Isaiah 9 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence Bowlin
In the last two chapters, Isaiah has pronounced woe and destruction upon the northern nation of Israel by the foreign Assyrian army, and chapter eight ended on a very dark note with God’s people begin thrust into thick darkness and anguish. But in chapter nine, Isaiah delivered a message of hope for the future. Although the northern tribal areas of Zebulun and Naphtali had been attacked by foreigners off and on throughout the years and would be conquered by the Assyrians again in the near future, in the distant future, these tribes in the area of the Sea of Galilee would be glorified and made to shine brightly through the promise of the coming Messiah. Isaiah says in v.2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” If these words sound familiar to you, it is because they are quoted in Matthew’s gospel (4:12-17) to show why Jesus ministered in the region of Galilee in order that he might shine upon them as the light of the world.
When this light finally dawns upon these Israelite-Gentiles their hearts would be full of joy for the rod of the oppressor would be broken and the heavy yoke cast off. When Christ comes to reign forever, every boot of the tramping warrior will be burned with fire along with every military fatigue rolled in blood. How would God accomplish this worldwide peace? First, through the birth of a savior, the Son of God, who would come to shed his blood for sinners. Isaiah already made a reference to this baby calling him “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” But now Isaiah reveals even more of his identity. He says in v.6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders.”
In Biblical times, the shoulders were used to carry pots and other workloads, so the idea of carrying something on one’s shoulders began to signify a heavy burden. It is clear that the kings of Israel could not carry the heavy responsibility of ruling their nations. But the messiah would rule in a perfect manner over not just one nation but the entire earth. And his yoke would be easy and his burden would be light. His name would be called “Wonderful Counselor,” for he would be a wonder of a counselor. Isaiah tells us in chapter eleven that Christ would have the spirit of wisdom and counsel rest upon him. Jesus himself is the wisdom of God described by Solomon in the book of proverbs. Solomon may have been the wisest man to ever have lived, but he was a fool in comparison to Christ. Solomon may have impressed men in his adulthood, but Jesus confounded men as a youth. His parables made the foolish wise and the wise look foolish. He always had the perfect word to say at the right time and in the right manner to any person who needed to hear it.
Isaiah also called him “Mighty God,” stating that this child king would have the power to crush the nation of Assyria as well as Israel, Philistia, and Edom. He would dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. Unlike the weak and fearful kings of Israel and Judah, this king would have the power to reign without challenge. Even the wind and the waves would obey him.
Isaiah also calls him, “Everlasting Father.” This title is not to be confused with God the Father as opposed to God the Son. It was typical of the times that many kings would claim to be a father to their people and even to their captives. They used this title to express their care for the people, their love and concern for their subjects. The Messiah would care for his subjects in a way that would far surpass even the rule of David. He would be the true shepherd of Israel.
Finally, Isaiah also calls him the “Prince of Peace,” for he will subdue all his enemies forever. Unlike the promised Pax Romana (Roman peace), which crumbled at the hands of the Germans in the west and the Persians in the east, the messiah’s kingdom shall never be divided and never destroyed. Then Isaiah says in verse 7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end; he will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” In the seventh chapter of Isaiah, Syria and Israel had formed an alliance with the stated purpose of removing the descendant of David from the throne and replacing him with another man. But the Lord God said, “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass. Within sixty five years Israel will be broken, so that it will not be a people.” But the son of David will reign forever and there will be no end to the increase of his government and peace. And his kingdom continues to expand to this day. More and more subjects are coming into the kingdom of God and submitting to the one true king. More and more people are experiencing the peace that comes only through Christ Jesus.