The previous chapter ended with “distress and darkness,” but Isaiah 9 began with a contrasting note of jubilation. “There will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.” The prophet looked forward to some future date when a new light would shine, first in the northern part of the country, in Galilee.
Isaiah wrote of the birth of a child, a son given by God. He would ultimately bring an end to war through an astounding victory over all that would oppress the Lord’s people. The baby would grow up to be a man who would govern well. He would be one with very wise plans and great strength. He would also be “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” The prophet connected this great God/Man with the throne of David, where the Christ would reign “from this time forth and forevermore.” The fulfillment of these words would begin to come many years later. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
Isaiah 9 changed abruptly at verse 8: “The Lord has sent a word against Jacob.” The Almighty would discipline His people. After giving evidence of their rebellion against God, Isaiah repeated this sobering refrain several times: “For all this His anger has not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still.”
The descendants of Jacob still thought that it was only neighboring powers that stood against them. They forgot about the hand of the Almighty One. “The people did not turn to Him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.” Their leaders were not guiding them home to their God. They were “leading them astray.”
The picture that Isaiah presented to his readers was that of cultural disintegration and a great societal divide. Tribes within Israel would devour each other and then turn together against their brothers to the south in Judah, the tribe of kings. Instead of responding with true humility before God, they would face their trials “in pride and in arrogance of heart.” Yes, their adversaries had knocked down their monuments of achievement, but they would rebuild them to be bigger and better than they were before. To the worldly, such a sentiment no doubt struck just the right note designed to help a hurting populace to believe in themselves again. Yet it would not lead them to do what was most needful—to confess their sins against God and to discover His pardoning strength.
The Lord’s people will encounter troubles in every era until the day when the Captain of our Salvation, the “Prince of Peace,” returns with full victory. We need to look to our God to seek the good gifts that He is bringing to us through whatever adversity He ordains for us. Through it all, we can be especially thankful that the cross of Christ has turned away forever the anger of Jehovah that stood against us. His hand is still stretched out to His faithful people, but not to destroy us. Because of Jesus, He embraces us in His everlasting love.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, we have been so greatly blessed. Your Light shines upon the nations. You have broken the rod of our oppressors through the birth and death of Your Son. He is our King forever and our mighty God. Forgive our arrogance when we think that we could have a victory over evil without You. Christ is our only hope. His death has given us life. Why do we think of Your mercy as weak, when it is clearly strong? Grace insists that we cannot save ourselves. Your holiness and love are mighty for the tearing down of every stronghold, and for the building up of the kingdom that bears the Name of Your Son. All glory to You, O God.