Isaiah 9:6, 7
The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts
Today, we’ll take time to look at the glorious words of Isaiah 9:6 & 7 which is a passage that speaks of the coming Messiah. Isaiah writes in both the present and future tenses as he looks forward to the work of Christ. To him, it was as sure as if it He were already there and at work in the world. And in fact, He was.
In order to see the context, we’ll read all of Isaiah 9:1-7. And then we can together look in detail at the contents of verses 6 and 7.
Introduction: At Christmas, we sing happy songs about the season. We travel off to be with family. We eat yummy food and we take time off work. And if our priorities are right, we make an extra effort to think about the marvelous Christmas Child.
Long before He came, the prophets told us all kinds of things about Him. He would be the Seed of the woman, whatever that means! He would be born in Bethlehem. Where’s that? Well, it’s a little town a few miles south of Jerusalem. According to Zechariah, He would usher in salvation and ride on a donkey – what a fun thought to consider.
There are so many details about the coming Messiah, that cataloging them all actually continues to this day. Hidden pictures suddenly jump out along with the clear and open details. What is apparent is that God does not want us to miss the significance of the Christmas Child after Christmas is over.
He wants us to keep looking for Him every day as we open up His word. Why? Because it is all about Him – this Son who is given by God so that we can understand the very heart of the unseen Father.
Text Verse: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12
What the Old Testament hints at, the New Testament shouts out. What is concealed from eyes, is now revealed to eyes. Where there once was eager anticipation, there is now wonderful realization, but even that leads to more eager anticipation, doesn’t it!
Christ came, Christ is, and Christ is coming again. Until He does, we look back in joy at what has occurred and forward in more antici…….pation of what lies ahead. The Bible, God’s superior word, reveals to us the loving story of how He entered into our humanity.
He walked among us; He shared Himself with us. Now, we wait for the day when He will return and bring us to Himself. Until that wondrous moment, let’s look back to the story about the Christmas Child as given to us from the pen of Isaiah.
There we find that this precious Gift would be the most wondrous Gift of all. God’s word is where we find the story and so let’s turn to it now to see the marvel and the majesty. And so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. The Government Will Be Upon His Shoulder
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
The verses leading up to this one spoke of gloom, oppression, and war. The people are walking about in darkness, as if they are groping to see. Into this heavy life of despondency, there comes a Light – a Great Light. The darkness peels away and upon them a light has shined.
And from this Light comes freedom from oppression. There is the breaking of the yoke which laid heavily on the weary people. There is quiet instead of the marching of boots. And there is the burning of the implements of war. In place of the gloom comes joy – joy like the time of harvest when there is abundance, festivity, and celebration.
The pall of the world of darkness is replaced with the glory of Light. This is the backdrop of what Isaiah will now present. And so he begins with a conjunction, “for” to show us how this marvelous splendor will come about. It will be through a Man, but there will be something unique about this Man.
Isaiah asks us to actually peer into the very mind of God and the wonder of His creation in order to discern what is coming… what is revealed in this Person who would change all things in a stunning, spectacular display of glory which had been hidden since the very fall of man.
For unto us. This marvelous Light – the ending of war, the joy as if there were a perpetual harvest… it is to come not from outside of our realm as if God were to suddenly and unexpectedly take charge of things and turn them upside down. Instead, this Light is coming from us, from our human existence. For unto us… a Child is born.
The Light which shines will be a human, born from the stock of humanity. He will wear garments of flesh, just like you and me.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
The Lord God formed man and the Lord God breathed the breath of life into Him. The breath of life which has been transmitted from the Lord to Adam and then to every person since that time will be the same breath of life that this One will breathe too.
He is the Son of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He is the Son of Judah and the Son of David. No, God isn’t suddenly and unexpectedly going to take charge of things. Nope,,, He is leaving it up to us, isn’t He. He will be a Man. Unto us a Child is born.
But yet… Unto us a Son is given. The Child is a human, but the Son is something different. If God is giving a Son, then this must be sudden, complete…, and unexpected in the extreme. God doesn’t change, and God is outside of time. And so whatever God gives is all of these things – sudden, complete, and even if told about in advance, completely unexpected… I mean, who would think!
God is giving a Son, but that Son will be a Man. This is the stuff of legends, and yet, it is reality. This,,, this we gotta see.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33
But Mary, one of the people to whom the words of Isaiah were written, didn’t understand. How could she? Luke 1:34, 35 says –
“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given.
The mystery suddenly becomes clear. He is a human, the Son of man. The same breath of life which was breathed into Adam is to be found in Him. And yet, He is God. The same breath which truly spoke the universe into existence is found in Him as well. He is the Seed of the woman. His mother is human, but His Father is God –
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4
A moment later, John reveals something more, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (14)
Isaiah’s pen flowed with a description of the incarnate Word and yet the words weren’t comprehended for more than 700 years. God has entered His creation in order to set things right. Upon this marvelous Being, the Son of God and the Son of Man, will be placed all rule and all authority…
6 (con’t) And the government will be upon His shoulder.
In this verse, we don’t learn how this comes about. Instead, we only see that it will come about. In this marvelous Man will be all rule and governance. This won’t be a localized government, but the government. In Him will rest absolute authority over all of the nations and all of the people’s of the world. And that authority will be, as Isaiah tells us, “upon His shoulder.”
This term is all-inclusive of what it means to rule. The robe of a king rests on the shoulder; the burden of the office is upon his shoulder; the rights and privileges of rule rest there as well. But there is more. The offspring and the posterity of the king, and the riches of the king, are all said to rest upon him.
All rule and all authority in Him is found
The government will upon His shoulder rest
And from Him shall come a rule which will astound
The nations will be at peace, no longer distressed
His genealogy is given in Matthew 1 and in Luke 3. Elsewhere in the Bible we find other people in His ancestry as well. All of these people are filled with faults and to us some of those faults are appalling. They are people just like you and me, sinners in need of a Savior. What an amazing genealogy for the Christmas Child!
But the Son of God also has a genealogy of sorts listed too. God is His Father, and so unlike His human genealogy, His divine entrance into the world is pure, undefiled, perfect, and eternal. What His Father possesses, He possesses as well. God is truth, the Son is truth. God is righteous, the Son is righteous. God is love; the Son embodies love.
In fact, Paul tells us that He is the image of the invisible God and that in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is unique and therefore He is uniquely qualified. His rule will be without end, either in scope or in duration.
In the 9th psalm we’re told that –
“He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.” Psalm 9:8
This is the coming government of this Child who is born to us, and of this Son who has been given to us.
II. How to Describe the Incomprehensible
The prophets had a tough time of it. They were usually out of favor with the people. In the Bible, they are imprisoned, tortured, and killed by the boatload. Even when things went well, it had to be a trying job. But of all the things that must have frustrated those prophets, not knowing what they were actually saying must have been at the top of the list.
God would speak to them and through them in a way that often kept them from understanding the very words they relayed. Peter tells us about this in his first letter. He says there –
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” 1 Peter 1:10, 11
These men of God carefully searched their own prophecies, trying to understand what they had written and what their words were pointing to…
The ink has flowed from the pen guided by my hand
But I cannot comprehend what the words say
These words are so very hard to understand
I pray the Lord reveal them to me some wondrous day
Imagine Isaiah’s puzzled, sleepless nights after reading what he had written…
6 (con’t) And His name will be called Wonderful,
From the mind of God and through the pen of Isaiah now come words of splendor, words of majesty, words of awe. They are insufficient to describe the glory of the Man, but words are what we use to describe things. And so, limited though they are, they have been written to help us attempt to perceive what is just beyond perception.
Isaiah first says that, “His name will be called Wonderful.” The word is pele and means that He will be incomprehensible. He is beyond description and therefore the words used to describe Him are actually unsatisfactory for the task.
This Man is the One who established the order of all things and He is the One in whom is found the perfect completion of that order. In Him is all knowledge which can be derived from all things because all things are originally derived from Him.
This is why John calls Him the Word of God. An alphabet is the basis for a language. The formation of letters results in words. It is through words that we describe, catalogue, analyze, and explain things.
The Word of God is then the explanation of all things – why they exist, how they exist, and what their purpose is. Because God is infinite, then no combination of words can ever fully describe Him. And so the term simple term “Word of God” is used to show us that. Where words fail, the Word ceaselessly, endlessly reveals. Though Him, the infinite Father will eternally be made known.
There are many languages and within the languages are symbols, letters, words, sentences, ideas, and concepts. But all of the information that can be developed for describing something can never attain to describe what is incomprehensible. And so God sent this Wonderful Son to infinitely reveal His infinite goodness.
The wonderment and delight of Messiah will never end. This Son who is born, this Child who is given is more glorious than the mere Christmas story we tell year by year. The true marvel of Christmas is the gift of unpacking an endless journey into the mind of God.
Because the Christmas Child was born, we celebrate His birth once a year. But the Son of Christmas is eternal, so let us celebrate His life always and forever.
Next, He will be called 6 (con’t) Counselor,
This is the Hebrew word yoets. It signifies one of honorable rank. Kings and princes will come into His presence and He will advise them with the wisdom of God to direct all the affairs of the human race. No question can be too difficult for the author of questions. No mystery can be too deep for the infinite Mind.
Later in Isaiah, we are told that –
“Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider.” (52:15)
When one comes to this Counselor with an open mouth to challenge Him with hard questions, he will leave with a shut mouth and fully explained answers.
When the Queen of Sheba left with the wisdom of Solomon, she was no more delighted than what the most intellectual man will leave with when he departs from the presence of Christ. He will shake His head in marvel at the revealed depth of wisdom which he had never before even contemplated.
Next, He will be called the 6 (con’t) Mighty God,
The Hebrew term here is el gibbor. In the very next chapter of the book of Isaiah the exact same term, el gibbor, is used again when speaking of the Lord, Jehovah.
As God isn’t confused, the only plain sense of Isaiah’s words in chapter 9 is that this Person, this Human being, will be the omnipotent God. He is the same Lord who is described in chapter 10. And this testimony is found throughout Scripture. Both in the Old Testament and the New we find the incarnation testified to.
Those Old Testament prophets may not have grasped what was written. They may have even thought what they wrote was somehow mistaken, but they didn’t change what they had received. And their words are vindicated in this Child of Christmas.
There He lay wrapped in swaddling clothes and helpless in a manger, a food trough for animals, and yet it was – this little baby lying in a dirty feeding trough – He who created the universe by His magnificent power. He, the mighty God, crying out for mommy’s milk and her caring, loving arms.
Next, He will be called the 6 (con’t) Everlasing Father,
This title must have brought Isaiah right to his knees in astonishment. Abiad – the Father of eternity. But the Father of eternity, the Messiah, isn’t to be confused with God the Father. The title shows possession, not position.
The father of the Hebrews is Abraham. He possesses the title even though he is dead and is no longer in the position. Charles Babbage is called the father of computers because he was the pioneer of the field of computers. He possessed the idea and then developed it.
Abiad, the Father of eternity, is the One who possesses time. He invented it and He has mastery over it. This Child who was born, this Son who has been given is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End; He is the First and the Last. There is no time that He didn’t exist and there is no time He will not exist.
As mommy lay sleeping, exhausted from caring for the Boy
He tenderly watched over her just as He today watches over us
To be found in the Everlasting Father is eternal joy
This is the amazing splendor to be found in the Lord Jesus
While dreams fill our sleep, He remains eternally awake and alert. He is our Source, our Sustenance, and our eternal longing. He is Abiad, the Father of Eternity – the Everlasting Father. And now verse 6 finishes with just one more title…
He will be called the 6 (con’t) Prince of Peace.
The Hebrew term is sar shalom. In Hebrew, the word sar signifies a leader, a captain, an officer, etc. It is someone who is in charge of something. In the case of this Man, He is the Prince of Peace. He is the one in charge of it. He grants it to those under Him. But His peace is more than our modern idea of peace.
We think of peace as quiet or maybe calm – “I need peace, I’m trying to study… please be quiet.” But to a Hebrew it is a state of completion and wholeness. This Christmas Child is the place where wholeness is to be realized. In the Messiah we find the fulfillment and completion of all good things.
Where there was strife and enmity with God, we now have peace. Where there was the fear of death, we now have the eternal hope of life. Where there was only groping in heavy darkness, there is now the confident stride of walking in eternal light.
This wonderful Word of God bestows all blessings, and from Him flows all prosperity and goodness. He is complete in all ways and this wholesome state of completeness will be transmitted to all things and to all of His people – those who call on Him. He will be the lamp through which the radiance of God will illuminate New Jerusalem for all eternity – absolute peace flowing in pure light.
In Him, there will be no desire left unfilled because He is the Creator of all things and thus the Source of all blessings. This is the One Isaiah tells us is coming and this is the One whom words fail to adequately describe.
III. The Eternal Throne
7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,
The English translation of this verse makes it seem like the government and peace of Messiah will never cease to increase. But what it means is that there will be no limit to His government and peace. His government will be unlimited as will be the peace which comes with it.
For the people of God, the Prince of Peace will be their peace. He will shepherd them to a place of green pastures and still water. Their souls will be restored and He will lead them in paths of righteousness – all for the sake of His name. There will be no conflict or strife as He tenderly governs the flock of His pasture.
The benevolent rule and wholesome care we long for and are reminded of in the 23rd psalm will be realized and enjoyed forever because of the Christmas Child.
God has given us the five senses to perceive the world around us, but for every flower, there is the smell of death in war. For each warm refreshing bath or swim in a cool lake, there is a stubbed toe or a scrape on the knee. With each lovely child’s face in newness of life, there is an older, wrinkled one coming to life’s end.
If we don’t eat the sweet strawberry soon enough, it becomes repugnant and inedible. And just after the melodious sound of the morning birds comes the overwhelming din of noisy traffic. There is chaos and trial, there is pain and difficulty, there is heartache and there is sadness.
However, it won’t always be that way. We lost Eden, but the New Jerusalem is ahead. The One who sits on the throne will grant peace without measure. Of this state, there will be, as the Hebrew reads, ain qets – “no end.”
In either distance or time, the experience will be without limit. Every new day and each continued step will bring more wonder than even the sweetest Christmas morning because of this marvelous Christmas Child.
7 (con’t) Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
In 1 Samuel 7:16, the Lord made this promise to King David – “…your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
The New Testament goes to great length to show the connection between Jesus and David. His genealogies, the book of Acts and the epistles, and especially the numerous gospel references are given to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise to David. Fifteen times, He is called specifically “the Son of David.”
To sit on the throne of David doesn’t mean a literal throne, but the throne which is emblematic of David, the great King of Israel. His throne was unique because it ruled God’s people. He started out as a humble shepherd and he never was far from his humility.
Even 400 years after his death, David was still called a man after God’s own heart. He ruled all of God’s land and he did so with justice and righteousness. And so to sit on David’s throne means to rule in the manner of David. Christ will do this, and more so.
What David pictured is realized in the Messiah spoken of by Isaiah here. He will rule from this throne and over the people of God for all eternity. A Baby in a manger, completely dependent on those around Him for His very survival will rule on a majestic throne, judging the world in righteousness. And His throne will be, as promised to David, established forever. This is seen in the continuation of verse 7 –
7 (con’t) To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
To order a thing is to confirm that thing. When a king orders an execution he confirms what will then be carried out. When a blueprint is made, it is an order confirming what the building will be. And to establish a thing is to execute what has been ordered.
The order to execute is established in the execution. The establishment of a building is the erection of what was directed in the plan. In Messiah, the throne of David is ordered and it is established. And it is done so by the counsel of God; through judgment and justice.
Unlike human governments which start corruptly or which inevitably end in corruption, the reign of the Christmas Child is both ordered and established in judgment and in justice. There will be no unrighteousness when the subjects of His kingdom are purified.
And Isaiah tells us that from the time of its establishment, this harmonious order will continue, “from that time forward, even forevermore.” The kingdom established by Christ is the kingdom that will never, never cease to exist.
The Christmas Child, who at the age of twelve astonished the teaches at the temple in Jerusalem with His insights, will rule forever with the wisdom of God among the people of God.
*7 (fin) The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
The term Lord of Hosts, or Yehovah Sabaoth, is used almost 240 times in the Bible. Jehovah of hosts is the Commander of heaven’s armies. He directs the angelic warfare, He defends His people, and He fights against all that is unrighteous. And it is He who has vowed from Himself that what He has promised He will perform.
Would He trust this to an angel? Would He trust this to a mere man? No. Rather He spoke and He will perform what He has spoken. In what is no less amazing than the creation of the universe, Jehovah of Hosts stepped into His creation and united with it in order to correct what we had so horribly fouled up.
The Commander of all the heavenly armies allowed Himself to become an utterly helpless human Child. Instead of speaking out orders to His legions of heavenly troops, He gurgled out coos to His mother.
Instead of directing Michael and His angels to protect Israel, He lay threatened by wicked King Herod. And, instead of the dazzling splendor of heaven, he lay in a filthy cave, in a dirty trough where animals fed. The blood around Him came from the birthing process, not from vanquishing His foes.
And the blood in the veins of this precious little Baby would some day in the future stain the cross of Calvary to bring peace between warring armies. Such is the nature of the wisdom of God, displayed in the tender, helpless Christmas Child.
From His humble origins in Bethlehem to His gracious ministry throughout the dirty streets of Israel, He was always amazingly close to the common elements of life. He made wine for a wedding when His mother asked Him to, He slept in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and He walked through grain fields picking a bite to eat.
Despite possessing all of heaven’s riches, all of them, we’re told by Luke that he was supported by the women around Him from their sustenance. None of the things we see about Jesus seem to make any sense at all unless we understand how deeply God loves us. In order to perform what He has vowed, He became like us so that we could see the full measure of His love.
We may not be able to appreciate that someone really loves us if they come into town with bags of money and no dependence on us; staying in large fine hotels instead. But when someone of great wealth lays all of it aside in order to fellowship with us and even to become dependent on us, we can know that they truly want a meaningful relationship.
In the movie Brubaker, Robert Redford played the role of the new warden of a prison who first went into that prison pretending to be a convict. By doing this, he was able to weed out the corruption, understand the plight of the convicts, and have empathy for the difficulties which are found in prison life.
He was also able to establish relations with the convicts he came to know personally. God already knows our plight and He is fully capable of weeding out corruption, but by coming as a Man, Jesus was able to participate with us in our humanity. He wept with us, He rejoiced with us, He lived among us, and He died among us.
In this wondrous story then is found One who is not only qualified to lead, but who has demonstrated it in a way which gives us the opportunity to willingly join Him or reject Him. Before you turn away from so great a salvation, make sure you take a moment to look again at the stained wood of the cross of Calvary.
His agonizing death at Golgotha came not because He had done wrong, but because you had done wrong; we had done wrong. Instead of bundling you up with the kindling wood of creation and tossing you to the eternal flames, God offered an exchange – your pardon for the life of the Christmas Child.
Today, if you hear His voice, don’t rebel against it. Say right now, “I receive Jesus. I want His pardon. I want that amazing grace.” Today, if you hear His voice, call out on the Christmas Child who sits at God’s right hand, waiting to pardon, even you. Let me tell you how you can be a part of His eternal Christmas story…
Closing Verse: It is finished! John 19:30
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Though we are completely unworthy of His favor, He stepped out of eternity and dwelt among us. The Christmas Child went to the cross of Calvary because of His love for you. So call out to Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.
The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon
Her who is distressed or in agony
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali
And afterward more heavily oppressed her
By the way of the sea
Beyond the Jordan it shall occur
In an area of the Gentiles around the land of Galilee
The people who walked in darkness
It is they who have seen a great Light
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death
Upon them has shined a light so bright
You have multiplied the nation
And likewise its joy you have increased
They rejoice before You with great ovation
According to the time of harvest, a joy which will not be ceased
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil
When they receive the bounty and no longer toil
For You have the yoke of his burden broken
And the staff of his shoulder is taken away
The rod of his oppressor no longer an unfriendly token
As in the day of Midian, when he was destroyed that day
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle
And garments roooooolled in blood
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire, worthless chattel
Useless implements overtaken by time’s great flood
For unto us a Child is born
A time to rejoice and not to morn
Unto us a Son is given
The One to lead us from death to a’livin’
And the government will be upon His shoulder
Every eye will see Him, every soul will be His beholder
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever, He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this
And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace, no end shall we see
Do not be afraid, for behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which will be to all people, forever told
The wondrous story, the birth of a Boy
For there is born to you this day
In the city of David a Savior, it is He
Who is Christ the Lord, to whom heaven’s hosts obey
The Messiah has come, and now you may go and see
And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
Lying in a manger, a glorious view
The Christmas Child whom our Heavenly Father bestows
A Child like no other has come to dwell among us
He shall lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
And His name is called out, His name is Jesus
Come, and of the Heavenly Child partake
He is God’s gift and heaven’s treasure
He is Immanuel, God with us
And he bestows upon us grace without measure
The Christmas Child, our glorious Lord Jesus
Hallelujah and Amen…