A Child Is Born (9:1-7)

Bible Passage: Isaiah 9:1-7

This is a well-known passage that is often printed on Christmas cards and quoted at carol services (and if you are doing the series in December, you may want to re-order the talks so this one happens in the run-up to Christmas). The context is actually a very difficult time for Israel (as we see in verse 2 – people walking in darkness and living in a land of deep darkness). Chapter 8 emphasises the Assyrian threat and the despair that the people were experiencing, and it is against this backdrop that the promise of hope that we find in this passage is made.

Verses 6 and 7 show us the nature of this hope, which comes through the promise of a child.

Hope Comes In a Surprising Package: To people going through the military oppression that Israel was facing, the promise of a child would not seem like hope. They were looking for strength, not weakness. And yet it is in this unexpected form that God chooses to bring hope into the world (see also verse 1 and the reference to Galilee). This was obviously fulfilled in Jesus, and it shows us that God is not only interested in the powerful and privileged of our world, but he comes in a small and lowly package into an insignificant place to show his care for those who are overlooked and on the margins.

The Identity of the Child: Isaiah shares four titles that reveal who this child is that the Lord brings hope through. He is the Wonderful Counsellor (or more literally a wonder of a counsellor). This means that he is one who listens and who gives advice and wisdom. Jesus is the greatest teacher who has ever lived and he understands our situations and is able to sympathise with what we experience. He is the Mighty GodYes, Jesus is a teacher, but he is much more than this, he is God with us, and as we encounter him, he is one to worship and revere. He is Everlasting Father. This is not a statement about the nature of the Trinity, but rather saying that Jesus has fatherly-like attributes. Spurgeon points out five ways that Jesus is like a father: he is the head of a tribe, he fathers a way of living by setting an example, he is a life-giver, he is the father of the new creation and and shows God’s father heart for us. Finally, he is the Prince of PeaceIn him is the ceasing of hostility between people and God and people with one another, but also the Shalom peace of all things being well.

Government on His Shoulders: Whilst earthly rulers disappoint and underwhelm, this child brings hope by ruling on the throne and doing so with justice, righteousness and peace. His rule never ceases and continues to grow. The goodness of his kingdom is something we will be able to rely on forever and this brings hope into even the darkest of situations.

Potential Applications:

  • There may be people in the congregation who can identify with the despair of Israel. Offer to pray for them and encourage them in the hope of the child that God sent.
  • For some the feeling of smallness and insignificance will resonate. This passage is a great way to affirm God’s care for them.
  • We see some big titles for Jesus, affirming his divinity and worthiness to be worshipped. Call people to respond to him as God, and create a response where people can pour out their hearts to him in praise.