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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Isa 9; Immanuel Our Great Light

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Portraits of Christ
Immanuel - “Our Great Light” Isaiah 9:1-7

The sun is the great light of our solar system.

  • Its properties penetrate the cold darkness of outer space.
  • Without it the earth would be an uninhabitable cube of ice wandering aimlessly throughout the cosmos.
  • There would be only perpetual night on the earth with no warm summer days.
  • Without the sun no living creature could exist on this terrestrial ball.
  • However, as essential as the light of the sun is to the earth it must be remembered it is but a creation spoken into existence by the one who claimed, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12)
  • Jesus Christ is the Great Light foreseen by the ancient prophet Isaiah.
  • Out of extremely dark gloomy days, Isaiah pronounced the dawn of a new day, “Behold a virgin will be with Child and bear a son and she shall call His name “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.” (Isaiah 9:14)
  • Seven hundred years later, when darkness still shrouded Israel, an angel of the Lord appeared to a man named “Joseph” of the lineage of David.
  • The angel explained to him that Isaiah’s prophecy was about to be fulfilled.
  • Mary, his betrothed wife was found with child by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
  • “Immanuel” had come. He called his name, “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sin.
  • The Great Light was about to break forth and divide the darkness from the light.
  • On the eve of Christmas, no greater hope can be given than that of Isaiah.
  • Let us re-examine the Everlasting Light foreseen in Isaiah 9.

Isaiah announced Christ would be the Great Light who brings joy in the shadow-land. (Isaiah 9:1-3)

  1. Immanuel would shine brightly upon those who walked in spiritual darkness. (Isaiah 9:1)
    • The history of Israel’s oppression during the days of Isaiah is recorded in chapters 7 and 8.
    • The nation was surrounded by invading armies.
    • The city of Jerusalem was under siege.
    • In this dark hour the Lord told Isaiah to offer hope to Ahaz, King of Jerusalem.
    • He said, “Do not fear and do not let your heart be faint.”
    • His words sound strangely familiar to those uttered by the angelic host as they announced the good news of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem centuries later.
    • He promised to make their enemies like smoldering embers in a dampened camp fire.
    • He further warned, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)
    • It was in the midst of these dark days that Isaiah offered the sign of the child born of a virgin.
    • He was to be called “Immanuel.”
    • Sadly, Ahaz turned from hope in Christ to hope in Assyria.
    • He made an unholy alliance with the enemy.
    • It wasn’t long before compromise led to oppression and inevitably to captivity.
    • The people turned their faces from the Lord.
    • They inquired of mediums and seers for guidance.
    • The nation, especially the northern regions of Israel, tragically fell into a time of unparalleled distress and darkness until the day of Christ.
    • Isaiah 9:1 foresaw Immanuel turning glory out of gloom in Galilee where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali used to dwell.
    • In days ahead, He would come and make the way to the sea glorious.
    • This would be His initial staging place to change the world.
    • Matthew 4:12-17 made this association with Christ’s ministry by quoting Isaiah 9:1-2 to prove He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
    • Jesus Christ is the Great Light who shinned in Galilee.
    • After John the Baptist was imprisoned Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
    • His glory pushed back the gloom.
  2. Isaiah further foresaw Christ turning His people’s gloom to gladness. (Isaiah 9:2-3)
    • Those who once walked in the shadow of death and darkness would see the Great Light—God with them. (Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 43:2; Luke 1:78).
    • He was fulfilling the literal hope of Psalm 23:4 and “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For (Immanuel) You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
    • “When you pass through the waters, I (Immanuel) will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
    • Christ Jesus is Immanuel, “God with His people,” when they walk in darkness.
    • He is their light and their comfort. (Luke 1:78-79)
    • Zachariah, the father of John the Baptistc recognized the beauties of Christ in prophecy when He said, “Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
    • That is why Charles Wesley also wrote in Hark the Harold Angels Sing, “Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come; Off-spring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.”
    • This is the hope of every generation—the joy of being in God’s presence.
    • In His presence is joy forevermore.
    • His glorious presence turns our gloom to joy.

Isaiah also saw Christ as our mighty warrior who brings deliverance in captivity. (Isaiah 9:4-5)

  1. Immanuel would multiply the blessings of His people and increase their joy.
    • Someday they would rejoice like the joy of harvest time and like the celebration of triumph in battle by dividing up the spoils.
    • Most of Israel’s national treasures had been ransacked and taken away.
    • To hear Messiah was coming meant hope. (Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 2:10)
    • But Isaiah saw Immanuel’s deliverance as far more than national liberation from captivity.
    • He saw Immanuel as their triumphant warrior, far greater than Moses, who would lead them out of slavery in a spiritual Exodus.
    • The greatest enslavement of man is slavery to sin.
    • Jesus said in John 8:34-36, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
    • Immanuel would call them not out of Egypt, but out of darkness into His marvelous light.
    • He would deliver them from the power of darkness and convey them into His kingdom of love, thereby bringing many sons and daughters to glory.
  2. However, Isaiah portrayed the power of Immanuel like the power of God in delivering Gideon and the tribes of Galilee from their enemies. (Judges 7:20; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
    • When surrounded by the enemy, the Lord told Gideon to reduce the size of his army so there would be no confusion in Israel that the victory they were about to enjoy was due to God’s sovereign power, and not in the strength of their numbers.
    • Gideon did as God commanded.
    • He stationed his army in three locations outside the enemy’s camp.
    • They were each given a trumpet in one hand and a lit torch covered by a clay vessel.
    • When darkness prevailed in the night watch, Gideon signaled for his troops to blow their trumpets and break the clay vessels.
    • The sound of the trumpet’s blast and the sudden burst of light caused the enemy to panic and become disoriented.
    • Half-asleep they began swinging their swords, as men ran around the camp in fear.
    • Blinded by the light, the enemy ran away in defeat.
    • Isaiah referred to Gideon’s battle to help us understand Immanuel’s triumph over sin.
    • He would come as a humble clay vessel.
    • He would break the yoke of our slavery to sin and the rod of our oppressor, the devil.
    • When he was broken for our sin, the light of God’s love and grace shinned brightly.
    • Isaiah, therefore, saw the glory of God veiled in common clay like flesh on a body.
    • When Immanuel’s vessel was broken in the darkness of Golgotha, the Great Light would shine throughout the world.
    • He is the Light that shines in shadow-land.
    • We see the glory of God by looking into the face of Jesus Christ.
    • When visitors came to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child, they didn’t see a halo shining over Him.
    • Rather, they saw the face of God veiled in a clay vessel, awaiting the day of brokenness.

Isaiah further identified Christ as the eternal Son who brought peace to those living in condemnation. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

  1. Isaiah announced the birth of Immanuel with two identities, “For unto us a Child is born and unto us a Son is given.” (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38)
    • This Child to be born was foreseen by Isaiah as Immanuel, “God with us”—co-equal with God the Father.
    • He is the One who called light out of darkness and spun the countless brilliant spiraling galaxies into space at creation.
    • He is the Child promised to be born of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David.
    • He stepped out of eternity and took upon Himself the form of a bondservant and came in the appearance as man. (Philippians 2:5-9)

    He also is announced as “A Son given to us.”

    • He is the eternal, only Begotten Son of the Father.
    • Out of infinite love for the world, the Father “…gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
    • He is the Son in Whom the Father was well pleased. (Psalm 2:7)
    • To Him were given the nations of the world—all things would be put under His feet.
    • Jesus believed by faith He would inherit the kingdoms of the earth.
    • That is why He prayed to the Father prior to the crucifixion, “I have finished the work You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4; Ephesians 1:22-23)
  2. Isaiah also foresaw Immanuel as King of heaven and earth.
    • He was the supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Light. (John 8:12, 46)
    • Jesus accepted this identity and referred to Himself as the “Light of the World.”
    • Those who follow Him no longer walk in darkness but have the light of life in them.

Immanuel had the authority and power to shoulder the government of His kingdom.

  • His existence is from everlasting, the eternal King who became the Ruler of Israel.
  • His eternal Kingdom shall not only prevail but will reside within His people. (Micah 5:2; Luke 17:21)
  1. Isaiah ascribed to Immanuel four titles that would characterize His earthly ministry.
    The first is “Wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 29:14; John 7:46; 1 John 5:20; 1 Corinthians 1:24)
    • He not only works marvelously stupendous things, but He counsels His people with infinitely perfect wisdom and understanding.
    • In dark days, this is what God’s people must know: He is our Wonderful Counselor.
  2. The second title is “Mighty God.” (Isaiah 10:21-22)
    • Immanuel is our mighty warrior who not only created intergalactic space, but created the infinite world of microscopic inner-space.
    • Only by His omnipotent power can He deliver sinners from their enslavement to sin and transfer them from the realm of darkness into His domain of love.
  3. The third title is “Everlasting Father.” (Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 7:9; Psalm 68:5; John 10:30; 14:9-10)
    • Jesus is not the “Father” but the Son, who perfectly reveals the Father to us.
    • Immanuel is our Father in the sense He is the transcendent author and possessor of time.
    • He holds the fortunes of vast, unfathomable decrees of eternity in His hands.
    • He is the one who declared the end from the beginning of time.
    • All the wise counsel ordained at the pleasure of the Father, the Son shall faithfully implement and complete.
    • This is none other than Jesus Christ, the Ancient of Days and the Father of the fatherless.
    • Jesus claimed, “I and My Father are One.” He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
  4. The fourth title given to Immanuel is the “Prince of Peace.” (Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Romans 1:7; 5:1; Philippians 4:7)
    • He is our Prince or King of peace, who brings reconciliation between God and man.
    • The angels announced His birth with this title in mind, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
    • Jesus saw Himself fulfilling this purpose.
    • He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
    • The God of grace is the One who made peace with God possible.
    • We have peace with God through our Lord or Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
  5. Immanuel’s rule will increase and never decrease. (2 Samuel 7:16; Daniel 7:14; Micah 4:7; Colossians 3:15; Revelation 11:15)
    • He will do this by the power of His name.
    • Immanuel is the Child and Son promised to David, who would sit on His throne forever.
    • His rule shall expand to include all peoples, nations and languages of the earth that they might serve Him.
    • His kingdom can never be shaken or destroyed by any other created thing.
    • He is the one the prophets also foresaw coming with the clouds of heaven to claim His domain over all things.
    • His rule is evident in the hearts of his people by their love and peace.
    • Someday there shall be a shout in heaven saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
  6. Then Isaiah tells us what drives Immanuel’s government is His zeal for His glory.
    • He works all things together to fulfill what He ordained. (Numbers 25:11-12; Psalm 79:5)
    • And He does this with a holy, unfettered passion.
    • Immanuel is later portrayed in Isaiah as “Mighty God,” Who goes forth in battle wearing the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation on His head and clothed in garments of zeal to work vengeance on His enemies. (Isaiah 37:32; 42:13; 59:17; 63:15-16)
    • He is our Redeemer—“from Everlasting is His name.”

    The sun is the great light of our solar system.

    • But as essential as the light of the sun is to the earth it must be remembered it is but a creation spoken into existence by the One who claimed, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12)
    • This Christmas when you see all the bright lights strung on trees and all the candles burning in the dark, remember Jesus Christ is the Great Light foreseen by the ancient prophet Isaiah.
    • May we pause long enough in our Christmas celebration to join those who sing:

    “Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.
    Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die.
    Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth,
    Hark the Harold Angels sing, ‘Glory to the new-born King.’”

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Isa 53; The Lamb Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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