A Glorious Promise - Part III
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 9, beginning with verse 1:

Isaiah 9

1Nevertheless 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.
2The 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.
3Thou 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.
4For 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.
5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6For 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.
7Of 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.

We have been discussing the book of Isaiah, and we are in the second section of the book which was introduced with verse 1 of chapter 7. Glance back there and notice the words:

Isaiah 7

1And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

We pointed out to you that the book of Isaiah falls into natural divisions indicated by the date references, as this one that we have just read. The second section of the book of Isaiah, we repeat, begins with verse 1 of chapter 7 and continues through chapter 12.

We reminded you that the prophecies which are delivered in this particular section of the book of Isaiah were all delivered in the days of Ahaz, when the nation of Judah was assailed on every side—Egypt on one side, Syria on another, and Assyria on yet another. Despair and gloom had gripped the hearts of the nation of Judah at this particular time; therefore, Isaiah was commissioned to bring the prophecies which are included in this section of the book of Isaiah primarily as a encouragement to Ahaz and his people to lay hold on the promises of God.

Isaiah said in so many words, “Though Assyria, Syria, and Egypt are against us, remember God is with us.” That phrase, God with us , translated from the Hebrew word Immanuel , gives the title to the second section of the book of Isaiah, because it is called the Book of Immanuel , in view of the fact that in practically every chapter the word Immanuel or its translation is found.

When we began our study of this section of the book, we looked at the first sermon that was presented in chapter 7. Then in our last lesson we began to look at the second sermon that was presented in this section of the book of Isaiah. We pointed out to you that this second sermon began with verse 1 of chapter 8 and continued through verse 7 of chapter 9. We reminded you that this second sermon was delivered approximately a year after the first sermon was delivered.

Isaiah's Message

The second sermon, you will remember, was presented both in action and in word. In verse 1 of chapter 8, Isaiah was instructed to take an ordinary plate and engrave upon it a rather strange looking word to us. That word was Mahershalalhashbaz . He was instructed to engrave this word on this plate in the presence of two of the leading citizens of Judah, Uriah and Zechariah. It was displayed in a public place and nothing more was said about it. Of course, the people of Judah who saw the word knew exactly what it meant, but we need a translation. The translation is simply, hasten to the spoil, and speed to the prey .

For over nine months that slogan was in the public marketplace, with no comments and no word of explanation. People talked about it; they wondered about it; they didn't know what it meant. Then one day there was born into the home of Isaiah and his wife the prophetess, a little boy, and Isaiah named him the name that was written on that plate. When people came around and said, “Why did you give this boy this name? What is the meaning of it?”, Isaiah said, “God has told me to tell you that before this little boy is able to say ‘Mommy' and ‘Daddy,' the Assyrians will take hold of the situation here, because you have refused the peaceful waters of the river of Shiloah and have been glad to lean upon the uncertain arm of Assyria. There is no deliverance in the arm of flesh and the sooner you realize it, the better off you are going to be.”

The People's Response

What response was there to this message? You will recall that in chapter 6, God told Isaiah that he would preach his heart out, and the people would pay absolutely no attention to what he said. So you know what response they gave. They refused to pay any attention to what he said about their associations, and so God told him to be sure that he did not fall into the same trap which they had fallen, that he live a separate life, and be a lone voice for God if no one else would stand with him.

He also told him in verse 16 to take the message that he had delivered, written on parchment, and bind it up as another message by act as well as by word, that if the message would not be received by the people to whom it was delivered, it would be reserved for a people who would be willing to have it.

God's Warning

Then, in the last paragraph of chapter 8, God warned Isaiah that since they were not willing to walk in the light that God gave them, they would seek direction from other sources. They would seek unto spiritualists, they would seek unto fortunetellers, they would seek the evil forces to find direction, and that direction would not be forthcoming. Instead a horrible dimness and darkness would lay hold of their hearts and their land, and that dimness and darkness is described in verse 21 of chapter 8 where we read:

Isaiah 8

21And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead [sore pressed] and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.

That's normal. When they are hard pressed and when they are hungry, they will shake their fist in the face of God and they will curse the society that gave them birth. If you will look at verse 22:

Isaiah 8

22And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.

That is where we left them in our last lesson—in the midst of a deep darkness, through which they could not see and in which they could discern absolutely nothing.

The Law of Double Reference

Chapter 9, verses 1-7, are still a part of this same sermon, but you will remember when we began our study of the book of Isaiah, we said if we were going to understand it, it would be necessary for us to recognize a law related to the study of the prophetic Word. That law is the law of double reference . That is, in the eye of the prophet there is an immediate situation, and as he is meditating on that immediate situation, he is transported by the Holy Spirit into a time yet future that is reminiscent of the time that was immediately before his eyes.

It is beside the point whether he is transported bodily or whether he falls into a trance or whether God gives him a vision or whether God takes control of his hand and writes the words which he wants written. Revelation, you will remember, was written in this way. The Apostle John said he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and then he tells us what he saw.

There is a difference of opinion among theologians as to whether he was in a trance or whether he was bodily transported down through the ages to the time about which he wrote, but it is beside the point. The point is that the law of double reference permits a reference to an immediate event, and then to a future event, or to a future event in the terms of an immediate event.

Darkness to Be Lifted

As Isaiah thought about the darkness in which his people would be, he thought of another darkness that was intense, worse even than this, but a darkness that would not last forever, a darkness that would be broken by the shining of a great light. He was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the words:

Isaiah 9

1Nevertheless 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.

This verse we have just read is an unhappy translation, for it leaves you without the real significance of what the prophet Isaiah actually wrote. I do not know of a modern translation of the Old Testament that does not correct this verse of Scripture. I have selected one of those translations to share with you. It is the Berkeley translation of the entire Bible. This translation presents the verse this way:

Isaiah 9

1But she who was in anguish shall not continue in gloom as in an earlier time. As He brought the land of Zebulum and the land of Naphtali into contempt, so in a succeeding period, He has made glorious the way of the sea, the other side of Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

So you see what the verse actually is saying is that though God did afflict the land of Zebulum and the land of Naphtali at one time, though God did afflict the land of Galilee beyond the Jordan, the land of the Gentiles, and though great darkness was upon it, one day He will lift that darkness and He will afflict it no more.

If you are thinking, you are wondering why the land is referred to as the land of Zebulum , and the land of Naphtali , and you are wondering why the land is referred to as the way of the sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations . If you were to look at a map you would find the reason.

Zebulum and Naphtali are to the north of the country, and the land beyond Galilee is in control of the Gentiles. Since the blessing about which we are going to read is not solely limited to the nation of Israel, but means the blessing for the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike, the Spirit of God was pleased to address the nation of Judah in the names of the sections in which the activity would occur.

That is not at all unusual. He would refer, you will remember, to the southern part of the kingdom as Judah , and that was only one of the tribes. He would refer to the northern part of the kingdom as Israel , and as Ephriam , and as Samaria , so the practice is not at all unusual.

What have we learned so far in this first verse? We have learned that this terrible, dense darkness that gripped these people who had turned their back on God would some day be lifted. This terrible, dense darkness would give way to a light that would lighten not only those people, but the whole world.

Look at verse 2:

Isaiah 9

2The 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.

These people who had been living in the land of Zebulum and Naphtali, these individuals who had walked in darkness, would see a great light some day.

Defining the Prophetic Present

Are you thinking? Are you noticing I am referring to all of these things in the future, and yet your text refers to them either in the present or the past? Are you wondering why? The reason is what we refer to as prophetic present , a grammatical construction that permits the speaking of that which occurs in the future as already occurring in the past, because the prophet had seen it. Though it may not be going to occur for a long time to come yet, as far as the prophet is concerned, God had shown it to him, and it was settled.

That is not unusual. New Testament writers write in the same way. Don't you remember what the Apostle Paul had written in his letter to the Romans concerning our glorification? In Romans, chapter 8, verse 30:

Romans 8

30…them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

He was speaking about you, and I don't see a halo around anybody's head. You are still in these bodies that give you all the trouble and the problems that you have, but as far as God is concerned, you are glorified. It's in the future, but He speaks of it as already being completed, because nothing is going to interrupt the plan of God. That was true of this particular prophecy. Is it still future?

Turn in the New Testament to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4. May I remind you that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. In Matthew, chapter 4, beginning with verse 12, we read:

Matthew 4

12Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
13And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
14That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

What was Isaiah talking about? Something that was going to occur in his lifetime? Oh, no, something that did not occur until long after he was gone, something that occurred when the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth for the first time. So the light that was going to dispel the darkness in the land of Zebulum and Nepthalim was the light that was related to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the first time, for remember He said, “I am the Light of the world,” and when He came, He came to shed forth that light.

The Joy of Nations

Go back, please, to Isaiah, chapter 9, and look at verse 3:

Isaiah 9

3Thou 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.

Look at the word not . It should not be in that verse. The verse actually reads, “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased the joy…” Think now. When the Light of verse 16 arrived, it touched the land of Zebulum and the land of Naphtali and the way of the Gentiles beyond the sea, but here in the third verse, we are reading of a joy that does not only come to a little section of the world, but a joy that comes before all the nations of the world. All the nations of the world are increased with joy, and that joy is described in a twofold way: the joy that there is among men when there is a mighty harvest, and the joy when men are able to gather together and divide the spoils.

When is this joy going to come to the whole world? Someone says, “Well, it came when Jesus Christ came the first time.” What's happened to it if it did? What has happened to the joy to the world that came if it came when Christ came the first time?

Well, Beloved, it didn't come to the world the first time, and it hasn't come yet, but if we continue to look at this paragraph we shall see that it will come. Let me suggest something to you. In this passage of Scripture as in many such passages in the Word of God, the first and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ are intermingled in a such a fashion that no distinction is made between them. It is only by comparison of Scripture with Scripture that the distinction can be seen.

Let me suggest as a premise, and then we will continue to think about it, that between verses 2 and 3, there is a period of time yet undesignated as far as length is concerned, because it is a period of time in which we are at the moment. We are between verses 2 and 3. This period of time has lasted two thousand years, and I know not how much longer it will last. If I interpret the signs which are given in the Word of God correctly, then it can't last very much longer, but we are still in between these verses.

A Lasting Deliverance

What is going to bring this joy that is described in verse 3? Well, look at verse 4. Why is it that all the nations of the world are going to rejoice with the nation of Israel? Why is it that all the nations of the world are going to rejoice as men in a great harvest and as men who divide the spoil? We read in verse 4:

Isaiah 9

4For 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.

Who is it that has broken the yoke and the staff and the rod? It is none other than God Himself. And how is He going to do it? As He did it in the days of Midian.

You say, “Now, let me think—in the days of Midian. That's related to Gideon and what he did with his three hundred men, his lamps, and his pitcher, wasn't it?” Well, that's the mechanics of the story, but you read the story again, and you will see that the emphasis there, and a number of other places in the Word of God to where the deliverance of Midian is referred, the emphasis is on the miraculous. It was God who did it, God who took a few who in themselves could do nothing and performed a miracle of deliverance.

At the end of the age, all the world is going to converge on the little land of Palestine, and the few Jews who are no match for the rest of the world will lift their eyes to God and beg for deliverance, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return and break the yoke and the staff and the rod. Deliverance will be the result, a lasting deliverance.

Notice verse 5:

Isaiah 9

5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

A Scriptural Disarmament Program

This verse, like the first verse of chapter 9, is an unhappy translation. It doesn't give you the real thought of the verse at all. As with verse 1 of chapter 9, all of the modern translations make the correction. Moffatt translates this verse in this manner. Look at verse 5:

Isaiah 9

5The stamping of the warriors boots, the blood saturated war attire, shall all of them be burnt as fuel for the fire.

This simply means that all of the implements of war will be consumed in the fire. There will be [listen carefully to what I am saying] on the day to which we refer, the only scriptural disarmament program there is.

Disarmament, contrary to what liberals would have you believe, is unscriptural. There is only one day when a disarmament program will have the approval of God, and it is the day referred to in this passage of Scripture. It will be when the Lord Jesus Christ has come and put an end to war and says, “Cast all the boots in the fire and all the bloodstained clothes. We don't need them any more.”

Why don't we need them any more? Look at verse 6:

Isaiah 9

6For 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.
7Of 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…

This passage of Scripture is often used around Christmas time, and the emphasis is placed upon it as being a reference to the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one simple reference to the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in this passage of Scripture, and it need not necessarily be so construed—though you may. Notice: “For unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given.” The child is born is a reference to the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The son being given is a reference to God's great love that gave His Son, His Son who left Heaven's glory and took upon Himself the form of a man. Look at Philippians, chapter 2, verses 8-11:

Philippians 2

8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9[We must not stop here; read on.] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That doesn't mean that everybody is going to be saved, but it does mean that someday the entire world is going to acknowledge the rule and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God's Government On the Earth

That is what the Spirit of God had in mind when He said, “And the government shall be upon His shoulders.” What kind of government is it going to be? Look at verse 7:

Isaiah 9

7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…

There will be no changes of dynasty, nor will there be any changes of administration. There will be no end to this government. It is going to be a very literal government, related to a very literal earth, because you will notice in the next part of verse 7, that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to take His seat upon the throne of David and in David's kingdom.

Beloved, you have two alternatives before you. You can either believe that Jesus Christ is coming back and sit on the throne of David according to promise or you can waste your time trying to say that this doesn't mean what it says. It is amazing how many people waste their time.

Christ as Righteous Judge

When the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth and sits upon the throne of David, He is going to have a kingdom such as this world has never seen. We have had good men in authority and bad men in authority down through the years of history, but there have always been inequities and injustices and unrighteousness in high places, and there always will be. But, you will notice that when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to sit upon David's throne, He will establish that kingdom “with judgment and justice.” It would be better to translate it “with judgment and righteousness.” He will dispense justice, and it will be based upon righteousness.

Isaiah 9

7…He will establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever…

People will ascribe to Him titles such as are given in verse 6: Wonderful, Counseller, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Some individuals suggest that there should be three couplets of two titles each: Wonderful Counseller mighty God and Everlasting Father Prince of Peace. There is no way you can be sure, for there is no punctuation in Hebrew as there is none in Greek, but it doesn't make a great deal of difference.

The word for wonderful is a word that describes an individual who is a mystery to everyone who knows him. Nobody knows what makes him tick. The government which the Lord Jesus Christ will institute when He comes back will indeed be a mystery to ordinary human-beings for ordinary human-beings will be on the earth when He comes back, and they will not be used to anything like this.

The word counseller does not refer to the guidance and the direction which the Lord Jesus Christ is able to give to every believer who trusts Him, and He is able to give it, and I hope you look to Him for direction. This word is not talking about that. It is talking about His ability as an administrator in administering the rules of government. He is the God of might, and He is the Father of eternity, and He is the Prince of Peace.

Accomplished By the Power of God

How is this going to be accomplished? Someone says, “I know. It is going to be accomplished by our faithful preaching of the Gospel. We are going to preach the Gospel in greater intensity, and as it says in Matthew, chapter 24, ‘When the Gospel is preached to the whole world, then will this thing occur.'”

Someone else says, “It is going to happen because we are going to be able to so enlighten the world with all of the modern means of communication that people will realize that the Great Society is something that all the world ought to enjoy, and then the Lord Jesus Christ will return.” Is that the way it is going to happen? Look at Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 7, again. Notice the very last statement:

Isaiah 9

7…The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Notice that the word LORD has every letter capitalized which indicates that it is a reference to Jehovah, and will you recognize that the word zeal actually means “jealousy,” and what you are reading is, “The jealousy of Jehovah God will bring it about.”

Jealousy. Jealousy for what? Jealousy for His righteousness and for His plan and for His purpose. He will let nothing interfere with it.

Turn, please, to Psalm 110:

Psalm 110

1The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Think about what you have read. Look at the word LORD there. Every letter is capitalized. That means that it is a translation of the word that refers to God—Jehovah .

Look at the next word Lord . Just the first letter is capitalized. That means that it is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai , which in the New Testament refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. So we could read it:

Psalm 110

1God said unto his Son, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

There is the right hand of God in Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ is right now, and He is going to sit there until He himself decides to come back and be the ruler of the world. This verse says, “You sit here, Son, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Christ to Reign From David's Throne

“The LORD Jehovah God shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” Who is going to do it? God is going to do it. He addresses His Son:

Psalm 110

2…rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

“God why do you insist on this? Why is it inevitable that Jesus Christ must come back and sit on David's throne and rule the world? Why?” Look at verse 4:

Psalm 110

4The LORD [Jehovah God] hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5The Lord [notice how Lord is spelled] at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6He shall judge among the heathen [nations] , he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads [rulers] over many countries.
7He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

A detailed description of the last two verses of Psalm 110 is found in Revelation, chapter 19. We will leave that for you to read by yourself.

Conclusion

Isaiah brought a message to Ahaz one day. He said, “Ahaz, you think this is darkness. There is a time of darkness coming upon the world greater than this, but it will not last. A light will break through that darkness, and from that light there will emerge a government such as this world has never seen, a government where disarmament will not only be safe, but practical, for the Prince of Peace has come to reign.”

Thank God for the hope of the Lord's return.


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