Our Coastal King • Isaiah 9:1-7
14 Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Is 7:14). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Jesus was born towards the end of Herod’s reign as king of the Jews. Matthew and Luke, the two gospel-writers who give an account of his birth, agree that he was born in Bethlehem. Matthew tells how his parents took him to Egypt from the danger threatened by Herod, who was disturbed by rumours that a new king of the Jews had been born. When, after Herod’s death, they returned from Egypt, they did not settle in Bethlehem, which lay in the territory now controlled by Herod’s son Archelaus. Instead, they moved north to Galilee and settled in Nazareth. There Jesus grew up from childhood to manhood. Indeed, it was in Galilee that Jesus spent most of his life. When he was a boy of nine or ten years old, everybody around must have been talking of the revolt which Judas the Galilean had raised against the Romans in Judea. The Galileans were not directly affected by the revolt, nor by the census which sparked it off, for they paid their taxes to the tetrarch Herod Antipas, not to Caesar. But the news must have caused much excitement in Nazareth and other places in Galilee. Nazareth lay rather off the beaten track, but the road from the Lake of Galilee to Ptolemais (Acco) ran a few miles to the north, while the Way of the Sea, connecting Egypt with Damascus and places farther north, passed by not far to the south. From the high ground above Nazareth many of the famous sites in the earlier history of Israel were to be seen.
Bruce, F. F. (2005). Bible History Atlas (Study Edition, p. 68). Jerusalem, Israel: Carta Jerusalem.
Jesus returned to Galilee, breaking his journey at a place in Samaria called Sychar. There he found some eager hearers among people who had recently been influenced by John the Baptist’s preaching. When he arrived in Galilee, he made his headquarters at Capernaum and began to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God was at hand. The kingdom of God was not a political organization; it meant the acceptance of the rule of God in the hearts of men and women, according to the principles laid down by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and on other occasions. Capernaum was one of several flourishing fishing towns on the lake-shore. Others were Bethsaida, just east of the point where the Jordan flows into the lake, and Magdala, famed for its export of salt fish (for which reason it was also known as Taricheae). Other places mentioned in the narrative of his work in Galilee (in addition to his home town of Nazareth, where he met with a very cool reception) are Chorazin, a little way inland from Capernaum, Cana, where the water became wine (probably Khirbet Qana, about 9 miles north of Nazareth), and Nain, to the south of Mount Tabor. On the east side of the lake, at the place now called Kursi, the man possessed by a legion of demons was cured and the herd of pigs, feeding nearby, stampeded down the cliff into the lake.
Bruce, F. F. (2005). Bible History Atlas (Study Edition, pp. 70–71). Jerusalem, Israel: Carta Jerusalem.
These coastal lands had been the home to troubled times. Times of rebellion and struggle. Times of Exile. Israel's Enemies the Assyrians would gain the advantage, and the Children of Israel would have seasons of tragedy.
Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Is 9:1–2). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
The geographic location of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali indicates that the author is referring to the northern part of Galilee, the area of Israel first humbled by foreign military invasions, and the region most influenced by foreign cultures and religions. Although unspecified in this verse, Isaiah may refer to gloom caused by recent invasions by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III (he conquered this area in the Syro-Ephraimite War). This is the same general area as Galilee of the Gentiles, a negative title that shows how pervasive non-Hebrew people and cultures were in this area. The last two geographical terms are not as clear. “By the way of the Sea” is sometimes connected to the Assyrian province established along the Mediterranean Sea near the seaport of Dor, but it seems more likely that this phrase refers to the northern area around the Sea of Galilee. “Along the Jordan” (NIV) refers to the Transjordan area east of the Jordan River. In summary, this verse surprisingly predicts that the least likely area of Israel, the far northern section that was the most militarily oppressed and most influenced by pagans, will in some way be honored by God when he sends a new “light” in the future.
Smith, G. V. (2007). Isaiah 1–39. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (p. 238). Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— whom should I dread?
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Ps 27:1). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
THE DARKEST PLACES OF THE NATIONS WILL BE ILLUMINATED.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy., The people have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. 4 For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian. 5 For every trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire.
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Is 9:3–5). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
6 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for at this time tomorrow I will cause all of them to be killed before Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Jos 11:6). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
THE ENEMIES OF THE NATIONS WILL BE DECIMATED.
6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Is 9:6–7). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
THE KING WILL REIGN FOREVER.