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FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN

Isaiah 9:1-10:34
Key Verse: 9:6

There are many prophets in Judah and Israel whom God raised in the time of spiritual darkness. Isaiah was one of the Major Prophets who prophesied in Jerusalem. While studying this passage, May God enlighten the eyes of our heart to understand and accept the prophetic message of Isaiah concerning the coming of the Messiah. We will think about these passage in four parts.

1. God honors the Galilee of the Gentiles (9:1-5)

2. Prophesy concerning the coming Messiah (9:6-7)

3. God’s anger against Israel and Assyria (9:8-10:19)

4. The return of a remnant (10:20-34)

First, God honors the Galilee of the Gentiles (9:1-5)

During the time of Isaiah, his country was divided into two parts – Northern Israel and Judah. Isiah lived as a prophet for Judah mainly during the time of King Ahaz and Hezekiah. It was the time Assyria was gaining power with the ambition of conquering the world. In the last week’s message, we learned that Northern Israel and Aram joined together to invade Judah during the time of king Ahaz. God helped Ahaz through Isaiah to turn to God and stand firm in his faith in God. Even God showed him the sign of Immanuel in order to prove that God is with him and his people.

But Ahaz depended on Assyria out of unbelief and self-dependence and asked her help to defeat Northern Israel and Aram. In this way, Judah contributed to the destruction of her brother nation, and gave a chance for Assyria to attack Judah in the near future. Northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria in BC 722. But their destruction was not due to political or military problems, but their spiritual problem. Even though God called them to repentance of their idol worship through his prophets such as Elijah, Elisa, Amos and Hosea, they rejected God’s word and continued their practice of idol worship following the way of their first king Jeroboam. Under the cruel invasion of Assyria the country was devastated and in total darkness. The situation of Israel was well described at the end of Chapter 8. Look at 8:21-22. “Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.”

But in the beginning of Chapter 9, the mood or atmosphere was completely changed. Look at verse1a. “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.” Here, “Nevertheless” implies God’s mercy and love, and his hope and restoration. Look at verse 1b. “In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan –.“ The land of Zebulun and Naphtali was the north part of Israel which was first captured by Assyria due to the geographical reason. It was beside the Sea of Galilee. This land of Zebulun and Naphtali was also called “the Galilee of the Gentiles” or “the Galilee of the nations” because in that region many Gentiles lived together with the people of Israel due to the Assyrian immigration policy to eliminate national identity. Therefore, “Galilee of Gentiles” is the symbol of humiliation and shame. When we think of the spiritual condition and national situation of Israel, especially the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, there seems to be no more hope for them. But amazingly, God will honor the Galilee of the Gentiles. God never gives up his hope on his people. Instead, God has hope in them. In his hope, he disciplines them so that they become humble. God humbled his people when they were proud. But when the time came, he honored the Gentiles. God humbles the proud, but when the time comes, he honors the humble. This is the spiritual principle with which God deals with his people. So 1Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Then how did God honor the Galilee of the Gentiles?

Look at verse 2. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” They have seen a great light. What is this great light? We can understand this verse in the light of New Testament, especially in Matthew’s gospel. Matthew quoted this verse at the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Matthew 4:12-17 says, “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali – to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jorden, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus had grown up in Nazareth, one of the towns in Galilee. When the time came, he moved to Capernaum, and began his Galilean ministry. This great light is Jesus who fulfilled what was said through the prophet Isaiah. Jesus walked through the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. There he healed many sick people and performed many miracles. There he called Peter and other disciples and trained them in the hope of raising them as future gospel workers and spiritual leaders of his church. The Sea of Galilee is forever remembered as the most beautiful place because of Jesus. The Galileans were poor in spirit and humble in heart and had a great hunger and thirst for the word of God. Isaiah prophesied this event as the dawn of the great light on deep darkness. Because of Jesus the great light, the darkness was turned into bright noon day. This prophecy is still being fulfilled for those who accept Jesus as their Messiah and Savior.

Look at verse 3. “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.” In this verse, ‘joy’ or ‘rejoice’ is repeated 4 times. There was a great joy in that land because of the presence of the Messiah. It was like the day of Midian. Look at verse 4 and 5. “For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.” The day of Midian is recorded in the Book of Judges chapter 7. God gave great victory to Gideon and his 300 warriors against the great army of Midian. In the same way, God shattered the york that burdened people, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. This great victory is possible because God did amazing work among his people through the Messiah.

Second, prophesy concerning the coming Messiah (9:6-7)

Look at verse 6a. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” In Chapter 7, God gave the sign of Immanuel that is the son who will be born through virgin. Now, God reveals who this child is in a greater detail. Look at verse 7b. “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This verse describes who the Messiah is and what he is going to do for his people. Jesus said about himself in John 5:39. “You study the Scripture diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the coming Messiah is in fact his testimony about Jesus.

Let’s think about who Jesus is based on the prophesy of Isaiah.

First, Jesus is Wonderful Counselor. What kind of counselor? “Wonderful” Counselor. Colossians 2:3 says, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Jesus is full of wisdom and knowledge, and his wisdom transcends all human wisdom. Once on the way to Galilee Jesus passed through Samaria and met a Samaritan woman. Jesus asked her, “Will you give me a drink?” and the conversation started on the topic of water. Jesus introduced the living water welling up to eternal life to this thirsty woman who was very thirsty because of her life of sin and her longing desire to worship God truly. She had many problems in her life and many questions about God. She believed that the Messiah would come. So she said to Jesus, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared. “I, the one speaking to you – I am he.” Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah whom she was long to meet and talk about everything. Indeed, Jesus became everything to her. Jesus is indeed our Wonderful Counselor who is the answer to all our questions and the solution to all our problems.

Second, Jesus is the Mighty God. Jesus came in the form of man. But he is God, the Mighty God. He is in fact Creator God who created the heavens and the earth. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Here ‘the Word’ is Jesus who is God himself. While living in this world and walking on the land of Galilee, Jesus revealed himself as the Mighty God through his life and miracles and teachings. Once Jesus attended a wedding at Cana in Galilee. There a great problem happened that the wine is gone. Jesus turned water into wine and changed the mood of the wedding banquet once again. This was the first miraculous signs Jesus performed and his disciples put their faith in him. One day, Jesus waked on the water of Sea of Galilee and calm the storm with the word of his mouth, with the word that created the heavens and the earth. On another day, Jesus fed five thousand people with just five loaves and two fish. Once one of Jesus’ disciples, named Philip asked Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Then Jesus told him, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Third, Jesus is the everlasting Father. Father’s role in a family is very important. Father is the provider and shelter for the family. Under father’s strong leadership, children can grow happily. But human fathers including myself are full of shortcomings. All fathers have grown under their imperfect fathers, and live as imperfect fathers to their children despite their wishes and hopes. In this generation, there are many single mothers and broken children due to runaway fathers. But Jesus is our Everlasting Father. He is everlasting while our human fathers pass away one day. And Jesus is our perfect Father. When we accept Jesus as our Everlasting Father, he will be our strength and shelter and provider of all our needs now and forever.

Fourth, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. At the time of Jesus’ birth, a great company of the heavenly host appeared praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” At the cross Jesus forgave sinners who was crucifying him. Jesus is the Prince of Peace because he brought peace to the world through his forgiveness on the cross. Jesus established spiritual kingdom with his righteousness and peace and he will uphold the eternal kingdom of the Messiah forever. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this. After his resurrection, Jesus came and stood among his fearful disciples and said, “Peace be with you!” When we let Jesus the Prince of Peace rule our life, the peace and rest of Jesus will rule our soul and we can be the peace makers in this world. May the Peace of God be with you at this Christmas time!

What a wonderful Messiah we have! He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. This Messiah is already given to us. All we need to is to believe in him and accept him and grow in love relationship with him. Then all these blessings will be given to us. Amen!

Third, God’s anger against Israel and Assyria (9:8-10:19)

From Chapter 9:8 to 10:4, God explained why he was angry against his people Israel. In this part of the passage, we see the same phrase repeating four times, which says, “Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” First of all, God was angry with them because of their stubborn pride. Look at verse 10, “The brick have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” When God’s message came against them, they should have humbled themselves and turn to God with repentance. God was willing to forgive them and restore them when they repented. But they persisted in their pride. Instead of repenting and turning to God, they all the more depend on their own strength and resources. Second, leaders of the nation, both political and spiritual leaders, misled people, especially young men, the fatherless and widows until everyone is ungodly and wicked. Thirdly, they turned against their brothers when they had to help each other to overcome their national crisis. Lastly, the society was full of injustice of the poor and needy. Finally, God would bring the Assyrians as the rod of his anger. By the invasion of Assyria, Northern Israel was destroyed at 722 BC. Judah also faced great threat of Assyria.

From Chapter 10:5 to 14, we see God’s dealing with Assyria. God used Assyria as the rod of his anger to punish the sin of his people. But Assyria had a different intention. They intended to destroy and put an end of many nations. Look at verse 12. “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.” From 15 to 19, God used interesting analogy to reveal the problem of Assyria. Ax or saw or rod are just tools for the owner to achieve his purpose. They have no right to take credit to themselves. For another example, a surgeon uses surgical knife to heal and restore the sick. The surgical knife is nothing more than tool of the surgeon. The willful pride of Assyria was the beginning of her downfall. God’s people like Israel or godless nation like Assyria are all together just the instrument of God’s glory and his divine purpose. When we know our position before God Almighty can we truly humble ourselves and bring glory to God if God uses us in any way for his divine purpose.

Fourth, The return of a remnant (10:20-34)

Look at verse 20 and 21, “In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.” Their return is not necessarily physical return to their land, but their return to the Mighty God. When they learn the end of all things, they will humbly recognize the Mighty God and return to him. They will put their trust in God as the Sovereign Ruler of history and nations. In a national wise, the remnant of Israel is the people of Judah who live in Jerusalem. God told them not to be afraid of the Assyrians, for God will stuck them down as he did to Midian at the rock of Oreb. Verses 28 through 34 describes the military campaign of Assyrian army to attack Jerusalem. But they will stop at Nob, just outside of Jerusalem. They will only shake their fist at the mount of Daughter Zion, at the hill of Jerusalem. What happened to them? Look at verses 33 and 34. “See, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be fell, the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One” The mighty army like the lofty trees fell by the great power of the Lord Almighty. The destruction of Assyrian army was described in Isaiah 37. Isaiah 37:36 says, “Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.” The Assyrian king returned to Nineveh. Then one day, while he was worshipping in the temple of his god, he was killed by his sons. That is the end of the story. Assyria began to decline since then, and eventually was conquered by Babylon at 609 BC.

We thank God who gives victory to his remnant who put their trust in Him. May God help us to put our trust in God alone who is the Sovereign Ruler of history and all nations. May God help us to humble ourselves before God Almighty and serve his divine purpose as his remnant in this generation. May God bless us to accept Jesus newly with faith as our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace at this Christmas. May the peace of God be with you!

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