As we continue our reading through the prophet Isaiah we come to some of the most well-known words in the whole of the book, Chapter 9 verses 1 to 7, made famous by Handel’s Messiah, hymns and worship songs, and of course Christmas Carol Services.
But here we have the original context of when these words were first spoken; Chapter 8 ends with the words ‘utter darkness’.
Nevertheless…, Chapter 9 begins, there is always hope. No more gloom for those in distress (v.1), and darkness and the shadow of death fade away as a great light dawns (v.2).
Notice where this will happen, in the lands of Naphtali and Zebulun, which were 2 of the original 12 tribes in the northern Kingdom of Israel, which were ravaged by the Assyrians that we have previously mentioned. And of course we read the name Galilee, mentioned just a few times in the OT (the last time here), but the base for much of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels, but an area that was looked down upon by the Jerusalem elites in that time.
And unlike the prophecy of the Virgin with child back in Ch.7 which seems to apply both then and also to the Messiah, this prophecy seems just to be about the Messiah that was to come, the One who would be on David’s throne for ever (v.7).
And how do we know these words are about the Messiah? Well there are hints of this in Zechariah’s song inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke Ch.1 vs.78-79), but even more explicitly Matthew in his Gospel quotes these words from Isaiah as he describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Matthew Ch.4 vs.12-17) saying that this ancient prophecy is now being fulfilled – do look these up!
More on these words tomorrow…
In our prayers today let us remember, perhaps fittingly, Frank & Val working and ministering in Nazareth in Galilee, in the hospital and the Nazareth Village museum.