We live in a world that is becoming increasingly dark. This is true in Chicago, our Nation, Israel, Ukraine and sadly even in the Church. Israel just before the war broke out was on the verge of civil war. Our country also has experienced divisiveness.
The division in Israel for the most part was based on secular Jews verses religious. This was the case in the time of Yeshua. Secular verses the religious. Sinners vs the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Then as today pessimism abounds but I want to consider a Biblical theme: Light in the midst of darkness as found in Isaiah 9.
Isaiah brought a word to God’s children filled with hope and pointing to a way that brings peace. Isaiah lived in similar times as ours. He lived in Israel 2700 years ago. He was one of Israel’s greatest prophets.
He wrote his prophetic words 300 years after King David consolidated the 12 tribes into a great and mighty nation. Then David’s son Solomon brought the nation to the zenith of peace and prosperity.
Both acknowledged that it was God who gave them victory over their enemies. Israel became a nation on Passover and at Mount Sinai Moses brought from God His covenant and commands.
If Israel obeyed, blessings would come, if Israel disobeyed God would discipline His chosen People. Solomon and the people disobeyed the commands and covenant and it led to the nation being divided.
Ten tribes broke away and formed a separate Jewish nation called Israel. The remaining tribes in the south became the nation of Judah.
Jerusalem and the Temple was in Judah.
But the king of Israel set up a new temple in his new capital of Shechem and placed in it a golden calf. And so, the Northern branch of the Jewish people now called Israel became an idolatrous nation.
God raised up prophets to call Israel back. Listen to the words of Isaiah 1: Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me. “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”
Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him. Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion?
The prophet described God’s hand of judgment on both the nation and people. But the prophets always provided a way back if they would turn back to God. Let me read Isaiah’s words Isaiah 9:1
V. 1 Read. – (Isa 9:1) Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. 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, along the Jordan–
This described the spiritual darkness that came to the 10 Northern Tribes of Israel, because of their idolatry. God’s judgment eventually led to their captivity by the Assyrians.
Assyria was the Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran of their day. They hated the God of Israel and His chosen people. But God allowed them to take Israel captive as part of His discipline.
Isaiah is saying here in 9:1 that a time would come when Galilee of the Gentiles would experience honor instead of shame. Isaiah saw that the area would be filled with ungodly and rebellious people. The result was darkness and gloom.
The effects of the split between Judah and Israel remained because of Israel’s idolatry. A little over years after disciplined Israel Judah also was brought into captivity to Babylon.
But Isaiah spoke of a time when Israel will once again be filled with God’s light and glory. The Sea of Galilee was part of that territory. When the Jews returned from captivity, they wanted nothing to do with the territory of Israel.
The area was filled with apostate Israelites who intermarried with Assyrians and was filled idolatrous practices. The people were known then as Samaritans and claimed to be Jews too.
Religious or Orthodox Jews lived in the south in Judah. The theological difference is similar today between Christians and Mormans who claim to be Christians but whose theology is not in keeping with God’s Word.
Jerusalem and the Temple was where God’s Presence was. Yeshua when he came agreed that the theology of the south was correct but still loved the Samaritans. We see his correction in his discussion with the woman at the well in John 4.
Nathaniel echoed the attitude toward Galilee in the days of Jesus when Philip comes to him and says: “We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth… Nathaniel’s response to Philip was “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?
900 years earlier Isaiah, said that a “good thing” indeed would come out of Galilee. Nazareth was in the Galilee where Jesus came declaring by word and deeds that He was the Promised Messiah.
In 9:2 Isaiah said: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
The darkness he is describing is spiritual darkness. This is the same Hebrew word utilized in Psalm 107:10-16: Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.
This Psalmist is describing a darkness when one lives without the light of God and His Word. Isaiah said a time would come when Israel will see and understand the Light of God shining in the days of Messiah.
This is the hope of the Jewish people. In v. 3 we read that this light would cause them to rejoice, like the rejoicing over the harvest (payday) or the rejoicing over the spoils of victory in battle, like the first Passover when Israel was set free of their bondage and slavery in Egypt.
This is what v. 4 is pointing to “breaking the yoke of their burden, and the staff on their shoulders Isaiah was comparing it to the days of Gideon when God gave victory over the Midianites described in Judges 6-8.
The oppression that will be lifted in the future will be even greater than that victory over the Midianites or even the evil of Egypt that led to Passover. It is an oppression that so many people feel today.
V. 5 points to the day when the Lord will give Israel rest from all her enemies. That day is what most Jews think of when the Messiah comes. (Isa 9:5) Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. Isaiah is describing a time when war will cease.
Ezek 39:9: “Then those who inhabit the cities of Israel will go out and make fires with the weapons and burn them, both shields and bucklers, bows and arrows, war clubs and spears and for 7 years they will make fires of them.
Isaiah writings perplexed the rabbis because Some of His prophecies described a triumphant Messiah, bringing Israel into glory and peace.
While other writings spoke of a suffering Messiah, who would bear the nations sins. In Isaiah 53 we read about this suffering Messiah, described as the Servant of the Lord. Listen to Isaiah’s words:
Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell on Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
God is holy and faithful to His covenant and Word and He must punish sin or He would not be a just judge. But because of His love He sent His righteous servant to bear our sins.
The Sages of Israel called this suffering servant Messiah ben Joseph in the Talmudic writings. Because Isaiah’s description was reminiscent of Joseph the beloved son of Jacob who was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. Then through a chain of incredible events he became their deliverer.
The other Messiah that the Rabbi’s saw in the prophets’ writings was named Messiah Ben David. This Messiah described by Isaiah and other prophets would bring Israel to its ultimate destiny and reign as King on David’s throne.
Israel and the Jewish people today are only looking for Messiah Ben David, the conquering King, like King David of old. But some Jews, myself included recognize Messiah Ben Joseph as Jesus.
Isa 9:6 describes his birth: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We find here some of the lyrics of the Halellujah chorus.
The prophet here declares that the one who would bring peace would be “a child born to us”. This doesn’t mean that he would accomplish his victory as a child but that in some significant way he will appear on the scene as a child.
He will be born in a human way just as any of us. He will be “given” by God to Israel. A unique child would be born. In fact, this child is said to have the government upon His shoulders.
But this government was not a government of this world. It is the government of the promised new covenant. Jer. 31:31-33 Read.
Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world.” This Child brought a different kingdom and government to Israel. But not just for Jews but for Gentiles as well.
To be a part of this Kingdom we need a new heart as Jeremiah and Ezekiel foretold: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
It is God’s Spirit that brings us a new heart and when that happens, we enter His Kingdom. It is only with a transformed heart and mind that we can recognize and experience the reality of the 4 titles of this promised child found in Is. 9:6.
“Wonderful-Counselor”. points to this child’s ability in planning and formulating a plan of action. He is going to do a great work according to the prophet, and He has a plan to bring it about.
The Hebrew could also be translated a Marvel of a counselor. He has is a marvelous plan. Isaiah says these plans date back into the eternities before creation.
The name “Mighty-God tells us that this child has the capacity to carry out his marvelous plan. He has the full power of God at his command. He is in fact God. This is a deal breaker for most Jewish people.
How could God be man? But if He is God who created and sustains the universe is anything impossible for Him? He became a man in His Son to show to us what He is like, humbling Himself so we would come to Him.
Isaiah uses “Mighty God” again in 10:21 which is unmistakably a reference to God. “A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the “Mighty God“. This remnant are Jews who like me, believe that Yeshua is the Messiah and Mighty God.
Then Isaiah uses the term “Eternal Father” better translated “Father-forever”. The emphasis is not the fact of this child’s eternal existence but on his being everlastingly a father.
This is an allusion to the compassion this child born unto us will have. In Psalm 103:13 “Just as a father has compassion on those who fear Him. So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame He is mindful that we are but dust.”
This Child displays the attributes of The Everlasting Father. Yeshua said He who has seen me has seen the Father.
Finally Isaiah calls Him the “Prince of Peace” – For those who receive Him and submit to His rule in their lives they experience the peace of God. Those whom He rules are people of peace and filled with His peace.
V. 7 declares that what will begin as something small will grow and grow until it is all encompassing. He will sit on the throne of David and be as the Rabbis understood “Messiah Ben David”.
The prophet Daniel saw this too “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
Yes, it seems like a dark time for Israel and the world, but is a reminder that the Bible speaks of Dark times for His chosen People. Whom the Lord loves the god of this world and the enemies of God hate.
Messiah Ben Joseph, Yeshua of Nazareth came to live, to die for sin and rose again to demonstrate His power over sin and death. When He returns, He will be Messiah Ben David to fight against Israel’s and God’s enemies. He will then rule on earth over all the nations.
So where’s the peace on earth and good will toward men that is missing in our world if Yeshua is the Promised Messiah? It comes to those who will believe that He came and that He lives today.
Seek Him and He will be found, and then come to the King and learn of and about Him. We who have can testify we have not been disappointed. We have found peace and learning how to bring God’s peace to others.