will rebuild with something better (smooth stones and cedars surpass bricks and common sycamore) and so we don't fear what God brings against us!” By definition, when someone is deceived, they don't know it. The people of Israel are sorely deceived by their sinful pride and arrogance and they think they can oppose the hand of God which is stretched out against them! They will be proven wrong!
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.
Notice the repeated phrase we will… we will which reflect their pride and arrogance of heart. National disaster should have prompted national repentance, but their hearts were hard and their necks were stiff (spiritually speaking). Jehovah's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease and His compassions never fail for they are new every morning even in the midst of wrath He is forced to bring on a people. And in His great mercy, He provides a way of escape, even as He did for King David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband Uriah. Had Israel repented, He would have relented of His wrath. In Second Chronicles we read God's response to the heart that repents…
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Chr 7:13, 14)
Isaiah 9:11 Therefore the LORD raises against them adversaries from Rezin, and spurs their enemies on,: (Raises up: Isa 8:4-7 10:9-11 17:1-5 2Ki 15:29 16:9)
Therefore - Whenever you observe a term of conclusion, stop and interrogate with the 5W/H'S. You can always ask "Why is it there for?" Even when God's punishment comes, the people will still arrogantly disregard the clear signs of His hand of discipline and trust in themselves to rebuild the damage. Their hard hearted response forces God to continue His punishment of these prideful people.
And thus because they believed they would be able to weather the storm of attack and then rebuild, God would send successive waves of enemies against Israel (The Syrians before and the Philistines behind). The destruction of Israel would be complete, and their proud promise to rebuild would be unfulfilled. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Has God allowed some event in your life to bring you to the end of yourself and in brokenness, humility and repentance, to turn to Him, seeking His face, His forgiveness and His will for your life? If so, please hear and heed His call to humble yourself and receive His Word implanted which is able to save your soul (the first time - justification, but every day - sanctification).
The LORD raises against them… spurs their enemies on - God is Sovereign. He is not the source of evil (cp Jas 1:13-note). But in His sovereignty and omnipotence, God is able to use evil nations to accomplish His purposes, using them to chastise His rebellious chosen people. (See examples of God raising up and stirring up peoples and nations for His purposes - 2Sa 12:11, 1Ki 11:14, 23 1Chr 5:26, 2Chr 21:16, 2Ch 33:11, 2Chr 36:22, 23, Ezra 1:1, Isa 10:5, 13:17, Ezek 38:16)
Adversaries from Rezin - Rezin refers to the Arameans (Syrians). Their adversaries refers to the Assyrians.
Isaiah 9:12 The Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west and they devour Israel with gaping jaws. In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, And His hand is still stretched out.: (Arameans: 2Ki 16:6 2Ch 28:18 Jer 35:11)(devour Israel: Dt 31:17 Ps 79:7 129:3-6 Jer 10:25)(In spite of all this - Isa 9:17,21 5:25 10:4 Jer 4:8)
"IN SPITE OF ALL THIS… "
Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4
Arameans on the east - See Map of Aram (note it is northeast of Israel).
Philistines on the west - See Map of Philistia.
In spite of all this - The crushing (gaping jaws) invasions of the Arameans and Philistines would not be enough to break Israel's pride and arrogance. The upshot? More divine judgment would come. This repeated refrain describing God's anger reminds us of Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
The heart of godless men has not changed much as evidenced by John Calvin's description of the society in his day…
How many are the distresses with which Europe has been afflicted for thirty or forty years? How many are the chastisements by which she has been called to repentance? And yet it does not appear that those numerous chastisements have done any good. On the contrary, luxury increases every day, lawless passions are inflamed, and men go on in crimes and profligacy more shamelessly than ever. In short, those very calamities appear to have been so many excitements to luxury and splendour. What then should we expect but to be bruised with heavier blows?
His anger does not turn away… His hand is still stretched out (in anger not mercy) - The Arameans and Philistines did not signal the end of their affliction by God.
In this unit (Isaiah 9:8 through Isaiah 10:4) as we have noted there are four identical refrains (Isa 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4, cp Isaiah 5:25) which repeat the description of Jehovah's refusal to turn back from judging Israel (one refrain should have been enough to cause a holy fear and dread!) Men can vainly resist God's righteous anger but cannot cause it to go away.
Ephraim/Israel refused to turn back to God (repent) even in the face of His hand of judgment and thus He would not turn away His anger. This proved to be a spiritual recipe for complete destruction of the nation of Israel (defeated and taken into exile by the Assyrians in 722BC).
PRAY FOR REVIVAL!
Beloved, America is at a historic, spiritual crossroad. God's Name is being slowly, systematically removed by the secularists from every aspect of our society (from removal of public prayer to removal of His name off our coins to removal of His name from the pledge of allegiance! And the list is growing!). If we the people fail to turn back to God as a nation, we can see from Israel's example what will surely come to pass in our great nation which was once truly one nation under God! Pray for revival!
Hand is still stretched out - It is worth nothing that in other contexts the outstretched hand is not God’s judgment but reflects His offer of mercy (Isa 65:2; Ro 10:21). This phrase was also used to describe His redemption of Israel through the exodus (Ex 6:6, Dt 4:34, 5:15).
Isaiah 9:13 Yet the people do not turn back to Him Who struck them, nor do they seek the LORD of hosts: (people: Isa 1:5 26:11 57:17 2Ch 28:22 Job 36:13 Jer 5:3 31:18-20 Eze 24:13 Ho 5:15 7:10,16)(Nor: Isa 31:1 Deut 4:29 Jer 29:11 50:4,5 Ho 3:4,5)
THE SECOND STANZA:
Yet the people - Yet is like "but", marking a contrast. What is being contrasted? Logically, when we burn our hand and feel pain, we instantly retract our hand. Similarly, one would think of Israel as surely being willing to pull their hand back so to speak, and to recognize the hand of the LORD as the source of their retribution. But in this case they did not do so. Repeatedly in the book of Judges, God would send enemies against Israel and in their oppression they would cry out for His deliverance and He would send a deliverer or a judge to set them free from their oppressors. And "yet" not in this case. Why not? What happens when we repeatedly burn our finger? We get a scar with loss of sensation (which is what happens to lepers who get a destructive neuropathy which leaves them insensitive to pain and thus they often injure themselves without being aware because the sense of pain is gone). So too, we see this same dynamic occur with Israel's heart.
The people do not turn back - Continued strokes from God are still without effect. In short they do not repent of their wickedness and ungodly behavior.
Sin is departing from God.
Repentance is returning to God.
Motyer observes that…
Before repentance wrath melts and mercy triumphs.
To Him Who struck them - God Himself brought this about!
Struck them - (Isa 1:5, 5:25, 9:13, Jer 2:30, 5:3)
Nor do they seek the LORD of hosts - This is a sad statement. Divine discipline had no positive effect on the people of the Northern Kingdom.
Alexander notes that to seek God
in the idiom of Scripture, is to pray to Him (Isa 4:6), to consult Him (Isa 8:19), to resort to Him for help (Isa 31:1), to hold communion with Him (Amos 5:4,5). Hence, it is sometimes descriptive of a godly life in general (Ps 14:2). So here it includes repentance, conversion, and new obedience.
Clendenen writes that…
Seeking God is a purposeful looking for assistance from the Almighty (31:1). It requires people to admit they need help and causes them to rely on someone stronger than themselves. It involves a heart’s desire for God, a willingness to ask for guidance, and by implication includes a commitment to “turn, repent” and follow God’s answer. (New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39).
The Northern Kingdom was like King Rehoboam of the Southern Kingdom who
did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD. (2Chr 12:14)
Comment: Note the prerequisite for seeking is setting. The root problem of not seeking is not setting -- not setting one's heart on God. The fruit of this rotten root is rebellion (did evil), the antithesis of seeking God (cp 2Chr 15:2).
In King Asa's reign in Judah we see the importance of seeking the LORD for…
whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman… 15 And all Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the LORD gave them rest on every side. (2Chr 15:13, 15)
Comment: Clearly not seeking God reflects a serious problem, one that warranted death in the OT. Some fear to seek the Lord diligently because they are afraid that if should they really find God, He would be more of a burden than a blessing. The Chronicler wanted us to know that when we seek God in this radical way and find Him, the reward is rest all around. Had the people of the Northern Kingdom responded with repentance (manifest by seeking Him), He would have relented and given them rest.
Charles Simeon has the following sermon comments related to Isaiah 9:13…
RICH as God is in mercy to repenting sinners, he is full of indignation against the impenitent. Hence his most gracious invitations and promises are often intermixed with the most awful threatenings (Mt 11:20, 21, 28). He had just before declared his intention of sending the Messiah to his chosen people. He now threatens them with utter excision for their impenitence (Compare Isa 9:6, 7. with Isa 9:11, 12, 13, 14, 15). The grounds of his displeasure are no less visible amongst ourselves than amongst the Jews. We are at this time suffering under his chastising hand. But few, if any, of us are suitably affected with his judgments… (Remember) God does not ever afflict his people willingly and without a cause. Sin is the ground of the controversy that he has with us. It is for the removal of this that he sends afflictions, upon individuals -- His most highly favored people are not exempt from chastisement: while they have any sin unmortified (Ed: What sin are you refusing to mortify dear child of God? Be sure His rod of discipline is able to reach you if you persist His loving warning to lay aside the old and put on the new!), God will not leave them altogether unpunished (cp Jer 30:11). Even the upright Job had much dross which was to be purged in the furnace of affliction (Job 23:10-note). David also found much benefit arising from his trials: and acknowledged them to have been tokens of God’s love and faithfulness (Ps 119:72-note). (Isaiah 9:13 Our impenitence Under Divine Chastisement)
Isaiah 9:14 So the LORD cuts off head and tail from Israel, both palm branch and bulrush in a single day: (cut: Isa 3:2,3 19:15 2Ki 17:6-20 Ho 1:4,6,9 4:5 5:12-14 8:8 9:11-17 Ho 13:3 Am 2:14-16 3:12 5:2,3 6:11 7:8,9,17 9:1-9 Mic 1:6-8)(day: Isa 10:17 30:13 Ho 10:15 Rev 18:8,10,17)
So - (therefore) - A term of conclusion related to how God shall strike Ephraim and Samaria.
So the LORD cuts off head… from Israel - The head refers to the elder and honorable man, the leaders of the nation. The point is that Jehovah will destroy Israel's leadership. Isaiah described the totality of leadership as the head and tail of this national animal.
So the LORD cuts off… tail from Israel (cp Dt 28:13, Isa 19:15) - The tail refers to the false prophets (see next verse).
As in Isa 3:1, 2, 3, 4, inadequate leadership is one of the signs of divine judgment at work. (Ibid)
Palm branch and Bulrush - The former was highly esteemed for its beauty and utility and it stood over the much smaller bulrush (or reed) which grew in the marshes. And so they picture in general that which is superior and inferior, and stand as symbols for every class in the community. The Lxx supports this idea translating them as megas (great) and mikros (small).
In a single day - God would cut off Ephraim's leadership abruptly and suddenly.
Isaiah 9:15 The head is the elder and honorable man, and the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail: (elder: Isa 3:5 5:13 1Sa 9:6)(prophet: Isa 28:17 29:10 1Ki 13:18 22:22, 23, 24, Jer 5:31 14:14,15 Jer 23:9,14,15,25, 26, 27 27:9,10,14,15 28:15,16 29:21,22 Eze 13:1-16,19,22 Hos 9:8 Mal 2:9 Mt 7:15, 24:24 2Co 11:13, 14, 15 Gal 1:8,9 2Th 2:9, 10, 11, 12 2Ti 4:2,3 2Pe 2:1, 2, 3 1Jn 4:1 Rev 19:20)
The prophet who teaches falsehood - See passages below under leading astray.
Isaiah 9:16 For those who guide this people are leading them astray; and those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.: (Those who guide: Isa 3:12 Mt 15:14 23:16-36) (Guided by them: Nu 6:23-26 1Ki 8:55,56 2Ch 30:27 Heb 7:7)
For - Explains why the leaders and prophets were specifically singled out to be cut off.
Leading astray - Evil leaders lead to evil deeds (cp Jesus' warning Mt 15:14). Bad company corrupts good morals. A little leaven, leavens the entire loaf. There are many passages that relate to evil leaders leading others astray…
The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Pr 12:26)
He who leads the upright astray in an evil way Will himself fall into his own pit, But the blameless will inherit good. (Pr 28:10)
O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray, And confuse the direction of your paths. (Isa 3:12)
The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? (Jer 5:31)
Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. (Jer 14:14)
I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!' 26 "How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, 27 who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? 28 "The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?" declares the LORD. 29 "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock? 30 "Therefore behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who steal My words from each other. 31 "Behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who use their tongues and declare, 'The Lord declares.' 32 "Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams," declares the LORD, "and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit," declares the LORD. (Jer 23:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32)
Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, but they have seen for you false and misleading oracles. (Lam 2:14)
Comment: Iniquity not exposed. The truth in this verse is a loud trumpet call to the modern church to not shy away from exposing iniquity, to not be fearful of calling sin "sin", to not be afraid of "hard" (or vertical) preaching, to not disregard the truth that repentance is related to genuine belief, to not be willing to affirm to the sheep that the Word of God provides everything necessary for life and godliness, etc, etc. American Christianity is being destroyed by "lack of knowledge" (cp Hos 4:6). The consequences of sowing seeds of soft preaching is the rotten fruit of unrighteous behavior which is beginning to be seen all across the land of America. God's offer is the same as it was in the OT… "Return to Me… that I may return to you." (Zech 1:3, cp 2Chr 15:4, 2Chr 30:6, 7, 8, 9, Isa 31:6, Jer 3:12, 13, 14, Jer 4:1, 25:5, 35:15, Lam 3:39 Ezek 33:11 Hos 6:1, 14:1,2, Joel 2:12, 13, Mal 3:7) Father by Thy Spirit please make the prayer of the psalmist be the continual plea on the lips of every blood bought, heaven bound follower of Christ - My soul cleaves to the dust. Revive me (us) according to Thy word. (Psalm 119:25).
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Ro 16:17, 18)
But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2Cor 11:3,4)
These things (What things? Read chapters 1 and 2 of 1John) I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive (lead you astray just like Isaiah describes here in Isa 9:16) you. (1Jn 2:26)
(Jesus to the church at Thyatira) But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. (Rev 2:18-note)
Those who are guided by them are brought to confusion - More literally this reads "and the ones being led were swallowed up (or ruined)." The idea is they were being destroyed.
Isaiah 9:17 Therefore the Lord does not take pleasure in their young men, nor does He have pity on their orphans or their widows; for every one of them is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth is speaking foolishness. In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, and His hand is still stretched out.: (does not take pleasure: Isa 10:2 13:18 27:11 62:5 65:19 Ps 147:10 Jer 18:21 Zec 9:17)(Every one of them: Isa 10:6 Job 15:34 Jer 5:1 Mic 7:2 Mt 16:3 )(every mouth: Isa 32:6,7 Mt 12:34)(In spite of all this: Isa 9:12,21 5:25 10:4 Eze 20:33)
Therefore - Because of the foolish leaders which led the people astray and caused confusion. Alexander says "because the people are thus incorrigibly impenitent."
The Lord does not take pleasure - God desired to find pleasure and joy (cp Zeph 3:17) with His chosen people, but he was unable to do so because every one of them is godless.
Nor does He have pity - That the Lord would not have mercy on the needy expresses in the strongest of terms the extent and severity of the threatened judgments.
Orphans or their widows - This is an amazing statement, the Scriptures repeatedly describe orphans and widows as peculiarly the object of God's care. But here we see that the Lord does not take pleasure in or have pity on even the weak and needy of the society, because the decay of the society has spread like a deadly virus infecting the entire society from top to bottom (cp the prophecy in Jer 18:21).
For - Explains why God's judgment which might seem so harsh is fully justified.
Godless (02611) (chaneph) has the root idea of to incline away from what is right (from God) and thus means ungodly, filthy, profane. Job 13:16 says "a godless man may not come before His presence" and thus chaneph separates one from God. Job 8:12 says "the hope of the godless will perish" signifying those who have this trait have no hope after death. Read the 13 uses for a good sense of what characterizes a godless person. Isaiah's verdict is that they are all filthy, profane and ungodly, including the orphans and widows! The Septuagint (Lxx) translates chaneph with anomos which describes those who are lawless, who behave as if they have no law. It is interesting that this term is used by Paul to describe the coming Antichrist (2Th 2:8), which helps us understand why God's anger does not turn away!
Chaneph - 13v in the NAS - Job 8:13; 13:16; 15:34; 17:8; 20:5; 27:8; 34:30; 36:13; Ps 35:16; Pr 11:9; Isa 9:17; 10:6; 33:14
Isaiah 9:18 For wickedness burns like a fire; It consumes briars and thorns; It even sets the thickets of the forest aflame, and they roll upward in a column of smoke.: (wickedness: Isa 1:31 30:30,33 33:12 34:8-10 66:16,17 Nu 11:1-3 Deut 32:22 Job 31:11,12 Am 7:4 Na 1:6,10 Mal 4:1 Mt 13:49,50 25:41 Mk 9:43-50)(Consume: Isa 10:16-18 27:4 Heb 6:8)(kindle: Eze 20:47,48)(Roll upward: Isa 5:24 Ps 37:20 Ho 13:3 Joe 2:20 Rev 14:11)
THE THIRD STANZA:
For - Explains why God's hand is still stretched out for the destruction of His people (Isa 9:17). Why? Because that destruction is the natural effect (rotten fruit) of their own wickedness (bad seed).
Wickedness (godlessness) burns like fire - What is the figure of speech? "Like fire" is the simile which points out that wickedness like fire is destructive. Wickedness (sin) is like a rampaging wildfire - it spreads rapidly and is all consuming!
"Evil was uncontrollable and destructive, and so can be compared to a forest fire." ( (Net Bible Notes).
Remember that while figures of speech always have literal meaning, we are not to make our imagination become too imaginative! In this verse, the context explains the destructive nature of the phrase "like fire". Wickedness is always inherently self-destructive.
Jameison comments that…
makes consumption, not only spreading rapidly, but also consuming like fire: sin is its own punishment.
Briars and thorns - This is a figurative description of the wicked (Is 27:4, 2Sa 23:6).
John Oswalt sums up this passage…
Here Isaiah lays bare the true nature of sin. It is not a little misguided playfulness as it is so often depicted. It is a rebellion against God’s order for life. As such, it can only be destructive, like a grass fire which works its way through the brush at the edge of the forest deceptively slowly but then increases speed until it bursts into the woods with a roar and an upward rush of smoke. Because sin seeks gratification in denial of the created order, it can find such gratification only in increasingly flagrant denials. The sinful acts themselves cannot satisfy. Soon rebellion for its own sake, a raging fire, is all that is left. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)(Logos) (Wordsearch)
Isaiah 9:19 By the fury of the LORD of hosts the land is burned up, and the people are like fuel for the fire. No man spares his brother.: (the land: Isa 5:30 8:22 24:11,12 60:2 Jer 13:16 Joe 2:2 Am 5:18 Mt 27:45 Ac 2:20)(Fuel: Isa 9:5)(no man (KJV): Isa 13:18 Eze 9:5 Mic 7:2,6 2Pe 2:4)
BETRAYAL OF BROTHERS
By the fury of the LORD of hosts the land is burned up - Stop and ponder what the fury of the Omnipotent, Holy, Righteous, Just God might look like! The fire of the people's wickedness inevitably brought the fire of God's wrath!
Fury (05678) ('ebrah) is from a Hebrew word group that conveys the sense of movement. To be carried away by a strong feeling. Thus 'ebrah describes an "overflowing" (moving) anger, a state of intense displeasure which can imply outbursts as actions of anger. It is used in some contexts to describe the Day of the Lord - Brief Study (Isa 13:9, 13, Zeph 1:15, 18) (See also article by Richard Mayhue - The Prophet's Watchword: Day of the LORD )
Ebrah - 33v in the NAS - Gen 49:7; Job 21:30; 40:11; Ps 7:6; 78:49; 85:3; 90:9, 11; Pr 11:4, 23; 14:35; 22:8; Isa 9:19; 10:6; 13:9, 13; 14:6; 16:6; Jer 7:29; 48:30; Lam 2:2; 3:1; Ezek 7:19; 21:31; 22:21, 31; 38:19; Hos 5:10; 13:11; Amos 1:11; Hab 3:8; Zeph 1:15, 18 NAS = anger(1), fury(14), overflowings(1), rage(1), wrath(16).
LORD of hosts - Study Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts (of armies). He is pictured as a Warrior and in this passage as warrior .
People are like fuel for the fire - They are an expendable commodity.
No man spares his brother (Literally - "men were not showing compassion to their brothers." NET = "People had no compassion on one another.") - This is a picture of the dire conditions and desperate state of men during this time. Men become consumed with self. Survival of self becomes all one can contemplate. Tribal and familial relationships lose their meaning when conditions deteriorate to this level. What a dreadful picture this passage paints!
NET Bible Notes…
The uncontrollable fire of the people’s wickedness (Isa 9:18) is intensified by the fire of the Lord’s judgment (Isa 9:19). God allows (or causes) their wickedness to become self-destructive as civil strife and civil war break out in the land. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Isaiah 9:20 And they slice off what is on the right hand but still are hungry, and they eat what is on the left hand but they are not satisfied. Each of them eats the flesh of his own arm.: (And he: Isa 49:26 Lev 26:26-29 Jer 19:9 La 4:10)
BARRENNESS OF THEIR SELF CENTERED LIFE
And they slice off (Describes Jesus - Is 53:8, cutting of trees - 2Ki 6:4) what is on the right hand - This refers to stealing food. Whether it was literally fulfilled in some cases is difficult to state, but that would be a possibility considering the previous passage ("no man spares his brother") and the overwhelming urges of hunger which accompany severe famine.
Not satisfied - As noted this pictures the severity of the famine. There is not enough to satisfy, even when it is stolen from others!
Each of them eats the flesh of his own arm - Some interpret this figuratively, but there are other passages that suggest a literal reading, while unsavory, is not unreasonable. The Law had given stern, sobering warnings that conditions would be so bad that even such a barbaric act as cannibalism would be practiced.
Further, you shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat. (Lev 26:26)
Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you.54 "The man who is refined and very delicate among you shall be hostile toward his brother and toward the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain, 55 so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children which he shall eat, since he has nothing else left, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you in all your towns.56 "The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, 57 and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she shall eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you in your towns. (Dt 28:55-57)
Comment: OT prophetic warnings in the Law of Moses were literally fulfilled in a later siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD. Josephus gives a dreadful detail respecting a woman named Mary, who, in the extremity of the famine, during the siege, killed her sucking child, roasted, and had eaten part of it, when discovered by the soldiers!
And the king said to her, "What is the matter with you?" And she answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' "So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, 'Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son." (2Ki 6:28, 29, cp Jer 19:9, Lam 2:20, 4:10 Ezek 5:10 - [Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel refer to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in the years preceding 586BC)
The NET Bible Note says that…
the metaphor (eating flesh of one's own arm) is that of a desperately hungry man who resorts to an almost unthinkable act to satisfy his appetite. He eats everything he can find to his right, but still being unsatisfied, then turns to his left and eats everything he can find there. Still being desperate for food, he then resorts to eating his own flesh (or offspring, as this phrase is metaphorically understood by some English versions, e.g., NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT). The reality behind the metaphor is the political turmoil of the period… There was civil strife within the northern kingdom; even the descendants of Joseph were at each other’s throats. (Isaiah 9 Commentary)
Isaiah 9:21 Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and together they are against Judah. In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, and His hand is still stretched out.: (Ephraim: Jdg 7:2 1Sa 14:20 2Ki 15:30 2Ch 28:6-8 Mt 24:10 Ga 5:15 )(this: Isa 9:12,17 5:25 10:4 Jer 4:8)
DISINTEGRATION OF NATIONAL UNITY
Manasseh devours Ephraim - This passage describes civil war between Manasseh and Ephraim, the two sons of Joseph, the two main tribes of the Northern Kingdom (cp Ge 41:50, 51, 52; 48:5). It is interesting to observe the parallels between ancient Israel and modern American society where we see a severely split society, with radical liberals adamantly opposed to staunch conservatives and secular humanists continually demeaning and slandering the godly remnant! Are these signs of disintegration of America? This is a sobering chapter! Solomon's words still ring true…
Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people.
Alexander observes that Manasseh and Ephraim were chosen…
because the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were more nearly related to each other then to any of the rest, and therefore their hostility afforded the most striking illustration of the mutual rancor which the prophet has described as prevalent.
Henry Morris comments on the preceding proverb observing that…
The unique blessings of God on the American nation are primarily attributable to the spiritual convictions and motivation of so many of its founders and pioneers; its present moral decline and religious apathy and apostasy are an ominous portent for the future.
Jameison comments that these two tribes are…
So closely united as to form between them but one tribe; but now about to be rent into factions, thirsting for each other’s blood.
Oswalt adds that…
The particularly devouring power of sin is seen in its capacity to destroy human relations. These connections, upon which humanity is most deeply dependent, cannot survive the fire of self-serving. It is sad when the environment is abused through sin; it is tragic when human relationships are destroyed. Yet, that had been the history of Israel up to and including Isaiah’s own day. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)(Logos) (Wordsearch)
His hand is still stretched out - Motyer explains that…
It is the final condemnation of this society that with all the bonds of family relationship, shared experiences and divine blessing commonly enjoyed, the only thing which in the end united them was a common enmity. Even in those anarchic, perilous times, energy and resources were found to go to war with Judah (e.g. 2Ki 15:37). (The Prophecy of Isaiah An Introduction Commentary 1993) (Logos).
(1.) They do nothing to turn away his anger; they do not repent and reform, do not humble themselves and pray, none stand in the gap, none answer God’s calls nor comply with the designs of his providences, but they are hardened and secure. (2.) His anger therefore continues to burn against them and his hand is stretched out still. The reason why the judgments of God are prolonged is because the point is not gained, sinners are not brought to repentance by them. The people turn not to him that smites them, and therefore he continues to smite them; for when God judges he will overcome, and the proudest stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.
Not only are the main northern tribes unable to get along together, but they also have turned to attack their blood relatives in Judah. This conflict, called the Syro-Ephraimite War, began because Ahaz refused to join the anti-Assyrian coalition supported by Syria and Israel (Is 7:1–4). Consequently, God’s anger has not yet finished its purposes and his hand is still stretched out to bring more judgment on the northern nation of Israel. Up to this point, Isaiah’s audience in Judah would have agreed with everything Isaiah has said. The northern nation of Israel was proud, violent, wicked, and about to fall apart. Judah agreed with the Lord’s judgment of the nations and especially God’s conclusion that they deserve punishment for attacking Judah. Like the prophet Amos in Amos 1:3–2:3, Isaiah convinces his audience of the sinfulness of others first, so that he can apply the theological principles of those situations to similar problems that existed in his present audience. (New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39)