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A Son Is Born

No more gloom for those who are in distress! Although the Lord greatly humbled the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,[a] he will one day bestow upon them great honor—from the Mediterranean eastward to the other side of the Jordan[b] and throughout the Galilee of the gentiles.

Those who walked in darkness[c]
    have seen a radiant light shining upon them.[d]
    They once lived in the shadows of death,
    but now a glorious light has dawned![e]
Lord, you have multiplied the nation
    and given them overwhelming joy!
    They are ecstatic in your presence
    and rejoice like those who bring in a great harvest[f]
    and those who divide up the spoils of victory![g]
For you have broken the chains[h]
    that have bound your people
    and lifted off the heavy bar across their shoulders,
    the rod the oppressor used against them.
    You have shattered all their bondage,[i]
    just as you did when Midian’s armies were defeated.
Every boot of marching troops
    and every uniform caked with blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.

The Wonderful One

A child has been born for us;
    a son has been given to us.[j]
    The responsibility of complete dominion
    will rest on his shoulders, and his name will be:
    The Wonderful One!
    The Extraordinary Strategist!
    The Mighty God![k]
    The Father of Eternity!
    The Prince[l] of Peace!
Great and vast is his dominion.[m]
    He will bring immeasurable peace and prosperity.[n]
    He will rule on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom
    to establish and uphold it by promoting justice and righteousness
    from this time forward and forevermore.
    The marvelous passion[o] that the Lord Yahweh,
    Commander of Angel Armies, has for his people
    will ensure that it is finished!

The Lord Judges Arrogance and Oppression

The Lord decreed a word against Jacob, and it brought calamity upon Israel.

And all the people of Ephraim and Samaria knew of it. Their hearts filled with pride and they arrogantly boasted, 10 “Our brick walls may have crumbled, but we will rebuild them with dressed stones. Invading armies may have cut down our sycamore trees, but we will plant cedars in their place!”[p]

11 So the Lord Yahweh stirred up their enemies and strengthened Rezin’s foes,[q] and they came against the people. 12 Syrians[r] on the east, Philistines on the west—they came with bared teeth[s] and devoured Israel. Yet despite all this, his anger did not subside, and his hand of judgment is poised to strike them again. 13 For the people did not repent and turn to the one who struck them or seek the Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies.

Judgment Coming to the Leaders

14 In a single day, the Lord Yahweh cut off from Israel both head and tail, palm branch and reed. 15 The elders and dignitaries are the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail. 16 The leaders have led them astray, and the citizens are left in confusion. 17 That is why the Lord did not show pity to the young people or have compassion on their orphans and widows. For everyone was godless and did evil and each mouth spewed out wickedness. Therefore, the Lord’s anger has not subsided, and his hand is poised to strike them again.

Israel’s Tribes Turn Against One Another

18 Surely wickedness burned like an out-of-control fire, consuming thorns and thistles. It set ablaze the thickets of the forest with flames swirling upward in columns of smoke. 19 The land was scorched[t] because of the anger of the Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies. The people themselves became fuel for the fire, and no one showed compassion toward another. 20 With their right hands they snatched what belonged to others, yet remained hungry. With their left hands they stole food, yet they were starving[u] and even ate their own offspring![v] 21 Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and together they turned against Judah.[w] Yet despite all this, the Lord’s anger has not subsided, and his hand is poised to strike them again.[x]


  1. Isaiah 9:1 This was the region that first went into captivity during the Assyrian invasion in 734–733 BC. Yet this land was the first to enjoy the blessings of the ministry of Jesus, for his works were done among them. Their “honor” would be to host the life and miracles of the Prince of Glory, the Messiah. Isaiah is prophesying the ministry of Jesus that would reverse the curse over that region. In the place where devastation had robbed hope, he will appear. He chooses the places in our lives where we have the most disgrace and shame, and there he shines his light. Our past failures become prophecies of a future victory.
  2. Isaiah 9:1 That is, Gilead or Transjordan.
  3. Isaiah 9:2 See Isa. 8:20; Ps. 82:5; 107:10.
  4. Isaiah 9:2 Just as darkness and night have boundaries (Gen.1:4), so the Lord will cause gloom to end and the shadows to flee. He is the one who says, “It will last this long and not a day longer.” God begins in darkness and brings darkness into the day. The darkest thing in us will be bathed in his glory-light.
  5. Isaiah 9:2 See Isa. 55:8; Matt. 4:15-16; Eph. 5:8. This glorious light includes Jesus’ teachings, his miracles, and his pure life lived before the Father. Jesus Christ is a light of rescue for the lost, comfort for the hurting, wholeness for the broken, and escape for the captive. It is the light of joy, the light of revelation, the light of deliverance. Jesus’ birth signals an end of night and the beginning of morning.
  6. Isaiah 9:3 As the light of Jesus shines on the earth, it will bring in a harvest of joy and rejoicing. The people of God are about to arise and spoil the kingdom of darkness, even as Israel spoiled Egypt and went out rejoicing. God will cause our joy to overflow like those distributing loot after a battle. Great will be the conversions, the increase, and our rejoicing. Many sons will be brought into glory as the increasing Light of Dawn appears (Heb. 2:10). With both harvest and victory in battle, people rejoice in what God has done.
  7. Isaiah 9:3 The Masoretic text reads “You have magnified joy to everyone who receives the Light.” A sign of the moving of God among us to fulfill this promise is an outbreak of joy! He fills our mouths with laughter as a sign that the great ingathering of the harvest is here (Ps. 119:162; 126). The phrase “They are ecstatic in your presence” refers to the heart of worship God is releasing today. The gospel will always bring joy, and those who receive good news will rejoice (Ps. 67:4; Acts 8:8). This is the joy of the Feast of Tabernacles. The two great joys of the human heart come at a time of harvest and a time of victory. Human celebration at these two times knows no bounds. As the increase is brought in, victory is experienced. What greater joy is there in heaven and earth than when souls are saved?
  8. Isaiah 9:4 Or “burdensome yoke.”
  9. Isaiah 9:4 The words chains, yoke, and rod all represent oppression and bondage.
  10. Isaiah 9:6 The “child” speaks of Christ’s humanity, and the “son” points to his eternal deity. This son would be born in a time of darkness, but he will bring the light of a new day to the hearts of men.
  11. Isaiah 9:6 Or “the God of battle” or “Champion-God.” See Ps. 45:3.
  12. Isaiah 9:6 The Hebrew word for “prince” is sar, formed from two Hebrew roots: a verb meaning “to wrestle, to fight” and another verb meaning “to rule or to govern (as royalty).” So combined, the Hebrew word sar is “warring prince.” Sarah, the feminine version of Sar, can be translated “a princess who is a warrior.” It is possible to render v. 6 as “A Wonderful Counselor is the Mighty God! The Everlasting Father is a Prince of Peace.”
  13. Isaiah 9:7 Or “His authority will continually expand.” The Hebrew word misrah, found only here in vv. 6 and 7, can be translated “empire, governmental authority, dominion.”
  14. Isaiah 9:7 The Hebrew word shalom can be translated “peace, prosperity, wholeness, and success.” Perhaps all of these concepts are included in the shalom Christ brings us.
  15. Isaiah 9:7 Or “intense devotion.” See 2 Cor. 11:2.
  16. Isaiah 9:10 Their attitude is basically “Even if God sends judgment, we will start over and be stronger and more prosperous than before,” not realizing that God will not lift his hand of judgment until they humble their hearts.
  17. Isaiah 9:11 That is, the Assyrians. The Septuagint reads “the enemies of Mount Zion.”
  18. Isaiah 9:12 Or “Arameans,” a confederacy of Aramaic-speaking people known as Aram (modern-day Syria).
  19. Isaiah 9:12 Or “with their whole mouth.”
  20. Isaiah 9:19 The Hebrew word n’étam is a hapax legomenon taken from an Arabic word for “dark.” Its Hebrew meaning is uncertain and could be rendered “scorched,” “shaken,” or “darkened.”
  21. Isaiah 9:20 This is a figurative way to describe civil war. Although they all belonged to Israel’s tribes, they are now turning against one another.
  22. Isaiah 9:20 Or “They ate the flesh of their own arm.” This could be a figure of speech for harassing and destroying one another. See also Jer. 19:9.
  23. Isaiah 9:21 See 2 Chron. 28:6-15.
  24. Isaiah 9:21 Or “his hand is still reaching out.”

A Child Has Been Born—for Us!

But there’ll be no darkness for those who were in trouble. Earlier he did bring the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali into disrepute, but the time is coming when he’ll make that whole area glorious—the road along the Sea, the country past the Jordan, international Galilee.

2-7 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
    all their whips and clubs and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
    as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
    along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
    a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

God Answered Fire with Fire

8-10 The Master sent a message against Jacob.
    It landed right on Israel’s doorstep.
All the people soon heard the message,
    Ephraim and the citizens of Samaria.
But they were a proud and arrogant bunch.
    They dismissed the message, saying,
“Things aren’t that bad.
    We can handle anything that comes.
If our buildings are knocked down,
    we’ll rebuild them bigger and finer.
If our forests are cut down,
    we’ll replant them with finer trees.”

11-12 So God incited their adversaries against them,
    stirred up their enemies to attack:
From the east, Arameans; from the west, Philistines.
    They made hash of Israel.
But even after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

13-17 But the people paid no mind to him who hit them,
    didn’t seek God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
So God hacked off Israel’s head and tail,
    palm branch and reed, both on the same day.
The bigheaded elders were the head,
    the lying prophets were the tail.
Those who were supposed to lead this people
    led them down blind alleys,
And those who followed the leaders
    ended up lost and confused.
That’s why the Master lost interest in the young men,
    had no feeling for their orphans and widows.
All of them were godless and evil,
    talking filth and folly.
And even after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

18-21 Their wicked lives raged like an out-of-control fire,
    the kind that burns everything in its path—
Trees and bushes, weeds and grasses—
    filling the skies with smoke.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies answered fire with fire,
    set the whole country on fire,
Turned the people into consuming fires,
    consuming one another in their lusts—
Appetites insatiable, stuffing and gorging
    themselves left and right with people and things.
But still they starved. Not even their children
    were safe from their greedy hunger.
Manasseh ate Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
    and then the two ganged up against Judah.
And after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

* * *

[a]Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom(A) for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,(B) but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness(C)
    have seen a great light;(D)
on those living in the land of deep darkness(E)
    a light has dawned.(F)
You have enlarged the nation(G)
    and increased their joy;(H)
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.(I)
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,(J)
    you have shattered(K)
the yoke(L) that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,(M)
    the rod of their oppressor.(N)
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,(O)
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,(P)
    to us a son is given,(Q)
    and the government(R) will be on his shoulders.(S)
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor,(T) Mighty God,(U)
    Everlasting(V) Father,(W) Prince of Peace.(X)
Of the greatness of his government(Y) and peace(Z)
    there will be no end.(AA)
He will reign(AB) on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice(AC) and righteousness(AD)
    from that time on and forever.(AE)
The zeal(AF) of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

The Lord’s Anger Against Israel

The Lord has sent a message(AG) against Jacob;
    it will fall on Israel.
All the people will know it—
    Ephraim(AH) and the inhabitants of Samaria(AI)
who say with pride
    and arrogance(AJ) of heart,
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
    but we will rebuild with dressed stone;(AK)
the fig(AL) trees have been felled,
    but we will replace them with cedars.(AM)
11 But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s(AN) foes against them
    and has spurred their enemies on.
12 Arameans(AO) from the east and Philistines(AP) from the west
    have devoured(AQ) Israel with open mouth.

Yet for all this, his anger(AR) is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.(AS)

13 But the people have not returned(AT) to him who struck(AU) them,
    nor have they sought(AV) the Lord Almighty.
14 So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail,
    both palm branch and reed(AW) in a single day;(AX)
15 the elders(AY) and dignitaries(AZ) are the head,
    the prophets(BA) who teach lies(BB) are the tail.
16 Those who guide(BC) this people mislead them,
    and those who are guided are led astray.(BD)
17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men,(BE)
    nor will he pity(BF) the fatherless and widows,
for everyone is ungodly(BG) and wicked,(BH)
    every mouth speaks folly.(BI)

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.(BJ)

18 Surely wickedness burns like a fire;(BK)
    it consumes briers and thorns,(BL)
it sets the forest thickets ablaze,(BM)
    so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.
19 By the wrath(BN) of the Lord Almighty
    the land will be scorched(BO)
and the people will be fuel for the fire;(BP)
    they will not spare one another.(BQ)
20 On the right they will devour,
    but still be hungry;(BR)
on the left they will eat,(BS)
    but not be satisfied.
Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring[b]:
21     Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh;(BT)
    together they will turn against Judah.(BU)

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.(BV)


  1. Isaiah 9:1 In Hebrew texts 9:1 is numbered 8:23, and 9:2-21 is numbered 9:1-20.
  2. Isaiah 9:20 Or arm