Isaiah 9 – Unto Us A Child Is Born
A. Hope for Israel.
1. (1-2) A day of light for the northern tribes.
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
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,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
a. Nevertheless the gloom: The gloom carries over from Isaiah 8, where Isaiah warned Judah about the coming invasion from Assyria. Isaiah 8:22 said, Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness. The invasion of the Assyrians would be terrible for the Jewish people, especially for the northern regions of the Promised Land, the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.
b. The gloom will not be upon her who is distressed: In this context, the promise of Isaiah 9:1 is all the more precious. The northern regions of the Promised Land – around the Sea of Galilee (Galilee of the Gentiles) – were most severely ravaged when the Assyrians invaded from the north. The promise is that this land, once seemingly lightly esteemed by the LORD, will one day have a special blessing.
c. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light… upon them a light has shined: The northern tribes were the first to suffer from the Assyrian invasions, so in God’s mercy, they will be the first to see the light of the Messiah.
i. Matthew 4:13-16 quotes this passage as clearly fulfilled in the Galilean ministry of Jesus. Since the majority of Jesus’ ministry took place in this northern area of Israel, around the Sea of Galilee, God certainly did have a special blessing for this once lightly esteemed land!
2. (3-5) Joy in the Messiah’s deliverance and victory.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
a. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy: The ministry of the Messiah would bring joy and gladness to Israel. Jesus said His ministry was like having a wedding party (Matthew 9:14-15). They will rejoice according to the time of harvest, the time when the hard work has paid off and the bounty comes off. They will rejoice as men rejoice when they divide the spoil, with a celebration of victory, as in the locker room of a championship team.
b. As in the day of Midian: This refers to Gideon’s great victory over Midian in Judges 7. As wonderfully complete, joyous, and victorious as Gideon’s victory over Midian was, this is the same kind of victory the Messiah will enjoy and give.
i. And the victory is complete. The reference to every warrior’s sandal… garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire means that the battle is over. This is what you did when the battle was finished, and you had won.
c. You have broken the yoke of his burden: Each of these promises – the reference to great joy, the breaking of the yoke of his burden and the rod of his oppressor, and the complete victory over all enemies has spiritual application to Jesus’ work in our lives. These things are ours in Jesus!
i. When is Jesus sad or worried or afraid? When does Jesus groan under the yoke of his burden? When does Jesus feel the sting of the rod of his oppressor? When is Jesus’ victory incomplete? The risen, glorified, ascended Jesus experiences none of these things, and He has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). As we are in Jesus Christ, we share in His victory! We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).
3. (6) The glory of the Messiah who will reign.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
a. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: Most straightforwardly, Isaiah is using the Hebrew literary tool of repetition to emphasize the point. The Child is born, the Son is given. At the same time, we recognize the hand of the Holy Spirit in the specific wording.
b. For unto us a Child is born: This glorious prophecy of the birth of Messiah reminds Israel that the victory-bringing Messiah would be a man. Theoretically, the Messiah could have been an angel. Or, the Messiah could have been God without humanity. But in reality, neither of those options would have qualified the Messiah to be our Savior and High Priest as Jesus was. The Child had to be born.
i. What amazing mystery! There is nothing weaker, more helpless, more dependent than a child. Theoretically, the Messiah could have come as a fully-grown man, created as an adult even as Adam was created. But for Jesus to fully identify with humanity, and to display in His life the servant nature that is in God, made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).
c. Unto us a Son is given: This Child would be a man, but more than a man. He is also the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Godhead. Theoretically, the Messiah didn’t have to be God. He might have been a sinless angel, or merely a perfect man like Adam. But in reality, neither of those options would have qualified the Messiah to be our Saviour and High Priest as Jesus was. The Son had to be given.
i. What glorious truth! We needed a perfect, infinite Being to offer a perfect, infinite atonement for our sins. We needed Immanuel, God is with us (Isaiah 7:14).
ii. The Child could be born, because the humanity of Jesus had a starting point. There was a time when humanity was not added to His deity. The Son had to be given, because the Second Person of the Trinity is eternal, and existed forever as the Son, even before adding humanity to His deity.
iii. While Isaiah may have intended the repetition merely for the sake of emphasis, we rejoice in the Holy Spirit’s guidance in every word! Jesus, the Messiah, is fully God and fully man. There was a time when the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, added humanity to His deity. He never became less God, but He added a human nature to His divine nature, and so became one person with two distinct natures, functioning together in perfect harmony.
iv. That Jesus is both God and man tells us that man really is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and that perfect humanity is more compatible with deity than we imagine. It says that our problem is not our humanity, but our fallenness. To say “I’m only human” is wrong because Jesus was fully human yet perfect. It is more accurate to say, “I’m only fallen.” But remember that the humanity that Jesus added to His Divine nature was not the sinful humanity we commonly know, but the perfect humanity of Adam and Eve before the fall.
v. Jesus remains a man eternally (Acts 7:55-56, 1 Timothy 2:5). He did not relinquish His humanity on His ascension; but He is now a man in a resurrection body, as we will one day have.
vi. If Jesus were not fully man, He could not stand in the place of sinful man and be a substitute for the punishment man deserves. If He were not fully God, His sacrifice would be insufficient. If Jesus is not fully God and fully man, we are lost in sin.
d. And the government will be upon His shoulder: Ultimately, this will be fulfilled in the Millennium, when Jesus Christ will rule the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 20:4-6, Psalm 72, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 65:17-25, Zechariah 14:6-21).
i. This ultimate fulfillment of this promise is still waiting. But we can still see the government… upon His shoulder in many ways. Gayle Erwin writes about the government God promises, both ultimately and right now:
What might such a government look like? First of all, it would look like its king. Politicians of this day look for what they can get from you. Jesus looks for what He can do for you.
Leaders of this day surround themselves with servants. Jesus surrounds us with His servanthood.
Leaders of this day use their power to build their empire. Jesus uses his power to wash our feet and make us clean and comfortable.
Leaders of this day trade their influence for money. God so loved that he gave…
Generals of this day need regular wars to keep their weapons and skills up to date and insure their own advancement. Jesus brings peace and rest to hearts.
The higher the plane of importance one reaches in this world, the more inaccessible he becomes. Jesus was Emanuel, “God with us.”
Leaders of this day are desperate to be seen and heard. Jesus sought anonymity so He could be useful.
Obviously, Jesus is not in charge of the halls of Washington, London, Moscow, Baghdad, Paris or Bonn. So, how can we ever believe the “government will be upon His shoulders”?
Actually, His government shows its workings in wonderful ways. Whenever I see someone who miraculously leaves a life of drugs or alcohol and is restored to his family and work, I can see that he is now governed by God.
Whenever I see loving Christians gently caring for orphans and those rejected by family, I know I am watching people governed by God.
Whenever I see people eagerly learning the Bible and joyously praising, I know who the governor is.
Whenever I see people give up lucrative careers simply to go and share the Good News of Jesus, I know they are governed by God.
When I see pastors carefully teach and lead the flock God has given them, I know they are getting signals from the great King.
When I see people leave family to live and teach in distant lands because they love the people who have not heard, I know they are governed by God.
So, indeed, the government is alive and working. Often silently, mostly unseen. We can be and are, by choice, governed by God. Hope and joy and peace and rest cover its subjects. Justice, mercy and grace, amazingly coexist. I like this Kingdom. The borders are open. Come on in.
e. His name will be called: The idea isn’t that these will be the literal names of the Messiah. Instead, these are aspects of His character, they describe who He is and what He has come to do.
i. “In Semitic thought, a name does not just identify or distinguish a person, it expresses the very nature of his being.” (Longenecker)
ii. Calvin, on the greatness of these titles: “This ought to be the more carefully considered, because the greater part of men are satisfied with his mere name, and do not observe his power and energy, though that ought to be chiefly regarded.”
f. The Messiah is Wonderful: The glory of who He is and what He has done for us should fill us with wonder. You can never really look at Jesus, really know Him, and be bored. He is Wonderful and will fill your heart and mind with amazement!
i. As well, this is a reference to the deity of Jesus; “The word ‘wonderful’ has overtones of deity” (Grogan) (See also Judges 13:18)
g. The Messiah is our Counselor: Jesus is the One fit to guide our lives and should be the Christian’s immediate resource as a counselor. Jesus can help you with your problems. He may use the presence and the words of another Christian to do it, but Jesus is our Counselor.
i. How we need Jesus as our Counselor! “It was by a Counsellor that this world was ruined. Did not Satan mask himself in the serpent, and counsel the woman with exceeding craftiness, that she should take unto herself of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the hope that thereby she should be as God? Was it not that evil counsel which provoked our mother to rebel against her Maker, and did it not as the effect of sin, bring death into this world with all its train of woe? Ah! beloved, it was meet that the world should have a Counsellor to restore it, if it had a Counsellor to destroy it.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Jesus is our Counselor in the sense that He sits in the High Counsel of the Godhead and takes council with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our good. The High Counsel of the Godhead brought forth our salvation. “Hence you read in the book of Zechariah, if you turn to the sixth chapter and the thirteenth verse, this passage — ‘The council of peace shall be between them both.’ The Son of God with his Father and the Spirit, ordained the council of peace. Thus was it arranged. The Son must suffer, he must be the substitute, must bear his people’s sins and be punished in their stead; the Father must accept the Son’s substitution and allow his people to go free, because Christ had paid their debts. The Spirit of the living God must then cleanse the people whom the blood had pardoned, and so they must be accepted before the presence of God, even the Father. That was the result of the great council.” (Spurgeon)
iii. The High Counsel of the Godhead guides our lives. “Remember, there is nothing that happens in your daily life, but what was first of all devised in eternity, and counselled by Jesus Christ for your good and in your behalf, that all things might work together for your lasting benefit and profit… Oh, how strange providence seems to you and to me! Does it not look like a zig-zag line, this way and that way, backward and forward, like the journeyings of the children of Israel in the wilderness? Ah! my brethren, but to God it is a straight line. Directly, God always goes to his object. And yet to us, he often seems to go round about… Let us learn to leave providence in the hand of the Counsellor.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Jesus’ counsel is necessary counsel. Jesus’ counsel is faithful counsel, without any self-interest. Jesus’ counsel is hearty counsel. It isn’t detached and unemotional. Jesus’ counsel is sweet counsel. “Christian, do you know what sweet counsel is? You have gone to your Master in the day of trouble, and in the secret of your chamber you have poured out your heart before him. You have laid your case before him, with all its difficulties, as Hezekiah did Rabshakeh’s letter, and you have felt, that though Christ was not there in flesh and blood, yet he was there in spirit, and he counselled you. You felt that his was counsel that came from the very heart. But he was something better than that. There was such a sweetness coming with his counsel, such a radiance of love, such a fullness of fellowship, that you said, ‘Oh that I were in trouble every day, if I might have such sweet counsel as this!’ Christ is the Counsellor whom I desire to consult every hour, and I would that I could sit in his secret chamber all day and all night long, because to counsel with him is to have sweet counsel, hearty counsel, and wise counsel, all at the same time.” (Spurgeon)
v. “Why, you may have a friend that talks very sweetly with you, and you will say, ‘Well, he is a kind, good soul, but I really cannot trust his judgment.’ You have another friend, who has a good deal of judgment, and yet you say of him, ‘Certainly, he is a man of prudence above a great many, but I cannot find out his sympathy; I never get at his heart, if he were ever so rough and untutored, I would sooner have his heart without his prudence, than his prudence without his heart,’ But we go to Christ, and we get wisdom; we get love, we get sympathy, we get everything that can possibly be wanted in a Counsellor.” (Spurgeon)
h. The Messiah is Mighty God: The God of all creation and glory, the LORD who reigns in heaven, the One worthy of our worship and praise.
i. Can there be a more straightforward declaration of the deity of the Messiah? Yet some groups (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses) try to make a distinction between Mighty God and Almighty God. Scripturally, there is no distinction, because both titles are used of Jesus and Yahweh specifically (Almighty is applied to Jesus in Revelation 1:8).
ii. In Isaiah 10:21, the prophet uses the exact same phrase to refer to Yahweh: The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. Therefore, this is a clear statement of absolute deity
iii. “And indeed, if Christ had not been God, it would have been unlawful to glory in him; for it is written, Cursed be he that trusteth in man. (Jeremiah 17:5)” (Calvin)
iv. “We extend the right hand of fellowship to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; but we cannot exchange our Christian greetings with those who deny him to be ‘very God of very God.’ And the reason is sometimes asked; for say our opponents, ‘We are ready to give the right hand of fellowship to you, why don’t you do so to us?’ Our reply shall be given thus briefly: ‘You have no right to complain of us, seeing that in this matter we stand on the defensive. When you declare yourselves to believe that Christ is not the Son of God, you may not be conscious of it, but you have charged us with one of the blackest sins in the entire catalogue of crime.’ The Unitarians must, to be existent, charge the whole of us, who worship Christ, with being idolaters. Now idolatry is a sin of the most heinous character; it is not an offense against men it is true, but it is an intolerable offense against the majesty of God.” (Spurgeon)
v. “If Christ were not the Son of God, his death, so far from being a satisfaction for sin, was a death most richly and righteously deserved. The Sanhedrin before which He was tried was the recognized and authorized legislature of the country. He was brought before that Sanhedrin, charged with blasphemy, and it was upon that charge that they condemned him to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” (Spurgeon)
i. The Messiah is the Everlasting Father: The idea in these Hebrew words is that Jesus is the source or author of all eternity, that He is the Creator Himself. It does not mean that Jesus Himself is the Person of the Father in the Trinity.
j. The Messiah is the Prince of Peace: He is the One who makes peace, especially between God and man.
i. “Whenever, in short, it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called Wonderful, because he has inconceivable methods of assisting us, and because his power is far beyond what we are able to conceive. When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the Counselor. When we need strength, let us remember that he is Mighty and Strong. When new terrors spring up suddenly every instant, and when many deaths threaten us from various quarters, let us rely on that eternity of which he is with good reason called the Father, and by the same comfort let us learn to soothe all temporal distresses. When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is The Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings. Thus will these titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself.” (Calvin)
4. (7) The glory of the Messiah’s reign.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
a. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end… even forever: The reign of the Messiah will not last merely 1,000 years, though the millennium is a special aspect of His reign. There will be no end to the reign of the Messiah, and He will rule for all eternity.
i. Handel had it right in the Hallelujah chorus of Messiah: “And He shall reign forever and ever.”
b. Upon the throne of David: Jesus will rule on David’s throne, and over his kingdom (that is, David’s kingdom – Israel). This is a fulfillment of God’s great covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7.
c. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this: All this may sound too good to be true, but it will be done. God – the LORD of all heavenly armies – has promised to accomplish this word, and part of it has been accomplished already.
i. Jesus can be Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace for everyone now. One day, these offices will be imposed upon the world. For now, they are real for those who receive Jesus and submit to Him.
B. Coming judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
This section (Isaiah 9:8-10:4) is in four parts, each part concluding with “For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand (of judgment) is stretched out still.” Some have called this section, “The Speech of the Outstretched Hand.”
1. (8-12) Because of their unholy pride, Israel will be defeated by her enemies.
The LORD sent a word against Jacob,
And it has fallen on Israel.
All the people will know—
Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—
Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
“The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”
Therefore the LORD shall set up
The adversaries of Rezin against him,
And spur his enemies on,
The Syrians before and the Philistines behind;
And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.
For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.
a. The LORD sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel: The idea is that the LORD brought a word against all His people (against Jacob) and the word has scored a “direct hit” against the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
b. Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria: The tribe of Ephraim was the largest and most influential tribe in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. So, often the LORD refers to the Kingdom of Israel by the name Ephraim. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. There isn’t any doubt whom this prophecy is directed to.
c. Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars”: In their pride, the leaders and the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel said, “Who cares if God judges us? Whatever is torn down, we will rebuild with something better. We have nothing to fear from what God can bring against us.”
i. “Instead of humbling themselves before the face of God on account of the many calamities that had already descended on them, they still entertained a lighthearted optimism regarding the future. This optimism manifested itself in the slogans that were current in that day and apparently on everybody’s lips.” (Bultema)
ii. “What a brief but deeply psychological picture this is of an unfaithful generation that keeps dreaming of better times to come and lightheartedly ignores the severe judgments of God.” (Bultema)
d. Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries: Because they believed they would be able to weather the storm of attack and then rebuild, God would send successive waves of enemies against Israel (The Syrians before and the Philistines behind). The destruction of Israel would be complete, and their proud promise to rebuild would be unfulfilled.
e. For all this, His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still: For the first time, the chorus is said. The judgment against Israel’s pride was not enough. There was still sin to judge, and God wasn’t ready to stop His work of judgment.
i. Calvin could say of his day, more than 300 years ago: “How many are the distresses with which Europe has been afflicted for thirty or forty years? How many are the chastisements by which she has been called to repentance? And yet it does not appear that those numerous chastisements have done any good. On the contrary, luxury increases every day, lawless passions are inflamed, and men go on in crimes and profligacy more shamelessly than ever. In short, those very calamities appear to have been so many excitements to luxury and splendour. What then should we expect but to be bruised with heavier blows?”
2. (13-17) Because they refuse to repent, there will be an overthrow of leadership.
For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them,
Nor do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Therefore the LORD will cut off head and tail from Israel,
Palm branch and bulrush in one day.
The elder and honorable, he is the head;
The prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail.
For the leaders of this people cause them to err,
And those who are led by them are destroyed.
Therefore the LORD will have no joy in their young men,
Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows;
For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer,
And every mouth speaks folly.
For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.
a. For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them: Each episode of judgment was followed by Israel’s refusal to turn to the LORD. They were like dumb animals that resist even more when they are beaten.
b. Therefore the LORD will cut off the head and tail from Israel: Those who lead in Israel (the elder and honorable… the prophet who teaches lies… the leaders of this people) will be cut off, which often means to be killed.
i. “The expression branch and rush indicates the same thing as head and tail. A branch grows upward and hence refers to the high and important people of the population; the rush grows in muddy marshes and refers to the lowest element of the population, the scum.” (Bultema)
c. For all this, His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still: This chorus is repeated. The judgment against Israel’s impenitence was not enough. There was still sin to judge, and God wasn’t ready to stop His work of judgment.
3. (18-21) Because of prevailing wickedness they will attack their own brothers.
For wickedness burns as the fire;
It shall devour the briers and thorns,
And kindle in the thickets of the forest;
They shall mount up like rising smoke.
Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts
The land is burned up,
And the people shall be as fuel for the fire;
No man shall spare his brother.
And he shall snatch on the right hand
And be hungry;
He shall devour on the left hand
And not be satisfied;
Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm.
Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh;
Together they shall be against Judah.
For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.
a. For wickedness burns as the fire: The prophet sees the wickedness of Israel as a raging wildfire, unstoppable, swift, uncontrolled, and devouring everything it touches.
b. And the people shall be fuel for the fire: This wildfire of God’s judgment is fueled by the people, in two senses. First, their wickedness gives supplies fuel to the fire of God’s judgment. If the wickedness was taken away, the fire would have no more fuel. Second, they are burnt up and destroyed by the fire.
c. No man shall spare his brother: In gruesome detail, the prophet speaks of the carnage that one Israelite will inflict on another. The wildfire of God’s judgment burns, but God merely let the evil, hateful passions of men burn wild among themselves. God did not need to start the fire or fan the flames; He simply took away the “fire retardant” that had held the evil, hate-filled passions of men in check.
d. For all this, His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still: A third time the chorus is presented. The judgment against Israel’s wickedness was not enough. There was still sin to judge, and God wasn’t ready to stop His work of judgment.
4. (10:1-4) Because of social injustice, they will be exiled and slain.
“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees,
Who write misfortune,
Which they have prescribed
To rob the needy of justice,
And to take what is right from the poor of My people,
That widows may be their prey,
And that they may rob the fatherless.
What will you do in the day of punishment,
And in the desolation which will come from afar?
To whom will you flee for help?
And where will you leave your glory?
Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners,
And they shall fall among the slain.”
For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.
a. Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees… rob the needy of justice… take what is right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey: The leaders and people of Israel were simply unfair to others and preyed on the weak.
b. What will you do in the day of punishment… To whom will you flee for help: The idea is, “When you have forsaken others in their time of need, who will you go to for help when you are in need?”
c. Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners, and they shall fall among the slain: All God needs to do to bring extreme judgment on Israel is to withdraw His protection. The LORD declared that “Without Me you have no hope before your enemies.”
i. “As the people had hitherto lived without God in worship and obedience; so they should now be without his help, and should perish in their transgressions.” (Clarke)
d. Without Me they shall bow down: When the Assyrians conquered other nations, it wasn’t enough for them to just win a military victory. They had a perverse pleasure in humiliating and subjugating their conquered foes. They would do everything they could to bring them low. Here, God said, “You have rejected Me, so without Me you shall bow down in humiliation and degradation before your enemies.”
i. One of the Hebrew words commonly translated worship in the Old Testament is shachah. It means to bow down, to reverently bow or stoop, to pay homage. But this is another word for bow down, the Hebrew word kara. It isn’t a good word; it means to sink, to drop, to bring low, or to subdue. We might say that we will either bow down to the LORD in worship, or it will be said of us, without Me they shall bow down in suffering and humiliation. Which will it be?
e. For all this, His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still: Once again, this chorus is heard. The judgment against Israel’s injustice was not enough. There was still sin to judge, and God wasn’t ready to stop His work of judgment.
i. The repetition of the phrase reminds us that God’s judgment is persistent. It moves from phase to phase until it finds repentance. This means that it makes sense for us to repent now, because God’s judgment is persistent for all eternity. “If even physical death does not satisfy the fierce anger of this holy God, what dread and punishment lies beyond the grave?” (Grogan)
ii. It makes perfect sense for this message of coming judgment to follow the announcement of the Messiah. His coming was announced, but the people were not ready for Him, and the predicted judgment would come before they were ready.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission