In today’s lesson we read a prophecy about Christ and continue the theme of judgment against Israel for their sins.
Isaiah Chapter 9
Lessons from the text
The Day of Midian
Verse 4 refers to an event described in Judges 6:1-7:25. At that time Israel was being raided and oppressed by the Midianites, so God called Gideon to deliver them. In a supernatural victory, Gideon and his three hundred men surrounded the Midian army with nothing but trumpets and lanterns concealed in pitchers.
All at once, they broke the pitchers, letting the light shine, and blew their trumpets proclaiming that the sword of the Lord and of Gideon was upon them. At that moment, the Lord sent a spirit of confusion on the army so that they all arose and killed each other. The few remaining fled and were hunted down by Israel’s main army.
The point? The Lord did the work for Gideon; he just had to show up!
When Jesus came, He paid the price for our sins. I don’t have to work to be saved; Jesus already performed the works necessary for my salvation. I just have to come to Him, accept what He has done, and choose to depart from my sins and follow Him.
I find it amazing that here in Isaiah is a picture of the spiritual effects of Jesus’ death. God the Father through the Holy Ghost tells Isaiah that we do not have to work for salvation because it is Him freeing us from our bondage.
The shame of the matter is that the Jews of Jesus’ day took this same Scripture to be referring to a physical deliverance, expecting Jesus to take the throne of Judah and fight off the Roman occupation. They could not see that Jesus came to break the spiritual bonds and burdens.
I, however, am glad to be free from the bondage of my sins and the burdens of worry and fears of this life. I hope you are, too.
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Verse by Verse Commentary
1-2 Chapter 8 closed with the declaration that the ungodly will be driven to darkness by their choices. God now decrees that despite the fact that He has afflicted them for their sins, He will now show them a great light. He is giving them a way out of the darkness. Compare with Matthew 4:12-16.
3 God is promising to multiply Israel. He further prophesies that they will rejoice for the spiritual fruit and spiritual riches that will be divided at the time of the light. Who is this light? John 1:1-10 tells us that it is Jesus.
4 At this time burdens will be broken and the oppressed will be freed. The staff was used to help carry items by tying objects on either end and then placing the staff on the shoulders. Therefore, breaking the staff is symbolic of being freed from burdens.
5 The battle with the Midianites was won when the Lord sent a spirit of confusion to make the Midianites kill each other. In Jesus’ day, however, the spiritual battle would be won with burning and the fuel of fire. John the Baptist proclaims that Christ will “baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Lk 3:16). We are delivered when the Holy Ghost fills us and comes to dwell inside of us.
6 We are now given details about the deliverer who will break the burdens. Contained in the names is the mystery of the trinity; God the Father as “everlasting Father,” God the Son as “Prince of Peace,” and God the Holy Spirit as “Counseller.” Jesus, while a separate entity, is also one with the other two Godheads.
7 This verse explains how God plans to fulfill His promise to David that his throne will endure forever (II Sam 7:1-16). The Messiah (Jesus) would be born from the line of David and one day rule as King. While Jesus has already been given all authority in heaven and earth (Mt 28:18), this prophecy will not be completely fulfilled until Jesus comes again to literally reign from Jerusalem.
8 The prophecy switches from the coming of the Messiah back to present day Israel, who has heard the word of God through His prophets but has not listened.
9-10 Pride has filled the hearts of the Jews. Instead of acknowledging God for their accomplishments, they believe that they themselves have built Israel. God, not man, freed Israel from Egypt, defeated the inhabitants of Canaan, and raised up David to establish the country.
11-12 Rezin is the king of Assyria. God will bring all of Israel's enemies against it, but that will still not satisfy His righteous requirement of justice. Noteworthy is the fact that there is only one thing which will satisfy God's requirement for justice against sin and therefore not ensure judgment: a pure, sinless sacrifice. Jesus.
13-14 The Israelites are not turning to God for an explanation of why this evil is happening to them; neither are they seeking God's will for their lives. Therefore, in one day, destruction will come. This was fulfilled when Israel was defeated and deported to Babylon.
15-17 As seen in earlier chapters of Isaiah, God is very clear to explain what is causing His judgment. God is under no obligation to explain His divine decisions to us, yet He desires us to understand that His actions are not based out of ill-will but out of necessity as an answer for the sin and evil we humans create on the earth.
18 Wickedness consumes whatever it touches; like a fire, it destroys what fuels it.
19-20 While the wrath of God is mentioned, it is the people who are the fuel of the destructive fire. Sometimes God's wrath is a turning over to one's own desires (Rom 1:28). Here, the people have become so perverted in their ways that they will be (metaphorically speaking) devouring themselves and others in an attempt to satisfy an emptiness inside. Consider the person who works frantically to own that fancy, expensive car and house to be the best in town only to see that somebody else has a more expensive car.
21 Israel has become so consumed with their wickedness that they will even turn against their brothers in Judah. They desire to destroy the country that represents the very thing that made them who they are, for in Judah is the promise of the Covenant, the Holy Temple, and the presence of God.
Even in allowing them to desire to destroy the very thing that is good for them, God's righteous need for justice is not satisfied. More is required. Jesus' sacrifice allows God's judgment to cease, but without repentance, grace cannot intervene to stop the judgment.
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