These words from Isaiah are read out every year at carol services. If you’ve ever wanted to slow down and look at them more carefully, here is a brief guide which we hope will help you.
Why not look at it with a friend and share your reflections with one another?
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat1,
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father2, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and for ever3.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
1 This is a reference to an occasion when God miraculously delivered his people from the oppressive rule of the Midianites. You can read about it in Judges 6-7.
2 “Father” is a way of talking about the one with responsibility to protect and provide for those in his care.
3 See 2 Samuel 7:16 for the original promise God made to King David several hundred years earlier.
This Christmas passage was written more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. It was a prediction about the future, given to inspire hope in God’s people, when they were on the brink of invasion and defeat by the mighty Assyrian empire.
Questions to reflect on
What do you find most attractive about Isaiah’s vision of the future?
Who is going to make all this happen?
Look at verse 6 and dwell on each of the four names the royal child will be given.
- What does each name specifically tell us about him?
- What do you think it would be like to be under the care of this King?
How does the kingdom (described in verse 7) differ from all other kingdoms of this world?
Fast forward 700 years. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said:
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’ Luke 1:31-32
What similarities do you notice between Gabriel’s announcement and Isaiah’s prophecy?
How does Gabriel’s announcement give us
- confidence that God keeps his promises?
- hope in a world that can seem very dark at times?
- reason to happily acknowledge Jesus as our King?
We hope you have a very happy Christmas.
Please consider joining us either on a Sunday at Emmanuel in New Year, or at Life Explored: an introduction to the Christian faith beginning 25th January 2018. More details click here.
If you would like to study more passages of the Bible like this one, ask a friend from Emmanuel about “Uncover” — a booklet of six similar studies in the gospel of John. We have plenty of free copies available.