Isaiah 9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 7, 1999

Introduction

We are in the middle of a prophecy that was given around 734 BC. Addressed to King Ahaz of the southern kingdom of Judah, it began in Isaiah 7. Two kings had joined together to oppose Ahaz, Pekah of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and Rezin from the kingdom of Syria (or Aram). God had been promising Ahaz that He would take care of these kings. He also warned of the Assyrians who would not only be used to deal with the other two kings, but also bring destruction through the land.

In the coming hard times, people would be looking for answers. But theyíll be looking in the wrong places. Rather than asking their God for direction, theyíll be seeking those who claim to contact the dead, those who speak to demons (Is. 8:19). The result would be a darkness on the land.

:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such Ö

(Isa 9:1 NLT) Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The first light affliction on Zebulun and Naphtali happened with Tiglathpileser came against these areas in the north and took some of them captive. (2Ki. 15:29)

:1 in Galilee of the nations.

Or, "Galilee of the Gentiles". The area of the Galilee to the north wasnít looked upon with great admiration. The Jews in the south looked at Galilee with contempt and disgust. Yet Isaiah goes on to say Ö

:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light

This is talking about Jesus. He would bring glory to the land in the north. He would be the great light in a dark place. Jesusí main ministry took place in the north, in the Galilee.

(Mat 4:13-16 KJV) And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: {14} That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, {15} The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; {16} The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

Lesson

Jesus lights up dark places.

You may be feeling like youíre in the darkest, farthest place from God that is possible. But Jesus loves to be invited into dark rooms. He loves to lighten them up. Youíre not too far that He canít reach you.

:3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy

not increased the joy Ė better, "increased the joy".

:3 they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest

There would be great joy when the Messiah would come.

:4 thou hast broken the yoke Ö as in the day of Midian

God would give great victory over their oppressors. This is ultimately going to be fulfilled when Jesus comes a second time.

Midian Ė the victory of Gideon and his army over the Midianites (Judges 7). God had called Gideon to deliver His people from the oppression of the Midianites. The people would work hard all year taking care of their crops. But at harvest time, the Midianites would come in and take all that had been harvested.

When Gideon put out a call for a volunteer army, 32,000 men showed up. They would be facing an army of 150,000 Midianites. It wasnít very good odds, but even stranger still, God told Gideon that there were too many men in the army!

(Judg 7:2 KJV) And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

By the end of the day, Gideonís army was whittled down from 32,000 men, to just three hundred. When they attacked the Midianites, God had given them an ingenious plan. Each man had a jar with a torch in it, along with a trumpet. They spread themselves out, surrounding the Midianites. When the signal came, they all exposed their torches by breaking the jars, and then all blew the trumpets. The Midianites thought they were surrounded by a huge army, and as confusion broke out, they ended up fighting with each other. God had a great victory that day.

Lesson

God can win with just a few.

You donít have to be great for God to use you. You donít necessarily have to have a lot of people to accomplish great things for God. If you feel small, powerless, and insignificant, you might be just the one God is looking to use.

(2 Cor 12:9 KJV) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

:5 Öthis shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

(Isa 9:5 NKJV) For every warrior's sandal from the noisy battle, And garments rolled in blood, Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

When Jesus comes back again, there will be no more need for weapons or warfare. Theyíll be burned. (Is. 2:4)

:6 unto us a son is given

The Deliverer would be a Son. Godís only begotten Son.

:6 and his name shall be called

In the Bible, a personís name often was a reflection, if not prophetically, of who that person was or would be. They were often a personís character traits.

:6 Wonderful

Wonderful Ė pele' Ė wonder, marvel; The word comes from pala' Ė to be marvellous, be wonderful, be surpassing, be extraordinary; to be beyond one's power, be difficult to do; to do an extraordinary or hard or difficult thing

Do you face difficult things in your life? There is one who is Wonderful, able to do impossible things. There is nothing too difficult for Him.

(Jer 32:17 KJV) Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

:6 Counsellor

I know that some of the modern translations pair this with Wonderful, but I like how the King James separates it. He is Wonderful. Heís also a great Counsellor.

Counsellor Ė ya`ats Ė to advise, consult, give counsel, purpose, devise, plan.

In contrast, keep in mind that the people got into trouble in the first place because they were looking for advice from people who contacted the dead instead of contacting their God (Isa 8:19). Unlike dead people, God is a GREAT Counselor and He never gives bad advice.

Prov 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

:6 The mighty God

There were some of the Jews who would look at verse 6, and say that it was fulfilled by Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz. Hezekiah may have been wonderful, he may have been a good counsellor, but he certainly wasnít the Mighty God. Jesus, on the other hand, is the Mighty God.

(Titus 2:11-13 KJV) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, {12} Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; {13} Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

:6 The everlasting Father

This title gets some of us a little confused. How could Jesus be the "Father" when we know Him as the "Son"? Itís simple. Itís not hard for a person to be both a father and a son. I am. We know of Jesus as the Son, and that refers to His position in the Trinity. But He is also a Father in that we have been born again through Him.

:6 The Prince of Peace

Peace Ė shalowm Ė completeness, soundness, peace

When Jesus returns, He will set up His kingdom on earth, and there will be no more war. But this also refers to the peace with God that we can experience right now in our hearts. Paul writes,

(Rom 5:1 NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

:7 upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it

When Messiah comes back, He will be a descendant of David, in the line of the kings of Judah. Jesus was able to trace His lineage back to David both through his "step-father" Joseph (Mat. 1), as well as His mother Mary (Luke 3).

:7 The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Godís fervent love for His Son and for His people will bring all this to pass. This is just like what the Queen of Sheba said regarding Solomon:

1 Kings 10:9 Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

:9:8 Ė 10:4 Judgment on the Northern Kingdom

:8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.

Israel Ė the Northern Kingdom. Some look at this as a new section.

:10 bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones Ö

(Isa 9:10 NLT) "Our land lies in ruins now, but we will rebuild it better than before. We will replace the broken bricks with cut stone, the fallen sycamore trees with cedars."

God had begun to bring judgment against the proud people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (also known as Ephraim or Samaria). But instead of turning from their sin, they just figured they would rebuild, only bigger and better.

:11 the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him

Even though the Northern Kingdom had an alliance with Rezin, king of Syria, God would turn the Syrians against Israel. They would join with their own enemies, Assyria, and attack Israel.

:12 The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind

The Syrians were on the east of Israel, the Philistines were on the west.

:12 For all this his anger is not turned away

This phrase will pop up several more times. Itís the theme of the section.

:13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them

Warren Wiersbe: If God cannot bring us to repentance through His Word, then He must lift His hand and chasten us. If we do not submit to His chastening, then He must stretch out His hand and judge us. God is long-suffering, but we dare not tempt Him by our careless or callused attitude.

:14 Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.

head and tail ĖThe highest and the lowest. It is explained in the next verse. The wise old men were the head, the false prophets were the tail. Both would be removed in one day.

branch and rush Ė (NASB) "palm branch and bulrush". Probably another way of saying the "highest" (branch) and the "lowest" (rush) of the people.

:17 neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows

God is usually very compassionate to these people:

Psalms 68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, [is] God in his holy habitation.

But because all the people, including the orphans and widows, are continuing in sin, His judgment comes. All this seems to be what follows from the leaders leading the people away from the Lord and helping them to just continue in their sin.

:18-19 For wickedness burneth as the fire Ö

These two verses sound as if they are talking about the destruction that the coming judgment will be making, yet it says that "wickedness" burns like a fire. The point is that sin often times brings its own punishment. There are times when we just go deeper and deeper into sin, and at the same time we are only destroying ourselves that much further.

:20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry Ö

(Isa 9:20 NLT) They fight against their own neighbors to steal food, but they will still be hungry. In the end they will even eat their own children.

:21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh

They will consume each other, just as a man eats his own flesh. The two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim were descended from the two sons of Joseph. In a way, these two tribes were closer to each other than any other two of the tribes.

:21 For all this his anger is not turned away Ö

Lesson

Godís Discipline.

I see there being at least three stages to Godís discipline of us as His children. I think theyíre somewhat similar to how we as parents ought to discipline our children.

1) Kindness

(Rom 2:4 KJV) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

There are times when even though we are being disobedient, God continues to shower us with kindness. Hopefully we will be reminded of His mercy and turn from our disobedience.

2) His Word

He uses His word to "clean" us or "prune" us. Jesus said,

(John 15:3 KJV) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

We see this in the life of the nation of Israel. God used the prophets to keep giving His word of warning to the people. But the problem was that the people didnít pay any attention to what God was saying:

(Jer 25:3 KJV) From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

This is why itís so important that we stay in Godís Word on a daily basis. God will use His Word each day to guide us and mold us into what He wants us to be. God is speaking, God is giving guidance, but are we tuned in?

3) Chastisement.

This is what Israel is going to be going through as prophesied by Isaiah. We could call it judgment. But keep in mind Godís patience with His people. When we read passages about judgment like Isaiah 9, we can get the impression that God is just mad all the time. We get the idea that if you make one little mistake, then WHAM, youíre going to get hit with some horrible judgment. Thatís not the case at all. Usually the warnings like this would take place a couple of years, if not decades before the actual judgment occurred. This is nothing like the abusive parent who automatically beats their child for any reason whatsoever.

(Heb 12:6 KJV) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Godís chastisement seems to always come as a kind of last resort. Itís usually preceded by lots and lots of warnings and mercy and kindness. It only comes because He loves us.

Lesson

Discipline in relationships

These same principles are the ones that should be at work in our relationships. Jesus told us that we are to love one another just as He loves us (John 13:34). And His love for us includes discipline.

As Parents

As parents, we shouldnít always respond to disobedience with harshness. It wouldnít hurt to get into the habit of responding first with mercy, gentleness, and understanding. I am finding that much of the time, when my sons are misbehaving, itís because I havenít been with them enough. Sometimes responding to their behavior by simply spending more time with them is what they really need, not harsh words from me or a spanking.

As Friends

If we are going to grow as a healthy church, these need to be our guidelines as well in our relationships with each other. Loving one another isnít an option, itís a command (John 13:34). Loving like Jesus includes discipline.

Itís common for us to be on one extreme or another. Some folks, when they are offended by someone else, will just keep it to themselves. Theyíll sit there silently suffering until they canít take it anymore. Then they just quietly leave the church because they are too timid to say anything to anyone. The other extreme is where a person is offended, and rather than handling it properly, they go around telling others what a bad person so-and-so is. Nobody grows when this happens.

Start off with kindness. If youíre hurt by someone, return the hurt with kindness.

(Rom 12:21 NLT) Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Talk to the person. Use the words of your mouth to let them know youíve been offended.

(Gal 6:1 NLT) Dear friends, if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

As a last resort, separate yourself from that person. Jesus gave us a procedure in Mat. 18. If youíve been offended, go to that person first. If they donít respond, take along another person for a second confrontation. If they still donít respond, then it becomes a matter for the church to deal with. Perhaps itís time for that person to be asked to move on. But only after theyíve been confronted, warned, and they still donít change.

Lesson

Shorten the discipline.

Keep in mind weíre talking about a kind of discipline for our sins. Not every difficult time that we go through is a result of sin. Not every difficult time is going to be shortened by just saying youíre sorry.

We see a glimpse of this in the Scriptures, such as when Jonah went to preach to the city of Nineveh. The entire city responded to Jonahís call to repentance. And as a result, Godís judgment never came.

(Jonah 4:2 NLT) So he complained to the LORD about it: "Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people.

Illustration

Sometimes itís really up to us just how long the discipline will last. With my kids, when a child misbehaves to the point that something needs to be done, sometimes they just fight with me. Theyíll yell and kick and scream. I took one child into the bedroom the other day and calmly asked him how far he wanted to take the situation. I told him he could end it all very quickly by calming down and apologizing to his mother. Or I could get the paddle. I was surprised to see him choose to apologize. He actually stopped being angry. He wasnít even stewing with anger. He gave me a great big hug, apologized to his mother, and was a different boy coming out of the bedroom than went in. But it doesnít always work that way. Sometimes they choose the paddle.