2 “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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 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. 7 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.” (Isaiah 9:2-7)
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Isaiah 9:1–7 records the famous prophecy of the coming child who would be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah uttered these words during the reign of King Hezekiah, who lived at the end of the eighth century and the beginning of the seventh century BC. Hezekiah was one of the godliest kings during the old covenant period (2 Kings 18:1–7), but he was no King David. Hezekiah inherited the throne of David his forefather and reigned during a period when the Assyrian Empire was the strongest power in the ancient Near East. David, however, was established on the throne of Israel by the Lord, and he took Israel from being a minor player on the world stage to one of great importance (2 Sam. 5; 1 Chron. 18:4). Because of the glories of David’s reign, David became the prototype of the ideal ruler, and the prophets looked forward to the day when a king like David but even better would rule over God’s people once more (Jer. 23:5; 33:14–15; Zech. 12:8).”
Since Isaiah 9:2-7 is such a magnificent oracle, we are going to examine each verse, beginning with Isaiah 9:2, individually. My hope is that you will truly be blessed by this study.
Isaiah 9:2 says, “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.” Let’s begin to unpack this verse.
The people. Within the immediate context the people would be both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah in the 8th century B.C. The entire nation was existing and living in darkness. The word darkness refers to a time and condition of terror, ignorance, sadness, confusion and evil.
The coming of the Messiah was and is synonymous with the coming of light to remove the darkness of captivity (42:16; 49:6; 58:8; 60:1, 19–20). However, the condition of the Jewish people walking in darkness politically and culturally in the 8th century B.C. mirrors the spiritual darkness all unredeemed people experience without Christ.
Ephesians 5:8-11 says, “8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
I John 1:5-7 says, “5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Darkness describes the character of the life of the unconverted as void of truth and virtue in intellectual and moral matters (cf. 1 John 1:5–7). The realm of darkness is presided over by the “power of darkness” (Luke 22:53; Col. 1:13), who rules those headed for “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12; 2 Pet. 2:17). Tragically, sinners love the darkness (John 3:19–21). It is that very darkness from which salvation in Christ delivers sinners (see John 8:12; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9; cf. Ps. 27:1).”
Those in Israel who lived in spiritual darkness now understood a great light would come. This light would be the source of guidance, health, life and prosperity. It would be a great, important and excellent light. The light is the Messiah and His coming symbolizes not only the removal from political captivity of the Jewish nation then, but also, and more importantly, the spiritual captivity of the soul for all time.
Much like Israel during Isaiah’s day, do you recall your life when it was in darkness? How has the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ changed your life? Take time to thank the LORD for delivering you from darkness and bringing you into the light.
Soli deo Gloria!