Isaiah 8:18–9:7 comment (0)
November 9, 2006
By Jerry W. Batson
Related Scripture: Isaiah 8:18–9:7
Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Live in Light, Not Darkness
Jesus claimed to be the Light of the World and promised His followers that they would have “the light of life” (John 8:12). God wants us to find light for living through His Word and, ultimately, through His Son.
Eight centuries before Christ, Isaiah spoke for God in a dark and dangerous time. Enemy nations sought to invade Jerusalem (Isa. 7:1–2). He offered hope to the people as a light in their darkness. Their hope lay in trusting God alone (Isa. 8:13). This meant the people would have to turn to God and His Word, looking for Him to act in their behalf. Isaiah pointed to God’s sovereignty as the basis for their trust in Him.
Turn to God and His Word (8:18–22)
God was using threatening circumstances to judge His people. Isaiah declared that the people would reveal where they were placing their trust by the directions to which they turned for help. He cautioned the people about looking in the wrong places, such as turning to the occult. Some people still seek light for the future by turning to horoscopes, fortune-tellers, mediums and such like. With amazement, Isaiah described such a practice as the living seeking hope from the dead (19).
Isaiah offered a watchword for dark days: “To the law and to the testimony!” In other words, they ought to turn to God and His Word. He put the matter plainly: advisers who did not speak according to God’s Word would reveal themselves as counselors in whom no light existed (20). God’s answers concerning life are in His written Word. That Word is the standard by which all other opinions must be measured. Any supposed light being shed on our dark days that does not square with the Scriptures will prove to be only more darkness (22). Decisions based on advice from ungodly sources lead only to deeper darkness. Hope that has substance and that brightens the future is couched in God’s faithful promises and His revealed truth.
Look for God to Act (9:1–5)
Isaiah declared that God would act in the future to give His people new light. His actions would restore to them joy, peace and freedom from oppression. Before looking ahead to promised hope, Isaiah looked back. He recalled the time when God used an enemy invasion to humble the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali (1). The future would be different from that dark past for Zebulun and Naphtali. Rather than affliction and more dark days, the people could expect to see “a great light” (2). The ultimate reference point would be the Messiah’s coming. The Messiah would bring the light of life. At the birth of the Messiah, the angel announced glad tidings of great joy (Luke 2:10).
Isaiah was so confident of the future hope and joy through the promised Messiah that he wrote of it by using “prophetic perfect verbs.” By so doing, he spoke of the future in past-tense verbs, as if it had already happened. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light … upon them hath the light shined” (2). The fulfillment of these words was as sure as the faithfulness of God.
In a few short weeks, Christians will again celebrate the Messiah’s coming. People who invite Him to enter their heart and abide in them can experience the fulfillment of the hope that God promised through Isaiah.
Live in Light of God’s Sovereignty (9:6–7)
God promised through Isaiah the coming of a very special child. This child would establish a kingdom and become its ruler. He would become known as a Wonderful Counselor because He would be the mighty God and everlasting Father in the midst of His people. Through His sovereign rule, this promised child would bring peace. God, the Lord of hosts, would see to it. God chose to bring eternal light into the world in the person of a child, not by means of enlightened philosophies or mind-tingling teachings never before heard. God packaged His light in a Person. That Person would claim to being the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). God’s invitation is for people like us to choose to come to Jesus in personal trust and live in light of His great power and authority.