By PAUL J. SCHARF, M.Div.

Editor in Chief

(Read Part 4)

PJSFaithFollowing the pronouncement of the first of the great Christmas prophecies in Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah delivers a message of judgment through the remainder of Isaiah 7.

Both Israel and Syria would be defeated by Assyria (v. 16), and Judah would also suffer immeasurable harm from that superpower as well—“days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah” (v. 17b). Verses 18-25 give a picturesque description of the desolation that would follow in their wake. Included within it would be the assassination of Pekah, who would lose the throne by the same method that he had gained it (cf. 2 Kings 15:25-30). “The land” of Judah would be reduced to “briers and thorns” (Isa. 7:24)—until they too would destroyed (cf. Isa. 9:18).

In Isaiah 8:5-10, Isaiah’s graphic denunciation of Judah continues by means of a different metaphor—speaking of, “The waters of the (Euprahtes) River, strong and mighty” (Isa. 8:7), which would “overflow” the land (Isa. 8:8).

Yet in spite of Isaiah’s eloquent rebuke, the people of Judah would continue to “walk in” their ungodly “way” (v. 11).

Beginning in verse 11, we see how God “instructed” Isaiah during these days of nearly complete apostasy in Judah and Israel. He was not to become caught up in their plans or be afraid of the “people” (v. 12) or the things that worried them. His only object of “fear” was to be “the LORD of hosts” (v. 13).

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The prophet learned that if God is not one’s “sanctuary,” the Lord will become “a stone” that will crush him (v. 14). Thus, many “shall fall and be broken” (v. 15).[2]

What a tumultuous time it was when Isaiah ministered! To the unredeemed mind, the only explanation was, “A conspiracy” (v. 12). The events drove the unbelieving to advise, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter” (v. 19). Such a reliance on witchcraft and the occult was in total contrast to the practice of Isaiah, who would spend his very life, if he had to, just to teach his own “children” (v. 18; cf. Heb. 2:13), and then use his family’s testimony (including their names; cf. Isa. 7:3; 8:3) “for signs and wonders in Israel.”

“The law and the testimony” (v. 20; cf. v. 16) are the only source of “light” in such dark and discouraging times.  Therefore, it was to be treated with utmost care—both in terms of its physical preservation and also in terms of a believer’s response to it.

The nations of this world are in such a state (vv. 21-22) that nothing lies ahead for them except the promise of “the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13; cf. Isa. 5:30; 60:1-2).

The areas mentioned in Isaiah 9:1 were the first to be attacked by Assyria (cf. 2 Kings 15:29; cf. Matt. 4:15-16).

But a great light would one day shine upon the sin-darkened nation (v. 2; cf. Luke 1:79). In fact, the future glory of the kingdom of the coming Immanuel was so certain, it was already as good as accomplished. God will one day destroy His enemies by their own confusion, putting down His people’s oppressors, just as He did when Gideon defeated Midian with 300 men (cf. Judg. 6-8). There would be no remembrance of those that opposed Him (v. 5).

In these opening verses of Isaiah 9, the prophet sees various aspects of the two comings of Christ merging together, as when a person sees mountain peaks—looking as if they were clustered together—without being able to sense the distance between them. This illustrates for us, not the faulty notion of double fulfillment (as some claim exists for the prophecy of Isa. 7:14), but rather what Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum calls “the law of double reference” when he states:

This rule should not be confused with another rule often called Double Fulfillment. This author does not accept the validity of the principle of double fulfillment. This law states that one passage may have a near and a far view; hence, in a way, it may be fulfilled twice. . . . This author, however, does not believe that there is such a thing as double fulfillment. A single passage can refer to one thing only, and if it is prophecy, it can have only one fulfillment unless the text itself states that it can have many fulfillments. The law of double reference differs from the law of double fulfillment in that the former states that while two events are blended into one picture, one part of the passage refers to one event and the other part of the passage to the second event. This is the case in Zechariah 9:9-10.[3]

That leads us immediately into the context of the next of the great Christmas prophecies.

Immanuel, the Messiah, would be both “a Child… born” (humanity) and “a Son… given” (Deity) (v. 6).

This one who would rule “Upon the throne of David” (v. 7) would have qualities that are conveyed through four descriptive names:

  • “Wonderful, Counselor”

This reminds us of the “wisdom” that He would possess (Isa. 11:2; cf. 1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Col. 2:3). If you are need in wisdom today, turn to this “Wonderful Counselor.”

  • “Mighty God”

This descriptive title relates to His ability to overwhelm all of His enemies. One source states: “’Mighty God’ (‘el gibbor, Heb.) is literally ‘God Hero,’ i.e., ‘an heroic God,’ an emphasis upon the deity of the Messiah. “[4]

  • “Everlasting Father”

This is an interesting name which, at first glace, may seem to be confusing.

The Moody Bible Commentary states succinctly:

He is the “Father of eternity,” indicating that He is the author or creator of time. The child born here is not to be confused with the Father in the triune Godhead. Rather, the Son of God is the creator of time, the author of eternity.[5]

  • “Prince of Peace”

In this qualitative description we find the combination of peace with strength (cf. Isa. 11:1-9). What an amazing ruler He will be!

Again, The Moody Bible Commentary states:

The child will fulfill the promise of the Davidic covenant (cf. 2Sm 7:12-16), and establish the messianic kingdom through justice and righteousness. This kingdom will not be the outworking of a king with human wisdom and power. The child will rule with the wisdom, power, and peace of God.[6]

Isaiah here makes no clear distinction between the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom. This will come with later revelation (cf. Isa. 24:22b). From his still-early prophetic perspective, once the rule of God begins through His Messiah, the world will be changed forever. Additional information only serves to clarify and complete that foundational truth (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24-28).

Still, the question remains: How can “His government and peace” continue to “increase” with “no end” (Isa. 9:7)?

The only answer can be that His faithful subjects will continually grow in their knowledge of Him for all eternity.

Indeed, only “the zeal of the Lord of hosts” can “perform this” (Isa. 9:7; cf. Zech. 1:14; 8:2)!

(Read Part 6)

Copyright © 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Verses 12 and 13 are quoted in 1 Peter 3:14-15.

[2] Verse 14 (cf. Isa. 28:16; Luke 2:34; 20:18) is quoted in Rom. 9:32-33; and 1 Pet. 2:8. Verse 15 is referenced in Matt. 21:44; and Luke 2:34; 20:18.

[3] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries Press, 1982), pp. 4-5; as quoted in Thomas Ice, “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel,” <http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-TheSeventyWeeksofDani.pdf>; Internet; accessed 19 December 2015.

[4] W.A. Criswell, editor, The Holy Bible: Baptist Study Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), p. 933. See also Isaiah 10:21.

[5] Michael Rydelnik and James Spencer, “Isaiah’” in The Moody Bible Commentary, edited by Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), p. 1,024.

[6] Ibid., p. 1,025.