Jesus, Prince of Peace
Isaiah 8:19-9:7, Key Verse: 9:6
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Thank God for blessing our study on the book of Esther. We learned that God is the sovereign ruler of history and uses people who are devoted to him and ready to obey, risking their own lives for God and for his people. Those who make an evil plan against the people of God will be destroyed by their own plan in God’s miraculous way. God gives final victory to those who live by faith in God’s sovereignty. In this ungodly world, may God help us to live by faith in God’s righteousness and justice.
Today’s passage is written at the time of king Ahaz, son of Jotham, not the king of Israel but of Judah. King Ahaz was one of the evil kings in Judah. In the darkest time, the people of Israel will be attacked by the Assyrian king as God’s instrument. It is the time of repentance and turning to God; yet they refused to come to God. Nevertheless, Isaiah prophesied that God will send a child who will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and his kingdom will never end. The prophecy is fulfilled through Jesus, which is the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus, called Christmas. As we meditate on this passage, we find that the time of King Ahaz seems similar to today’s time as history repeats. May God help us to see our time from God’s perspective. Amen!
The Earth, Utter Darkness (8:19-22).
Look at verses 19, “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” Though his father, King Jotham, lived right before God, King Ahaz did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He worshiped idols and depended on other countries in order to defeat his brother country, Israel. In this dark time, people tried to find something to depend on and they consulted mediums and spiritists who lied, claiming to call the dead to make money. Even though they were the people of God, they did not seek God but idols. This shows the spiritual condition of the Jews. They did not believe in God but rejected God as their helper.
Why? Look at verse 20. “Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” It is because they did not listen to God’s word. Through Moses, God gave the people of Israel his clear instruction for how to worship God and treat others. But they did not follow his instructions. According to Deuteronomy 28, God gave them clear warnings concerning blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience of his instructions. All the disasters God brought on the Egyptians and other nations will come on them if they do not obey Him. According to chapter 7-8, God gave King Ahaz warnings of invasions from Egypt and from Assyria even though he allied with Assyria. God even gave Isaiah a son as a warning and reason why, saying, “Because this people has rejected… therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—the king of Assyria with all his pomp.” It was the time for them to repent and come back to God for the forgiveness of their sins. Yet, they did not turn from their evil ways. They loved the darkness instead of light. There were consequences of their unrepentance.
Look at verses 21-22. “Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.” First, they will be distressed. How distressed they would be when they were conquered by many powerful countries. Secondly, they will be hungry because there will be no food. When they have no food, they will roam around and find none. Then, they will curse their king for their poor management. Moreover, they will not only blame rulers for their miserable life but eventually curse God, just as Adam blamed God for bringing Eve to him. Finally, they will fall into utter darkness, where there is no light, no hope, and fear of having another gloomy day. They are like people who grope around in darkness, not knowing where they are and what to do without any light. Have you been in such darkness?
The author added the reason why they fall into utter darkness. It is because they will look toward the earth, which means that they try to find hope and light from the people of the world instead of God and his word. Romans 1:21 describe them in the same way, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish heart is darkened.”
Though some people blame China for the pandemic, we know that God brought this for the whole world to repent and come back to Him. Based on the Bible, the warning is loud and clear. But the people are looking toward the earth. These days, more people even Christians try to find their hope and light on earth, so they are so confidently affirming their choice for the presidential election. Their attitude is that if you did not vote my choice, you are evil even though you are a Christian. Some people even cried with tears because their candidate was not elected instead of shedding tears for the love of God in Christ and repenting of sins. They are easily depressed because things on earth will disappoint them day after day. We already sense that the economic depression is coming soon after the government gives free money without any labor. At that time, they will even curse their chosen president. They will blame others and eventually curse God for their miserable life. They will fall into utter darkness because there is no hope, no light in their miserable life. They will be economically living in distress, mentally depressed, and spiritually disgraced because they do not have the living word of God.
In stead of looking toward the earth, we should look toward God, who is perfector and protector of our faith.
The Hope of God’s Gracious Promise (9:1-7)
Look at 9:1, “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan. 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” The word, nevertheless, is a beautiful prediction of a turning point. The people of Judah, who were supposed to be godly people, worshiped other gods and thus became distressed because of God’s punishment; nevertheless, God promised no more gloom. They were defeated and destroyed because of their sins; nevertheless, God will honor them, even Galilee, the most rural area of the nation. They loved the darkness; nevertheless, God will shine the great light. It is God’s one-sided grace. They don’t deserve God’s blessing; nevertheless, God will restore them and increase their joy.
What are more blessings? Look at verses 3-5. “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.” Based on these verses, there are two main blessings for them to rejoice in. 1) God will enlarge the nation beyond Jordan. In fact, the kingdom of Israel was divided after Solomon. The nation Israel became so small after Rehoboam took the northern part of Israel with 10 tribes and other countries took their cities one after another. Nevertheless, God will defeat the nations who took their land and made them slaves. He gave an example of Judge Gideon, who defeated the Midianites not depending on the number of soldiers but by faith in God’s instruction. God will bring joy of harvest as if they won a war, getting the spoils of war. They will be free from their slavery. This means that they will be free from their sin and shame.
2) No more war but peace. Look at verse 5. “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.” Winning a war is one thing, but bringing peace is a higher level. This is what Rome tried to do so after conquering nations with the motto, “Pax Romana,” but the means of peace was strong military power. But the peace of God is quite different. When God brings peace, people don’t need a military power to maintain it. When God wins, he wins not their land but their hearts and souls. Therefore, they burn the warriors’ boots and bloody garments. What a peace God brings!
It is because the kingdom God would establish is different from the kingdom of the world. Look at verse 6. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah prophesied that a child will be born as the ruler of the new kingdom. He will be called with four names; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Let’s think about each name. First, Wonderful Counselor. A ruler usually has many counselors; such as a secretary of economy, of defense, of transportation, of veterans, of foreign affairs and so on. But he will be called Wonderful Counselor. A good counselor understands a client by listening patiently and telling them what to do wisely. When we meet such a counselor, we would take their advice 100%. In this generation, we need a good counselor, who can help and guide us to do right in our situation. But people look for counsel from Google or YouTube. Recently, there is a documentary made, titled the Social Dilemma, where people testify that these search engines will indoctrinate people for the payer. If the payers are politicians, they will lure you to watch or read what the politician paid for. These politicians pay for expensive counselors, who would advise them what to wear, what to say and even how to defend themselves when they make a mistake and so on. One of them is SNS giants like google/YouTube. Yet, many people believe what they read in google and/or watched in YouTube as an absolute truth, nothing but the truth. But the child will be called Wonderful Counselor, who will listen to our hearts and guide us in to the path of righteousness and peace. Isaiah 48:17b says, “I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Moreover, this Wonderful Counselor is free, and we can ask whenever we need. What a wonderful counselor we have! Amen!
Secondly, Mighty God. Might means possessing great and impressive power or strength. Many kings had impressive power; like Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered with massive killing. This baby will possess great and impressive power, yet conquer people’s heart and soul because his power will be displayed with righteousness and love. He will fight against our enemies until he gives his own life on our behalf for final victory. Psalm 24:8 says, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord is mighty in battle.” With this child, we can go to war with the assurance of victory! Amen!
Thirdly, Everlasting Father. A father is like a big tree which stands firm and provides all necessary things for a family, so that we can depend on him at all times. I miss my father who loved, provided for, and disciplined me. When he came home, I would love to show my affection to him. At that time, the popular TV show was a wrestling show and the most favorite wrestler was Kim Il, whose expertise was head-butting. In order to please my dad, I mimicked the wrestler, butting my head to a wall and even to his head. Then, he and my family were laughing so much, but he is not here anymore. But this child will be our everlasting father, whom we can always depend on at all times. He will be a father to a fatherless and he will care for us forever. Amen!
Fourth, Prince of Peace. All rulers display their power and authority by oppressing their subjects. They punish mercilessly, so that their subjects obey them due to fear; but this child will rule his subjects with peace. I was always puzzled to know why so many girls and women loved the bedtime story “Sleeping Beauty”. A prince comes and saves a girl who was poisoned, sleeping forever. But when I studied the Samaritan woman who had been waiting for the Messiah to come and save her from the miserable life in John 4, I could understand the reason. Jesus’ gentle touch of her heart opened her spiritual eyes to see Jesus as the Promised Messiah. In fact, all human beings are waiting for the Prince Charming, who will come to rescue them and bring them into the new kingdom.
Finally, Isaiah reveals who the child is and what kind of kingdom he will establish. Look at verse 7. “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” The child will be the king who will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom. He will rule like King David who ruled the kingdom with justice and righteousness. But no king could rule any kingdom forever, which is the prophecy of the coming Messiah. This prophecy was fulfilled as God sent his son Jesus Christ. He did not come as a pompous ruler but as a baby in a manger. When he came, the angels sang, “glory to God and peace on earth.” He came to save people from their sins and conquer the hearts of the people with his mighty love. He rules with righteousness and justice. His kingdom never decreases but is ever increasing. No kingdom on earth will last forever except the kingdom of Jesus in heaven. God has accomplished this promise all by himself. Thus, all glory and honor and praise go to our God and savior. Moreover, his world salvation plan will be accomplished by the zeal of the Lord Almighty. We just need to trust in him and live by faith as His kingdom is great and increasing forever. Amen!
I had been in utter darkness when I lived my sinful life without God. When I was handcuffed and put in a dark discipline room because I got in trouble with my sergeant in the army, I felt that my life was in utter darkness, hopeless and directionless. I cried with tears, but God gave me a song in that cold and dark room. The song goes, “Where are you going? Why are you wondering, wondering in the darkness. Come back, come back to me for Christ died on the cross for you and your sins.” I could not understand the second part but only the first part because I felt utter darkness. But God turned the utter darkness, shining his great light through Bible study and Jesus forgave all my sins on the cross and became my wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father and prince of peace in the same year, 1996 Christmas. I could serve God dancing and singing with great joy. Thank you Jesus!
Today, we learned that the world is dark just as in the time of Isaiah. Rulers and people are not worshiping God but idols. They are not listening to the voice of God but that of the world. They look toward the earth but fall into utter darkness, hopeless and directionless; not knowing who they are, or what to do or where to go. In this dark world with pandemic and we know that more gloom will follow with economic depression, where should we look toward? We should look up at God, who sent the child, who came to this world as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Let’s not be distressed by the world but come to Jesus a baby in a manger, who will guide us into righteousness, save us with his mighty hand and rule us with peace and love. Amen!