Isaiah pictures the nation of Judah sitting in darkness and despair in 8:22: “Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness.” In chapter 9, Isaiah says that light is coming and that light is coming in the person of a King, the Son of David.
THE RESTORATION OF THE NATION – 9:1-5:
This section concludes a focus on the nation of Judah. Beginning with chapter 13, Isaiah will turn his attention for several chapters to the Gentile nations. Here, Isaiah foresees there will be no more gloom. God had treated Zebulun and Naphtali with contempt, because of their sins but He will make it glorious, even the way by the sea, the Galilee of the Gentiles, beyond the Jordan.
“Galilee of the Gentiles” – Isaiah is the only one to use this designation for this area that was composed largely of Gentiles. Once again, we see the universal nature of Isaiah’s call for repentance unto salvation.
Those who had walked in darkness will see a great light and for those who had lived in a dark land, light will shine. Yes, this promise will be opened to all nations (cf. 2:1-4). We know this picture is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, because Matthew tells us so (4:13ff).
God will multiply the nation of Judah and increase their gladness (vs 3). Why? Because God will break the yoke of their burden and the rod of their oppressor. The immediate application of these words will apply to the nation of Assyria in Isaiah’s day. But, verses 6ff will show us that they have a long-term and spiritual application. We are safe to interpret this text in a spiritual way, with sin being the oppressor. The promise of peace here is the same promise of peace we saw back in 2:4 – it is, ultimately, a spiritual peace for all those who submit to the “Prince of peace.” If we understand the “darkness” and “light” from verses 1-2 as spiritual metaphors, then we surely ought to understand these pictures of war and peace under spiritual metaphors.
THE BIRTH AND RULE OF THE MESSIAH – 9:6-7:
Then, out of nowhere, in the words of Wayne Jackson: “The Christ bursts fully into view” (25). How will we know we have light? How will we know we have gladness and the harvest? How will we know when the yoke and the staff are broken? How will we know when we will have peace? “For” begins verse 6.
When the child is born. Isaiah has talked about two children and their birth – Immanuel and Maher-Shalal-hash-baz. Yet, the latter has already been born. The former is not yet born. Clearly we have pictured here the God of Israel, the God of heaven offering His only unique Son for the world. This is the Son who is “God with us,” yet with the nature of His children – flesh and blood.
This child will have the government of a nation on His shoulders. In verse 7, that nation will also be identified as a kingdom, the throne of David. This child – “Immanuel” – will also have a series of names, which will indicate His nature. The structure of these designations suggest we take every two terms to convey one idea, as modern translations tend to translate them.
His reign, His government, will have no end – neither temporally, nor spatially. It will not end at a physical border and it will not end by the overthrow of another nation. Notice the close association between this government and “peace.”
Again, the throne of David and the rule of His kingdom will belong to this child, this male child. He will establish the kingdom and uphold it with justice and righteousness. Remember that Jerusalem at one time was a city of justice and righteousness (1:21). In 1:26, Isaiah had promised that Jerusalem would be a city of righteousness and so she is, under the reign of King Jesus.
This work is not accomplished by human beings – not Isaiah or Maher-shalal-hash-baz or even Ahaz’s son, King Hezekiah. Isaiah says, “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” Because this kingdom will last “from then on and forevermore” (vs 7), we know there will not be another king after Jesus.
What a wonderful prophecy! But wait! There’s more!