Isaiah 9 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
Verses 1-7, of this chapter, conclude the message begun in Isa 8:1.
The thought of 8:22 is answered in the following verses.
1. Nevertheless the dimness [shall] not [be] such as [was] in her vexation,
when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
and afterward did more grievously afflict [her by] the way of the sea,
beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
upon them hath the light shined.
the dimness... in her vexation...- Refers to the spiritual blindness of the children of Israel
to God's Word during the time when the Lord began to trouble them for their rebellion against him. (ie., around the time of king Ahaz and the invasions of Syria and Assyria).
in the land of Zebulun and... Naphtali...- These two tribes occupied northern regions of the land.
Naphtali was situated along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, and Zebulun was on the western border of Naphtali. This area was a battle ground for invading armies, and it became occupied by gentiles when their armies were victorious. Therefore, the Jews, who remained there, came under the influence of pagan thought and religion. Having rejected the light of God's Word, the light which they did have grew ever more dim.
afterward did more grievously afflict her...- In the Hebrew text, this line is enigmatic,
having two possible (but apparently conflicting) translations:
  1. 'And afterward did more grievously afflict her...' (or)
  2. 'In the latter time hath he made it glorious...'
Both meanings are valid, but apply to different time periods.
  1. The first reading applies to the afflictions which the Lord brought upon the northern kingdom soon after Isaiah's prophecy, first through the marauding incursions of Syria, and later, more severely through the Assyrian invasion and captivity of Israel.
  2. The second reading applies to the first coming of Christ (about 700 years later), when the region would be exposed to the light of the glory of God in Christ Jesus (cp. Joh 1:14,18; 2Cor 4:6). This is what v.2 is speaking about, as indicated by Mat 4:12-16. (Notice that, in quoting from Isaiah 9 in Matthew 4, the Holy Spirit skips over the enigmatic line, thus allowing both readings to stand.) Jesus conducted much of His ministry in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. Nazareth was in Zebulun. Capernaum was in Naphtali (cp. Mat 11:23).
upon them hath the light shined.- Yet, they remained blind. Joh 1:9-11
Having rejected Him, they would continue to walk in darkness. Joh 8:12
Thus, the first line of v.3 describes the condition of the nation of Israel during the period between Christ's first and second comings: growing in numbers, but without the joy of the Lord, because those who walk in darkness have no fellowship with the Lord. cp. Psa 16:11; 1Joh 1:3-6 (During the revival under king Hezekiah, Israel briefly tasted joy and gladness, when they sought the Lord. But following Hezekiah's death, the nation quickly returned to spiritual darkness. 2Chr 29:30; 30:21,23,26; 33:1-9)
3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, [and] not increased the joy:
they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest,
[and] as [men] rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden,
and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5 For every battle of the warrior [is] with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood;
but [this] shall be with burning [and] fuel of fire.
they joy before thee... - From this point onward, v.3b through v.7 speak of
the time of Christ's second coming.
thou hast broken the yoke of his burden... the rod of his oppressor -
At the end of the Tribulation, Israel will be delivered from the dominion of gentile nations, and from the oppressive power of the Antichrist. cp. Isa 10:24-27; 14:3-5; Jer 30:3,7-9
as in the day of Midian.- Israel's situation, at the time of that future deliverance, is
compared to a period in their history when the Midianites oppressed them, but the LORD brought a great deliverance through Gideon and his tiny band. cp. Judg 6:1-6; 7:19-25
every battle... but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.-
The deliverance, which Christ will accomplish in that day, will be supernatural, not conventional warfare. It will purge out sin. It will bring an end to war and the weapons of war. cp. Psa 46:9; Eze 39:8-10; Mal 3:2,3
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it,
and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given...-
  • This declares both the humanity and deity of Christ.
    "The Son was not born, He was given, for, as God, He was from Everlasting, but as Man, He was born." [in quotes, GWms].
    cp. Luk 1:35; Joh 1:14; Joh 3:16; 1Joh 4:10; 1Tim 3:16
  • However, the focus of this passage is not Christ's incarnation, but His second coming.
    Verse 6 will not be fulfilled until the time when v.3,4,5 and 7 are fulfilled.
       Remember, Isaiah is written to 'Judah and Jerusalem' (Isa 1:1; 2:1), which did not receive their Messiah at His first coming (Joh 1:11). But a day is coming when they will suddenly realize that the Son of God came to them: "unto us... unto us..." In that day, they will be born again unto Him, and they will own Him as their Savior and King. see Isa 66:7,8; Zech 12:9,10; 13:1; Psa 110:3
  • Note the tenses here.
    • The first line of v.6 is present tense, for although they do not recognize Him, He is who He is.
    • The remainder of v.6,7 are in the future tense, for when they finally recognize Him, they will receive Him as their covenant keeping God, and then He will reign from David's throne.
    • Yet, v.3-5a are in the past tense, for their deliverance is as sure as accomplished fact.
      It 'shall be' accomplished in the day of Christ's return (v.5b-7).
the government shall be upon his shoulder -
The rule of the Messiah's worldwide Kingdom will rest fully upon Him, for He has all authority and power. cp. Isa 22:21,22; Psa 2:6-12; 110:1-7; 1Tim 6:15
his name shall be called -
  • Wonderful - Although He is a 'wonderful counsellor,'
    'Wonderful' stands alone as one of His names. The Hebrew root word refers to that which is beyond human comprehension. cp. Judg 13:18 ('Secret' is from same HB root); Mat 11:27; Rev 19:12
  • Counsellor - He receives no counsel from men,
    but His counsels are the depths of wisdom. cp. Rom 11:33,34; 1Cor 1:30
  • the Mighty God - He is omnipotent. All power is His. cp. Mat 28:18
  • the Everlasting Father - The Hebrew is 'Avi-'ad, Father of Eternity.
    He is the Creator of all things, including time and space. Joh 1:1-3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2 (where 'worlds' is GK= aion, ages)
  • the Prince of Peace - HB= Sar-Shalom.
    His government will be a Kingdom of perpetual peace (v.7).
    There is no peace apart from Him. Isa 2:4; 11:1-9; 32:16-18; Psa 122:6
    He is our peace. Eph 2:14-17; Rom 5:1; Php 4:6,7; Heb 13:20,21
the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall perform this.-
How is it possible that the rejected One will be established in His Kingdom?
The answer (in the last line of v.7) is echoed in Psa 118:22,23 and Mat 21:42.

I.B.3. Boastful Samaria doomed to exile, 9:8 - 10:4
The context of the Matthew 21 passage (cited above) relates to the Lord's vineyard, and His judgment upon its wicked husbandmen (Mat 21:33-42). Isaiah was speaking of this judgment in chapter 5, but broke off to introduce Immanuel (in 7:1- 9:7). Now, he returns to the theme of judgment.
    This section (9:8 - 10:4) is linked to ch.5 by the recurring refrain: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." cp. Isa 5:25
Note also the recurring pattern in this section:
  1. Sin: identified (in bold font),
  2. Judgment: warned,
  3. Anger: not turned away.
8. The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.
9 And all the people shall know, [even] Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria,
that say in the pride
{haughtiness} and stoutness {ie., self-magnification} of heart,
10 The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones:
the sycomores are cut down, but we will change [them into] cedars.
11 Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him,
and join his enemies together;
12 The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind;
and they shall devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.
the Lord sent a word into Jacob - Both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel
had heard and rejected God's Word.
it hath lighted upon Israel.- The northern kingdom was feeling the effects
of the prophesied judgment, through the advances of the Assyrians.
The judgment which would fall upon 'the LORD's vineyard' would affect the whole 'house of Israel' (both the northern and southern kingdoms, Isa 5:7). Israel, the northern kingdom would be taken captive first. The increasing Assyrian aggression did not move Israel to change their ways. Neither did the fall of Samaria (Israel's capital) move Judah to repentance.
that say in the pride... of heart -
Disregarding God's Word and denying that their nation was crumbling under God's judgment, the rulers boast that they would recover and rebuild better than before. Ruined buildings made of baked clay bricks and a common low quality wood, would be rebuilt using solid rock (cut to size at the quarry) and the strongest cedar trees. But , in the remainder of this chapter, the LORD declares that their proud purpose cannot succeed (cp. Prov 16:18; Job 12:14; Psa 127:1; Mal 1:4).
     Today, national and global political leaders boast that they will 'Build Back Better' to recover from destructive terrorism, epidemics, ecological catastrophe, and economic reversals. (Totally ignorant of the context of judgment, some have even cited Isaiah 9:10 to strengthen their rhetoric.) Yet, like ancient Israel, they fail to see that (1) their traumatic troubles are due to God's judgment, and (2) their attempts at rebuilding are futile, apart from repentant submission to Him.
therefore, the LORD shall set up the enemies of Rezin.-
To strengthen themselves, Israel had made a confederacy with Rezin, king of Syria, but the LORD was raising up a greater confederacy consisting of Rezin's enemies. Through them, the Lord would exercise further judgment upon Israel.
for all this his anger... His hand is stretched out still...-
13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them,
neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
14 Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel
head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
15 The ancient and honourable, he [is] the head;
and the prophet that teacheth lies, he [is] the tail.
16 For the leaders of this people cause [them] to err;
and [they that are] led of them [are] destroyed.
17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men,
neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows:
for every one [is] an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly.
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.
the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them - Though He chastened them severely,
Israel still would not turn back to the LORD. Rather, they turned to false teaching.
the Lord will cut off... in one day.- The judgment would come suddenly.
It would fall upon all segments of society...
  • the respected leaders, who led the people into error.
  • the false prophets, who taught lies.
  • the hypocritical people (including the young men, fatherless and widows),
    who loved the errors of their ungodly leaders. Jer 5:31
for all this... His hand is stretched out still.-
18 For wickedness burneth as the fire:
it shall devour the briers and thorns,
and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest,
and they shall mount up [like] the lifting up of smoke.
19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened,
and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire:
no man shall spare his brother.
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry;
and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied:
they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh:
[and] they together [shall be] against Judah.
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.
wickedness burneth as a fire...- The picture is of selfishness and violence.
The nation was destroying itself from within, by its own pervasive wickedness.
he shall snatch... be hungry... eat... not be satisfied...-
The distress of the Assyrian siege would cause a severe shortage of food, which would bring out the evil character of the people (uncovering their hypocrisy, v.17).
no man shall spare his brother...-
Spiritual darkness would lead to anarchy with every man for himself and against all others. Family loyalties would dissolve.
     This would be true, not only of individuals, but also of the nation, as allied tribes (eg., Manasseh and Ephraim (the two largest tribes of the northern kingdom) turned against each other, even while standing together against the tribe of another brother (Judah). cp. Rom 1:28-31
for all this... His hand is stretched out still.-
[This section continues into the next chapter.]

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