God’s 1st creative act – let there be light, separate light from darkness. Darkness was already present at creation; at times in history and personal experience darkness has been oppressive, but only temporary. Even the most oppressive darkness can be pushed back by light – true of light when used in reference to either visible or moral qualities.
Remnant concept present from beginning of Isaiah’s public ministry (1:9) – though God would bring calamity on his people for their sin, he would not completely destroy them; a faithful and believing remnant would be preserved. For God to be faithful to his promise, darkness of discipline and spiritual ignorance could not last forever. That the true remnant might be encouraged, God graciously sent glimmers of light to penetrate darkness from time to time until the Light came that would never be extinguished.
Isaiah, speaking as if it were a thing already accomplished, declares an end to the gloom of judgment, announces the dawning of a new day in the lives of God’s people; he reveals further details about the sign-child promised in 7:14, his character and his ministry.
A. They saw a great light v.1-2
former gloom would be dispelled
Israel’s period of discipline would be a time of real gloom, real sin brings real consequences. When people turn away from God, should expect gloomy times, but which last only until they return to the light.
honor to Zebulun and Naphtali in latter time
The area first annexed by Syria (734 BC), where great humiliation occurred would be restored to honor. It would not be something Jews did for themselves and their land, would be accomplished by God as he will “bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.”
blessing to include Galilee of the Gentiles (or nations)
anticipates both blessing for Gentiles living in Israel when light came AND impact/blessing the light would have on all nations. It’s not just Jews who were walking in spiritual darkness and ignorance, whole world suffered from the same problem. Upper Galilee had mixed population in Isaiah’s day, a demographic that persisted until the time of Jesus and beyond. They would be the first of the nations to hear the Gospel, the call to repentance from the lips of our Savior. Then light of the truth would spread from there, eventually spanning the globe.
Jesus’ ministry based out of Capernaum declared to fulfill this prophecy (Matt. 4:13-16)
Jesus’ presence and ministry brought glory and honor not only to temple, greater than even Solomon’s temple, but also to lives of those living in the shadow of the temple. to those who had an “appearance of godliness” but had not experienced its power (2 Tim. 3:5), externally following the rules but without actually trusting God for their future.
it is Gospel light that brings out of darkness and the shadow of death
Children’s song that accompanies the Wordless Book: “My heart was black with sin Until the Savior came in.” Only light that brings life can dispel this sort of blackness, the darkness of sin. God himself the only source of that kind of light, embodied in God the Son and declared to us through the Gospel.
B. They experienced great joy v.3
true joy expressed before God
joy that was given by God, expressed to God in his presence
Joy would be the result of new prosperity and increased population. Change in national size would not be result of more Jewish babies; was because God would add believing Gentiles to true Israel, enlarging the nation or more properly the kingdom by removing the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. In doing so Jew and Gentile would become one in the Church.
response to what God has accomplished – a great harvest
The people would respond to God’s great work of salvation, harvest of souls. Remember your own response when you see someone come to faith in Christ, what joy it gives you. The same is experienced by true Israel, the Israel of God as the Lord adds daily to the church those who are being saved. (Acts 2:47)
fulfilling of God’s promise to Abraham – make of you a great nation; all nations shall be blessed
a promise that clearly only God could keep – when it was given, Abram and Sarai had no children (Gen. 12:1-3); repeated the promise to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-4) and Jacob (Gen. 28:12-14). Paul clarifies in Gal. 3:16-19 that the promise would be ultimately fulfilled through the Lord Jesus.
C. He won a great victory v.4
a battle only God could win
The one wearing the yoke is powerless to unyoke himself; those oppressed cannot deliver themselves from oppression, that’s the whole point of it. The present enemy for Israel equal to or greater even than their Egyptian oppressors from whom only God could deliver them.
odds even greater than Gideon + 300 against Midian (Judg. 7:12), a countless multitude
wasn’t numbers that would win the battle; God made Gideon to understand that. It was God who would win, the same God who caused the unnerved Midianites to fight each other (Judg. 7:22)
the real burden – sin
Jewish people knew, deep down, that their troubles result of turning away from God. Political and military enemies just symptom of deeper problem. Refused to acknowledge the real issue, would not turn back to God without strong encouragement. Knew only God could deal with sin, shown in their response to Jesus when he granted forgiveness to paralyzed man, accusing him of blasphemy (Matt. 9:1-6).
D. He brought a great peace v.5
true and lasting end to hostilities
Ephraim would be defeated, so too would Syria, and then even Assyria. But a greater victory than that is in view, more at stake than military power and its use. Must be so if war was to come to final end
“uniforms” no longer needed – burned in the fire
Here it’s not just the individual soldier who comes home from war, throws away his uniform and intends never to return to the battlefield. It’s EVERY soldier, the entire military machine that is disbanded. This signifies that underlying cause of war has been permanently addressed, no anticipation of future hostilities
not simply that they give up the fight, real enemy will truly be conquered
three enemies in view:
Israel’s temporal enemies, overthrown by God’s orchestration of world affairs
fallen man’s enemies – sin, Satan and death – overthrown by God at the cross and empty tomb
spiritual enemies of God and the church – finally conquered, judged, and condemned on the Last Day.
E. He sent a great King v.6-7
King, descendant of David, would establish everlasting kingdom
by his rule kingdom would expand, beginning in this world and extending throughout eternity; it would be a kingdom in which peace would prevail
accomplished by means of spiritual weapons against spiritual enemies – Paul identified bottom-line source of conflict: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against… spiritual forces of evil” (Eph 6:12)
4-fold description of his character
a Wonder, accomplishing wonders that only God could do
administering his kingdom with wisdom – in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2-3), required for a just and peacable kingdom
a strong King, one with the power to be a conquering Hero, who subdues all his enemies both seen and unseen, and rules over a universal kingdom (not limited to this world)
a Child who is unquestionably God – a Son, of David and of man and of God, given by God to man
clear indication that God is more than one person
the Good Shepherd to his people
from eternity to eternity, now and forever God has the relationship of Father to his people – protecting, providing, directing
Prince of Peace
one who embodies peace – “he is our peace”
who procures peace on behalf of his people
secures peace by removing cause of hostility – alienation due to sin
zeal of the Lord of hosts (Commander-in-Chief)
It’s not a mystery how these wonders will be accomplished. God’s jealous care for his own glory and the good of his people, the church, ensures that his purpose will be done. God will use whatever means are necessary to bring Light into the world, draw people to that Light, and deal with all those who oppose the Light.