Sermon Series: Isaiah: Judgment & Hope
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:1-7
Sermon Title: Child of Light and Gladness
Memory Verse: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
MAIN IDEA: Rejoice in the transforming greatness of God’s love.
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The recorded audio/video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.
The Messiah Makes His Entrance
The book of Isaiah is said to be the fifth gospel because of how much he speaks of the Messiah. Before chapter 9, there is only a whisper of the Messiah. Isaiah speaks of the Branch of the Lord (Isaiah 4:2) and gives the double prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (born of a virgin).
In chapter 9, we reach the first of many descriptions of our Lord and Savior. It is the first of two descriptions of the Messiah found in Isaiah’s 12-chapter introduction. The description in chapter 9 speaks of the Messiah’s birth, His first-coming. In chapter 11, we will hear about Christ’s reign in the Millennium kingdom.
This first description of the Messiah comes after Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming adversity for God’s people. The land will go dark as the armies of Egypt and Assyria will overtake Judah. Assyria will bring the greatest of devastation. God’s people will suffer in darkness and oppression as never before in their history.
Isaiah 9:1-7 speaks of how a great light will shine on the people. The Messiah will come and free God’s people from oppression. Those who anticipate God’s deliverance will look eagerly for the Lord, and He will show Himself in a glorious way (Isaiah 8:17).
God’s Love Accomplishes All
The most interesting and compelling sentence of this passage is the last. It says:
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7b)
This sentence is an amazing revelation of truth.
Zeal of the Lord
Isaiah attributes the driving force behind all that God accomplishes is His zeal. God’s zeal will drive forward and make things happen. The Hebrew word used for zeal is often translated as jealousy. Zeal is an intense love which moves a person to action. God’s passionate jealousy for His people motivates God to act on their behalf.
God’s zeal is His jealous love for His people, His Son, and His glory. God will not stand by idly while His glory is at stake. The zeal of the Lord, His passionate, jealous love, moves to save us.
Lord of Hosts
Again, Isaiah refers to God as the Lord of hosts. As we have seen before, this title signifies the breadth of God’s authority and power. God is the Lord of angels and the armies of men. The Lord of hosts uses all His authority and power of His command to bring about what He desires.
As God sets out to satisfy His zeal, there are none who may stand in His way. No angel, principality, power, ruler, authority, or anything present or yet to come may interfere with God’s purpose. God’s plans are never thwarted.
What will the passionate, holy love of God fueled by all the power of the universe accomplish? We need to go back and see what it accomplishes.
God’s zeal reveals God’s Presence (Isaiah 9:1-3)
In verses 1-3 of chapter 9, we read that God’s love brings a shining light to a land filled with gloom and anguish. The land Isaiah speaks of is the land of two of Jacob’s sons, Zebulun and Naphtali. The land is in Ephraim, the northern kingdom.
Ever since the time of judges, this area of Israel suffers greatly. The area is continually attacked because of its fertile location and because it is on the northern outskirts of the nation. The many attacks lead to a large population of Gentiles in Galilee (hence the name).
Galilee is the first area to suffer under the conquering hand of king Tiglath-pileser. God’s people in this region will desire deliverance because of long years of oppression.
God has mercy on those who are in anguish. And the zeal of the Lord of Hosts sends a great light. As we see in verse 3, it is the light of God’s presence.
God’s light brings a remarkable transformation to the people. They transform from an object of contempt to glory. Gloom and anguish transforms to gladness and rejoicing. Fields filled with briars and thorns transform to the joy of harvest. The sorrow from loss of goods stolen and captured from the enemy transforms to rejoicing.
God’s Zeal Frees Us From Oppression (Isaiah 9:4-5)
Isaiah proclaims the reason why the people will rejoice. The zeal of the Lord of hosts overcomes the oppression of their enemies. God’s love and power makes chains fall off, yokes break, and the rod which brings lashes upon the back is destroyed.
God shines brightly as the One who frees people from oppression. God is the great and mighty liberator.
His work of conquest is done with ease. His effort compares to the battle fought by Gideon in Midian. In the battle of Midian, 300 unarmed men blew trumpets and smashed clay pitchers. In moments, the Midian army is thrown into chaos and they fight one another and run from Gideon’s men. The battle is won without even raising a sword.
Once God removes the oppressor, all the equipment of war will burn forever. The boot worn in battle and the cloak rolled in blood will be put aside and used as fuel for a fire.
God’s zeal accomplishes an outcome of freedom, victory, and peace.
God’s Zeal Gives us God’s Son (Isaiah 9:6-7)
The zeal of the Lord of hosts gives us God’s Son. The people will rejoice in the presence of a child who shines a great light. A child will break the yoke and chain of the oppressor.
In this great prophecy, we learn three things about the Messiah.
The Messiah is born as a child
God’s presence is given to us as a child who is born (Isaiah 9:6). We are given a son who overcomes our oppressors. The New Testament writers tell us the Messiah which Isaiah writes about is Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew’s gospel says this about Jesus’ ministry:
… He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 15 "THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—16 "THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED." 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:12-17)
Jesus is the child who is born whose light dawns on the Galilee of the Gentiles.
The Messiah has names
Until this point in history, God’s Holy Spirit does not reveal very much about the Messiah. There are sentences about Him in various places, such as: He is of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:3), He will sit on David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:12-16), and He will be a King Priest (Ps. 110:4). Isaiah gives the most complete picture of the Messiah as He will write paragraphs describing His nature and work.
This first revelation given about the Messiah by Isaiah is that His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
These names for the Messiah are remarkable.
- Wonderful Counselor suggests that the Messiah has supernatural wisdom. Wonderful means that His counsel is full of wonder. The Hebrew word is sometimes translated as miraculous. That which is unexplainable is called a miracle and miracles may only be done by God. The Messiah has God’s miraculous counsel which is full of wonder.
- Mighty God signifies the Messiah has all the power and strength of God. The Messiah is the Almighty.
- Eternal Father tells us that the Messiah is the Father who lives outside of time. He is not temporary. God is the only Father who is eternal. (How remarkable that the eternal Father is born as a child.)
- Prince of Peace reveals that the Messiah is the One who puts an end to all war. Only God can turn swords into plowshares.
The truth that the Messiah is the incarnation of God is very clear from His names. The Messiah is of a divine nature.
The Messiah has a government
Isaiah tells us that the Messiah who is a Divine Human will have the government rest on His shoulders.
Government has a large impact on the quality of our life. The government in the time of Judah is corrupt. Isaiah told the people that the rulers are rebels and companions of thieves. They love taking a bribe and chasing after rewards, but they do not defend the orphan or the widow. Jerusalem has become a harlot and there is no justice or righteousness (Isaiah 1:21-23). The Assyrian government will be even more cruel.
The Messiah’s government will be different. He will establish and uphold a government of justice and righteousness. His government will be ever-increasing and eternal. A distinguishing feature of His government is that there is no end to the increase of peace. The government is ruled by the Prince of Peace.
Think of how the Messiah’s names fit with the qualifications needed for a good ruler. As the Wonderful Counselor, the Messiah has the wisdom for every possible situation. Because He is the Mighty God, He has the power to make things happen and to secure the kingdom against all enemies. The rule of the Eternal Father is not for a few years, but is everlasting. And, as the Prince of Peace, the kingdom will have no upheaval or scars from the ravages of war. Gone will be the days of tyrannical kings, corrupt judges, and narcissist army generals.
Place Your Trust and Affections on God
Isaiah’s ministry is to proclaim to God’s people of their need to repent. Pride is leading them to their destruction. Their rebellion centers upon where they put their trust and where they place their affections.
On one hand, the people say that God is the Almighty. He is the Lord of hosts. But, on the other hand, the people of Judah look to their horses and chariots to keep them safe. They vote for the political party who is in favor for a strong military. The people of Judah think the king of Assyria will keep them safe if they pay him money. They make unholy alliances to find protection and comfort.
The biggest army in the world may not keep us safe and alive. The biggest army in the world doesn’t keep us healthy and free of illness. The captain of the world’s armies still dies. God is the giver of life. Only God meets our needs of everlasting life.
In their prideful wisdom, the people of Judah don’t live as though they need God. They believe in God, but they only pay Him lip service. They do not live with the joy of finding at God’s right hand are pleasures forevermore. They find pleasure in worldly entertainment. They accumulate silver and gold, so they may purchase the pleasures of the world. Their joy is in their stuff and vacations.
God is the Creator. He is the source of all things. When the people of Judah look to silver and gold to meet their needs, they sell themselves short. Silver and gold are unable to meet their needs. Silver and gold may not give peace, comfort, joy, or satisfaction. Many rich people are filled with despair and discouragement. God is the only provider who meets our real inner-needs for fulfillment. When we recognize God is our provider, we will never lack any good thing.
God alone is worthy of our trust and affections. Which is the same as saying that God alone is worthy of our worship. The people of Judah look to idols for help.
The idols of today’s culture are: technology, entertainment, education, and government. These do not control our destiny. Investing our time and energy in these things will not guarantee our future. They do not guarantee our prosperity and happiness. Only God ordains the future and God is the LORD of our happiness and joy. God’s control of destiny is unfailing. When we trust God with our happiness, we will never be wrong.
The problem with the people of Judah is with their trust and affections. The people of Judah wrongly trust in everything but God. They have affections for the world, but not God. They are blinded by pride.
Pride has us choose to live regardless of how God tells us to live. Every time we knowingly sin, we make a choice to live according to our own wisdom. We choose to disobey because we believe we will be happier.
God, in His grace, intervenes. He corrects the thinking of people. He shows us we have no reason for pride. We are wrong to trust our decision making. If we want joy, peace, comfort, wisdom, and everlasting life, we need to turn away from the world and turn to God.
In Isaiah’s time, God does this by making everything in the world distasteful. It is not right that the people of God seek things that are created more than they seek the Creator. God calls upon the Assyrian army to invade and conquer Judah. He takes away their treasure. Fields no longer produce harvests. He destroys their army. Their idols are smashed. They are left with no world to love. Those things they had set their affections on are taken away.
God humbles His people so they experience emptiness for what they once desired. God changes their hearts and directs their paths to find true joy. He does it by destroying their pride.
… and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11, 17; 5:16; 6:1)
After they are humbled, the people of God have new hearts and new affections. God’s presence becomes their delight and satisfaction.
Why is God calling the Assyrian army to Judah? Amid all the trouble, heartache, tribulation, of the world, God has a perfect purpose and a plan.
Isaiah painted a picture of hope in chapter 2:
The mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. 3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
We now see in chapter 9 why people stream to Mount Zion. The attraction of Mount Zion is not the mountain, but the one who sits on the mountain as judge of the nations. He breaks their chains of bondage and frees them from oppression. People stream to Mount Zion to enjoy the presence of the Lord.
God’s purpose in all things is to exalt His Son, Jesus Christ. God will strip away all things in our life until we have eyes to see our satisfaction is found in one place; the riches of Christ.
The zeal of the Lord accomplishes the exaltation of the Messiah. God’s zeal is interpreted as God’s love by the New Testament writers.
For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. (John 3:16)
God demonstrate His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, God made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5)
God’s zeal is nothing short of fanaticism. God is fanatic about saving people and exalting His Son. All of who God is, which is a God of love, desires us to know that He is not the author of our oppression, but the One who liberates us from our enemies. God wants His children to know that His presence brings gladness.
Isaiah’s message is simple. God is giving us a child, and His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. The Child given to us is a transforming power who humbles us and changes our affections for the world and gives us eyes to see the glories of God.
The Messiah is the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams. The teaching of the Wonderful Counselor reveals to us His righteousness saves us from our sin. He is the Mighty God who conquers our enemies with the power of His holiness. He is the Eternal Father who gives life eternal. And the Prince of Peace brings God’s people into a relationship of peace with God so they may stand in His presence with great joy.
Rejoice in the transforming greatness of God’s love.