Friday, August 10, 2012

Hope in Spite of Darkness

We are in the midst of studying “Justice Promise”. Last week we reviewed Psalm 146, a psalm of praise which lists many attributes of God and reason for hope despite our problems. In today’s lesson we shall study the prophet Isaiah as is recorded in Isa 9:2-7.

Isaiah was considered a major prophet who started his ministry “In the year that King Uzziah died…” Isa 6:1 He lived through the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham (good kings), Ahaz (a wicked king), and Hezekiah (a good king). It is believed that he died during wicked Manasseh’s reign. He is known as a major prophet simply because his book is longer than, for example, the minor prophet’s Obadiah. The prophetic period began with Samuel. However the writing prophets appeared when the kingdom divided. The purpose of all the prophets was to make the people aware of their sin and bring them back to God Almighty.

‘Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.’ Isa 9:1-2 When the United Kingdom became the Divided Kingdom, Judah and Benjamin were known as the southern tribes (Judah) and the remaining ten (10) tribes became known as the northern tribes (Israel). Judah normally followed God. Israel adopted idolatry as soon as the kingdom was divided. The most northern regions of Israel were Zebulon and Naphtali. God allowed the Assyrian enemy to invade their territory around the Sea of Galilee from the north and to afflict them. They felt hopeless, but Isaiah was a prophet of God promising hope for the afflicted. They had been in spiritual darkness for a long time because they no longer worshipped the one and only God of their father Abraham. They had closed their spiritual eyes and begun to worship idols. God now had their attention because they felt hopeless. Isaiah explained there would be a time when they would be favored to see the light, the spiritual light. He would dwell and shine among them. This would be a special blessing. Since they were the first to suffer from the Assyrian attacks, they would be the first to see the light of the Messiah and be glorified. ‘Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.’ Matt 3:13

‘Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.’ Isa 9:3 God increased the nation. It was a united nation of joy in peace, experiencing great harvests and rejoicing as if they had spoil to divide upon winning in battle.

‘For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.’ Isa 9:4-5 Isaiah is prophesying the Lord would defeat the Assyrian enemies. This is also a prophesy of the Messiah’s victories over the oppressors. Each are in comparison to Gideon’s case when he began with an army of 120,000 (Judges 8:10) and ended with a mere 300 to achieve a victory to the glory of God. After the battle there shall be peace. All warriors will be able to throw his battle clothes and boots in the fire to burn for heat and as fuel when cooking food.

‘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.’ Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born…the child born was Jesus. He was born a Jew, but He was rejected. So he turned to the Gentiles. To “us”, therefore, encompasses both Jew and Gentile. This Son was given by God. John 3:16; 1 John 4:14 The prophesy as to “the government shall be upon his shoulder” speaks to when He comes again to reign as King of kings. When we praise Him we call Him “Wonderful”. He has done many great miracles/wonders in our lives. He is a wonder in Himself. We call Him “Cousellor”. He has more wisdom than Solomon. We know to Whom to turn when we need an answer o our problems. Turn it over to Jesus. We praise Him as “The mighty God”. He is omnipotent, has all power. We call Him “The everlasting Father”. Through Him we have the opportunity to receive eternal life. He is our divine Father who cares for all people. His name is everlasting. We shall know Him to be the “Prince of Peace”. He will bring peace to this world full of wars and troubles. Violence will be no more. We will be able to walk the neighborhoods without fear. We will be able to leave our doors unlocked, no longer worry whether someone is hacking our computers, go to stores and movie theatres without worrying whether someone will launch an attack against the crowd, etc.

‘Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.’ Isa 9:7 This Kingdom will be so much greater than any other kingdom. His peace shall be greater than any other peace.

Isaiah gave the nation of Israel hope in their moment of darkness. A Savior was coming! They needed to accept Him, believe in Him as their Savior, and they would be saved. Today, after the Savior’s arrival, we must also accept Him as our Savior in order to be saved. In each case, once He is accepted, the hope we held in spite of our circumstances of darkness, will be changed as we see the light of Jesus that brightens any darkness. Praise God!

Written by Deborah C Davis

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