The next reflection, "Unto Us a Child is Born" (20 mins), includes the famous Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9.
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Unto Us a Child is Born
“This is one of the best known messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and, in its present context, it stands as the impressive climax to Isaiah’s memoirs (6:1-9:7). Just as the first series of judgment prophecies (chs. 2-4) ended with a glorious prophecy of hope (4:2-6), so now after the prophet’s terrifying vision of the heavenly court (ch. 6), his failure to convince the house of David that ‘God is with us’ (ch. 7) and his final predictions of ‘distress and darkness’ (ch.8), there comes this superb dynastic poem picturing the birth of a royal Saviour who will establish a kingdom of justice and righteousness” (Sawyer, Isaiah Volume 1, 97).
Vs.1-4—9:1 is 8:23 in the Hebrew text. West and southwest of the Sea of Galilee lay the land of northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphthali—first to be taken by the invading Assyrians. Matthew 4:13-15—the prophecy is realized in the ministry of Jesus. Sense of great liberty and joy and hope! “The darkness and distress are real but they are neither the only reality nor the fundamental reality. In any given situation we can either sink into despair or rise to faith and hope” (Motyer, Isaiah, 87). Confidence: These words are spoken as though this has already happened! Vs.4-5 would have become even more meaningful once Assyria fell—its capital city of Nineveh being destroyed in 612.
Vs.6-7—A "son" (as in Ps 2 and 2 Sam 7). The symbolic name of yet another son: Pele’-yô‘ēts-’ēl-gibbôr-’Avî‘ad-Śar-shālôm. Wonderful Counselor: Brings us godly wisdom, not worldly wisdom. Mighty God: Jesus is divine. Everlasting Father: He will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18). Prince of Peace. Descendant of David. Justice characterises his righteous, divine rule. Forever! Messianic kingdom: The Assyrians almost snuff out the dynasty of David, the Babylonians do. It’s not through political Israel that salvation will come to the world—although it does come through a descendant (Son) of David. Zeal (v.6): See also 37:32; 42:13; 59:17; 63:15.
Despite the bright future, don’t rejoice prematurely.
Vs.8-12—An oracle “against Jacob” that will fall “on Israel” (alternating back). Judah is the recipient of the prophet's challenges in 7:1-9:7. Now it’s Israel’s (Ephraim’s) turn. The word will “fall” on Israel.
Vs.13-17—God is providing a second chance. His blows can be redemptive, rehabilitative; the opportunity should not be wasted (as in chapter 1). Single day: the day Samaria fell, in 722 The elders, wise in their own eyes (5:21), misadvised the kings. Prophets of the establishment also misled the people. In war, young adults pay the price. Widows and orphans, too—although note here that even they are described as godless! (This may be the only passage where orphans and widows are targeted in a doom oracle.) Folly—vileness—like Nabal (1 Sam 25). Practical atheism: life can be lived well without God, and his Word is irrelevant to our practical concerns. (Nothing could be farther from the truth!)
Vs.18-21—Their own sin consumes them – burning, devouring. (See Gal 5:26.) Anarchy, internal strife and civil unrest.
10:1-4—Here is the 7th woe (the first 6 are in chapter 5). Each enactment brings more grief for the poor. More specifically, the oppressors are manipulating the legal system, especially in real estate. Yet even if it's legal, it's still wrong to take advantage of the poor and needy.
The refrain “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still” appears a fourth time. God means business! “How very far from the future that the leaders had in mind! Fall is the last word of the line and recalls the same verb in 9:8. To refuse the revealed word may well seem an irrelevance in the ‘real world’ of construction programmes (9:10), political manoeuvrings and superpower posturings (9:10), of prominent civil and church leaders (9:15), or average human wickedness (9:18) and governmental mismanagement, but in the long run it is the word which ‘falls’ (9:8) and those who have rejected it fall among the slain” (Motyer, Isaiah, 95).
- Human governments will fail us. As Christians, we need not be flustered. There is a righteous sovereign—the King of Kings—and one day he will rule us with perfect wisdom, care, and justice.
- We can have hope amidst despair. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
- Concern for social justice is a big deal. We must care.
- Don’t be overly impressed with human power. God is infinitely more powerful than man. Trust him!
NEXT: Rod, Axe, Fire, Shoot, Signal, Sing