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The Significance of the Savior’s Birth
Open your Bibles with me to Isaiah 9. Throughout history people are always looking for someone to bail them out, some solution that’s a quick fix or a magic bullet. Or they’re looking for some savior who’s going to deliver them from tyranny, an economic disaster, from unpleasant circumstances, or from disease or whatever it might be. People look for someone or something that can radically transform their circumstances. Sheep are always looking for a shepherd and the masses are always looking for a messiah.
Near the time that Jesus was born, it’s interesting that at that time people expected someone to come. They were looking for a messiah. The Jews were looking for the Messiah specifically because they had prophecy from the Old Testament. It wasn’t unlike the time of Moses and the time with the Jews in Exodus. God had told Abraham that the Jews would be in slavery in Egypt for around four hundred years. Those who paid attention to that prophecy knew that a deliverer would be coming soon. The same kind of scenario took place when the birth of Jesus occurred. There were those in Israel, who because of their study of Old Testament prophecy had a Biblically grounded expectation of the Messiah. I think it’s because of that a lot of other people picked up on that rumor and that idea and it had a residual impact in other cultures. Theirs wasn’t grounded in the Scripture. They were just looking for someone or something that would improve their circumstances and deliver them from tyranny, either political or military.
In Scripture we know that those who were enlightened by the truth of God’s word had real hope. One of these was a man named Simeon. In Luke 2:25-26 we’re told, “Behold there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel [a title for Messiah] and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke lets us know right away that he has been imbued by God, the Holy Spirit, who is giving him guidance at this particular time. Verse 26 goes on, “And it had been revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” We should understand that as the Lord’s Messiah. Christ is the Greek term for the anointed one, CHRISTOS, and it’s the Greek translation of the Hebrew word, mashiach, meaning the anointed one, the title for God’s promised Savior.
Luke tells us that Simeon wasn’t the only one. There was also Anna who was a prophetess. In Luke 2:36-38 we’re told, “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.” This woman was a widow of about 84 years old who did not “depart from the Temple but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord.” This was when Mary and Joseph had brought Jesus on his eighth day of his life for his dedication at the Temple. Anna saw them arrive and “She gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” That’s remarkable that when Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem they’re met by Simeon and by Anna. There were probably not the only ones at that time who had a Biblically grounded expectation but God in His grace favored them so that they could serve as two witnesses to confirm the reality of His presentation at the Temple.
This was a time that was designated by God in eternity past. In His eternal plan, before He created the Heavens and the earth, before He created anything, He had worked out a plan for salvation. God the Son’s incarnation was not an afterthought because Adam and Eve sinned. It wasn’t Plan B. It was something God had intended in His omniscience in eternity past. He structured it in a way so that when the Messiah came, it would be at the right time. God, in His sovereignty, is overseeing the development and the progress of human history along with the progress of Divine revelation from Genesis to the end of the Old Testament. God would prepare the Jews, specifically, and the human race, generally, for the arrival of the Messiah.
Paul tells us this in Galatians 4:4-5, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.” That means that when the time was right in God’s plan, when everything worked out, both structurally and historically. God had brought things to a point where there was a right time for the Messiah. It was the time of the peace of Rome, called the Pax Romana which is the time when the Roman Empire had brought stability to the area of the Levant, all around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, all across the Mediterranean, all the way back to the Atlantic, both across North Africa, as well as across Europe, and so there was a peace that was established. There was safety to travel and safety to move.
This was a time when the gospel could go forth. Under the Pax Romana the gospel went forth throughout all of the Roman Empire. Also, there were others like Peter and Thomas and probably several of the other apostles who took the gospel east into the Parthian Empire. Thomas took it as far as into India, as far as we know. God brought things to a proper point through Divine revelation and specific revelation as well as the general oversight of history.
In Isaiah 8 we have one of the clearest prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. This prophecy is clearly related to the hope that the human race has for someone who is going to fix the problem. Even though there are many who suppress that hope and distort everything in unrighteousness, there are many who are looking for something. Some of them have so distorted things that they’re always looking for the wrong thing, sort of like the old country western song about “looking for love in all the wrong places”. That’s where about 90% of the human race is most of the time. They couldn’t identify the right thing if they wanted to. God in His providence and revelation gave us these important prophecies so that when the Messiah came, He would be accurately identified.
The time of Isaiah is not unlike the times right now. It was a time when there was a threat of military disaster. We live in the time when we have the threat coming out of the same area in the Middle East. The area of Iraq and Iran, the area of ancient Assyria and Persia where there’s the threat of military violence. This was very much a reality at the time of Isaiah.
In Isaiah 8 we read, “The Lord also spoke to me again saying, ‘In as much as these people refuse [Israel had turned their back on God] the waters of Shiloah…' ” Those of you who’ve been to Jerusalem know looking down toward the Old City of David, you see the ancient site of these Gihon springs that were transported through Hezekiah’s tunnel down to the pool of Siloam. This was where Jesus would have come as well and it’s mentioned in the gospel of John a couple of times. That’s the reference here. It’s a reference to Jerusalem. It’s located in Jerusalem so this is used as a figure of speech called a synecdoche which means that a part stands for the whole. That’s a figure of speech where something located in Jerusalem stands for all of Jerusalem.
Isaiah continues, “Inasmuch as these people refused the water of Shiloah that flow softly, and rejoice in Rezin [king of Syria] and Remaliah’s son [that refers to Pekah, the King of the Northern kingdom in Isaiah 7]. It says there, “It came to pass in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham [king in the South] that Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against them.” They represent this threat.
You’ve got two major military threats going on at this time as far as Judea was concerned. One was this alliance between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Syria. The other was the threat of Assyria, which is on the horizon. This is what’s referenced in Isaiah 8:7, “Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them [this military threat that will destroy Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel] the waters of the River [Euphrates], strong and mighty—the king of Assyria and all his glory.”
Back in Isaiah 7 there’s also a reference to Assyria in Isaiah 7:18, “It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.” This is using poetic language to refer to those two military powers. So in Isaiah 8:7 there’s this threat. The people are threatened. There’s insecurity. They don’t know what will happen.
We have much the same kind of situation today. We have the threat of economic disaster in this country and in western civilization. People are mortgaged to great expense. The personal debt is higher than it’s ever been. The debt of the nations is much higher than it’s ever been. Everything is floated. Everything is mortgaged and yet people act as if this is no problem whatsoever. There are threats from cyber-attacks as we’ve seen in the last few weeks with this hacking of Sony. We haven’t seen all that’s related to that yet. That involves a threat against the film industry, which sadly Sony has succumbed to by not releasing this particular film. There’s a lot of discussion about what you can listen to but the point is that is just a minor thing compared to what it indicates.
There are real threats against the infrastructure of the United States, threats against the electric grid, threats against many things that the government does that are related to computers. I’ve heard numbers in the last couple of years that there are as many as twenty to twenty-five thousand attempts a day to hack into the computers at the Pentagon. We’re constantly under attack. If some of these attacks succeed, it could lead to the collapse of western civilization, as we know it. That’s a scary thought.
As believers we ought to know that we have hope and confidence in God. That’s the point that’s going on in these passages in Isaiah 7–9. They’re saying that when everything looks unstable and everything looks chaotic and there’s no security and no hope in the details of life, in government, in society, then we can look to the only source of hope and that is God. There’s this situation there that’s not unlike our own where there’s this threat of destruction and what would happen is described in Isaiah 8:8–10. The Assyrian army is pictured like a river. He will go over the channels and the banks. It’s going to be like a floodtide. It’s going to keep rising and rising. It’s going to take out Syria and the North and Samaria. He’ll pass through Judah and overflow and pass over Judah. He will reach up to the neck but he’s not going to completely cover and completely destroy Israel.
That’s a picture of the fact that when the Assyrians came through under Sennacherib, they took out nearly every major city in Judea except for Jerusalem. Everything else was destroyed. This happened over a period of years. That invasion and the siege of Jerusalem doesn’t take place until about 702 B.C. If you think about the fact that the Northern Kingdom was taken out in 722 B.C., that’s 20 years when basically your country is being overrun by enemy forces. There’s no stability, everything that you put your life’s work into is gone and destroyed.
Many of their friends, associates, family, extended family, and those who lived in the South had to put up with many refugees from the North. When they saw this happen, they moved south into Judah. It was a time of tremendous calamity in their life as God was bringing this judgment on them. We’re told in Isaiah 8:9, “Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Give ear, all you from far countries. Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces. Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces.”
In Isaiah 8:10, “Take counsel together but it will come to nothing; speak the word but it will not stand, for God is with us.” What Isaiah is saying here is that the Assyrian army can do all they can but it won’t change things. They won’t be ultimately victorious. Why? Because “God is with us.” What’s the Hebrew word for God is with us? This should not be difficult. Immanuel. It goes back to the name that the mother will give the child in Isaiah 7:14, “God is with us.”
The situation here in Israel is not only one where they face an external enemy but they have an internal problem as well because they are in spiritual chaos. There’s not a lot of difference between what was happening then and what is happening now. We get into the background to the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 in Isaiah 8:19. This gives us the spiritual indictment of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
This isn’t the indictment of the Northern Kingdom. This says the Southern Kingdom has rejected God, abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and have basically said that God doesn’t really exist. They have turned to other gods. We know that the only other gods that there are, are fallen angels and demons and that the demons, according to Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians 7 are the power behind the false religions and the power behind the idols. The indictment comes in Isaiah 8:19 where Isaiah says, “When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter, should not a people seek their God?’ ” What he’s doing is indicting them.
They are using the occult and have turned to demonism and idolatry and spiritism and necromancy to find hope. Here they’re faced with a disaster and rather than going to the God of the Bible and rather than going to the Torah and going to the Scripture, they are turning to idols and demons to find hope and meaning. The term for medium here is the Hebrew word obe which is translated in the Greek with the word ENGOSTROMUTHOS, which refers to the action of someone who was speaking to the dead. The wizard is the term for a spiritist. It’s practically a synonym.
What they would do is call upon the person who had died to come and speak to them. There wasn’t a physical manifestation. They would just hear a voice, a disembodied voice coming up from the ground. So there would be either some form of ventriloquism or in some cases there would be an actual demon who would be speaking and giving them some sort of information. The question that Isaiah asks follows that, “Should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?”
Then the solution is given in Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony? If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” That’s the indictment. They’re in darkness because they’ve rejected the light of God’s Word. The result is described in Isaiah 8:21-22, “They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God.”
As a result of their negative volition toward God and as a result they’re looking for love in all the wrong places and seeking happiness and prosperity and wealth from doing all the wrong things and chasing after false philosophies and false gods, what happens is that internally they are in collapse. There’s no hope. They don’t get any answers and the result is despair and despondency because of God’s promise related to the third and fourth cycles of discipline. Their economy has collapsed because of the external military threat. This means they are hungry. What they do rather than turning to God in submission, they are angered and embittered toward God and they curse their king and they curse God. This reminds me of the response of the kings of the earth and the generals of the earth in the sixth cycle of the seal judgments in Revelation 6. God rains physical judgment like an asteroid or a meteor shower upon the earth, the kings of the earth hide in the caves and they shake their fists at God. They are in clear, conscious, open rejection of God.
Then in Isaiah 8:22, “Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.” This is the indictment of Israel. It’s an Old Testament concept reflected in what’s going on in Romans 1:21-23. “Although they knew God they do not glorify Him as God nor were they thankful but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.” So we have the same thing here. They are driven into darkness. Negative volition leads to darkness in the soul.
When you’re dealing with people no matter how talented or how intelligent they may be, when they reject God, the Bible says that they are fools. It doesn’t matter how smart they are. When you look at the elites who are trying to run this country, trying to run Congress, run the economy, run the military, run the political leadership and they have rejected Divine Truth and rejected the establishment principles of Scripture you see the outcome. They are operating on darkness out of their own soul and they are imposing that upon the nation.
The sad thing is that most of the people in this nation are willing to let this happen because they have rejected truth. What we have to do is focus on the truth. We need to realize that even when things are dark, God has not abandoned us. God is still on His throne. God is still the One who is directing our lives and in charge of our lives. Maybe our hopes and our dreams need to be recalibrated according to the standard of God’s Word.
What happens so much is that we set our hopes and dreams on things we want to do in our lives and they’re not set by the Word of God and so when all of a sudden, it seems like the bottom drops out and things are not working out the way we hoped they would, we may become negatively influenced by the culture around us. Then we can either cave in to despair if we’re giving into the enemy or we can say, “Wait a minute. As the culture goes south, we need to figure out how to focus and be a witness to God’s grace, and we need to show people that the only time there’s happiness and joy and stability in life when everything around us seems to be collapsing is when we’re focused on the only one true source of happiness.”
That’s the message that runs through these chapters. Everything is collapsing around the citizens of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And yet, even as God is telling them this judgment is coming, He gives them this tremendous message of hope. That’s what Christmas is all about. That is why the Savior was born, to provide hope in a darkened world. So this message in this section really has a two-prong focus. One is toward believers because they need to come to a focal point on God’s provision of salvation, that unless we are aligned with God’s plan for our lives which involves walking with Him and not having all the details of life which the culture around us says we need to have happiness. Instead we need to be focused on what God has for us and walking with Him and growing to spiritual maturity. If we’re not walking with Him and growing to spiritual maturity, then whatever else we’re doing has no value for eternity.
This focus is first toward encouraging believers that God is still in control and they are to stay the course and endure and persevere. Then it is directed toward unbelievers. They need to understand that the reason these things happen is because of Divine judgment on human beings who are rebellious against Him. The only solution and the only basis for real hope and real happiness and real meaning in life comes from the Word of God.
What we see in our world is that western civilization has rejected God. Generally, the elites, the intellectuals, and the academics since the mid-19th century have increasingly rejected God. Now they are set against anyone who worships God. They are antagonistic to anyone who is a Christian, anyone who believes in absolutes, and anyone who believes in historic, Biblical Christianity. In their rejection of God they have embraced empiricism and rationalism alone as the only sources of happiness.
That has failed them. This is the failure of modernism. Modernism is a belief that came out of the Enlightenment in the 1600sand 1700s. It said that man on the basis of his intellect would be able to find the solution to the problems of life. It believed that man, apart from God, on the basis of his reason, his experience, and his study of the universe could find hope and meaning and happiness. That collapsed. That gave rise to skepticism by the late 19th century and then gave birth to post-modernism today.
Post-modernism is one of the most depressing, discouraging philosophies around simply because it is the expression of Romans 1:21-23, “They’ve exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.” They’re worshipping nature. They’re worshipping the environment. They're worshipping mother earth and planet earth and all of the global warming and all of the environmentalism is just another manifestation of ancient pagan religion. They’ve just exchanged one form of idolatry for another form of idolatry.
This was the problem in the Southern Kingdom of Israel. We know this from our study of the passage. The king at the time was Ahaz. The indictment of Ahaz is given in 2 Kings 16:3-4, “But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel…” He’s a king in the Southern Kingdom of Judah but rather than following his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather who were positive believers, he went negative toward God and rejected the revelation of the Torah and followed paganism. He followed idolatry and fertility religions, the worship of prosperity and wealth that was characteristic of the Northern Kingdom such as the Baals and the Ashteroth. All of these are fertility religions and sexual depravity went along with that trying to encourage the gods to be productive and be fertile.
That’s just reflected today in the prosperity gospel, which you often hear on Christian television. There are some good pastors that are teaching the truth on TV and every now and then you run across them but many of them are teaching a prosperity gospel. In the old days of the charismatic movement the big issue was over healing and tongues but that debate is almost passé in the charismatic movement. Now it’s dominated by prosperity religion, which is just a modern distortion of the ancient fertility worship of the Canaanites.
2 Kings 16:3 goes on to indict Ahaz, “Indeed, he made his son pass through the fire according to the abomination of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from the children of Israel.” Abominations of nations refers to the worship of the Canaanites and it was child sacrifice which went back all the way to the Canaanites. Now we’re not as crass as to take our infants and to overtly sacrifice them on the arms of an idol, but the reality is that many people in western civilization have done that exact equivalence by rejecting the divine institution of marriage and family and replacing it with the worship of materialism and material goods, the worship of success, and the worship of sex. They have sacrificed their children on that altar.
Many have given up having children. When you look at the decline of the birthrate among Europeans in Western Europe and of European background Americans, we are losing ground rapidly. Various studies have indicated that by 2030 through 2050 many of the countries in Europe will become Muslim because of the high birthrate among Muslims. The indigenous Europeans will be overrun by this influx of Arabs and Moslems and the same kind of thing can take place here in the United States.
The only thing that’s keeping our birthrate up is because of the influx of Hispanics coming into the U.S. Many of them are having four, five, or even six children. Most Caucasian Americans are having fewer than two children. You’ve got to have 2.3 children in order to maintain, not to grow. I think we’re down to 2.1 in Caucasian households, which means we’re just losing ground. We have truly sacrificed our children because we don’t want to have children. They get in the way. We would rather focus on our success and our education and making more money or achieving more than being focused on raising a family and passing on Biblical values to the next generation. We imitate their sin but in a less crass manner.
So they sacrificed their children. In verse 4 we read, “And they sacrificed and burned incense in the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.” This means Ahaz was just as much involved in idolatry as the pagans and brought this idolatry into the Southern Kingdom. He brought the evil of Ahab and Jezebel and Athaliah and made that the norm. This is why God is bringing this judgment upon them.
The question that Isaiah asks in Isaiah 8:9 is “Should not a people seek their God?” This is what the solution is, to turn back to God and to focus on Him. Isaiah has rebuked Ahaz and has called upon him to turn but Ahaz refused to listen and he continues to go his own way. He is even involved in the worship of demons. In James 3:15 we’re told that the “wisdom of the world is earthly, sensual, and demonic.” The common sense of the world that says to get an education, be successful, wait until you’re in your late 30s before you have children or only have one or two because that’s all you can afford, is demonic. The wisdom of the world that says that the role of men and women is interchangeable and women should be just as successful in business as men is counter to the Biblical and divine institutions number two and three. When young people sacrifice having children and preparing and training the next generation, they are destroying your nation from the inside out. Once you wipe out marriage and family, you have destroyed the future of your country.
That is exactly what was going on in Israel. They were destroying their future by immolating them in the arms of Moloch. The result was that they weren’t any happier. We see this exhibited in terms of the materialism and the success and the dreams that money can buy happiness every year at Christmas. People go into incredible debt at Christmas thinking that if they buy the right presents for people and they give the right things to people that this is going to solve the problems in their families. They think this will solve the problems with their friends. They think they’re going to be liked and it will restore harmony in their relationships.
Christmas, for many people, is one of the most miserable times of the year because they’re chasing happiness. They go home and they have to spend time with family members they can’t get along with and they hold grudges against. The problem is they’ve denied the real solution and the real focal point, the real glue of the family, which is that spiritual focus upon the Word. If that’s not there, success doesn’t matter. Material gains don’t matter. Education doesn’t matter. Prosperity doesn’t matter. I would rather live in a hovel with a rich relationship with God than live in the greatest mansion on Park Avenue with no relationship with God. You may have the trappings of happiness but you’re absolutely miserable.
This is what Isaiah was getting at, that the false religion, the worship of anything in the creation and the pursuit of anything in creation as the source of happiness cannot satisfy. A lot of people give lip service to this. You see this in the evangelical community to a tremendous degree. They give lip service to truth. They show up at church on Sunday. They talk about God. They say the right things, but that’s just like President Obama. They’re Obama-ite Christians. They say all the right things but they don’t mean it. There’s no internal change. There’s no internal transformation. They’re not truly being transformed from the inside out because they’re not really positive.
The beginning of positive volition is coming to Bible class. Real positive volition culminates in a transformed life where the Word of God is the only thing that really matters in your life. Everything else in your life is going to be structured according to how much time you can spend in the Word of God so that it can get into your soul. Even if you could never go to Bible class again you have a rich relationship with God based on the Word of God. This is because you’ve hidden it in your heart and not because you’ve written it in your notebook. Now this is the problem.
The only solution to all of the heartaches and problems in life is the Word of God. This is what we see in Isaiah 8:20 where Isaiah says it’s to the “Law and the testimony.” Where do you put your attention? You don’t seek it from the wisdom of the world. The wisdom of the world at that time said you go through astrology and necromancy. You go through all of these other avenues in order to get wisdom. In our world we’re not quite that overt with our New Age mysticism although it’s very much present in our world but we look to help through rationalism, through science, through the common sense of the day instead of going to the Word of God.
Isaiah is saying that the solution isn’t what the world says. It’s to the Law and to the testimony, which is the Word of God. He makes a dogmatic statement that if anyone does not speak according to this word, it doesn’t matter how “common sense” it might be or how acceptable that wisdom is. That’s just hogwash. What makes something biblical isn’t that it kind of conforms to the Bible. It’s that it comes from the Bible. I’ve heard this all my life when people says, “Well, that’s Biblical.” No, it’s kind of like the Bible. It may be similar but biblical doesn’t mean it can conform to the Bible. What biblical means is that it derives from the Bible. When you have people as biblically illiterate as most evangelicals and most Bible-church Christians are, who haven’t read the whole Bible through in the last year, much less in their whole lifetime, they don’t know what is Biblical because they don’t read the Bible. If you don’t know the Bible, how can you say something is biblical? It may be similar to, but it’s not if it doesn’t come from the Bible.
That’s what Isaiah is saying, that if they don’t speak according to this Word, it’s because there’s no light in them. Satan’s lies are 99% true. A lot of human viewpoint is 99% true. It’s that other 1% that destroys it. A lot of Christians just fall into this trap because they are Biblically illiterate. They may know a lot of doctrine but they’re Biblically illiterate. Now doctrine is important but doctrine means the teaching of what? The Bible. You can’t be ignorant of the Bible and know doctrine. What the Bible teaches is that you have to know the Bible to know doctrine. You can’t have one without the other. Period. There are a lot of Christians who run around thinking they know all this doctrine but they don’t know the Bible. Then there are a lot of people walking around who know the Bible but they don’t know doctrine. You’ve got to have both. You have to know the Bible and you have to know doctrine.
When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness He didn’t quote a theology text; He didn’t quote a rabbinical text; He didn’t quote from the Mishna; He quoted word-for-word precision from the Bible. The doctrine is the teaching of what? The Scripture. You’ve got to know the Scripture. That’s what Isaiah is saying here. “To the Law and to the testimonies.” He didn’t say to the rabbis. He didn’t say to the theologians. No matter how accurate they may be it’s to the Law and to the testimony.
Because they had rejected the Word of God, the people of Isaiah’s day were depressed. They were discouraged. They are hungry. They are empty. There’s a great passage in Psalm 106:15 where the psalmist is referring to the wilderness generation. He says that God answered their prayers but He sent “leanness into their souls”. God provided answers to their prayer and he gave them quail but the result was their souls weren’t filled. The solution isn’t what’s on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside. They were asking for the wrong thing.
This is what’s happening to Isaiah’s generation. “They shall pass through and hard pressed and hungry and it shall happen when they are hungry they will be enraged and curse their king and God and look upward.” So they blame the government and then they blame God. It’s not their fault for their negative volition. It’s not their fault because they rejected truth. It’s God’s fault and it’s the king’s fault.
“Then they will look to the earth and they will see trouble and darkness all around them, gloom of anguish and they will be driven in to darkness.” The Bible says a lot about darkness. Darkness is only expelled by the light of God’s Word. Isaiah 19:1 gives the solution. It’s hope. The world is not miserable or hopeless. The world is always going to be dark because the world is based on Satan’s cosmic system. The world is never going to provide us with the solutions we think it will. Those solutions only come from the Word of God.
Isaiah says, “Nevertheless the gloom will not come upon her who is distressed and when at first it lightly esteemed, the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali.” This is a prophecy that is going to be quoted as fulfilled in Matthew 4:16, “The gloom will not be upon her who is distressed when at first it lightly esteemed the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali who had more heavily oppressed her by way of the sea beyond the Jordan in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness had seen a great light [Divine revelation]. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them, a light has shined.”
It may seem miserable but there is hope. Real hope only comes ultimately when we base it upon the light of God’s Word. This foreshadows the coming of the Servant, Messiah. A few chapters later in Isaiah in 49:6, we have this great prophecy related to the Messiah. God says, “It is too small a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribe of Jacob, to restore the preserved ones of Israel.” God the Father, talking to God the Servant of Yahweh is saying that that’s too small a thing just to save Israel. He goes on to say, “I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles that you shall be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” This is God’s grace in the midst of darkness. God gives light not only through Divine revelation but also through His Son, the Savior of the world.
This is where we get the idea that light comes from revelation. We see this in passages like Psalm 27:1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” That’s a great verse to memorize. Write it down. Memorize it. Then remember this verse in times of despair. “Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life.” Psalm 36:9, “For with You is the fountain of life. In your life we see light.” Notice the connection with life and light. Then we come to Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It is God’s Word that reveals the direction in life, how to make decisions and how to live well. Psalm 119:130, “The entrance of Your words give life.” It’s not just hearing them. It’s not just having your auditory nerves stimulated. It’s not just writing it down. It’s making it a part of your soul, getting it so deep in your soul you remember it. It’s like tomorrow afternoon you will have read through Scripture and you remember what you’ve learned. It didn’t just go in your eye and out your ear. Or in your ear and out your mouth and that was it. You remember it. It becomes part of your thinking. It is totally metabolized as to who you are.
The entrance of God’s Word gives light and it gives wisdom to the simple. We just went through these passages. I want to remind you. Isaiah 49. The Servant is given as a light to the Gentiles. Psalm 27: There’s this connection between light and salvation. Psalm 36:9, a connection between life and light. Psalm 119:105: light and guidance. The entrance of God’s Word gives light.
Then what do we have in John 1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to give light. How did He give light? By dying on the cross for our sins. We read in John 1:4, “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” John didn’t just come up with this connection between life and light when the Holy Spirit inspired Him to write this. He got it from the Psalms. He knew there’s this connection between life and light. When the Messiah comes, He’s going to bring life and it’s that life that’s going to bring light to mankind.
In John 1:5 he says, “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Why doesn’t the darkness comprehend it? Later on in John he says, “Men rejected the light because they love the darkness.” Then Jesus says in John 8:21, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” Jesus is that light of the world. That’s what that hope is which is described in Isaiah 9:1-2. The light is going to come to the Gentiles. Matthew quotes this as a prophecy related to the life of the Messiah.
Now we go on in Isaiah 9:3, “You multiply the nation and increased its joy.” Only God can do that. God is the only real source of joy. The only way we can have joy in the midst of crisis and calamity such as losing your house, losing your health, losing the things you think matter to you, the only way you can have happiness is if your focus is on the Lord. The believers at the time of the Assyrian invasion could survive because they believe in hope. In A.D. 70 there were many believers who lived in Israel. Many of them were martyred but many of them survived because they had hope in their souls. They may have lost everything in their lives but they had hope in their souls because of the Word of God.
This is what happens. Isaiah 9:3 says, “You, God have multiplied the nation and increased its joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy of harvest as men rejoice when they divide the spoils.” It goes on and focuses on the victory that God is going to give and this is ultimately related to the birth of the child, the birth of the Messiah. So why does the Savior need to be born? Because He is the ultimate source of hope.
Isaiah says, “For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given.” Those two lines are set in a synonymous parallelism. The child is parallel to the son. The fact that He is born indicates His humanity; that He has to be born into the world. He has to come into the world. He’s not a god that doesn’t come into the world or just appear. He has to be born as a human being. “Unto us a Son is given.” This “Son” relates to His deity, His Sonship. He is the Son of God. He is the son of man.
He is the second person of the Trinity and He’s going to have a government. This is one of those passages in the Old Testament that specifies a promised kingdom for Israel. “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” These are four great wonderful titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now there is some debate over the meaning of one of these. Some people think the first title “Wonderful Counselor” should be two words, wonderful and counselor but I think they are tied together. It’s referring to the fact that He is a counselor, a source of wisdom and He is wonderful. The word translated wonderful in Hebrew is the word pelleh. Now we could talk about a lot of people being wonderful. You may tell someone you love that they are wonderful. A lot of times what comes after that isn’t so pleasant. You may tell your child they’re wonderful when they’ve done something great. The word wonderful in English is a word we can apply to all kinds of things, inanimate objects, human beings, and God. The Hebrew word translated wonderful here is only applied to God. It emphasizes Deity. He is a wonderful counselor.
The second thing we see is Mighty God. This is pretty simple. It’s ale ghibbore, mighty warrior or a warrior god. It is often a term related to a victorious soldier. Ale is related to God. This child that is born is clearly called God. You can’t escape that. He is described as wonderful in terms only used of God. Then He is called God in the second title. The third title is translated Everlasting Father. It’s ab in Hebrew and the second part of it relates to eternity. It is descriptive so it’s saying He is eternal. It’s a descriptive way of describing His eternality again reasserting that He is God. Last, it says He is the Prince of Peace. This passage emphasizes both His humanity and His deity.
Hebrews 2:17 in the New Testament says, “In all things He had to be made like His brethren.” That means to be a high priest He had to be fully human. “That He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” He had to be human.
In Philippians 2:7-8 it says “He [Jesus Christ] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” That means He is a full human being. He was found in appearance as a man. He is a human being. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” He is the Savior who entered into the human race and dies on the cross for our sins.
In Zechariah 9:10 we’re told, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations.” See, He’s the Prince of Peace. When He comes He establishes peace because He defeats and destroys the military in combat. He destroys them and then He enforces peace upon the earth. That’s the only time when we’ll have genuine world peace. It’s when Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom. “And His dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth.”
So why does the Savior need to be born? He needs to be born because only through His death on the cross is there real hope, is there ever going to be real peace. There can never be happiness in our lives. There can never be meaning in our life. We can never really understand the purpose of our existence apart from Jesus Christ. And unless we are focused on Him everything else is just cosmetic. It’s just often a camouflage for internal misery and unhappiness.
Much of the world is that way. They will put on a façade. They will put on a mask of happiness that everything is wonderful. They will be caught up in the emotion but it just acts like an anesthetic to the real pain of their soul because they have rejected God. They don’t want to admit that. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness. The only way they can have happiness and joy is by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior. He came into the world in order to die for our sins so we can have eternal life.