Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Unto Us a Child is Born (Part 1) - Isaiah 9:1-5

Pray & Read Isaiah 9:1-7
Opening thought:
Larry King, the talk-show host, was once asked who, of all people who have ever lived, he would want to interview most. King replied that his choice would be Jesus of Nazareth, and that he would ask Him just one question: “Are You indeed virgin born?”“The answer to that question,” King said, “would explain history for me.” Although he is officially an agnostic, Larry King gets it. He understands that if Christ’s virgin birth is a reality – if He truly is the very Son of God – then a new way of seeing all of life erupts,

Contextual Notes:
At the end of Isaiah 8, the prophet has painted a deep dark picture of the future of northern Israel as the Assyrian horde will burst upon its land. But that is not the end of the story, Isaiah says, a Light is coming in the form of a Child. Even for those areas ravaged by Assyria, he has hope.

For its anti-Assyrian activities, the northern kingdom of Israel was invaded and punished in 733 BC. All but the Ephraim hills were annexed, depopulated, and divided into three administrative districts according to surviving Assyrian records. Magiddu (Megiddo) from Jezreel Valley north to the Litani River, called Galilee of the Gentiles by Isaiah; Du’ru (Dor) province of the coastal plain from Joppa to Haifa (Isaiah’s way of the sea); and Isaiah’s “along the Jordan,” Gal’aza (Gilead) province, the Transjordan from the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee.

Isaiah demonstrates his certainty of hope by using the Hebrew equivalent of past tenses and reference (9:7) to the will of God.

Verses 4, 5, & 6 (BHS vv. 3, 4, 5) begin in the Hebrew with the word “For,” the reason for the great rejoicing of verse 3. The first reason is the breaking of oppression, the second is the end of war. The third is the birth of the Child.

1- From gloom a Child brings honor (Isaiah 9:1)
Zebulon and Naphtali were among those hardest hit by the Assyrians in 733 (2 Kings 15:29) by Tiglath-Pileser.
[1] They were first hit and last left by the brutal invaders, and their land was settled by the Assyrian government with immigrants from other regions of Assyria. The mix with the local population caused the spiritual and moral condition of the land to sink deeper and darker than its blighted external state. Matthew 4:13-16

Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919) – was one of the leading evangelical statesmen of his generation, a prolific author, publisher, popular speaker, and founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. In 1900, Simpson was as well known as Andrew Murray, C.I. Scofield, and D.L. Moody, who once commented, “No man gets to my heart like Simpson.”

Simpson: “But the darkness of Galilee was but a sample of the deep gloom that rests upon every section of the world where the light of Christ’s Gospel has not come. That pall of darkness rests today on every heathen nation. How dark are their conceptions of our God and Father! How false are their ideals for righteousness and holiness! How hopeless and comfortless is their sorrow and how black the despair that rests upon the vision of the future!

"The old Saxon sage expressed it well. One night as they sat in the banqueting hall, a little bird came fluttering in from the darkness and flew for a little through the lighted chamber, passing out at the other end into the darkness again. The old sage turned to the company, that was even then discussing whether to receive the Christian missionaries into their land or not, and said, ‘Our life is like this picture that we have just seen. We come out of the darkness into existence and flutter a little in the light of life, and then we pass out of the light into the same darkness again. We know not whence we come or whither we go; surely we need some one to bring us the light.’ So dark, so desolate is this sad world without the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

"Just as the night lamp seems to make the midnight darker beyond its radiance, so the gladness of our Christmas days and our gospel privileges only seem to bring into more vivid relief the fearful gloom of a Christless world. How sad to think that still two-thirds of its vast population are sunk in just such darkness, while we are rejoicing in the light of Bethlehem, Calvary, and the blessed hope of His coming again.”

2- From darkness a Child brings light (Isaiah 9:2)
Edward J. Young (1907-1968) was professor of OT at Westminster Theo. Sem. in Philadelphia. He wrote a monumental commentary on Isaiah: “In place of the darkness of calamity the people saw the light of peace and blessedness; in place of the darkness of death, the light of life; in place of the darkness of ignorance, the light of knowledge; in place of the darkness of sin, the light of salvation. . . . The darkness was a shadow of death, for it was deep and of death, such as could be removed only by a light of life.”[3] 2 Timothy 1:10; Colossians 1:12-13

3- From oppression a Child brings joy (Isaiah 9:3-4)
Mighty is the victory, so much that reference to Midian is made as to the great victory by Gideon (Judges 6). It still stands at this time as a major victory against an enemy who was completely destroyed.

Their “oppressor was the Assyrian enemy, but in a far deeper sense it was the bondage which sin itself had brought on. . . . It was a spiritual battle, won because a Child would be born, and the victory consisted in the deliverance of God’s people from all that had oppressed them.”[4]
Matthew 11:28-30

4- From war a Child brings peace (Isaiah 9:5)
Boot ( ) is a hapax legomena here in OT. Infantry were barefoot, but cavalry wore soft leather knee-high boots with crisscrossed thongs, common booty stripped from the slain.

Weapons of war are no longer needed because a Child will be born, and His birth will bring peace to all people. Luke 2:14

[1] John H. Walton, et. al., The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity), 2000, 596.

[2] A.B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary, vol. 3, (Camp Hill: Christian Publications, 1993), 328.

[3] Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Eerdmanns, 1965, reprinted 1997), 325.

[4] Young, 327-8.

[5] The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, 596.