Biblical Truth: When God gives a person an opportunity to lead, He also encourages and empowers the person to lead.
Turn to God and His Word: Isaiah 8 18-22.
 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in
 Isaiah directs attention to the prophecy with an introductory, Behold. The speaker and his children are signs and wonders. As signs, they would be pledges of something that was to be accomplished. As wonders, they were special manifestations of the power of God or tokens or symbols of future events. They are thus set apart in
 The ever present temptation to idolatry was at hand. Unbelievers were tempting the believers by suggesting that they consult the spiritualistic media. It was a deceitful suggestion. When the temptation to such idolatry is presented to them, what should true believers do? Should not a people consult their God? Here is the response to be given to tempting suggestions. A nation should not seek spirits; rather, it should seek its God. The people of the true God should seek only Him. In times of calamity and personal sorrow, God’s people must not forget Him. The abominable practice of consulting the spirits is a forgetting of God; it is a denial of His very existence. If other nations consult their gods, gods which are not real, we who know the Lord should at all times consult Him. In Old Testament days this might be done through the prophets. When we wish to consult God, let us turn to the Bible, for its words are the words of God Himself.
 If any seeking is to be done, it should be to the law and the testimony. The law is the revelation of God expressing His will for man’s obedience, and the testimony is His revelation expressing His will as a system to be believed. These are the standards by which all opinions and utterances are to be judged. Whoever speaks not in accordance with these standards is one that still abides in the darkness of sin and unbelief, and hence, one who cannot give light. Light is found in the law of God, the written revelation, the Scriptures. Those who speak contrary to Scripture have no dawn. They remain yet in the darkness of deep night. Upon them the morning light has not broken, nor will it break until they turn as little children to the law and submit all their thinking and their opinions in it. More than anything else today there is need that all our thinking be based upon and in conformity with the Holy Scriptures.
 There have been those who have not spoken in accordance with the law and testimony. They journey through the land but are faced with hunger and famine. Desperation has gripped the people, and they are willing to take leave of the true God, in wrath uttering curses against Him. Forsaking the Lord brings certain definite consequences. Having given counsel that is contrary to the law and the testimony, they will one day forsake the Lord Himself. In desperate need they will go through the devastated land, and there will be none to help. When one forsakes the Lord, he will become forsaken of the Lord.
 No matter where the wicked looks, he finds no hope. There is for them no sign, for the sign has already been given. Only light can dispel the gloom of despair and desperation, but that light is not to be seen. There is distress of soul and distress in physical circumstances, and this distress speaks out in darkness.
Look for God to Act: Isaiah 9:1-5.
 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.  The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.  You shall multiply the nation, you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.  For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. [NASU]
 For the sinners of the people there is to be perpetual darkness, but for the people of God the all-encircling gloom will pass away. A blessed contrast explains why the darkness is not to be permanent. According to the former time, the extended period during which the degradation lasted, God degraded the land and brought darkness over it. The latter time, however, the period of glory, will occur but once and will endure forever. God will honor the land. The sin of
 The inhabitants of
 When the Light came, God brought the Gentiles into the true
 For presents the reason for the great rejoicing. It is a word which introduces this and the following two verses. There is reason for the rejoicing, for God has wrought a mighty deliverance.
 Again the word for and with this word we are given a second reason for the great rejoicing. Following the victory which has just been mentioned, there is to be complete peace. This thought is expressed in a negative manner, in that the accoutrements of warfare are said to be utterly consumed. All these will be burned because they will no longer be needed. They are no longer needed, for a Child will be born, and His birth will bring peace to His people, for He will Himself be the Prince of Peace.
Live in Light of God’s Sovereignty: Isaiah 9:6-7.
 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. [NASU]
 A third and climatic sentence introduced by for. There is great rejoicing among God’s people, because God has broken the yoke of burden and oppression. They are removed because the weapons and garments of the warrior are destroyed. The basic reason for these blessings is that a Child is born. A child. The word occurs first in the Hebrew indicating that the emphasis in the sentence falls on this word. The Child whose birth is here mentioned was also the One whose birth had been foretold in chapter 7. In that chapter His birth was a sign; here it brings salvation to His own. The deliverance which brings rejoicing to the people of God is brought about by a birth in history upon this earth at a definite time and at a definite place. The birth of this Child is a gift of God. He is a Child, but He is also a Son. He is a son of David, a legitimate heir to David’s throne, for He is to bear the government with all its responsibilities, and this He will do upon David’s throne. When Isaiah calls Him Son, it is with a larger reference in mind. It is the fact of sonship itself which here receives the emphasis. The Child to be born is a Son, a unique Son, a Son par excellence. And it is for us that He is to be born. The prophet here groups with himself all those who are to be the recipients of the blessings which the Son’s birth will bring. Isaiah had already pointed out [7:14] that the Messiah would be with us (Immanuel) to bring us blessing; here He is to be for us. Upon this Child the government with all its responsibilities lies. Like a burden it rests upon His shoulders. The entire responsibility for the good administration of the government is said to rest upon His shoulders. The Child is to be a King, a Ruler, a Sovereign. This government is the kingdom of grace, but also in widest extent the kingdom of nature and power. All the world is subject to the rule of the Child. Who is this Child? In chapter 7 the mother named Him Immanuel. Isaiah does not intend that we should understand that in actual life the Child would bear or be addressed by these names, anymore than in actual life He should bear the name Immanuel. The thought is that the Child is worthy to bear these names, and that they are accurate descriptions and designations of His being and character. In the Bible the name indicates the character, essence or nature of a person or object. When, therefore, it is stated that He shall be called, we are to understand that the following names are descriptive of the Child and deserve to be borne by Him. There are four names listed. Each name consists of two members. Wonderful Counselor. This is the first of those wondrous and precious names of the Messiah. They are a healing balm in which the Christian soul will find comfort and strength throughout time and eternity. The root of the word for wonderful occurs in Psalm 78:12, where we may obtain an idea of its force. The root is used to describe the miracles which God performed in
 Being established upon the double foundation of justice and righteousness, the Messiah’s reign will be perpetual and progressive. These blessings of the increase of the government and of peace are connected with the One who sits upon the throne of David. He who sits upon this throne is a legitimate descendant of David. It had earlier been promised that David’s throne would endure forever, and hence the description of Messiah’s reign is identified with that of David. Peace and the government are mentioned together. This is striking, for most governments find their increase through war. Unlike other kingdoms, this one will grow through the means of peace, through the gracious working of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and through the preaching of the gospel. Its prosperity and increase are neither temporal nor local, for the kingdom is itself eternal. To establish it and to uphold it. Upon the throne of David the government will increase and will thus be made sure by means of judgment and righteousness. Tyrants and dictators of the world make their kingdoms sure by oppression and tyranny; this King will establish and uphold His kingdom through righteousness in government and the people will joyfully obey such a righteous rule. There is justice because the King is Himself just. The blessings follow because of the Child who is to sit upon the throne and only because of Him. When the Son appears in life with the attributes here assigned to Him, then the kingdom will be founded and established. The kingdom of the Son continually progresses. Justice and righteousness are its foundation; oppression and injustice have no part in its progress and growth. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. Who will bring it about that the divine kingdom shall be founded? Nothing other than the zeal which Yahweh of hosts has for His own honor will bring about this result. In itself this zeal or energy designates the deep love which God has for His people and also His jealousy on their behalf, His profound desire to protect and guard them and their welfare. But even more the word signifies a jealously to protect the divine honor and to vindicate the divine purposes. God’s partiality to His people and His jealous disposition to vindicate His honor will accomplish the establishment of the kingdom over which the Child will reign. In this remarkable passage there is a foreshadowing of the later to be revealed doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The Child to be born is God and yet His birth and the establishment of the kingdom is the work of the Lord of hosts. Isaiah uses the verb will accomplish to show that the kingdom will be established and prosper.
Questions for Discussion:
1. How does 8:18 apply to Christ and the Church [see Hebrews 1:11-15]? How does it apply to you? What do light and darkness symbolize in 8:19-22?
2. Read Isaiah 9:1-7 and Matthew 4:12-17. According to Matthew, how did Jesus begin to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy? How does this help you understand the true meaning of Isaiah’s prophecy?
3. Explain the four titles Isaiah gives to the Child in 9:6. What do each of these titles tell us about who the Child will be and what will be His purpose?
Isaiah, Edward Young, Eerdmans.
Commentary on Isaiah, Joseph Alexander, Kregel.