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Translation of Isaiah 9:3
with Contextual Concern
Note: this chapter has been significantly expanded in
EVIDENCE AND REALITY, THE PRINCE AND THE PROOF,
CONSTANT CHRISTIAN FAITH AND THE FICKLE FRENZY OF FORCE
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For the grounds of it, see throughout.
14) Isaiah 9:3. For this case, see LIGHT OF DAWN Ch. 6.
A GREAT LIGHT
Isaiah 8-9, A Matter of Translation and
Zionism, Racism - a Matter of Verbal
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In this article, news is set amidst a biblical background which is greatly needed in the peaceless affairs of carnal, competitive man
A great light is what is needed when people are in dim anguish,
sorrow and grief,
the soul pulverised by pressures,
the mind anxious within
and the heart as solid as the beating sea.
Look at the boat people, as they are deemed ... We see them in a documentary, in Indonesia, ex-boats, huddled in quite good quarters, some of them, with a Police Chief, the seeming epitome of 'kid gloves', while some 200 out of less than 300 escape from genteel living quarters, and desperation goads some who feel they have a 'right' to be in Australia, presumably because they are accorded genuine refugee status by one of the UN bodies which deal with such things.
Thousands of dollars change
hands, and soon many such people are on some leaking boat, ready for
coast guard interception, so that they may be kept in quarantine of a social
kind, until they are processed like papers, and their plight is considered.
Meanwhile, the Moslem menace from the Taliban, which would be grateful if
Now it is one thing if the earth is plagued because of its iniquity, but quite another when it is plagued BY it!
How the charade goes on, mercy and mess, suppliants and surplus, drive to destroy, people export and refugee fleeing, while some religion or other has its day and continues to try to ram down people's throats, the requirements of its 'faith' for continued life on this earth, so that some vile violence or other might be sated.
It is small wonder that some nations are not keen on this type of export; and further, there is the question of collusion, though not only in the quarter, the documentary pointed out, of the police or the government officials where the boat people become such by paying money to people smugglers, who make millions, and may be inclined to share in selected quarters their iniquitous booty. There is the question of Islam or other world conspiracies (whether in religious garb or not, it is one in that regard) having collusion with such exports of people, so that this kind of 'mission' might be forwarded, ending in guns and violence.
There is indeed dimness of anguish, as poor people, some genuine, some gripped by stark horror whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere, where virtually unthinkable horrors of human repression occur freely, fight desperately for some kind of freedom, though alas, in many cases, they come bound from within, as well as without.
It was the same in the days of the prophet Isaiah, at the chronological site depicted in his prediction at the end of Ch. 8 leading into Ch. 9, where he characterised what would be the plight of the people in that time when Christ, God incarnate, would come on the scene (cf. Psalm 102:16-22). It was like this:
feelings are not greatly disparate, for here were people of a land invaded from
time to time, but by nothing nearly as fatal as by unbelief. Thus the prophet,
just before the above description of the plight of the gloom-encircled people,
made a martial spiritual cry, not for blood but for truth:
then, had in large measure forsaken the only God who can do things and speak as
He will do, do as He has spoken, by verifiable testimony, as exhibited in the
case of Israel exhibited in so many ways and functions, facilities and cases
that the failure to trust was like that of a mathematician deciding to stop
using 2+2=4 any more, in favour of an intellectual trip. The results of such disfaith (cf. SMR pp.
999-1002C) were co-ordinate with such a
So do humans invent their decline, and decline with their inventions, whether Jew or Gentile, throughout most of history, just as Solomon so wisely expressed it in the book the Lord gave him (Eccles. 7:29):
· In Isaiah 8 however, we are not left with this derelict hulk of humanity, like a rotting boat, in the first place hired by criminal smugglers, people smugglers, wanting to profit in some way, in libido, in macho satisfaction, in money, in power, in importance, in management superiority, in dream fulfilment or whatever. It starts thus; but far better is to come. Meanwhile, the case is very much along the false prophet lines of Jeremiah 23, as they push people as if they were chips in the palaces of sin, the cabarets of unrighteousness, the dream worlds of money, the casinos of corruption*1.
· Sad, however, as is the plight of the Jewish people there depicted, the joy impending is even greater. So does Isaiah 8 move to Isaiah 9.
THE PLIGHT BEFORE THE LIGHT
The people, we now read in Isaiah 9, who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
In that former gloom, a glimmer would be relished. However in fact, in the bounty and purpose of the living God, who does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations ), it is a great light. It is in fact from the domain of infinite knowledge, love and power, from the Creator Himself. As if this were not enough, it IS the Creator Himself, we find, in human form!
There is a GREAT LIGHT. That is wonderful. It is not finished yet. There could be one not seen, but here many see it, for "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Some with eyes shut (Isaiah 6) might not see, but the light is exposed to all.
This marvel of might and gift of grace now comes into the life of the land. It is not pretended that the anguish and the desperate plight of spirit were not enormous. It is not that the grief did not cover the soul like barnacles on the laden prow of the ship, making it clumsy, hard to manoeuvre, dirty and laden with filth. It is just that the LIGHT to come makes the darkness to go look like a mere introduction to a book. It was there, to be sure, and the question of the point and meaning of the book seemed perhaps oppressive, but now, look, it is clear and arresting. No longer is one considering the preliminaries: suddenly the plot is pulsing with life, the development is gripping in its force, the imagination whetted, one proceeds to read like a ship in good wind under sail.
GLOOM OF ANGUISH is now replaced by the force and pregnant meaning of A GREAT LIGHT (Isaiah to 9:2). As in Isaiah 4:6 and 32:2, a great, a mighty rock appeared, refreshing and restful, sure and majestic, dominating the dithers and littlenesses of life, providing shelter and strength, so here in the gloom of oppressed mind and spirit, a great light provides the power to see, to know, to understand, to go with confidence, to see the truth and perform in it, and access accomplished by His divine grace, to perform in it, what is right.
Reviewing in Isaiah 9:1 the troubles of the northern area of Israel in Naphtali and Zebulun, and coming thereby to GALILEE, the prophet then presents AT THAT SEASIDE LOCATION as epicentre if you will, this simple contrast between what was, and what is coming (and now has come according to the dating of Daniel cf. SMR pp. 886ff., News 87, *1, Biblical Blessing Chs. 1, 2, 6). That of course is the Messiah whose domain of service indeed centred not a little precisely in Galilee as thus foretold!
· Not satisfied with this declaration, the prophet is inspired to write the parallel:
Death has been like an exercise squad, the various ways of reaching it being like the individual exercises scheduled for the day. Life has seemed an oppression, an escapee. Now suddenly the dim objects of glum anguish are replaced in the great light provided by comprehension, and the dimness is dealt a death blow.
Not by killing is this accomplished, by vile violations of the human spirit in faith-manipulating violence, degrading and degraded, seeking to move a degenerated human heart by the idols of the nations, the false religions, for as the word of God declares, "all the gods of the nations are idols" (Psalm 96:5). That is, this light is for healing, and does not act for killing of the oppressed people, the doomed individuals, the pushed, prodded, deprived, often ultimately the self-deprived, whose delusions are the basis of their confusions.
Sin brings anguish in the end, and whatever the cause, the consequence is to be pitied. For many, the apparent 'crime' in the eyes of their human tormentors is to want to live in liberty, not die in the dungeons of this or that 'system of man' prescribing like a drunkard with dictates to the heart, derived from no source other than delusion.
So was it with Jeremiah as he so often described the plight of the misled nation, and so was it in the day before Christ came.
Let us examine it further, for another period, often sharpens focus on one's own.
An Idumean, Herod, with devious and brutal ways was king, the priesthood seemed corrupted with political associations and dynastic tendencies following the Maccabees and the most holy seemed like a bauble to many, a thing to be seized, the Temple reaching its low point of horror, not just in the idols which from time to time, some might seek to place in it, as if to provoke God to the uttermost, but in their own hearts.
Dismal indeed was that time leading to the blessed incarnation of the Christ, when not only was the high priesthood made a hereditary matter, not only did one of the family concerned join the Sadducees leaving the Pharisees because of some insult, but one, Hyrcanus had his ears cut off, thus preventing his eligibility for the high priesthood, while inter-family bickering and evils amongst the Maccabees became such a riot, that the dutiful seeming Maccabean movement to liberate Israel, turned into misguided power, and human contrivance.
Thus again appeared the gross features of man seeking to manipulate the things of God wildly , turning the ways of grace into sick pseudo-comedy, corrupting with grim spiritual saltations, the whole concept of service in priesthood. God is not mocked, and mockery of Him at last mocks itself. It reached new dimensions in the crucifixion of Christ, at that time impending. That which was to come, with all its condign consequences; soon comes to the eventual deliverance through the predicted divine grace (cf. SMR p. 514). At that time, however, the potency of the corruption was intense.
That which had been created in joy for understanding from the hand of God, became a path to mere carnal greatness, like the papacy, an arena of greed, self-adornment, complicity and connivance, as in the investiture contest in the Middle Ages. The Temple of Herod was large and portentous; but less so was the priestly rule. External magnificence was not mirrored within - far from it!
So did this apparent eminence in the
high priesthood and the temple, leading to the time when it was all confronted and exposed by
the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, come to serve as a site for specious
spiritual follies, masquerading as performance of symbolic rites for God, in
the service of man. Thus Judah come to be degraded in spectacular fireworks of
the flesh, made ashes in spirit long before it became a ploughed field in fact,
at the hand of the avenging Romans in A.D. 70, the destruction a divine rebuke,
over which Christ lamented and wept, since they did not recognise the time of
their visitation, in His mercy, but rather trod it under foot (Luke 19:42ff.).
This pretentious power of destructive
Further, as we have seen in The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 1, Rome was to become a chameleon for much more than a millenium, but its pomp and pretensions had been overshadowed, its glory exposed as essentially inglorious and its fame a primer of infamy.
It was, then, IN THIS EVIL FRAME, developing and to develop, as the new millenium was ushered in with and BY Jesus Christ, the Messiah, that this dimness of anguish was felt with:
it was likewise into this that the GREAT LIGHT came.
We learn, as the prophet
Isaiah in Ch. 9 builds his presentation from the Lord from this dimness
of anguish and this unhallowed gloom to the liberty of light, that it is
This is said as to locale, for the word of God is habitually specific, testable, instructive, dealing with the world which God made with the precision with which He made and the particularity. With this, He also has provided principles of interpretation and understanding with which to live in the beauty of holiness within it. However, what is to occur in this predicted locale to which the Messiah duly came, and in what sort of way will this light illuminate ?
In Isaiah 9:3 we learn, in the kethib, or written text as handed down, the Massoretic text, that
§ "You have multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy.
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."
The point of textual interest here is the NOT, before the joy. While Symmachus, the Vulgate and the Massoretic text, that place of careful presentation and preservation, all have "not" increased, yet the Syriac and Targum have no 'not'. Many efforts have been made to comprehend how the 'not' could be there. What, some ask, could this mean ? It is always wise, in such a case, to cling to the objective evidence and to the site of maximum application of scholarship, without regard for the alien concept that God did not bother, and to find where one can, the interpretation without invention, or following other lines just because the meaning is not at once apparent.
It is the case with much that is passed on, even in contemporary terms, that a little thought is needed.
Especially is this so when there is in the context a movement of light and shade as here, a maximum of contrast and an ebullience of joy, as the coming wonders render the more abysmal the deceasing sorrows.
What then is to be said about this text as above cited ? What does it mean ?
We have, in the Chapter 9, just found that the great light has shone, so that in the intense darkness with its threatening depth of death looming in prospect, dismal in retrospect, there comes a vast change.
Now in Isaiah 9:3, we are being given a partial recapitulation. It is not being said that the nation has been increased with joy, even though it was in gloom! It is not being said that they rejoice before God, who were in dull constraints! The whole nation is not about to rejoice, for the death of Christ at its hands rapidly approaches (Isaiah 49:7). That! it is the delight of those to whom the hand of the Lord is to be revealed in Christ (Isaiah 53:1). "To whom is the hand of the Lord revealed ?" asks the prophet. In the succeeding verses of that chapter, as he outlines the failure to follow the Lord when He came, there is acute grief, alleviated and indeed transformed only in Christ's triumph through death to life.
As to those receiving Him, however, it is to them that the joy comes (Isaiah 55:1-5, 61:10). That is singular not universal. The gloom that preceded is not receding for the nation which betrayed Him, nor was the method of redemption delightsome but dire. As far as the NATION is concerned, that political setting and authority-structure which governs, there is ANYTHING BUT JOY, for they are not only blinded by the said authorities AS A UNIT, as a going-concern in itself, but about to EXHIBIT that blindness for all to see for millenia to come. Further and indeed, they are not about to relent AS A NATION (which is the point in the text at issue) from what they did till judgment so comes to the Gentiles as well, that it is all or nothing, Messiah or ruin for them all. Small wonder the targum of tradition leaves out the NOT.
The nation ? joy! what a misnomer that would appear to have been, and how understandable in a realm where lips honour the Lord, but the heart is far from Him (Isaiah 29:13), where in contrast to the coming Messiah, to be abominated by the people (Isaiah 49:7 at His time) is the suggested alteration of the Q're or suggested version. In heart, in the relevant part, nationally those who are to be filled with something when they kill Christ - but it is not joy - are taking this fateful step because of their spiritual sleep.
"They are drunk," says Isaiah 29:9, "but not with wine.
They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.
For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep,
and has closed your eyes, namely the prophets,
and He has covered your heads, namely, the seer.
"The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed ..."
It is not at all the message of Isaiah that the nation is now to become great: both multiplied and increased with joy. On the contrary as in Isaiah 7, an amazing obtuseness is seen in Ahaz in Isaiah's own time, and a parallel deplorable failure is coming when
· "He is despised and rejected by men" and
Alas, as we see in Isaiah 30:8ff., a vast blindness faces the light, though not few are those who come to Him, and it has an age-long continuity. It is in this that the Messiah is seen as near as in Isaiah 8:16-18 (cf. Hebrews 2:13), where the 'children' with Him (Isaiah 53:8-10) in this one of many parallel focuses on Him, are indeed to be signs and wonders, from the only source of wonder. One reason for this 'wonder' is His power, but another is the unbelief of the many, to whom they signal but in vain! for whom the apostolic caress of truth with courage in the very FACE of the nation is singularly strange.
What then ? It is, contextually this that is being said: Grief awaits the nation, where joy beckoned, to one and to all!
"YOU have increased the nation," and it is true that as you down history from Isaiah towards the coming of Christ, with the Maccabees there was some pomp and a restoration of more of Solomon's Empire than at any other time; but alas with what a series of shames, shams and shambles all this had become associated. From the divine light the nation is as an authoritative unit, largely dissociated, though here and there is your Nicodemus and your Joseph of Arithmathea. Do we not read in Acts 13 of the reaction of the Jewish contingent when both Jew and Gentile are surging about in the melee of the second Sunday of the apostle's presentation, and with envy and blasphemy it appears the line of Jerusalem the betrayed, is followed there. Moreover, even in Thessalonica to which Paul and his contingent speedily went, that surge came down from Pisidian Antioch, to turn them against Paul.
Indeed, in I Thessalonians 2:14-16, Paul itemises something of the assault suffered from that source, declaring alas of those so standing with the error of their nation that they were "forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to filll up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost." The nation ? oh no, there is no joy relative to the Messiah as His arrival is prophetically made a matter for intense rejoicing within the land, for those who have indeed seen the great light! While the expanded nation did not increase its joy (as one might indeed have hoped, after so long a time presented with so great an opportunity, a fact on which Christ mused as in Luke 19:42ff.), yet as to those who "have seen a great light," their eyes not closed. As a result of their grievous hostility to their own Messiah, for them and the Gentiles as well (Isaiah 49:6, 42:6), as in Psalm 69:19-23, their eyes are judicially closed.
Their hardened hearts and pitiless passion have led in the end, where the action is, to the Lord's closing their eyes which they had themselves so tightly shut for so long (as is a generic for all men, to be faced with fear because of irrational rejection of the Lord - II Thessalonians 2:4-10), so that although indeed the LIGHT SHINED, yet what good did that do to the spiritually drunk, those tipsy concerning the truth as in Isaiah 29 ?
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, but not yet, in the day of advent here celebrated by Isaiah prophetically, not yet is the nation in view in this light from which, as a political entity, it has abstracted itself. But as to those who HAVE seen a great light, including such as the apostles and the multiplied thousands of Jews who joined the Church in Jerusalem after and during Pentecost, "THEY rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest ..." for to them in their hearts, as ultimately after a long time (as in Hosea 1 and 3) to a great multitude in Israel far later, it has come. THEY HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT, and whether it be Jew or Gentile, it is indifferent: in this, WHEN it happens and you DO see, it is then that you rejoice, looking ahead to the millenium of Isaiah 11, 65, Micah 4, Revelation 20, where indeed, not only in one's own heart, but in this globe, "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea." There the Messiah rules outwardly as now inwardly, and whether in the one or the other, such is the joy.
Further, Isaiah 26:12-18 has already, in the sequence of Isaiah's prophecies, shown the type of contradiction between the increased nation and its decreased spirituality, its natural fads, faults and decline, and its supernatural opportunities. Focussed in the babe of Isaiah 9:6-7, these are offered to all, but not received by all, whether in Israel or elsewhere.
There is as so often, on the one hand,
the lasting joy of
the elect (Isaiah 51:11, 49:6, 52:1),
and on the other,
the superficial strength,
That ? It is for those who, whatever their base and basis, code and conduct, tradition and hope, will not place their trust in the Lord (cf. Isaiah 30:15-17, 53:1,3), according to His word, or their sins in His atoning work in His incarnate Word, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, for annulment of guilt. Rather are they refusing to look for His return and resurrection of the body (Hebrews 9:28 and 2:1-3), their minds not ready for His shaping, that truth may become like a stream within, and peace like an atmosphere in love. Closely contrasted are these two groupings, again and again as in Isaiah 8-9, 26, John 3:15-19, Romans 5.
Yet, in time for many, this restoration through redemption to reality will come even in Israel, and indeed come in a great measure (Isaiah 30:18-21, cf. Romans 11:12,25ff.). Meanwhile, the division continues, as in essence to the end, it will, when at last the light becomes too brilliant for bearing and the darkness the wound of desolation, for those who do not believe in Him where faith flames into place, in Him who is the Truth, incapable of replacement, alteration or equivocation.
This vast pit of division is seen in Isaiah 26:15:
the beaming concept of the grown nation, immediately followed by the dire plight of the sinning nation, in 26:16-18.
Here is exposed in fatal contrast, the lost loneliness of those who yet have not found HIM and the weed-crop diversion apparent at the end, sown at the first! The appearance and the reality, these swiftly follow one another in 26:15-18 like night and day. The parade is precisely as in Isaiah 8:22 - 9:2.
Then, once more without introduction, Isaiah 26:18 in its gloom, most suddenly reaches total transformation, in 26:19-21. There we find a call to "My people," to those His own. In this phase and focus, we come first to this culmination in and for His elect, triumphant in Christ only. Here in verse 19 is the physical finality of the bodily resurrection of the saints to come (Romans 8:30, I Corinthians 15:42ff.). This in turn is followed by the admonition to enter into the Rock to hide in 26:20-21, for safety; for now the Lord comes to exercise generic judgment on the earth. He then is the Rock for hiding indeed (Isaiah 32:1-4, 2:21), and the supervening source of spiritual life, as judgment flows out like consuming flames.
Overall, then: The unspiritual, the ungodly, the merely cultural and natural, these may swell, runs the divine message, their traditions may accrue, they may exult; but their disaster is selectively redeemed to triumph only by the Lord who comes in person, as in Isaiah 7, 9, 12, 22, 26, 32, 35, 49-55. Indeed, it comes only only through specific faith in Him as the babe born to die in manhood, and to bring in His own resurrection, and that of those faithful to Him.
It is a matter of continuing on, out of control, or else moving into His kingdom, through faith in Him whose actions are stated repeatedly, whose plan of salvation is focussed the babe, through whom alone is blessing for blight to come. Without faith in THIS ONE (Isaiah 53:1,10), there is nothing for lasting joy, and indeed then disaster continues, to the uttermost, the two opposites, conjunction with Christ the Messiah and disjunction, in acrid contrast.
This NATION! What is it at that time? (29:13-14, 30:8-13, 49:7), what sort of a spiritual relic had it become and would it, with chief spiritual symbols in abhorrent hands, with priestly matters in the chains of traditions, with politically expedient hereditary recipients of high priesthood, while noxious parties continued sparring, both wrong, both inflamed and inflated!
No! The case is as it is written. "You have increased the nation and NOT increased the joy!" Neither before nor in the time of Christ on earth is the whole nation changed. Its chastenings were to come!
Thus there is an intense NON-national stress. It is a nation increased in many things, in numbers, but not in joy. It is indeed in contrast to this only ostensibly pleasant and agreeable development of some new sort of significance that there is to come an acutely, a deeply and a definitively divine exhibition of the need of man, and its meeting, both. THIS, it is to be a delight above all! but not for all, for murder intervened, with the vast hinterland of political and ecclesiastical corruption so acutely envisaged and directly predicted from afar off (Psalms 2, 69, Isaiah 49:7, 50:4-8, Micah 5:1).
Hence we find as it is
written in the Massoretic text:
"You have increased the nation,
But not increased its joy:
They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."
There is this division, the national and the popular as before, the many and the few, the faithful and those not so.
The nation is still in gloom facing for long, a species of doom. However there are those, as Isaiah constantly stresses (as in Isaiah -17, 54, 55) who respond. Thus we do well to ponder further the text in Ch. 8, in which the prophet in the midst of the evil and declining ways of the people, of the nation declares:
"Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples,
And I will wait on the LORD,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
"Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We*2 are for signs and wonders in
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in
This of course is taken up in Hebrews 2:13, and applied to the Messiah. It is not that Isaiah had children given to Him, but as in Isaiah 53:10, it is Christ. It is HE who having no children of His own, is to be gifted with a whole multitude of those who take His sacrifice in faith and follow Him. It is as always to HIM that Isaiah looks.
Very well: it is in 9:3 the case that the nation is by no means to be glorified. E.J. Young, that so delightful defender of the faith, has nevertheless erred here (in his The Book of Isaiah Vol. 1), in speaking of the nation as here being made 'great' as in the Abrahamic covenant.
Alas this is not the day of its greatness, of which Isaiah speaks in Ch. 9, but of its shame. Nor is it to become a national centre in THIS way of the new covenant, simply adding Gentiles to the Jewish core. It is emphatically and demonstrably NOT this nation (as shown with such intense stress and drama in Isaiah 65:13-15) which is to be added to, but rather subtracted from, and this spiritually! A new name arises (Isaiah 62:3, 65:13-15). It is that of the Messiah (and of course 'messiah-ans, or Christians).
While Israel spiritually lies in abeyance as the showcase for God (as in Isaiah 43:21, Romans 11:7ff, 11:25ff.), others follow the light, just as many from AMONG those of Israel, were like a vast invasion of the realm of darkness, brandishing the gospel like a sword, so much better than the blood-thirsty scimitar which was to come, and is to go!
It is a remnant from among Israel then which is in view as in Isaiah 8:11-18, 53:10, 11:10-11. It is brought as often into focus here in Isaiah 9 also.
The greatness of the nation was clear with David and Solomon, and in handing on the covenantal writings filled with the prediction of Christ, an amazing marvel of provision which the LORD chose them to hand on (cf. Romans 9:4-30). As for the nation, its spiritual day following the Christ is yet to come (as in Romans 11, when much of it is regrafted back into its own old Olive Tree!). It is not however in Christ's day as the Lamb on earth that its greatness is seen, though with some of them, a new tabernacle is built, that is, the Christ is given (cf. SMR pp. 1109ff.) and by many followed (as in Isaiah 4:6, 32:1ff.). Here, in the day of the Lord's ministry directly on this earth, the nation is as one entity, divorced from glory. From this, some separating in spirit, indeed rejoice, and HOW GREAT is this, their rejoicing!
Thus God had indeed, at this stage of the advent of the Messiah (around B.C. 4), increased the nation, but NOT increased the joy. This situation was set to continue and even intensify AS a nation, despite the great light, for a long time to come! and only then is the promise to come to pass for the nation, and that in two stages, geographically and then spiritually as specifically outlined in Ezekiel 37 (cf. SMR Appendix A, The Biblical Workman Ch. 1).
We in our own generation have been privileged as few ever before us, to see the physical, the geographical restoration of Israel, and its triumphant victories, in pure grace contrary to merit but expressive of His faithfulness and His adherence to His own word, as in Zech. 12-14. It is of course sobering and just to reflect that we who are not Jewish in blood, have also seen that dereliction of duty, that irresponsible dalliance with evil, that increasing derring-do in spiritual things, even in many bodies called churches, which is likewise predicted (cf. SMR Ch. 8).
Yet let us return to our
text in Isaiah 9, in order to see further the developments for that day, some
two millenia ago, and the prospects as from that point. Though, then, the
nation is not to be glorified or made great in this least at THAT day, there is
much more to follow.
Thus, having made this point in terms of the preceding context in -9:3a, Isaiah is led by the LORD to write:
"They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvests,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil."
This is precisely that sort of contrast that we have been seeing in 9:1-2.
This parallels the earlier parallels of 9:2:
Now then, following this pair of contrasts, there comes a third. It rises, mounts and eventually comes to a ringing consummation and finale.
It is like a late afternoon in Summer, with elegant shadows lengthening as the sun moves downward, featuring the objects in the light. The brightness of the ground contrasts with the darkness of the objects. So here.
In this way, we find that in 9:2 there are TWO contrasts, and in 9:3 there is ONE DOUBLE contrast. The first part has two components; the second proceeds like cheering at a football match on a victory. It surges, it triumphs and it proceeds. It gives the reasons, and the reasons in 9:4ff. are themselves component grounds for the rejoicing!
Now let us revert to 9:3 in itself. First in 9:3 you have the negative, then in the contrast, the positive. You have increased the nation and not increased the joy (all negative, a mere temporal efflorescence associated with anguish of spirit and degradation of the nation). Then you have the rejoicing to whom it belongs, like those in a captured city, those who had not cravenly made cozy relationships with the enemy during his occupation, rejoicing at the appearance of their saviour. They rejoice before you as in harvest, as with booty. They as in Isaiah 8:16-18 are separate, untypical, not representatives of the nation but of the Messiah; and as there, suddenly by contrast they come on the scene.
The rest, however, these do not rejoice, and that is well understood. Their joy as alas so habitually, is NOT increased, and in this they contrast with those who give positive answer to Isaiah 53:1, in its question: "Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed!"
Indeed, as for the nation as a whole, they instead are about to propound in practice the thesis that it is better to pull off the beard of the Messiah, and to allow to Him the privilege of NOT hiding His face from shame and spitting, as they lash Him (Isaiah 50,53), and so reject Him (Isaiah 49:7).
It is then, not only as in Isaiah 49:7, where in the very presence of the light the NATION, the generality, the majority turn from Christ, indeed the nation is to "abhor" Him; it is just the same as in Isaiah 53:1, where in the question, "Who has believed our report ?", in the midst of such intimations as "we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted", it is apparent that the generality have not done so.
Thus two propositions emerge. There is gloom of incredible darkness, then a light of wonderful illumination. This the nation does not accept, but the remnant does, and these, select in focus repeatedly as is most natural for a Shepherd with His sheep, appear and their is now resoundingly and extensively, both, depicted.
The same message pulses moreover in Isaiah 50:2-10, where the Messiah is seen being stripped even of His beard in the heartless ingallantries of the obsessed, so that the Lord asks in 50:10,
"Who among you fears the LORD ?
Who obeys the voice of His servant ?",
and it throbs with
dynamic perilous in its intensity in Isaiah 65:13-15,
where the mass of the people are one thing, and the Lord's servants are contradistinct:
"Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be thirsty;
Behold My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed;
Behold My servants shall sign for joy of heart,
but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and wail of grief of spirit.
You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen..."
Cursed will these be, and
the Lord will call "My servants by another name!"
Always there is this nation-versus-individual differentiation, cursed versus the blessed, believing versus the unbelieving, this sharpest of contrast, whether in a phrase, a verse or a sequence of verses.
WHY however, despite the condition of the nation, do they rejoice so inordinately, even those in the focus of the faith ? WHY do we find, in intensification of the contrast, that they are delighted as "men rejoice when they divide the spoil." What is the treasure and where is the spoil ? Why does the context surge on and on with more and more depictions of delight ?
It is of course what in the New Testament is described, and perhaps not without reference to this verse, as "the unsearchable riches of Christ."
It is what Isaiah describes in as the fact that for this Messiah, "The place of His rest is glorious" - as shadowed in Matthew 11:27ff., where as always in Biblical prediction, the thing specified in forecast is the thing found in history as it unfolds!
Thus these grounds of rejoicing, then, are now revealed in a sequence of mighty steps.
WHY ? comes the question to the mind.
It is BECAUSE ... comes the reply (9:4ff.).
Soon we shall look further
at the force of the 'for' which occurs at the head of the forthcoming verses.
In the meantime, however, let us consider the concept of the remnant, the elect,
those responding. It is clear and strong in Isaiah. It is indeed as in -14:
Speak the word, but it will not stand,
For God is with us.”
"For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:
“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’
Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,
Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.
The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
Let Him be your fear,
And let Him be your dread.
He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence
To both the houses of
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of
And many among them shall stumble;
They shall fall and be broken,
Be snared and taken.
"Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the Lord of hosts,
Who dwells in
What this shows us is this.
The LORD is to be as a sanctuary BUT as a stone of stumbling
and a rock of offence to both the houses of
To them, He will be as a sanctuary, and as we have seen elsewhere, as a shadow of a mighty rock the Messiah will come to consummate this provision (Isaiah 32).
It is then just as in John 1:12, AS MANY AS received Him, to these came the new birth, the grand joy and the spiritual light. As to His own (in John 1); they did not receive Him; but as to many, they did so, and this nation within the nation, this beginning of the special people of the Lord (I Peter 2:9), this remnant (a concept applied in another context in Isaiah ), it rejoices. What else ? How rejoice in what you desecrate ? How not rejoice in God with Us, when He comes, and comes for you!
So the elect respond
selectively for their lives by divine grace, are saved in
THE FORCE OF 'FOR'
The term FOR is repeated in monumental grandeur in verses 4, 5 and 6, like one of the musicians filled with the desire for and delight in some phrase or melody, adorning it and repeating it, involving and intricately linking it here and there, leading to a climax of invention.
The music here is of great joy. Those whose eyes are enlightened by the light, being not shut as with so many (as Isaiah specifically prophesied, and was critically anointed to prophesy in 6:10ff, with such DISASTROUS consequences for the nation): and while this occurs individually, it is indeed in considerable multitudes that they are awakened. These ? they have MANY reasons for this joy!
The parallels of harvest and spoil are invoked in Isaiah 9:4-5. It is indeed the ULTIMATE harvest, come after long awaiting: it is the MESSIAH! It is the ultimate treasure, GOD WITH US! It is what Ahaz (as shown so nearby in Isaiah 7) had missed through subtle spiritual obfuscations and diplomatic substitutes for spiritual truth, so failing to receive the blessing. In a sort of spiritual regicide, or suicide, Instead of finding his own place in the preliminaries to the Messiah, and securing blessing for his generation in some further preliminary ways, in the power of Him who would come, indeed finding deliverances immeasurable (as in 7:11), he acted with such spiritual chicanery that it was as if he wearied God (v. 13). What a king!
"Hear now, O house of David!" the Lord responded.
"Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also ?"
The coming of the Messiah was therefore and thereupon given as a sign to a generation closed to the glory! It would come, when He was ready (Isaiah 7:14ff. cf. SMR pp. 770ff.).
NOW in Isaiah 9, we are seeing what happens when He does come. How long, some 700 years since Ahaz, has been the waiting! How good therefore at last (Galatians 4:4, Daniel 9), is the coming. Moreover, it is to be very glorious for those who receive Him. Why ? It is going to have short-term and long-term effects. In the short-term, He is to be a shadow of a mighty rock, as in the long term (Isaiah 32, and 4:6) this and more, a splendid Majesty ruling on this earth for a period of vindication and decisive divine operation, so that it will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14 and cf. Millenium in Indexes).
Now, He is to be a
As Christ put it (Luke 23:28ff.), if in the green tree they do this to HIM, what will be the state of the art, of the world, the character of the situation when the Age ends! That, it is coming and it is nearly here. It is not so delightful to anticipate as was His coming; but for His own people, it is a just joy and a delightful prospect. Blessed are those who eagerly expect His return, as Hebrews expressly declares!
No, though this be so, it
was far from a pleasant prospect for the nation of
That however ? Only after a most painful interlude! A tragic time is to intervene (Isaiah 49:7). and a chaste one is to resume (Isaiah ). ONLY GOD will get glory in that day (Isaiah - cf. the end of Age indices in Isaiah 24).
But what! It is joy indeed
to the remnant, to the residue*2, to the
"The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach the good tidings to the poor:
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness:
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
It is a spiritual joy as in Isaiah 61:10:
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God,
For He has clothed me with he garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
It is "righteousness and praise" which are to appear before the nations!
It is however not a case of competition. All elements occur in their time. The spiritual is assuredly as always, primary; but the details of the word of God, in the world which He made, these also are spiritually relevant. This emphasis*2 includes such non-details as covenantal faithfulness, on the part of Him whose name is "faithful and true" (Rev. 19:11). To do and to to fulfil is to attest His own reliability (cf. Ezekiel 36-37). Thus the little points to the great, and the conscientious to the incomparability of His faithfulness.
Thus do they rejoice as in the presence of booty and harvest, for... FOR ... FOR ... FOR!
In Isaiah 9:4-6, accordingly we go on to discover that with Christ comes the removal of the burden of a yokage crippling to the people. It is cancellation, like the removal of debt at the jubilee rejoicing day (noted as such in Isaiah 61:2, cf. Leviticus 25:8). It is the "acceptable year of the LORD" for those bound, that this is to come. The FIRST liberation is that of the spirit. Only then is the body or the nation to be appreciated or understood, so that indeed it should mercifully fail to be reduced all over again!
In Isaiah 9:5, we find there is to come in its time a peace such that the warriors' debris, the blood and the bandages will be things of the past. The amazing way for this transformation of warring man, woe-begotten and blind, ceaselessly awry man, and hence clashing man, indebted man, manipulative man, it is by a CHILD. It is not a warlike figure who is seen in providing the basis and the bedrock, the foundation stone and the reality. It is a child.
We are finding indeed that
our milieu is amazing. We are not in the realm of mere fighting, but rather in
a change of spirit, a transformation of perspective, a donation of peace within
such that peace outside is a by-product.
It is a child who is to carry government. From the moment of His birth, His Majesty is clear. It is not some attainment to achieve a post; it is a transmission provided by the Prince who is such by His own nature. His name (cf. With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength, Ch. 4) is that of God; and just as Christ declared that the one who SAW Him, whose eyes were opened, has SEEN the FATHER, so is His divine status here interpreted. It is the Mighty God whom He depicts, having come from eternal association with His Father (Micah 5:1-3). It is He whose death is that of the Word in Flesh, so that GOD HIMSELF accomplishes these things as for HIS OWN PART (Zechariah , Isaiah 48:16, Hosea , Psalm 45).
You do not need to seek relative revelations, to be seduced by the idols of the nations, to feel God is far; you need merely to receive Him. His power changes you. His grace abides in you. Here is beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Of peace He is prince, and
in His time, when the whole tragic tedium of a new wandering for the nation of
Israel, accomplished over the last 1900 or so years is past, this is to be made
manifest on an earth long given opportunity. For all the Gentiles (Matthew
24:14, cf. Isaiah 49:6, 42:6) to receive Him as in Isaiah 49:6 and 42:4 is
blessedly the potent position. It was not only to
It is to be as in Micah 7:15 and Isaiah 66, as in Deuteronomy 32. He will come and He will deliver.
It is by no means limited to the Gentiles, nor is it enclosed secretively only for the Jews. ALL THIS IS PART of the total gift to His people, who not being born of flesh or of the will of man (John , despite the blunting of this truth by so many to whom clear English seems obfuscatory), inherit the kingdom.
In that day as in Psalms 2,
73, He will rule the earth, just as He delivers His own people as a preliminary
of pardon and blessing to that day, within
"The Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots, like a whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire,
For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh."
NOW He has come NOT to judge (John ), but to save; now is the day of salvation. Then He smites whole nations, themselves covetous and greedy to inhabit
(as in Ezekiel 38-39), and as such they both deserve and gain rebuke. Now He comes with pardon, not anger, to save the world not to condemn it as we find in John 3, and not with chariots but with charity. The seasons for Israel in particular, have their own apportionment from Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians ). Neither will He be hurried nor delay (as in Romans 11 and its image of the tree of faith in the objective God, and in no other, for salvation). Israel
has its time. In another setting, it has already had it, and has failed it and has suffered tremendously. This time the many will come. But they are not the first of Israel to do so! Israel
in no small extent are part of the invisible kingdom, in thousands having aided
in the construction at the first, of the Christian Church from Jerusalem onward
as in Acts 2-10; then of course Paul as in Acts 9 to the end, extended as a
Jew, to the Gentiles, the glories of divine grace in the unchanging Gospel (cf.
Barbs, Arrows and Balms
Then they are to receive that removal of blindness as specified so clearly in
Romans 11:25, as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, with the result of the Redeemer finding in
His kingdom as Daniel indicates, so Isaiah, is the one which will not be destroyed, and of the increase of peace in Him, there is to be no end.
This then is the pervasive
Biblical picture, and it is seen clearly in Isaiah.
If however you try to change the text, what is written, and omit the NOT in Isaiah 9:3, then you have problems with the book you seek to interpret, for its message is both strong and multiply inscribed.
Thus, as noted, the idea of
That national idea here is too carnal a concept. The field is primarily spiritual, and the blessing, while offered TO the nation, is not received BY the nation.
This is allied to the
failure of many who seeking to find the church as a substitute for
They may fail; He will not! They did, and His word did even not fail to exhibit this from the first, starting with Moses and continuing in David, at Psalm 2. Even that exhibition is one further example of God's unfailing verification of His word (as in Isaiah 41, 48, He protests is His way), in that Amos 3:7 tells us that God DOES deliver forward notice to Israel, on the events to be disclosed concerning its future. It is part of His plan. He does not abrogate it, or anything else that is written from His hand.
In contrast then, to any such concept of the divine word, God will fulfil it in the very matter of nations and power (as in Isaiah 59, 65, Micah 7) with results correlative (as in Isaiah 65, 2, Micah 4, Hosea 7), and is at pains to demonstrate this in the prophetic depictions of Ezekiel 36-37 (cf. SMR Appendix A and Galloping Events Ch. 1), as was Christ in His insistences on the very words given, those to have complete fulfilment (Matthew 5:17ff., 26:54). Christ to the very last detail insisted that the precise circumstances and mode relative to Himself MUST occur. "HOW," He asked - "How otherwise could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus ?"
It is the spiritual
emphasis which must be seen in its integrity from the first as in Isaiah 61,
one individual and of many, and one equally not linked to national proclivities
or destinies, which fail, and were apportioned and predicted to fail in that
day; whereas the Messiah succeeded. It is only then the national time, after
the Gentile season has been in recess, is given its day: not divorced from
divine faithfulness, but fulfilling it to those to whom it was addressed, so
that all is to the glory of God and the stipulations of His word are to be seen
in its various emplacements. This scenario in which Paul so glories (Romans
11:3), concerning the divine, programmed scenario of
Again, the change involved by attempting to exclude the "not" found in what is written in Isaiah 9:3, would have further anomalous consequences. Thus, to take one of these, there is small wisdom in rejoicing or finding strength in numbers, biblically! (as the removal of the 'not' would imply, so forming a congratulatory synthesis with increased its joy). Thus David suffered a severe reverse because of insistence on numbering the people, when success and prosperity had attended him. We are told that participatory in his decision was an energy from Satan. Since that pretentious spirit is keen on display and the gorgeous, the uplifted, it would seem that the danger to David on that occasion was the commencement of a trust in numbers, or a sense of martial robustness because of them. The result of David's error IN SPIRIT in his insistence on a census at that time, was a severe plague (I Chronicles 21).
On the other hand, but with
just the same message, justly famed amongst the annals of
Ethiopian army was quelled. The same disproportion was nothing to the Lord,
Did not Jehoshaphat, that
noble king, cry to the Lord when in national trouble ? His words again are
glorious in the history of
ANTI-ZION RACISM becomes VOCAL and SLANDEROUS
In that case, as in the current slander of 2001 being made on the UN stage, pronouncing*1 racism against the concept of Zionism, there was a just case put first to the Lord. The Israel of Jehoshaphat's day had in fact NOT fought against these now invading people on the way into the land, for the Lord had forbidden it, said Jehoshaphat. The evil was lustful and real. "Here they are rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them ?"
Thus in that day,
these same people were rewarding
It is a matter of name, not numbers; the name of the LORD, not the numbers of the participants.
It is never a matter of
human power, or number, that is cause for rejoicing; rather is it one of purity
and principle, of love and mercy, of truth and justice. Thus in this current
folly, the endeavour is to characterise
It is of God, as in the
days of Jehoshaphat, that the answer has come. Without numbers, lacking force,
in this way and that by mighty military triumphs wrought in weakness, in
miraculous deliverances achieved in 1948, they have endured. Thus it was that,
when a scattered segment of
however in 1967 when the might of Russia, given to Egypt in the measure deemed
apt, was broken in a counter-insurgence, and in 1973, when a raid on a holy day
became a war that could have eliminated Israel, that the thing grew into
statuesque proportions, the victories, astounding triumphs for the 'underdog' as
humanly they appeared to be. In fact, of course, they were the Lord's long
predicted conspectus of
Yet however aggressively they have sought to subdue, each army assault has led to entire humiliation of the boasting invasion armies. Allah has had to suffer in silence; but where he is, there is nothing to suffer, since he is biblically, merely an idol, a false prophet, and as such the Lord delights in the exhibition of his inadequacy for life (as in Isaiah 44:24-26 cf. SMR pp. 828-836, 986ff., 50ff., 91). In His kindness, this is one of His ways of alerting people to their spiritual need, being misled by their ignorance, their confusion or their waywardness, if not indeed in many a case, all three.
Now by civilian brutality, using children in the front line and then complaining, bombing children in Israel, and then complaining, claiming need to occupy more of the tiny residue which Israel now has, with their Moslem ways and their warlike jihad clamour, 'Arabs', or 'Palestinians', people still seek to surge into the Israeli sliver, with an imperial manner for the Moslem body who judging from their own repeated declarations, want more than merely Iran, Iraq, and much in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, not to mention Syria, Lebanon and Libya, now itself aiming to cause uprising of jihad nature in Zimbabwe.
In all these sources, there is land and Islam. But no! The one little sheep must be slaughtered, subdued, submit, lose its integrity, lose its autonomy, lose face, status and peace. Meanwhile, the so just United Nations must have more of Israel taken away, calling it for some reason by the name of 'peace' not invasion, which by international agreement was accorded to Israel from the Balfour Declaration and onwards, and now is sought for ... other purposes.
Now, as if in an
intoxication of folly, the UN is seeming to favour the racism charge. It is
perhaps arrogance for a man to go home ? It is racism for the Jews to want a
nation, though here they were for some one and one half millenia, in their now
long evacuated homeland. It is invasion for people to return to their land ? A
Briton going back is to be accused of racism, for wanting his home
back ? It is as if nothing if the White House has bombs land near it, or
It is justice for what is internationally accorded to be removed until it is all but a joke in its territorial parsimony ? It is then just to accuse the deprived, when Islam and its terrors of jihad are all about, of racism because they would like not to be internationalised, islamicised, beaten into some unholy seeming submissiveness to the SUBMIT meaning in Islam itself: is it just to demand that the Jews left from Hitler, should fawningly co-operate or be coagulated, and is it right that Islam gets such a help from the UN ?
Is it peace to grant to some, various nations since World War I, and to grant to Islam such a territorial vastness, and then to grab back from what Israel, threatened with extinct ion VERBALLY and with menacing military might despatched to that stated end, what it gained when it fought to retain something of the homeland which the nations had accorded ? Is it right to give so much to some, so little to others ? Is it right to co-operate with the threats and thoughts of invasion, of extinction by the MANY against the so few ? Does justice bow to oil lords, and does peace cater to jihad mentality! Is rapacity to be accorded rule ? Are denizens of a nation to capture it by destroying its streets one by one, while the world condemns those who would rather have it otherwise, and seek to prevent this misuse of the territories granted to them!
Now it is
of course true that Israel the nation is in this harassed position only because
of what it did to the Prince of Peace, without whom of course there will be and can be none.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in
This fault of
Nor does it repeal the promise of Genesis 12:3, Numbers 24:9.
God rejoices in the faith which looks to Him, not to the foolish little bits and pieces which human arrogance imagines are the way to rule men, and overcome the world! This overweening conceit at all times asks for its own due reduction, for what exalts itself, as the Lord has said, will be humbled. HE ONLY is to be exalted, since He is Lord and Maker (Isaiah , 45:12,18), and we His products. Very costly are endeavours to show otherwise, as also very frequent; and they lie like litter, like the Russian built tanks taken out from combat by the Israeli air-force in 1973, when Egypt was with Allah to obliterate the land, and to expunge the people from it, like an incipient UN (whose troops, conveniently, got out of the way of the President of Egypt, so allowing the military their desired access to Israel!). In fact, the word of God being so, it led only to their greater disaster.
Thus is power and thus are
numbers in the Bible. Power belongs to God (Psalm 57:2, 62:11). It is a
dangerous practice to stress it, a perilous one in the extreme to trust in it,
and beside the point to look to it. Mere human power is no criterion and God
Himself is the judge. What He apportions, is His will, and what He speaks, it
is His word. With others, it is not a thing of wonder that they speak; nor is
it strange if they mean to fulfil what they say. When God is the author, the
difference is this, He has known the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and
has the wisdom and the power to accomplish what He says. What is to be, He
knows already; and why He is to do what He does, He has likewise known. Since
power belongs to God, the assertion of, reliance on or pursuit of power as a
way to achieve without Him, is a contest most uneven, unwise and in the end,
Even Satan knows that his time is short (Revelation ). His fury is in accord with this ...
Solomon brings out the same necessary relationship between number, power and spirituality, when he declares in I Chronicles 16:14-22:
He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,'
When you were few in number,
Indeed very few, and strangers in it.
"When they went from one nation to another,
And from one kingdom to another people,
He permitted no man to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,
Saying, 'Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.' ”
Again, you see deity, not multiplicity, as criterion by FAITH in II Chronicles 16:7-10 (bold added):
"And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of
, and said to him: Judah
'Because you have relied on the king of
, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Syria
'Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand.
'For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth,
to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
'In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.'
"Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him..."
multiply are the attestations concerning numbers and rejoicing in them, when
the question is power and capacity, source for rejoicing yes, and even military
might. It is one thing to be aware; quite another to make such a subject a
matter of rejoicing, when you come to the declarations of God to the people who
practically were His, and in whom He made known His will; and with whom via one
of them, the prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 9:3 in particular, He spoke!
APPLYING TO THE TEXT
All of these mutually
supportive and spiritually highly evocative considerations and principles make
clear, then, how inappropriate to the revelation of the divine mind in the word
of God it would be to make into anything of a congratulatory mode, the mere
physical expansion of
Not without reason therefore is there a need to avoid this sort of change of the text!
Indeed, the point is clear. It is not to be a question of allying the increased nation with joying, and then specifying the grounds for the joy, already carnally associated. It is rather a simple matter of having the parallel of the FALSE with the TRUE. The nation, multiplied, and not joyful as shown in Isaiah , is one unit of thought. The remnant (Isaiah 11:11, 8:18, 53:1) are to be contrasted with this fallen land in its infamous condition, in this, that to them is given, and in them is received the source of peace, the place of power without which no external rule, reign or power is of any spiritual significance, except in the annals of error.
Indeed, the differentiation of Israel in its failure of faith, its exclusion because of such failure, its travesty of truth, and the requirements of faith is total and continual, both in the immediate context of Isaiah 9:3-4 and elsewhere. Thus in Isaiah 53:1, it is apparent that TO WHOM IS THE ARM OF THE LORD REVEALED, together with the other question, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT, has a negative response as to the generality of the nation, its characterisable power and social pre-occupations. Indeed in 49:7, it abominates the Messiah; and further, in 8:14, it is apparent that the Lord will be both a snare and a trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. How ? It says so. In 8:16ff., we see as noted above, a select spiritual company of those who, by contrast, have believed, the testimony being 'bound up' as if it were sent into a space mission, because of the adverse conditions surrounding it!
Again in 9:13, we find this, that "the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, nor do they seek the Lord of hosts", so giving a before and after enclosure of national non-response and unbelief, correlative in this way with the NOT increased the joy of 9:3. Those who DO rejoice are the remnant, those spiritually relevant, those who HAVE believed the report. Indeed, it is because of this very point that the entire history of the Age for Israel has been what it is! and it is for this same reason that as in Romans 11, it is only when the Age of the Gentiles is fulfilled that the light at last strikes home. It is only then that the assemblages include Jew and Gentile alike in one covenant under on Lord where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28, Revelation 7).
Accordingly, once again in this comparing of scripture with scripture, Bible passages, one with another, we find in Isaiah 10:20, that it is the REMNANT of Israel (as again in 11:11) who "will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel in truth." This in turn leads in its final determination (10:23) to Isaiah 11, with its majestically depicted return regality of the Lord, who has come to rule and reign on the earth (as in Isaiah 59:20-21 with its inveterate insistence).
This, it is NOT according to the Old Covenant, which they defiled, but according to His own all-inclusive, light to Jew and Gentile, Messianic capacity (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). For this, Israel is too small (Isaiah 49:6). This is not only of broader application but INTENSIVELY exclusive of the Israel of national aspirations, computations, innovations and rebellion. It is under new order and rule altogether, though the Lord chooses where to make His rule central as He will, and where better than where He died! and rose, in order to return! (Isaiah 65:13-15, 11, Micah 4). This is of course in no way to impend on the restoration of Israel: it is not to ANNUL the promises but to EXPAND them (cf. SMR Appendix A, The True God has God, Gives Grace and Glory Ch. 6).
Let us then, having made these clarifications and confirmations, return to the major point made.
It is not to be a question of allying the increased nation with joying, and then specifying the grounds for the joy, already carnally associated. It is rather a simple matter of having the parallel of the FALSE with the TRUE.The remnant (Isaiah 11:11, 8:18, 53:1) are to be contrasted with this fallen land in its infamous condition, in this, that to them is given, and in them is received the source of peace, the place of power without which no external rule, reign or power is of any spiritual significance, except in the annals of error.
is the message of Isaiah 9:3 with its following applications and
THE JOY OF THE CHANGELESS WORD
Thus the two-pointed
parallel of darkness and light in Isaiah 9:2 is followed by one with its own
similar type contrast. Though the nation, equipped with the gloom noted, is
increased, alas it is but a superficial thing, as so often with the nation
inclined to trust in itself. This precise phenomenon is seen in this very book
of Isaiah in 22:8-14:
You looked in that day to the armour of the House of the
You also saw the damage to the city of
That it was great;
And you gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
You numbered the houses of
And the houses you broke down
To fortify the wall.
You also made a reservoir between the two walls
For the water of the old pool.
Called for weeping and for mourning,
For baldness and for girding with sackcloth.
But instead, joy and gladness,
Slaying oxen and killing sheep,
Eating meat and drinking wine:
'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'
Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts,
'Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you,
Even to your death,' says the Lord God of hosts."
Of special interest is the highly outrageous character of the proceeding and the severity of the penalty for what, in the end, is the reliance on the arm of flesh, in this way or that, in counting, in numbering in the presence of God, and relative to His purposes, in considering His movement and desires, the ground of rejoicing and the cause of confirmation. Unfortunately, top ecclesiastical brass like Caiaphas still had not learned this lesson so boldly presented in the scriptures so long given, and so ostentatiously received. No joy could come to the nation's leaders or the masses who followed them, for whereas "the government shall be upon His shoulder" is the portent for the Messiah, their reaction prevented the very bliss offered, and it was all done in numbers, in statistics of craft.
Prince of peace with the government upon His shoulder, and a kingdom the increase of which shall know no end, permanent, established, liable to no exit, enervation or de-energising, we find the name. Who is this making incursion into the earth with such potency and unlimited power ? Why it is but a child! He is born! There is ground for excitement and extravanganzas of praise, if this were even possible for such a Being. The exhibition of His identity via name in Isaiah 9:6, after 9:3-5 has become a monumental question, and it has an equally monumental answer. What is the unmasking of this child, this apparent disproportion, this amazingly slight seeming ground for such transformation of such lugubrious of scenes as had just been traced as Isaiah 8 turned into Isaiah 9.
Not surprisingly, it is WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR. It would have to be at least that. "The Mighty God"! That after Isaiah 7 is scarcely surprising, but in principle it is amazing. GOD (as in Isaiah 10:21), the actual one and only GOD! It is HE ...
But how is He also the "everlasting Father" ? It is by the very nature of the Trinity as in Isaiah 48:16, that the identity of One may be used as an exposure of the Other, of the Son in relation to the Father. This amazing Being we now find is also the Prince of Peace of unceasing rule for ever. If the Father had been speaking of Himself, then to call the Son the Father would be misleading, since it is He who would then be speaking of another member of the Trinity, though His is the speech, and using His own name. However, when as the text so intimately displays, it is a divinely inspired speech ABOUT THE SON from start to finish, as you might well expect in hearing His NAME! then this work of the Holy Spirit is one which gives to the Son the eternal equality with the Father of which Paul speaks in Philippians 2.
It is then an expression of the elevation of His dignity to Godhead to the highest, so that as Christ put it, He who has seen Me has seen the Father! It is then not an absurdity of the Father calling the Son by the Father's name, but of the Spirit of God giving to the Son, carefully so identified, an exaltation in terms of very God of very God.
Small wonder this is a totally transformative occurrence for the nation; and great marvel that it is as a babe that this totally omnipotent Being is to come to the earth. It is of no surprise whatever then to find that in Him at length in His reign, there is to come a total end of war as an outrage, and blood soaked gear will become a thing of the past. He is, as Isaiah 53 shows, a sacrificial entry for sin, and by His stripes, not our own, we are healed - we who believe (53:1) and so are 'healed' (53:5).
How far from this living God is the nation, whose teach for commandments their traditions, near in mouth, formalities in order, far in heart, realities deceitfully avoided! The nation does NOT increase its joy (as in 49:7) preferring to abhor Him, and to murder Him. It is imperative not to change the written text here as always; for the Bible being the word of God has its intimacy as does the blood system in man, and the heart methodology as a pump, and the disease resistance provisions in the blood by various particles and procedures and provisions. You cannot just alter it and expect it to work. On the other hand, if you leave it as it is, you CAN expect to find its meaning, coherent with itself, cohesive, at times startling, but confirmed on all sides by resonances from near and far in the Bible, as here*.
What then was ONE expression of the JOY NOT INCREASED! It was this.
"It is," said the learned Caiaphas, "expedient that one man should die for the people." This quotation is not coloured since it is defective. The important phrase missing will now be added: "It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people."
In that so small phrase, is a host of horror. It is "FOR US". Christ was sent to bring blessing to all, and hence FOR THEM; but they were 'FOR US'. Hence His death for them is diverted and non-applicable, as they grasp to their concepts of political diplomacy, the survival of their show, of their church, a consideration spoiling who knows how many churches today, which sell their task for their estimation of money, or need or satisfying him or her, this or that! THEY who made such plans in the nation of Israel of that day, they did not take His soul as an offering for their sin (as in John 6:51-54, Isaiah 53:10 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven pp. 175ff.) since they offered Him themselves, as it may have seemed, for His imagined sin.
Let us now return to Isaiah 9:3, being fortified in the perception of the priorities, principles and procedures involved!
The increased nation and no
joy, is placed in apposition and indeed contrast with the three-pointed cause
of joy, where it IS to be received 1) in the deliverance of the heart, in 2)
the plan for the removal of the worries and woes of war, and in 3) the fact
that this is to be implemented by this same CHILD whose kingdom shall increase
in peace and know no end. While the nation of
Indeed in Ezekiel 34,
disapproving the selfish and inveterate dereliction of spiritual duty on the
part of the many false shepherds over the people of
Here is the Psalm 45 Messiah of whom it is written that HIS is the throne of God. Here is the One sent in Isaiah 48:16, the LORD sent by the Most High, to earth. Here is the Trinity, that hatred word of the sects in general, and of the world no less, and both for basically what is the same reason, unbelief, coming in person. To Him one can go; to Him one may listen, of His works one's eyes could gain their balm (as in Isaiah 29 and 35 where the predictions so declare).
Who would not rejoice, as for spoil, as for treasure. Here is the harvest of holiness and the joy of heart to end all joys. It is, after all, in HIS place of rest that the very Gentiles may rest, as He cuts the cords and deals direct!
Not the pope, not some priest or assembly, but this, the Creator Himself in the robes of flesh, is the joy unspeakable and full of glory! HE is God Almighty on earth, and none is God but the Eternal, the Redeemer, the Creator (Isaiah 45). To believe otherwise is blasphemy and idolatry and foolish power, continually condemned by the prophets, the doom of those who persist in it.
It is therefore important to see these principles, and not even inadvertently to fail to apply them; and in Isaiah 9 is the opportunity to relish them in the entire Biblical context, in that of Isaiah himself and in the place of man before God as revealed in His word. Here in the text as faithfully transmitted by the dedicated Massoretes, we see that neither the multiplicity of men nor in the superficiality of religion is relief and joy to be found, but in the multiplicity of divine blessings which, in this chapter is provided. It is in the Messiah, that giant and delightful transmission from the eternity of heaven to the painful necessities of earth, unafraid, a champion, destined to overcome in all things, and to present the result, gratis to all who receive Him as He is, and His works as He did them (Isaiah 54-55, following the revelation of the atonement in Ch. 53).
Here, then, in Isaiah 9:4-7, we see this joy at such at outcome reach a crescendo both in itself, and in contrast to the vapid transience of little things which, be they never so many, and seemingly of never so much importance, are snuffed out like a brief candle, before the great light, the light of the world, Jesus Christ (John 9:5). In Him, there is no end; for Him, in Himself, there was no beginning; to Him, then, all power is given.
Try it without Him ? The result ? That, it is contemporary history. This too call comes to its crescendo, which the writer of the book of history has already depicted faithfully (cf. Revelation 6-19, and see Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8), and strenuously has He pointed out the same (Isaiah 41,43,48).
testable, warranted and uniquely valid warning is given so that people might
believe in Him. How many in
For long, almost all the education was virtually free.
The preaching of the gospel led to many who were patient, noble and of a mind to serve in Christ. Stability and industry therefore have tended to flourish.
However now there is, as in ancient Israel, a tendency far worse than merely unfortunate, to forget the meaning and means of the beginnings, to launch forth into an internationalisation of the land via such bodies as the UN, and to submerge and submit morals and law to an unconscionable degree, not to mere law made by those elected by its people, but as John Howard years ago rightly pointed out, to those who are not its people. How is this to be done ? It is a weakness in our international law link, that those who are not Australian can, by international agreement, export their laws, which then come in by a mere quirk of this country's international relations policy.
Now these imported laws, they are because they consist as a liberal provision for foreign intrusion, any less in FORCE for that, when they arrive! At an earlier time our current Prime Minister was vocal, and keen to prevent this usurpation of national rule. It is not at all certain how much of this keenness persists as the UN is now called in to help solve some national problems, complete of course with its own code of laws! (Cf. The Other News Appendix 1.)
It is of course true that a due regard for other nations, for neighbourliness has much to commend it; it is just a question of whether you adopt their (or some joint ) 'morals' in the process.
In fact, in this land, much is said of culture, often with the hypnotic term 'multi-culturalism', as if man were God and there were no standards whatever except what this man, that culture, that nation invented. Thus it can be deemed, in this confusion, racism to wish to conserve the law of God, since God is dismissed like the PM some years ago. The results however are far greater, and in this case, the thing is contrary to divine law and all right. It is not racism to hold to the truth, to God and to follow Him, since HE is not a race, nor is His truth limited to any! It IS HUMAN RACISM to insist that the follies of some be made the requirements of all, in making themselves the measure of all things, without even, on this basis, being able to know who they are who measure!
It is amazing how readily so many accept this verbal junk (for the reasons so-called, in SMR Ch. 4 and cf. The Other News Appendix 1 with With Heart and Mind, Soul and Strength Ch. 11, *1 and Things Old and New Ch. 1). In fact, God is God and man is man, and a product of the Creator, albeit one with enough endued creativity for him to forget his own creativity and imagine it is invented by pure non-invention, which while most inventive in liberty of thought, is wholly irrational in validity. Creativity involves symbolic thought, logical coherence, imaginative liberty from the bonds of one's constitutive apparatus, the thrust to survey, the capacity to collate and distilling significance, change it and invent, or apply it, or both. Wholly contrary to matter, beyond all other things in its intensity and immensity of human capacity, except for love, the very expression and ally of truth or fraudulence as the spirit of man is moved, by its very denial of God, it betokens the source in the absolute and personal, and being free, uses this to distance itself from it at will.
Without God's donation, man could not have the capacity to leave Him; and in leaving Him, man loses the capacity to be what he is. Hence there is endless friction, diffraction of truth, denial of peace, the aura of delusive lies and cultural sham which, often being shameless shambles, irritates others who, being national liars in the game, retort and retaliate until the thing so brings dizziness to many, that they live as lie. This is all as if lie were their father, which, in the end, becomes their condition, status and position as Christ indicates for the terminus, in John 8:44! The tissue of neglect of God by irrational farce of this kind becomes part of what the Bible calls THE LIE (cf. II Thessalonians -11) destined to become of great power until, being mere delusion, it is pricked like a bubble.
One of the lies of course is simply that culture is all, that religion is part of culture, that therefore toleration which helps living and its abundance, when it means lack of mere prejudice and hatred of what is merely different, is applicable to religion. It soon becomes criminal to preach, to attest, to witness for Christ as absolute. Thus religion is to be by definition relative, and hence relatively unimportant to the (deemed) absolute need of survival, to which it is therefore subordinated. So the spirit of this Age moves to conquer, and in so doing, exposes its simple deceit.
As in all lie, it does not work. It provides no balm to the troubled heart, no code to the lock-stepped compulsion, with which to liberate, no understanding and no love, and while it lacks, it also bulges with pure equivocation and intense confusion. Would it love as it falsely accused the proclamation of the truth, with all grace as intolerance, intrusion, implicit vilification ? Does not this 'love' then love the truth ? It is a cardinal omission. It loves itself, mere humanistic self-idolatry (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms Appendix IV - Idol Birds).
Australia has in many academic institutions so imbibed of this sodden, spiritually rotten and irrational fare, that in the very interests of toleration, it grows in peril of utter intolerance as we have seen in the Victorian case ((Ancient Words: Modern Deeds Ch. 15, Galloping Events Ch. 7, End-Note *2 , DIAMOND 10), more than once. You are then told by people who SAY that all is relative and that no-one knows the absolute truth (except of course the speakers, who must know it to be able to say there is not any of it, so contradicting in their assertion the very validity of their assertion - it is simply a form of contemporary madness), that you must not say things like absolute truth.
In other words, you could not dismiss absolute truth unless it be there, lacking the means of truth to be in a position to do so; and on the other hand, if you proceed to invoke it in order to be able to dismiss it, then the dismissal is meaningless; you use it to abuse it, and it still remains. ANY statement as truth, in order to orient, has truth as its pre-condition, and all reasonings based on such information to those who hear, are invalid as soon as their butt is truth.
What, however, could be an example of this irrational 'liberation' and social conditioning ?
This: You must not say, Jihad is bad, for some people like that sort of thing and it is their RELIGION, and in Victoria, if you suggest it could be bad they might be sad, and so try to make you so, by suing you with much power from the law, recently installed as at a coronation. It is a crowned crow of folly, cawing cacophonously in a once free land! So it goes ... but where ? Why where it came from, to the father of lies, for it is always a lie to claim the absolute, in removing it!
irrational fare, that in the very interests of toleration, it grows in peril of utter intolerance as we have seen in the Victorian case more than once. You are then told by people who SAY that all is relative and that no-one knows the absolute truth (except of course the speakers, who must know it to be able to say there is not any of it, so contradicting in their assertion the very validity of their assertion - it is simply a form of contemporary madness), that you must not say things like absolute truth.
What could be an example of this 'liberation' ? This: You must not say, Jihad is bad, for some people like that sort of thing and it is their RELIGION, and in Victoria, if you suggest it could be bad they might be sad, and so try to make you so, by suing you with much power from the law, recently installed as at a coronation. It is a crowned crow of folly, cawing cacophonously in a once free land! So it goes ... but where ? Why where it came from, to the father of lies, for it is always a lie to claim the absolute, in removing it!
It is all but inexpressibly sad to see a once noble nation, which for all its faults, had some excellent features, so hoodwinked by haplessness and hypnotised by 'international' as though it meant rational or spiritual! Thus people are to come into this land and change it as much as they like in any direction they like. Thus, the FOUNDATIONS of its greatness with Christian aspects of law and morals, not to say a Christian commencement, in form at least from its English source, are removable readily as rubble in the contemporary mood. It could have various consequences, this faithlessness towards God. Thus for example, Australia could be taken over by aborigines, or taken over by Moslems, by the device of a few using a little jihad with international assistance, requiring then, as in Israel now, to take outrageous action. Perhaps then international assistance would be 'needed' in order to find out what to do about it!
In these cases, it is a question of 'interested parties'. In the aboriginal case, if some foreign bodies should seek to exploit aboriginal land for the detriment of all in Australia, using it as a base; or if some of the aborigines, induced by the simple method of appeal of some kind or other, should elect to invite some other nation to help them in their use of the lands provided, then as with any other such group, peril to all begins to appear. Indeed, unless the cultural blindness improves, so that aborigines are made welcome and duly cared for as Australians, not some other 'nation' with other laws or with lands not under all Australian laws, due results of grave folly may arise.
It is so with any nation, headstrong and worshipping nature myths, whether Anglo-Saxon, Indian or other in origin, as if land were owned and made by some occupants, or as if a whole continent, visited by some, automatically belongs to all who first come, though they do not possess it, utilise or unify it at all! There are responsibilities to the Maker which transcend all nature myths, and for all make wisdom more than mere romanticism with nature worship, whether in the Western mode (cf. That Magnificent Rock Chs. 1 and 8) or any other! Sin is confined to no one people, but great is the danger to any people who having seen truth displayed openly and long before them, futilely depart in irrational surcharged engines of desire, for destinations far from unknown, though those departing may not yet realise this. It has all been done before.
Soon the political extravanganzas merely mirror and in the end mock, the philosophical follies which preceded them, and so a once free nation, becomes captive by its own will, but not for it! That is always the irony!
The possibilities are endless, stretching all the way down the bottomless pit. Moreover, this is merely one of the many ways in which to allow ANYTHING to take over a country which has had much basis in Someone incomparable, for whom justice and mercy, goodness and truth, in the realism of the Gospel of grace are not matters to force at the personal level, but something to honour in the legal and administrative level. It is this which gives meaning, and meaning which gives place to people, leading to freedom; but this, lusting for autonomy, and ignorant of the truth, displacing God with godless wandering, when it reaches the helm, heads straight for the rocks.
It is there of course that ships go down.
To give is good; but not to
give away God. As history eloquently attests, and the Biblical predictions in
detail exhibit, for that presumption you pay. The account chargeable, however,
exceeds the capacity to pay. Truancy, when spiritual, is not less a
delinquency. Truth when ignored, is not less ruling. Faith when receiving
Christ, however, is not less effective, even when, as will surely come to be as
all the other predictions of the word of God, the world itself is gone. This is
a mere staging house, and the insistence on its values is like insisting on the
values of a concert platform while you perform.
There is a similar emphasis
on the remnant, the elect, the preserved (of Isaiah 49:6-7), in Zechariah
12:10ff., where at the end of the Age, many in Israel are seen making it a
national phase of mourning for Him whom they pierced, even God in fleshly
format on earth ("Me" whom they had pierced); but for all that, these
there, it is emphasised in the text, mourn separately. The cries to receive the
Lord to come are numerous as in Isaiah 55, 53:1, but the resistance has been
great. This only makes the more conspicuous those who do come, the
With this coming fact, the Lord in that place continues to present His own interpretation: it is not for man to twiddle with His word, since HE ONLY knows and He speaks what is in His mind clearly to man:
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.
" One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
And name himself by the name of
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
"And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
"Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one.’ ”
(Emphasis is added.)
Again, as noted in the text, "I and the children whom You have given Me" Isaiah 8:18, the preceding chapter) shows in the predictive scope the consummation of the remnant, the Lord and His disciples, as when He declared in exclamation, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of heaven!" (Mark - Greek tekna).
Further, in Isaiah 53:1-6 we find that although it is a question (too well answered, if you will, in Isaiah 49:7) HOW MANY will believe in the Christ: "Who has believed our report and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed ?" (Isaiah 53:1), yet there are SOME who are HEALED, yes whose lives are not slightly healed as was the grievous case of formalistic dysfunction noted by Jeremiah in 6:14, 8:11, saying "Peace, peace, when there is no peace!".
On the contrary, these having met and received, believing, the Good Shepherd (who, God, came as He said He would in Ezekiel 34), were in fact "healed". Of this "we" it is found, "on Him was laid the iniquity of us all". It is not some other "we" and it is not some other "they" who rejoice in 9:3, for alas, without Him by faith, so that the report is believed, there is less than nothing to rejoice about! If Isaiah has made any one thing most clear, it is this, chapter 1 brilliant with condemnation in light, of such darkness as forms and ceremonies and feckless professions, without washing and cleansing.
Thus the other body is this, the one which has heeded, so that "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow" (Isaiah ).
Indeed, of these we read categorically, this: "By His stripes we are healed."
Now in Isaiah 53:5, this is a simple transference of guilt. Esteemed smitten of God, the Messiah nevertheless in FACT who, for those termed "we" with the correlative "our", "has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" is effectual vicariously for their salvation. In fact "on HIM is laid the iniquity of US all" (caps. added). This therefore is the effectually called, the category of those with saving knowledge of the Lord, whose lives are altered for ever, transmuted in spirit, alleviated in heart, rested in soul, pardoned by grace, regenerated by the power and purpose and in the privilege of the knowledge of God (John 17:3, Isaiah 53:10-11). These are HIS CHILDREN, though He had for His own part no generation - "who shall declare His generation, for He was cut off from the land of the living", so that there was no lineage to put in the books of the chronicles, for Him in the flesh.
There is however another book in which their names, His spiritual children, are written (cf. Rev. 20:15). These cannot perish (John -28), for they are kept by the power of God. When you make His soul an offering for sin. HE shall see HIS seed (Isaiah 53;10 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9 No. 8).
These are the "we" as in I John 3:9, whose seed from God remains IN THEM. These are the people of Isaiah 9:3 likewise, whose joy is so vastly disjoined from the body for whom the vaulted skies of unresponding darkness and dimness of anguish loom. Thus there the nation is in the singular: but these are in the plural. They not of that national unit which as one whole failed to believe, continued in grief and grieved the Lord still further. They are those, the elect, the called, those implicit in Isaiah 53:1, the WHO in "who has believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed."
These are those who are evidenced and attested, brought into clear focus and seen as realising the purposes of God in the very chapter before this, who now aptly show their joy at the coming of their King, long held in heart and now seen in body. In beautiful cohesion, this is intensely emphasised in the chapter preceding our focus, Isaiah 9. As in Isaiah 8:18, as identified in Hebrews 2:13 (cf. Joyful Jottings 26, With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 4), the disciples in Isaiah are of the LORD, and it is HE (Isaiah 8:14) who though a stone to the nation, a stumbling for their unrelenting sin, is a refuge and a sanctuary for His people, being as a Father to those of whom it is written, "I and the children whom You have given Me", who are His by purchase (Isaiah 53:6), and become His inheritance (Isaiah 53:10 as in Bible Translations 3, n20).
These are of the remnant which will return (Isaiah ), "though your people, O
But you will be hungry...
Behold My servants shall sing for joy of heart,
But you shall cry for sorrow of heart,
And wail for grief of spirit.
You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen,
And the Lord GOD will slay you,
And call His servants by another,
So that he who blesses himself in the earth
Shall bless himself in the God of truth..."
(from Isaiah 65:13-16, emphasis added).
"My servants" are the "they", the designated elect, the rejoicing remnant, the standard bearers, the focus for faith, those who were raised from the dust of the earth, to the things which God has provided; and it is fitting in the nation of Israel for its part, that it should be so; for was it not supposed to show forth God's praise (Isaiah 43:21), and those who DO SO are of the essence of the nation, like salt, of it but contradistinct in it!
These are His from of old, for even David so put his trust in Him (Psalm 16:7-8), as knowing of His bodily resurrection, as in that Psalm, and seeing the Lord ALWAYS before him, lest he should totter. These are His at all times and in all climes, as many as put their trust in Him, will do so, have done so (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17) relative to the everlasting Gospel.
It is therefore most natural in Isaiah 9:3, that this "we" of Isaiah 53 and 8, this contingent of the 7000 of Elijah's day, this remnant, this believing and engraced multitude, who in their day never seem so, but as salt are so, should be referred to in Isaiah, as experiencing such joy as Peter denotes in I Peter 1:8, "joy unspeakable and full of glory" . This is that joy of which Isaiah also speaks for those who rejoice so rapturously in Isaiah 9:3. These are of the number of those contrasted with the singular term for the nation: for it is but one, but these are seen as being numerous: they are not of that body, yet at first derived from it; not of its spirit, yet coming from of its substance.
Thus as to
It is the underlying sub-theme of Isaiah, the correlative to the Christ, the consummation of His task, the evidence of His work in human form, outside His own, the generation of His joy (as in Psalm 22:30 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9 No. 25), of whom it is written, "a seed shall serve Him". Whilst the nation is one, and God has "not increased its joy", yet despite this lapse, this cardinal failure, the seed is still many, of whom it is thus written, "They rejoice before You, according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil."
It is this which "shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation" as it is clearly written without addition in Psalm 22, and it is this which is the special people of I Peter 2:9, a chosen generation, begotten by the word of God (I Peter 1:23), not having been "redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold from your aimless conduct, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for your, who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God" (from I Peter -21).
These are those whose very
walls are "salvation"
(Isaiah 60:18), and
Praise", "those who mourn in
Later in the scenario we see them of whom it is written (Isaiah 65:23):
shall not labour in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble:
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD,
And their offspring with them."
At all times God has His own, even until the end; and as at the end, so in the midst of the time of the Messiah: as to them, "they shall rejoice," but as to the unbelieving nation, until it day comes (Romans 9:25), there is anguish (Isaiah 65:13ff.), yes even in the midst of deliverances, prevenient mercies, until the nation is moved to the roots, and repentance comes like rain after drought (Zech. 12:10ff., Isaiah 32:17).
*1 It seems good to add to this testimony of cohesive Bible presentation on this particular matter, for it makes quite a good illustration of the principle in view.
EXCURSION ON RESONANCE CONCERNING THE NATION AND THE ELECT as DISTINCTIVELY DIFFERENT AS SHOWN IN THIS TEXT
1) Let us start with Isaiah 26:15ff.. Here too we find the expression "You have increased the nation, O LORD, you have increased the nation; You are glorified; You had removed it far into all the ends of the earth."
Despite behaviour worthy of extinction (II Chronicles 36), the nation even increased, and this had its points. But it was not the point that matter. In this world's ways, this exalted God by having His nation appear strong; but in fact, the very strength was a pitfall.
You find this in the immediately following verses in Isaiah 26. We hear of trouble, like that of a woman in travail with child, who gives a burp, wind, and not a birth, a future. Immediately, however, there is for INDIVIDUALS, for actual believers unlike the much condemned nation (Isaiah 30:8-17), a contrasting destiny and delight. They are to be actually physically resurrected as "My dead body" (the 'together' some add, is not there, a fateful folly to insert it). His dead body, they will arise from the dust! That is as in I Corinthians 15.
Thus here also, in the parallel context of the growth in numbers in the nation, is the same desolatory contrast with the nation on the one hand, and on the other, the concentration in glorious wonder, on the elect, those called and chosen, those settled on Him, and to arise because of Him.
2) In Isaiah 53:12, we see another correlative. Christ by His power and resurrection, overcoming death, will DIVIDE THE SPOIL WITH THE STRONG. That is, His kingdom of the elect will be counterpoised to that of the Satan with his hell-bent troupe. The narrow way to eternal life will be the other avenue, not the broad way to destruction; and on this is His 'spoil', those the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), for whom there is such rejoicing in heaven, the attainment of His Father's commission on earth, the consummation of history in glory (as implied in Revelation 5, in the opening of the seals, His exquisite and heavily paid for prerogative!).
In Isaiah 9:3, we find that the exquisite rejoicing of those who delight in the Saviour (as contrasted with the national approach as predicted and duly fulfilled, of abhorring Him - 49:7) contains a parallel phrasing. They delight as those who divide the spoil: and the everlasting and unsearchable riches of Christ is this spoil (cf. Proverbs 8, and Colossians 1:27, Ephesians 3:8). Here is the same vast contrast, pithily put in small compass. We find in each either the nation in its own way, here bent on murder, contrasted with those who DO believe the report, or the nation in its desolation, here confronted with a ground for rejoicing, which it does not as a nation share: for the joy is "NOT" increased for it, but IS one of ravishing delight for those who receive the Messiah.
3) In Isaiah 8:16-18, and then this contrasted with the following, and indeed the preceding verses, you have a similar phenomenon; but it is one of exceptional interest. On all sides is treachery and pollution, as you move past these verses, or before them; but suddenly, by sharp contrast once more, you have the concentration on the elect, those believing and receiving. As Hebrews 1 shows, this is the Messiah. It is He and His disciples, for it is He who is a wonder, as Isaiah 11, shows, and indeed the whole Messianic encompassment in Isaiah. It is HE who makes all the difference, it is HE who is the counsellor. It is HE here, just before Isaiah 9 on which we are just now dwelling, who is here focussed in preparation for Isaiah 9. Once more there is the sudden, contrasting situation for HIS people and the mass of the nation.
It is to this figure, as identically with Him of Isaiah 7, God with us, who is in view. It is He who is so bugled into exhibition before us and the nation of Israel in the prophecy of Isaiah 9, and it is He who is the criterion, who makes ALL the difference.
Thus although the NATION did NOT rejoice, those to whom He belongs, those who are His disciples, those who are thoroughly different from the nation, on whom the glory descends (cf. Isaiah 60:1ff.), these not only by contrast rejoice, but rejoice GREATLY. Their whole heart is in it.
It is the same contrast as we see in Isaiah 8:8, where the desolations of sin accrue to Israel, and the Lord speaks of "Thy land, O Immanuel." The poignancy and pathos of that utterance is quite profound. Here is the marvellous opportunity given to King Ahab in Isaiah 7, ask going up, above, or going down, below. There was NO LIMIT. He could ask what he would in the face of the danger of blight from a two nation invasive force gathered against him. But he declined, his fictitious faith as so often where a church is only formal, and nominal, being shown for what it was. He even tried to make it appear holy and good not to ASK! He would not tempt the Lord! What a message is this to the Christian who prefers despondency when FAITH has already the answer and he does not ASK! I had a church once in Illinois, in Hinsdale, and precisely that happened.
We had a glorious opportunity to expand vigorously into our work in a new property, and all the means over months of prayer had been assembly in a staggering way, and many in it were rich. But for the sake of a miserable $3000 (admittedly perhaps $30,000 now - but even one of them was on around half a million in today's terms), which they foresaw as a POSSIBLE shortfall if they bought the new and amazing property, they turned it down. How great was the irony when it was discovered after the vote that one of their number had undertaken to COVER any loss in the first year, IF they voted to go ahead. Naturally, this was not made public. It was a TEST.
So here again you see the contrast of Immanuel and the land, the trouble, sadness, anguish and failure in the land, whereas the wonder and selective power of the Messiah proceeds to its culmination both before and after this notation in Isaiah 8.
Thus in the very midst of that naked transition from darkness of the nation to light of the Messiah, the GREAT light, the TRANSFORMATIVE light, we find the stark contrast of those noted in 8:18, as in Isaiah 11, the remnant, HIS people, those responding. THEY will rejoice greatly; but the nation will NOT increase its joy.
Such is the consistent message of Isaiah throughout. It comes in poignant ways, in sudden ways, in pregnant contrasts, in mere notations of the general run and the responsive remnant, and the two poles feature in focus like a North and South, the distance between not so great in a bar magnet, but the difference in orientation complete!