Purpose: To refresh our hearts with this astonishing prediction of what God’s coming King would be like and to ask what effect this will have in our lives.
Consider beginning this study by playing a recording of the “Unto us a child is born” chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
Studying the map reveals that the region described includes upper and lower Galilee, the coastal plain and part of Transjordan, probably Gilead. Second Kings 15:29 shows that these areas had already fallen prey to the Assyrians before Ahaz’s time. But in place of their gloom, distress and humiliation, and in place of their present condition, described only too accurately by the phrase “living in the land of the shadow of death,” Isaiah
predicts the dawning of a new and glorious day.
The changes Isaiah predicts are glory for contempt (9:1), light for darkness (9:2), joy for sorrow (9:3), victory for defeat (9:4) and peace for war (9:5). In chapter 8 Assyrian strength seemed irresistible. But now there will be a wonderful victory like that of Gideon over Midian. The chafing yoke will be
lifted, and the rod that beats them will be broken.
Desperately looking for guidance, the people are turning to the spirits of the dead (necromancy) to learn about the future. Ahaz’s political maneuverings have not been productive. As the awesome uncertainty of their position becomes increasingly plain, the people curse their king for getting them into this trouble and their God for not getting them out of it.
The philosophy of history expressed by Isaiah is remarkable: even the most terrifying superpower of the age is an instrument in the hand of the Almighty God. We are not just in the grip of political and military forces that are beyond our control.
These events did not take place in the time of any Old Testament monarch. But everything begins to fall into place when a descendant of David is baptized and anointed with the Spirit and begins to preach in Galilee that
the kingdom of God has arrived—although he refuses to allow the crowd to make him a political king. As for the last phrase of 9:7, it contrasts with human zeal, which fades out all too quickly. When God becomes enthusiastic to bring something about, there is no force in the universe that can stop him.
We live in a world in which God’s bountiful resources are very unequally shared. This inequality is going to increase in the next twenty years because of massive population increases in the poorer countries. If those of us who are fortunate now do nothing or very little to bring about more justice and righteousness in the world, we will have reason to be nervous when God sets things right. But for those whose lives are a perpetual struggle for justice and righteousness, God’s law and zeal will bring the peace we have been yearning for.
The Wonderful Counselor encourages us when we are confused and distracted. The Mighty God is present when we are frightened and anxious. The Everlasting Father promises the hope of all eternity in the face of present difficulty. The Prince of Peace offers the lasting comfort we seek in
a world of turmoil.
There are many possible answers. See for example John 1:46 and 7:52. Also consider the comments about Jesus’ parentage, the saying that a prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and Pilate sending Jesus to Herod.