Text: Isaiah 9:1-7
When God’s people go astray, He sends His prophets to frankly and bluntly warn them of their sin and admonish them to repent and return to Him. Again, when I speak of God’s people, I am speaking of the church, Jewish believers, and Jews that do not yet believe that Jesus is their Messiah.
The LORD does not desire for any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). So, He sends Isaiah to speak to Jerusalem and Judah. And He has assigned me to speak to today’s believers.
If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be “Hope for Those He Has Humbled.” The LORD gives a very encouraging word through Isaiah to those He has humbled, and a warning to the arrogant in northern Israel. And what He says is extremely relevant to all believers today!
First, I need to reiterate Assyria’s custom, when they invaded a country. They would carry the exiles of that nation away, and scatter them across their empire.
Therefore, it would be impossible for that nation to form again — their people were too far from one another to reorganize. Therefore, they were unable to become a threat to Assyria. And the land they had invaded would be salted with people from other nations that Assyria had conquered.
Just according to Assyria’s custom, then, those exiled from Ephraim were scattered in other lands. Those exiled from other lands were scattered in Ephraim. It was part of the LORD’s punishment of His people, for their rejection of Him.
Remember, He is sovereign, and chose Assyria as His instrument to humble them, so they would repent and return to Him. That is always His desire!
I also want to be sure to note that, in the Assyrian exile, and later the Babylonian exile, the LORD always ensured that there was a small remnant of the Jews who remained in the land.
Verse 1 —
As I said last time, Isaiah 8:22 spoke of the gloom and anguish that would come in the end times. But that prophecy was also for the days after Ephraim went into exile. Because of its meaning to you as a believer today, I will speak primarily from that perspective, though I will include its meaning for Ephraim.
That remnant of the Jews in Ephraim lived in gloom and anguish. They lived in spiritual darkness and distress, separated from the LORD by their sin.
Ephraim was no longer a nation. They were under Assyrian rule. And the people of Zebulun and Naphtali were forced to live among Gentiles who worshiped other gods.
Though the remnant was in the land, they were not free. They were slaves to the Assyrians. In the same way, many today have been saved, but they are still under the rule of their sin nature, so they are not free, but slaves to sin.
But Isaiah prophesies a time when there will be no more darkness for her who was in anguish. Which of the tribes of northern Israel were the most anguished?
The LORD treated Zebulun and Naphtali with particular contempt (that is, He despised them for their sin), by making them the first to go into Assyrian exile. As their countrymen looked on, they were disgraced and shamed.
But in a time coming, they will be glorious! He will honor them. How? By appointing one of their cities — Nazareth of Galilee — as the place where the Messiah, Jesus Christ, grew up and worked until His ministry began! But He was not born there.
Joseph and Mary were of the house of David; that is, King David of Bethlehem was their ancestor. So the Roman census required that they journey to Bethlehem, though she was big with child. So, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just according to Micah’s prophecy (Micah 5:2) After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph returned with Jesus to Nazareth, in Galilee. Thus, Galilee of the Gentiles was honored greatly, as the place where the Messiah lived.
Verse 2 —
The people who walk in spiritual darkness, will see a great (never-before-seen) light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them! Galilee and city of Nazareth were part of Zebulun and Nephtali, the first to go into exile.
Now they will be the first to see this light! And for those in today’s church who are still in spiritual darkness, that same light shines on you today! O believer, your sin has separated you from the Lord (Isaiah 59:2). Come into His light and repent!
Who is this light? Jesus Christ! Even today, He shines upon all who live in darkness, separated from God’s presence. The Spirit-inspired John writes —
John 1:5, 9 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (overcome) it. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens (shines upon) every man.
Verse 3 —
The light of Christ will result in the multiplication (enlargement) of the nation. What nation? The LORD’s nation — the people of His kingdom!
How will His kingdom be enlarged? He chose Israel to be His people, but both Jews and Gentiles will come to the light of Jesus Christ!
The gladness of all who believe in Him will be great, for they will rejoice, knowing that by His death and resurrection, they are saved and reconciled to God!
And their joy will be made full, even joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Peter 1:8), because after He ascended to heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit —
John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Beloved, if you see His light and repent and ask Him to change your heart by filling you with His Holy Spirit, you will be glad (rejoice) in His presence, because His presence has filled you! If you are filled with Him, you are filled with His divine joy — not human joy!
Isaiah sees that this gladness will be like the rejoicing that happens at harvest time. It will be like that of those who divide the spoil. What harvest? What spoil?
First, what is the harvest? When you are filled with His Holy Spirit, the Lord sends you out to work in His harvest fields. And by His power in you, souls are harvested for His kingdom! Lift up your eyes, beloved! The fields are white for harvest (John 4:35)! Are you working in them?
Now, what is the spoil? Those who were Satan’s captives. When you are filled with His Holy Spirit, your sin nature is crucified and you become a super-conqueror (Romans 8:37) over Satan and sin, and you are set free from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36). You are no longer Satan’s captive!
Then you exhort others to be filled with His Holy Spirit, so they also become super-conquerors over Satan and sin, and are set free from slavery to sin. So they are no longer Satan’s captives.
So, by the Lord’s power in Spirit-filled believers, we take Satan’s spoil! And we surely rejoice greatly, with gladness, indeed, as we see the Lord work through us to set captives free from Satan and sin!
Verses 4-5 —
When Judah comes back to the land after the 70-year-exile, she will still be under the rule — the yoke and burden — of the Persians, and then under the rule — the yoke and burden — of Rome.
So the yoke of their burden of Babylonian captivity will be broken, but they will still be captives. They will still be subject to the staff (an implement for beating prisoners) of their rulers. Therefore, this part of the prophecy must pertain to a later time.
Judah and Jerusalem will continue to be ruled by other nations, but there will be no more wars and no more exiles. The boots and cloaks of the soldiers of the enemy armies will be burned in the fire, in celebration.
But then, at a later time, there will be Jews and Gentiles who will see the light of Jesus Christ and will be saved. Then they will obey Christ’s command to stay and wait to be filled with His Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5), and the yoke and burden of the sin nature will be broken off of them.
Then, those who are filled will become burden lifters and yoke-breakers for others! They will exhort others to be filled with the Spirit, and the yoke and burden of the sin nature will be broken off of those believers, too!
Verse 6 —
Who will this light be? A “He,” a child born to us, just as Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. That child is Jesus Christ, as I have already taught you. And Jesus Christ will rule — that is the meaning of “the government will be on His shoulders.” Think of the epaulets that are worn by the military, indicating their authority. Jesus Christ has authority over all things (see Colossians 1:16-18)!
Isaiah prophesies about His name — that is, His character, His nature, His reputation. Oh, beloved, when He saves you and reconciles you to God, you will know His character. You will know He is who He says He is!
But even more, when He fills you with His Holy Spirit, you will become a partaker of His divine nature and character (2Peter 1:4), the Father and the Son will come to permanently dwell in you (John 14:23), and His Light will fill you so that He shines forth from you! You will become a container for His great light!
Then you fully know by personal experience that He is —
Wonderful — The Miracle-Worker! Jesus worked the works that only God can do. He told the unbelieving Jewish leaders —
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.”
John 10:38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
And He is still healing and delivering! He is still a Miracle-Worker! He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
But the greatest healing He does is spiritual. You will know a change has begun in your heart when you are saved. And you will know without a doubt that Jesus Christ has given you a new, pure heart, when you are filled (Acts 15:9)!
Counselor — When you are saved, you hear, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or the left (Isaiah 30:21). That is the voice of the Holy Spirit. But when you are filled with His Spirit, He and the Father and the Son come to fully dwell within you. So, you no longer turn to the right or the left. You travel on the highway of holiness —
Isaiah 35:8 A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean (sinners) will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it.
Mighty God — When you believe, you begin to see that Jesus Christ is your Mighty God (Excellent Warrior, Champion, Valiant One). He fights for you, until you are filled with His Spirit. Then, you know that this Mighty God is in you, and you are victorious over Satan and sin, and more —
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God (be filled with Him), so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle (grappling with an opponent) is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Eternal Father — When you are saved, you know that Jesus Christ has given you eternal life. You sense that He is with you. You are His child, so to speak, because it was through faith in Him that you were born from above (John 1:13 , 3:3). And when you are filled, you know that Jesus Christ and God the Father dwell in you, fully and permanently!
Prince of Peace — When you are saved, you are reconciled to God. In that way, you are at peace with God. But you find, just as I did when I was saved, that you are still wrestling with sin. So you are yet wretched. Then you see that Jesus Christ our Lord will rescue you from your wretchedness (Romans 7:21, 23-24)!
When will He rescue you? When you obey His command to be filled with His Spirit! “My peace I will give to you,” He says (John 14:27). The peace He gives is not like the world’s peace — a fleeting, temporary peace. When the Prince of peace fills you with His Spirit, He fills you with His peace, and His peace emanates from you (Galatians 5:22-23)!
Verse 7 —
There will be no end of His government and of His peace in the end times, when He comes to judge the world. And when you have seen that you have the world in you (that is, the sin nature) and ask Him to crucify it and fill you with His Spirit, there is no end of His government in you, and no end of His peace, for His peace fills you!
His throne will then be established within you. He will uphold it with justice and righteousness (Isaiah 11:4-5), from the moment He fills you, and forever!
How will this be accomplished? By the zeal (intense fervor, passion and emotion) of the LORD of hosts, of God the Father and God the Son —
Isaiah 37:32 “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
Oh, beloved! There is hope for those who He has humbled! The zeal of the LORD will accomplish a most amazing transformation in you, if you will believe! Do you see that this prophecy pertains to you personally? Then repent and ask Him to do it!
Lord Jesus, may your people see the truth in this passage, and respond by asking you to fill them with Your Spirit. Amen, Lord. So be it.