“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)
Isaiah 9:6 is quite a familiar verse of scripture, especially during the Christmas season. Its proclamation is expected at some point, and its words are recited in Handel’s Messiah. One of the most beautiful experiences of Christmastime is to hear these words echoing throughout churches, shopping malls, busy streets, and in televised concerts. How does this 2,500 year-old passage of scripture relate to us today?
While this prophecy obviously points to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider its significance for Isaiah’s time in order that we might better clearly feel its impact. Israel had undergone God’s judgment for unfaithfulness and had been met with enemies from Assyria. Lives were lost, families were torn apart, gloom was everywhere. The children of Israel were walking through the darkness, and the prophet Isaiah was raised by God to pronounce judgment and call them to repentance. However, Isaiah was also given a message of hope to proclaim.
Though Israel walked in the gloomy darkness, God would send a light at the right time. For those who “walked in darkness have seen a great light” and God will “increase [their] joy” (Isaiah 9:2-3). The children of Israel did not earn this light or achieve this joy on their own or by their own righteousness. Verse 7 tells us that the Lord “will do this.” He will do this because of who he is, not because of who they are. He will shine his light on them not because of their attributes because of God’s attributes of love, justice, and righteousness. For the glory of God’s name and based on his promises, he will shine a light in the midst of the darkness.
One recent song says, “Darkness is just a canvass for [God’s] grace and brightness.” That brightness comes in the form of a child. A humble, tiny infant will come to this world and he will be the Messiah, the Savior, the King. He will bring true, lasting peace. He will save his people from their sins.
The prophecy is Isaiah 9 looks not only to the first coming of the Messiah but his second advent as well. He will come as a child and redeem his people but he will also come again, establishing his kingdom which will last forever and ever.
Waiting isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the toughest things we have to face. Waiting is especially hard when we’re in the darkness. Israel waited for a long time for the coming of her redeemer. But God’s promises did not fail. At the right time, the light dawned. What can the Christian learn from this? God’s promises never fail, come at the right time, and are always based on his being and fulfilled in his Son!