In Isaiah 9:2-7, God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel. They were living in the shadow of the Assyrian empire, an empire that would soon become the instrument of God’s judgement for their idolatrous, unrepentant, covenant-forsaking ways. Yet God shows a great mercy and kindness to his people in giving them hope before the coming judgement, before the coming time of darkness and despair:
“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."
The source of hope for Israel is in the coming Messiah, Jesus, who will be born as a child. Yet this child will be called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. The government shall rest upon his shoulder, and it will be a government marked by justice, righteousness, and peace that causes the garments of soldiers to be burned forevermore. God speaks and light, perspective, and hope is given to the people of Israel. The coming judgement will not be the final word from God. He has planned, prepared, and promised a Messiah.
This verse has brought hope to countless people since it was uttered by the prophet Isaiah, and the power and hope in them still stand today. In what areas are you hopeless? You may not be facing an enemy army invasion like the Israelites, (although those in the Middle East may), but maybe you have been struggling with sickness, anxiety, or depression. Maybe your hopelessness stems from financial problems. Maybe you are mourning the loss of a loved one. Or maybe the mundane rhythm of life, days that bleed into weeks, months, and years has led to a general hopelessness. Whatever it may be, Isaiah’s words imbue even the darkest circumstances with hope. For the prophecy given has yet to be fulfilled in its entirety. The child has, indeed, been born and given to us and we look back on this promised fulfilled and allow it to fill us with hope that God will keep the rest of the promise: that one day our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace will come and rule and reign in perfect justice, righteousness, peace. All that is wrong will be made right in that time. There will be no more sickness, no more death, no more sorrow. And this is the beauty of Christ’s Advents. They infuse our situations with a greater hope and reminder that one day all will come under Christ’s perfect rule.