by, Isam Itson III
Isaiah 9:1-7 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
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.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The prophets had declared that God would allow the enemies of Israel to defeat them and take them into captivity because of their unrighteousness and injustice in relationship to God and the poor among them. First the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians, had served as agents of God’s justice and judgment for the sins the rulers of Israel had committed against God and their fellow Israelites.
As the Hebrew Bible closes, God’s people, the children of Israel, are living throughout the empire controlled by the Persians. The Persians had conquered the Babylonians, who themselves had conquered the Assyrians before them. By God’s grace the Persians allowed as many Jews as desired to resettle within Israel and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. These Jewish settlers reestablished the worship of Yahweh Elohim, the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. But the Israelites were still the subjects of foreign rulers. In their hearts they longed for the fulfillment of the words of their prophets.
The prophets had declared that after a time God would restore a remnant of his people to the land of Israel and then raise up a ruler that will lead the people with righteousness and justice. This king, God himself born into the world, will put an end to wickedness, injustice, and violence throughout Israel and the whole earth. And most significantly, this king will usher in a new age of peace and prosperity under the overarching reign of God, that will never end.
Isaiah 11:1-9 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This is the type of leader we long for. This is the type of politician we want serving as our prime ministers and presidents. This is the judge we want in our courtrooms holding the captains of industry accountable for their conduct. This is the type of ruler who will preside over a peaceful and prosperous society where no one needs to fear for their life or livelihood.
The unusual thing about this anointed ruler, God himself in the flesh, is that he will begin his conquest as a servant.
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
This ruler will be God himself. He will deliver his people from captivity like Moses delivered the people from slavery in Egypt. He will judge the people with righteousness and justice as a faithful priest and prophet. This anointed ruler will destroy wickedness and injustice throughout the entire world and be enthroned as a victorious and glorious king.
But he will begin his conquest as the lamb of God who pays for the sins of the world with the sacrifice of his own life. Once again, God himself will pay the price to restore and recover the life of his children in fulfillment of his purpose for all Creation.
This is the hope of the people of Israel at the end of the Hebrew Bible, and for over four hundred years until the birth of Jesus Christ recorded in the Gospels of the New Testament.
How do you cultivate your trust in God while you are waiting for the fulfillment of what you believe are God’s promises in your life?