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Lowell Brueckner

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Present Darkness and Coming Light


11. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 9

Do they offer a verse by verse Bible study in the church, where you attend? So few do these days, yet it is so important for believers to receive help one from another in something that is as vast as the Word of God. Have you been with us in this Bible study from the beginning? If not, I invite you to go back to the introduction to get a good background on the history and events. This book is full of messianic prophecy, as well as solid spiritual principle, pertinent for all times.

If you have studied with us up to this point in Isaiah, let me inform you of last year’s study. Hopefully, you have some reading time on your hands and, if so, you may want to include the book of Zechariah in your study. Zechariah was a prophet, informed of the coming Messiah, as was Isaiah, but perhaps Zechariah received more, concerning the second coming of Christ. This is a day in which we must be informed, because the signs of His coming are all around us and it would be tragic to miss them.

Now it’s time to see some more of Isaiah prophecies of the coming Messiah…

Light at the end of the tunnel

Our main purpose in studying the Bible is to receive illumination on the person and nature of God Himself. We are about to learn some vital lessons from the Holy Spirit about the ways of God, as we launch chapter 9. Chapter 8 left us in a dark tunnel of gloom of which, if you remember, Barnes said. “We almost feel that we are enveloped by the gloom, and see objects of terror and alarm on every side.” 

But now look, “There will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.” We see there is light at the end of God’s tunnel! Remember this always, child of God. There is no guarantee for any believer that he will be kept from the most severe trials, or that his sins will not bring on painful discipline. No good Bible scholar will tell you anything different. However, the ones who let God write their biographies on the fleshly tables of their heart will always, without exception, find glorious light in the end! |That is what distinguishes God’s stories from the unpredictable tales of this world.

The young cancer patient, after weakly uttering tearful goodbyes to the dear ones around his bed, suddenly bursts into unspeakable joy in the presence of his Savior and God. The one bound to a wheelchair throughout life by cerebral palsy, in a flash explodes into laughter, leaping down the main boulevard of Glory straight to his Father’s throne. A scream, an awful sound of impact, the crunching of metal and shattering of glass, is followed by unbearable pain that the accident victim never knew could exist, and then, in the next moment, it disappears before wholeness and tranquility in the arms of Jesus.   

This is Immanuel’s land in the gospel of Isaiah, about which we are now learning. Who ever praised the insignificant tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon? The verse tells us that they were treated with contempt, part of the northern kingdom under “distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish…”

But, that was not the end of the story. “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (vs.2). This is the territory, in which the little village of Nazareth lay and nearby is Capernaum in Galilee, bordering on the gentile nations. Here is where God sent His only Son to tabernacle among mankind, raised as a child in Nazareth and living during His ministerial years in Capernaum. Matthew quotes Isaiah’s prophecy and speaks to us clearly of its fulfillment (Mt.4:12-17).

The Messiah is coming

Every true ray of light in the Old Testament pointed straight to Jesus. In chapter six, Isaiah saw Him in His glory and now we are in the third chapter since then, in which he prophesies of His coming to earth. Isaiah cannot stop talking about Him!

There is no human language to describe this light from heaven, but the prophet makes a great effort. It’s something like the “gladness of harvest” or “as men rejoice when they divide the spoil”, he tries to explain (v.3). The light is all the more glorious, because of the darkness which precedes it. It “shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff of their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor” (v.4) That is the beauty and enchantment of the gospel:  Since the beginning of time it had never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind, but in John, chapter 9, we have a man, who rejoiced in a greater light than newly-created Adam, because the yoke, the staff and the rod of his lifelong darkness were broken.

The enemy is broken (v.5), his battle boots fall from his feet and his clothes are drenched in blood. In the end they are fuel for the fire. Who will break their power? Who will make this become a reality? He will be a child, a son born in a manger among animals. There was no room for Him in the crowded inn. His mother was far from home and the help of friendly hands, experiencing the pains of labor in the unsure atmosphere of a stable; in the blackness of Bethlehem’s night, light broke forth, “and the glory of the Lord shone around” (Lk.2:8,9).

He became the humble carpenter of the little hamlet of Nazareth. He was the servant, who washed the feet of those who ate the Passover with Him. He went to a Roman cross to die a criminal’s death. This is the child upon whose shoulders the government will rest. Those who hope in Him will hope forever, because “there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace”. He will sit upon David’s throne, rule over the earth for a thousand years and on into eternity. He will establish justice and righteousness in this world. This is fully assured by the last statement (v.6,7). The zeal of men can fail, but when the Lord’s heart is set on any task, there can be no failure. What He has purposed, that He will do.

The qualities of the Messiah

His name describes His person and His office, His nature and His qualities. I prefer Wonderful, as separate from Counselor. Although many unite the two, we will not debate the point, I will only remind you that when the father of Samson, Manoa, asked the mighty Angel of the Lord His name, he replied, “It is wonderful” and there in the presence of Manoa and his wife, He did wonders. For 3 ½ years He did wonders in Zebulon and Naphtali and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. How can He do any less than wonders, if that is His name?

His name is Counselor. He told His disciples that He would send them another parakletos to stand at their right hand before the accuser at the awful court of eternal justice. Parakletos… called to the side… was the classical Greek Word for defense counsel. The word that Jesus used for another meant another of the same kind. He would perform in the same office as Jesus, who is our Counselor.    

His name is the mighty God… He is prophesied as being divine. He is God in the flesh. Isaiah promised that God, as He experienced His glory in chapter six, was coming to earth to reign on the throne of David. This is not something that came into light in the New Testament. It is already proven definitely in the Old Testament that the Word of God is God, co-equal with the Father, God of gods, the eternal, uncreated Son of God.

He is the everlasting Father, or the Father of eternity. Though born as a child on this earth, yet He comes as the Master of Eternity. He is the Creator of all things, therefore He is the Father of all things. He is the source of holiness, therefore He is the Father of holiness. In Him was life, therefore He is the Father of life. He is the Son in relation to His Father, yet He is the Father in relation to everything and everyone else.    

He is the Prince of Peace. When He reigns, there can be no storm and no tempest; the lion lays down by the lamb and the child, without fear, plays by the hole of the adder. Nothing will disturb, where the absolute Prince reigns. He brings peace into the believer’s life. “My peace I give to you,” He said. When He reigns in the individual life, that life will be typified by peace.

The condition of Israel requires judgment

Verses 6 and 7 are mighty Scriptures and I wanted to do the little that I am able to do, to try to expound on them. Now, we must hurry to the rest of the chapter. From verse 8 onward to the end of chapter 9, Isaiah turns back from his messianic prophecy to speak again of the coming judgment against Israel, particularly against the north. Remember, Ephraim is the largest and dominating tribe of the northern kingdom and Samaria is the capital city.

The principle cause for judgment against them is pride and arrogance (v.9). God has absolutely no tolerance for these attitudes. Of all sins, these are on the top of the list of abominations before God. No one will ever get into the Kingdom of God unless he humbles himself. I believe, arrogance is a word that deserves more usage in our day. It is the strongest form of pride. For that reason, it is given its separate name and definition, because it is especially horrid. Arrogance is an unreasonable pride; it is particularly illogical. It is bold to the point of stupidity; as the old saying goes, ‘it rushes in where angels fear to tread’. Like the rich man in hell, it argues from the place of eternal condemnation against the state of eternal bliss. It has an undying love for its own opinion against all the truth in the universe… and on and on. It will not and cannot repent. It represents fallen man in his worst condition.  

We hear it speak in verse 10 and from these words we see its stubborn refusal to bow before the facts that lie before its eyes: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” The Lord of hosts has no alternative, but to bring in His armies from all sides and “spur their enemies on” (v.11,12). Even that is not enough to break the arrogance and so the anger of the Lord continues and His arm brings in more judgment.

They will “not turn back”; that is synonymous with a lack of repentance (v.13). Great and small alike resist His work. The head and the tail, the elder and the false prophets, who abound, will be cut off, because they are leading the people astray, away from the ways of God (v.14-16). What is the general result of following man’s way? … confusion. The apostle tells us that God is not the God of confusion (1 Co.14:33). When man takes over God’s business, then man is the god of confusion. Therefore the second work of judgment is not sufficient, from the young to the old, they cause Him displeasure and things, then, cannot be left in this state; God will bring in more (v.17).

God is going to judge with fire and Isaiah makes an effort to show the extreme danger and consequences of their sin, by describing, in allegoric form, this third judgment. It crosses the plain and enters into the forest. If anyone has ever seen a forest fire, he knows the awfulness of its approach and it leaves nothing in its path. “The people are like fuel for the fire” (v.18-19). Yet, in the path of destruction, sin survives and selfishness brings on self-destruction. Through diabolical control, the fallen human race finally comes to this: “Each of them eats the flesh of his own arm” (v.20).

Manasseh can only see the vision of Manasseh and Ephraim can only see his purpose and program. Neither of them recognize Judah and so, as their vision narrows, they oppose everything, except their own tribe. In so doing, they lose sight of the purpose of God and quench every spark that the Holy Spirit lights, because simply, they did not light it. The whole of Israel is divided and destroyed (v.21). In this church age, we would say that there is no recognition of the oneness of the true and universal body of Christ. There is no appreciation for the unique and irreplaceable gift of each member. They boast in self-sufficiency. More judgment is in store, although Isaiah has already made the observation in the first chapter: “Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint” (1:5). All of this is evidence placed in the courtroom to justify the Lord’s sentence against sin, “so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge” (Ps.51:4).


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