Isaiah 9-12
(For Unto Us a Child Is Born)
July 17th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!

- Isaiah 9:2 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Today's chapters conclude the first section of Isaiah with prophecies regarding the future of both of the Israelite kingdoms (Northern and Southern) and the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah begins in chapter 9 by noting that the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali had been defeated and were now occupied by the Assyrians. But he follows this statement by prophesizing regarding the end of darkness that will arrive sometime in the future. In verse 6, Isaiah issued a well-known proclamation that is quoted in three of the Gospels:

    For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    - Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

In this chapter, Isaiah describes the LORD’s anger at Israel, also known as the Northern Kingdom pointing out the arrogance of the people who boasted that they will rebuild after a disaster, so the LORD incited the neighboring countries against them: Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west. He also explains how those who were called to serve as leaders had failed, as they had been directing the people away from God instead of towards him. As a result they were doomed and would be subjected to the wrath of the LORD: "Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land was burned, and the people became like fuel for the fire; no one spared another (Isa 9:19 - NRSV)."

In chapter 10, God describes his forthcoming judgment of Assyria. Although he will use the Assyrians to punish Judah and take its people away from their homes, he will eventually punish the arrogant braggart known as the king of Assyria, who "goes around saying, 'I've done all this by myself. I know more than anyone. I've wiped out the boundaries of whole countries. I've walked in and taken anything I wanted (Isa 10:13 - MSG).” The LORD explains that Assyria was a tool in his hand, just like the hammer in the hand of a carpenter. The idea that the tool can act on its own is a ludicrous one, explains the LORD. He will soon bring down Assyria with his own ax, reducing its kingdom to mere kindling.

After the downfall of Assyria the remnant of Judah will turn to the LORD. Then, as described in chapter 11, an offshoot of Jesse (father of David) will bear the LORD’s fruit. This offshoot will inherit the Spirit of the LORD and bring supernatural peace that will overcome ancient hostilities and re-unite the dispersed people:

    The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    A spirit of counsel and of strength,
    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

    - Isaiah 11:2 (NAB)

    Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
    The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
    with a little child to guide them.

    - Isaiah 11:6 (NAB)

    He shall raise a signal to the nations
    and gather the outcasts of Israel;
    The dispersed of Judah he shall assemble
    from the four corners of the earth.

    - Isaiah 11:12 (NAB)

Chapter 12 is a brief song of praise that Isaiah envisioned the people singing when they return to Judah after being held captive in Assyria. At this point the remnant of survivors will turn to God with all of their heart and thank him for their salvation.

Reflection and Application

In this set of chapters, Isaiah describes how God used Assyria to achieve his goals then prepared to deliver a similar punishment on them. We must be careful to not assume that every victory means that God is with us. He may allow us to win in order to achieve other objectives, but will punish us if we become too full of ourselves.

When we are called to lead we have an important responsibility to maintain our moral ground and properly guide the people in a way that is consistent with God’s will. Failure to do so can be costly for us and our follower, as it was for the leaders of Israel and Judah, who neglected to fulfill their responsibility.

The verses from chapter 9 are familiar to many of us because they are often used in the first week of Advent, when we focus on the prophets. In a sermon on chapter 9 the Rev. Gregory Doll noted that amidst the darkness of Isaiah’s generations the prophet saw a future light and reminds the people of God’s previous victories over Egypt and Midian. Doll described the extent of misery and gloom that had spread across Israel and Judah during Isaiah's lifetime. The people of the northern kingdom had been taken into exile and the prospects for the southern kingdom Judah were not overly optimistic. It appeared that God had deserted them. The words of Isaiah were intended to give them hope (1).

Rev Doll challenges us to consider "What happens to our faith when our “promised land” is taken away?" Do we curse God or hang on to Jesus? He says that he prays that instead of running after bargains during the Christmas season that we take time to “ponder these words of Isaiah, and share the hope with someone.”

This sermon was delivered during the opening of an Advent Season, but it’s never too early for us to begin preparing our hearts and minds for the arrival of the Prince of Peace.

Click on the play button below to hear the complete sermon from Rev Doll:

"Waiting for Superman"

Sermon by Rev. Greg Doll on Isaiah 9:1-7; 28 Nov 2010,

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions

    1. What is one of the longest periods of time that you spent waiting for someone?
    2. What type of victories to we tend to attribute to our own strengths?
    3. How would you answer the question posed by Rev. Doll, “What happens to our faith when our “promised land” is taken away. ‘Do we curse God or hang on to Jesus?’ “

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you control the world the way a craftsman employs his tools. Your works are evident in the forests, fields, and oceans, and in the storms at night. Forgive us for thinking we are in charge.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Religious Leaders on Sabbatical


    (1) Doll, the Reverend Gregory, "Waiting for Superman (a sermon on Isaiah 9:1-7)," November 28, 2010, Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Isaiah 13-14 (The Perennial Winner)

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