Here we have the message of hope (verses Isaiah 9:1-7) in the glorious picture of the Coming Deliverer, with the equally glorious record of the results of His Coming. It is one of the greatest Messianic passages in the Old Testament.
This is followed immediately by a prophecy of judgment on Israel, which falls into four distinct parts, each ending with the words, "For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still." For this reason we have included in our reading the first four verses of chapter
In the first he rebukes their pride, and declares that in consequence of it Jehovah will send against them the Syrians and the Philistines. In the second, he announces and denounces their stubbornness of heart, and declares that on account of it Jehovah will destroy their own leaders, and thus visit them with punishment. In the third he describes the prevalence and fierceness of their wickedness, and announces the judgment of civil strife, by which they will consume each other. In the fourth he describes the corruption of the judges and rulers of the people, and declares that they shall be overwhelmed and destroyed by the people.
Through all these measures of judgment the afflicted people manifest stubbornness of heart and persistence in wickedness, so that the anger of Jehovah cannot be turned away, although His afflicting hand continues to be outstretched.
This is a prophecy of judgment on Assyria, and is full of interest. Assyria is the power which Jehovah is using for the punishment of His people, but because it fails to understand its true relation to God, it, in turn, will be judged.
The prophet first indicates this contrast of intention. Jehovah's intention is that the Assyrian shall be a rod in His hand. The Assyrian intention is to destroy the people of God. He then declares the divine purpose. The Lord will accomplish His work on Jerusalem according to His intention, but then He will punish Assyria. The reason for this is that Assyria acts as though it were strong and independent, forgetting that it is but an instrument in the hand of Jehovah. The punishment is then described.
In view of this judgment the prophet delivers a message to the remnant of Israel. The issue of the Assyrian invasion will be that the remnant will stay on Jehovah. They are therefore not to be afraid, for the scourge will be scourged, and the burden upon the neck of the people of God will depart. This prophecy ends with a graphic description of the Assyrians' approach, and a description of the judgment which will fall on the chosen people by their coming.
the First Week of Advent