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Translation of Text
For an extended version see
MASSIFS OF PURE SPLENDOUR
in the Celestial Alps of Christ Jesus Ch. 10
15) Isaiah 9:6-7
Divine Agenda Ch. 5 (immediately below) , Repent or Perish Ch. 7, pp. 174ff., cf. SMR p. 773-774.
We do not find, in what follows, any
need to change, in this instance,
from the translation of the New King James version of the Bible.
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
"Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
Berlin TV, December 21, 2000
is about to Come!
but first let us think:
It is time to consider:
and the SLIM LINE that is not being FOUND by the LOST
CHILD AND THE COVENANT
THE KINGDOM AND THE WAY
and worse! it is all available
Time is moving and it is time to move...
ISAIAH 9: 6-7 -
THE SURROUNDS, TEXTUALLY, CONTEXTUALLY
AND THEMATICALLY IN THE BIBLE
In Isaiah 8 we see devastation, destruction and judgment. Even the prophet's child is named to predict it: Speed, speed the spoil, hasten the booty; and then we learn that the threatening powers of Ephraim and Syria will be doomed: there will be judgment on them, from the mighty Empire of Assyria. Thus a deliverance (Isaiah 7), one almost says 'threatened' for Israel, since under Ahaz there had just been rejected the 'chance of a lifetime', but more accurately, the liberal offer of a nation's rescue, from the prophet Isaiah. In that forsaken opportunity, the sky was the limit, and beyond. ASK what they would, ASK to heaven and the heights, to the depths.
Such was Isaiah's offer to the king, from the Lord.
Ahaz however, equivocated, engaged in verbal evasion, pretended it was NOT LACK OF FAITH but lack of presumption to FAIL TO ASK. In that way, we learn in Isaiah 7, he gained the scorn of the Lord, and with all the other sins of the nation, it led on to the onset by Assyria for the North of the divided land, namely Israel, yes but later to destruction for Judah. This however was postponed, for it was not until there had been a massive deliverance for Judah under faithful Hezekiah (cf. Isaiah 36). The Lord honoured him and his massive mercies and goodness thrust, for reform and faith, and it was not until after him that the thrust of judgment came on that, the Southern sector of the divided nation, also.
This then is the background.
Now in Isaiah 9, moving on from the end of 8, we find that a scene of great darkness, dimness of anguish is to be followed by a great light. Affliction is to precede delight. Obviously the promise of Isaiah 7, which was that the Messiah was to come, 'God with us', from a babe to be born, in a way as startling as the movement back of the sun-dial under Hezekiah. This was to be in a framework of wonder and the extraordinary (cf. SMR pp. 770ff.). Born of a maiden, a young girl, this astonishing reality would CONSTITUTE A SIGN of the most noble character. However, since there had been the reneging and hypocrisy of Ahaz (who was actually mad enough to ASK FOR HELP from the very King specified for their destruction, that of Assyria), this would not bring relief till its appointed period (specified quite precisely in Daniel 9:24-27, as shown in SMR pp. 886ff.), namely around 30 A.D. and the years leading up to it.
Isaiah 9 takes up this drama and deliverance period. The joy and triumph is to have significant realisation in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1). It would appear as sharp and transforming insertion into history, via a babe as announced in Isaiah 7, 'God with us', Immanuel, as light in darkness.
Joy would grow with a peace offer and manifestation so profound that it would show a way which makes blood wars look stale and old-fashioned (cf. Isaiah 9:4-5).
Yes, (Isaiah 9:6-7), a child was predicted to come to the nation, of the seed of David as formally promised to him, by God (II Samuel 7:17ff., Psalm 72 showing the extent of His eventual rule and power). His, this child's, would in due time be a power so profound that His very word can devastate and His eyes behold precisely what is right without erring (Isaiah 11). Indeed, His personal felicity and loveliness would be so radiantly glorious that in Him even the Gentiles would find their resting-place (Isaiah 11:10). In Him MUST all TRUST (Psalm 2), though to trust in man as such is expressly forbidden, and is one mode of asking for profound trouble because of its light-headedness, ingratitude and unrealism. GOD IS THERE, and when man is preferred, God is slighted, and His work aborted, as far as may be (Jeremiah 17). Yet this child, this seed (Genesis 12), this Messiah, trust in HIM was both a delight and a duty (Psalm 2).
This ONE in whom all must
trust is, as Psalm 2 predicts, is the SON, the Messiah; and this with an
utter devotion to Him is the pass-word (Psalm 2:11-12, Luke 14:28-33).
His judgment will be final (as in Matthew 7:15-21) and absolute (cf. John
5:19ff.). His will be a kingdom of kindliness and control both (Psalm 72,
Isaiah 61:1-3), in which a certain transforming power and pardon will be
dominant, rest for the redeemed and no respite for the refusniks (Isaiah
We now find the actual fare which is such a treat and treatment for Christmas as indeed for other seasons, but this is a sort of remembrance season, let the world abuse it as it may.
The Bible DOES say to be all things to all men, and to adapt using the opportunities (I Cor. 9:19ff.). Thus detestation of the Christmas period which so characterises some appears vastly over-wrought, NOT because the commercialism is not present, NOT because the world is good at Christmas, but because there is here an OPPORTUNITY which can make conversation easier, access more unguarded and the time to strike is not when one chooses, or might prefer, but when the Lord opens the way.
After all, one of my own relatives regularly telephones me from a distance at this season, and equally regularly gets a vigorous word concerning Christ and salvation which in any other time, it would be most difficult to ... insert (not impossible: but then some things are expedient, and battle does not scorn the dull day for air strikes or the bright one for scouting).
We return then to ISAIAH 9:6-7.
We find that the sort of transformation to be effected through this now much focussed CHILD is to be characterisable by relief from oppression of heart, light for the soul, stimulus to the mind, the occasion of immense, intense rejoicing. In Isaiah 61, we find it is to involve "beauty for ashes" and deliverance from "prison", but in its rejection, destruction. It is to be like the Jewish JUBILEE period (cf. Leviticus 25), only spiritually, for then debtors could be loosed, but now spiritual indebtedness to God is covered, pardon is presented to faith through redemption (as in Isaiah 52-53), and it is FREE (Isaiah 55), without price or money.
The reason for this is noted in Isaiah 9:6. It is a concern of a CHILD BEING BORN. It is a matter of a spiritual scion, indeed God with us, as in Psalm 45, where the throne concerned is statedly the very throne of God (cf. Hebrews 1:8). THIS is the nature of this CHILD. Small wonder it is to be born in spectacular disregard of ordinary nature from a virgin, a simple girl, for the Father is none other than GOD.
Thus we find that there is immense focus on the NAME of this child. In the Old Testament, names indeed tend to do something modern science does: provide a CHARACTERISATION of that to which they refer. They can act almost as if definitive tags.
The name then, as for the case of the prophet's own child which we noticed, is of signal importance. We have seen the name of judgment to come, so what of this one ?
First, it is apparent that it is a regal personage, for "the government shall be upon His shoulder". No cabinet is involved; the power and the right is HIS OWN.
What then will be the name by which He is to be called ?
With due reference and respect to the miraculously announced birth to come of Samson, it is the very word which was used by the angel of the Lord when he spoke of Samson's miraculous power and amazing conception, to Manoah (Judges 13). What is YOUR NAME ? asked Manoah of the angel. Why ask, since it is WONDERFUL ? replied the angel.
This then is a designation for the Lord, as implied likewise in Psalm 72:18, which is the very psalm (Messianic) in which the redemption BY the promised descendant of David, and His mercy, kindness and compassion, combined with regal rule, is displayed as on a screen!
name shall endure for ever,
His name shall continue as long as the sun,
and men shall be blessed in Him"
(as in the promise to Abraham, of Genesis 12).
His shall be "dominion also from sea to sea", "yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him."
This then is the ONE.
His name shall be called WONDERFUL, but also COUNSELLOR.
This is astonishing, since the Lord has heavily rejected ALL attempts to play the counsellor with advice not from Himself, all efforts to find in anyone but Himself the necessary and profound counsel which is essential to human life; and this, in a cursed earth, yet one still bulging with a beauty. Alas, that is gradually being removed by the insistent, persistent and calamitous follies of man, against his own soul, mind and body, his own earth and future and hope (cf. Romans 1:17ff.).
Thus in Isaiah 40:13--23), we see the Lord on earth as the Shepherd, the One of whom the messengers are to say: "Behold your God!" (cf. Ezekiel 34, where the Lord promised to come personally as the Good Shepherd, cf. John 10).
Though man spoils the world, by contrast, the counsel of the Lord is to be focussed, featured and dispensed categorically through this CHILD. Thus in Isaiah 11, in its Messianic profile, we find this:
"The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord...
He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears,
But with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth."
Indeed, "He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth," just as the Lord invoked the world into existence by His mouth, His speech, His word in the first place (as in Genesis 1), a fact so abundantly verified in the intense use of conceptual symbols and commands in creation, to an enormous extent (cf. SMR Ch. 2, That Magnificent Rock Ch.1.
In fact (as in Isaiah 10:21 where the Mighty God is shown to be the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY*1), He is to be named likewise "the Mighty God". This is not surprising in the least, in view of Zechariah 12:10, where His death is accounted by the Lord as a death of Himself in human form, and Psalm 45, where His throne is that of deity; as of the fact that the birth via a virgin is to be so extraordinary a thing, while the name "God with us" already implies the cause of this phenomenon. Thus was God the Creator, bypassing the human mode of reproduction, directly causing His Son to be made from and in the maid (as in Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:20-23). Yes, as the angel told Mary, it was a case of this, "He shall save His people from their sins."
A look at Isaiah 52-53, that great repository of the Gospel some 700 years before the coming of the King, the Counsellor, the Prince of Peace (another of His titles in Isaiah 9), shows that this is precisely what He is to do. NONE among those of Israel could BEGIN to supply this need (as in Isaiah 41:26-29). Yet by brilliant and total contrast, the One to be effectual for the underlying and basic needs of His people would be not merely the adequate; not only would He DO, while none other would or could as Isaiah pronounces it so long ago: HIS life would be the one in whom the Father DELIGHTED; and HE would constitute HIS CHOSEN vessel, who would bring forth justice to victory, bearing with the slow, the infirm, the inadequate with masterly grace, patience and profound spiritual power (Isaiah 42:1ff.).
The "everlasting Father" is the next name accorded to Him in Isaiah 9. Since the throne of God is His, this is not new. However it IS singular to have the SON called the Father! It is less so when you realise that biologically speaking, there is no gender in heaven (Matthew 22:22-33). Hence precisely as announced in Luke 1:35, this son would be CALLED the Son of God BECAUSE of the overshadowing, generative work of the Holy Spirit. Always going forth with and from His Father (as the One whom He expresses with definitive perfection, spiritually - as in Hebrews 1, Micah 5:1-3), always that wisdom of God (as in Proverbs 8, I Corinthians 1:30 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 28), the One sent AS God by GOD (Isaiah 48:16), it is He who can say (as He did), "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." THAT would have been virtually insane blasphemy if He had
1) had any sin
2) been less than deity
3) been other than the Word
of God, His precise and definitive expression in the format of flesh, as a man
(Hebrews 1, John 16:28, 8:42, 6:62, 3:13).
Thus, as of the status and stature of God (as in Philippians 2 where His form WAS that of God, which naturally no non-infinite being could comprehend, far less BE, so that equality with God was not something to be regarded as a gain), His lens to the Father qualifies HIM as able to bear such a title. Thus there is little so monumentally plain, in telling us humans NOT to imagine there is any barrier between us and God, when we belong to Christ the Lord and Saviour; for in Him, we are ALREADY THERE!
His name ? It has also this staccato exultation: "the Prince of peace". Not ANY prince of peace is He, but for peace, HE IS THE PRINCE. It is His and at His donation, it comes and stays (John 14:27).
By this stage we find that the "government shall be upon His shoulder" ( Isaiah 9:6), is paralleled by this, that "Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom" 9:7), and indeed, that this will be "to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice."
As befits an eternal Person, there is no terminus, for it is to be: "From that time forward, even forever", and God commits Himself to this display, doctrine and rule, in this way: "The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
Ahazes could finally defer it, no Manassehs defile. God Himself (as in
Ezekiel 34's explicit promise) would do it, even Himself, even to the death
(Hosea 13:14). His determination is absolutely stressed in all this. For
such a thing as to bear the sins which He abhors, in the Person He loved,
for the sake of sinners, it is little wonder... The wonder is that He did
it! That is ONE of the reasons why He is called, Wonderful.
ASSAULT ON THE VERSES,
CO-ORDINATE WITH THAT ON CHRIST IN ISAIAH 53
This Son is not only wonderful, as the Lord. He is intensely rejected by many, and no small abhorrence was it predicted to be, which gripped the nation (Isaiah 49:7). ABHOR is not too strong a word from the divine vocabulary. They killed Him (as in Psalm 22 also).
This rejection is a syndrome more prominent than any other disease on earth (cf. SMR Index, Rejection Syndrome).
Hence we find that this verse is attacked with a special relish. Efforts are made to demolish it, like an enemy division!
One such effort would have us take it to read,
"For to us a Child is born,
a Son is given:
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called 'A wonderful thing is counselling the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government....' and so on. That of course is a ridiculously dysfunctional name, called by one commentator sesquipedalian, that is, like one and a half beats instead of just one.
This, like the crucifixion, cannot stick. Let us resurrect the fact. Let us look at the text, actually!
WHO is to have the government upon His shoulder ? The CHILD. WHOSE is to be the increase of government without end ? The CHILD. As WHAT is He to have such an increase ? As the PRINCE OF PEACE, so using His shoulder. What then is the meaning of the last of the titles in its end context ? This: 'Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government'. In other words, the context forces us to use the last of the NAMES with the succeeding context. This is for a Davidic Messiah on the throne as promised from II Samuel on, and manifested in detail in Psalm 72, Isaiah 11.
Thus the last name is that of a Person who is to fulfil the Messianic role, and have an eternal rule over the hearts and lives of His people (Isaiah 9:7). It is however impossible, going backwards, towards verse 6 above, to remove from this train, the preceding names. If it is the Prince of Peace who has this property and propriety, then it is true no less of the Everlasting Father, the Mighty God. These things are His cognomens, His characterisation. They cannot be removed.
This would leave, in terms of this assault, this time not on the body of the Lord but on the body of the book, the following: "And His name will be called a Wonderful Thing is Counselling the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government ... upon the throne of David."
We then have, if this were accepted, a mangled imagery and a collision of concepts.
1) We are being asked to ignore the well-known names of God which are being piled on the CHILD, in marked contrast with His apparent weakness, in astonishing profusion, but in perfect parallel with the prodigious OFFER to Ahaz, who turned it down, to ASK for ANYTHING, to the heavens going upward, to the depths going downward. We were in the realm, in other words, of the absolute, the greatest possible provision.
2) We are being shown a suggestion which has NO grammatical basis. Certainly you can assume ellipsis, that is various parts of the sentence left out for artistic effect, such as the word "is". You can allow for the well-known WONDERFUL quality and name for God, but it is in the REALM and CONTEXT of NAMING this prodigious child. Names are the topic, this is a famous one of the Lord used in the birth announcement for Samson, but of the ANGEL of the Lord, not of Samson is the name wonderful used..
3) In this mistranslation, likewise, we are given a 'name' which is NOT revelatory of the CHILD. It merely indicates, not a manifestation and a happening at all, but that there is a counsel afoot. This is in total contrariety to the context, so that it is like giving a wrapping for Christmas, with much excitement, to be told that really, one has plans for giving at Christmas. THIS, however, this CHILD is the gift, and the focus on Him is total as revelatory (as in Isaiah 61, 11, 32, 42, 49, 52-53) and in HIMSELF, the Saviour.
4) By this same mistranslation, we are provided with a name so long as to be virtually unusable, a sentence of languid length, as changed.
5) All this however is RELATIVELY small compared with total collision of concepts involved.
Thus we would have someone giving COUNSELLING, or advising us of PLANS He has afoot, in Isaiah 9:6. This would normally be taken, of course, to be the LORD (cf. Isaiah 40:28-42:2, 44:25, 40:13, Lamentations 3:25-38, Amos 3:5, Isaiah 14:27, 43:13, 46:11, 23:9, Ezekiel 21:9-17, Jeremiah 51:20-24), without whose counsel NOTHING can happen, we read, and who needs none added! Indeed, as He declares, it is He who turns into foolishness the counsels of those who fall from Him, ordering events by His word.
This someone, this Counsellor in whose wonderful powers we are to rejoice in Isaiah 9:6, would therefore confidently be expected to be the LORD from heaven (Psalm 89:7), telling of His events in store on earth. This or that one would be sent here or there, this army, that prophet and so on (cf. Jeremiah 25, and 1:9-10). However, in this mistranslation, we find that at the minimum, we have this: the PRINCE of PEACE is counselling that the PRINCE OF PEACE will have an endless government.
Thus this is ONE of the names of the being giving the counselling, in fact the last one, and it is THE name of the Prince who is to rule in the Davidic promise and covenant, on the earth, a descendant of David, and hence a man. Thus IN HEAVEN the LORD, who is this PRINCE on earth, on this eccentric basis, is telling us that this prince, that is the Lord in heaven, will in due time rule on earth. If this is not mixed, what is a vitamiser for, and that is precisely what this ungainly misuse and abuse of the text has done!
It is ALWAYS the Lord in heaven who sends the Messiah to earth: true as in Isaiah 48:16, the one sent is also there the Lord, but there is a distinction between the one sending and the one sent, Father and Son, God the sender and God the sent. In Psalm 40, we do indeed see or better, hear the Messiah musing about His delight to do the will of His Father, who is providing a body for Him, with which He is to fulfil His sacred mission; but this is EMINENTLY in the context of BEING SENT, BEING PREPARED, BEING DISPOSED to go as sent. The Messiah does not simply come of Himself (as indeed is express in John 8:42), but comes as SENT. Thus the meaning in this translation would be in effect this, to personalise it:
am counselling a great thing, I God Almighty, the everlasting Father, who
am also that Prince of Peace who as the descendant of David
is to rule in the format of a man on earth.
That of course simply brings us right back to where we were, but indirectly. The CHILD is GOD, and is talking as God, even when being PICTURED AS A CHILD. This is a mangle of imagery. It is ludicrous, an intrusion of eisegesis extraordinary, to render simplicity obscurity, contextual felicity contextual folly.
since the one of whom, after all, the issue rises,
the child to arrest the eyes and the ears of all, and in particular,
this One with intense focus on His birth,
and this glorious
expectation concerning what to unfold from His birthday
it is this. It is therefore He, the babe with the birthday, who is the RECIPIENT of counsel as of birth, and future and expectation. HE is not the counsellor concerning it! The babe is not issuing a bulletin.
Yet that is precisely what the twisted translation would require. To make Him, as this translation undoubtedly does, a co-donor to HIMSELF, of counsel, when conceived as a babe constitutes a blither and a blather so extraordinary as in one step to reveal the extremity of concern to avoid the deity of Christ, and in many cases, to avoid the deity of deity, lest it interfere.
6) This however is not all. There is also a collision of concepts. Both concepts and functions are chaotic in such a mistranslation.
To CALL the CHILD 'the everlasting Father' immediately and without introduction is almost comic. Instead of being arresting to learn that the one who is WONDERFUL, and COUNSELLOR, thus introducing the concepts so piled elsewhere on the Messiah, first: in this mis-rendering, they are eaten up in the imaginary addition from an imaginary ellipsis. Instead of gradual ascent to wonderful, counsellor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, to bring the concept of CHILD into the whole domain of deity in quiet and beautifully proportioned steps as occurs in the text, we are being asked to move from CHILD to Mighty God to everlasting Father.
We are moreover seeing GOD IN HEAVEN counselling away, and at ONCE He is involved AS man on earth, as the ONE counselling, but seen now on earth. Thus His divine and heavenly counsel, as imagined to be in this translation, is now made integral at once with the MAN who is to reign in the DISTANT FUTURE, when MATURE, as King!
What then a wonderful thing this child is counselling who IS SPEAKING with the NAME of a man on earth, even while indicating that this man will come. Rather previous ? A trifle proleptic ? Idiotic perhaps, to have the HEAVENLY counsel ABOUT a man to reign on earth, WHEN He eventually comes first as a child, AS the One coming FROM that person. How is this ? It is by virtue of the NAME of the person BEING that of the ONE SPEAKING IN HEAVEN.
This is a rupture of reality and a collision of concepts, doing violence even to common sense. In fact, a man is in the future, in this prophetic context, to come, first as a child, and in His time He is, when mature, to govern on the earth with wonderful power and eternity. To have this man involved in the SPEAKING of the counsel (as the Prince of Peace), when He is the result of it in His emplacement on earth, is mere to disorganise the organised, and to bring to life what is future, for present performance.
greater collision of concepts, ontologically, could well be conceived.
7) Professor E. J. Young in his three volume work, "The Prophecy of Isaiah", on p. 332, notes that this suggested translation is the work of one, Luzzatto. An "unparalleled monstrosity" is the rejection notice on this Luzzatto effort, by Dillmann, whereas it is Delitzsch who calls it "sesquipedalian", ludicrously elongated name. Why asks Young, should there be a pile of names to establish (what in fact is already established) the wonders of God, when the task is to show what is to be made of the CHILD! It is an irrelevance as well as implying a collision of concepts and mangled imagery, ontological confusion and forcing an ellipsis to be discovered.
After all, if one wanted to make a sentence to say this, would it not have been a good idea, just to state it, instead of relying on a somewhat rarefied grammatical option, in order to frustrate the obvious purpose and purport, that the CHILD is the focus, here as before, and repeatedly with emphasis and revelation, in Isaiah 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 22, 32, 35, 40, 42, 49, 51-55, 61 and so on.
But there is a second attack which deserves a brief reference. Jewish commentators, perhaps distressed by the result of rejecting the ONLY SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11), who is God and who is THIS CHILD (Isaiah 52-53), who by His knowledge shall justify many, and who shall bear their iniquities, have in effect acted as if to secure another invasion of the text. It is, if possible, one even more ephemeral and manipulative and what is actually written. What is WRITTEN in Hebrew order, is this:
FOR A CHILD IS BORN TO US, A SON IS GIVEN TO US, AND WILL BE THE GOVERNMENT UPON HIS SHOULDER, AND IS CALLED HIS NAME WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR ETC..
How people under pressure can be ... pressurised into unwisdom! Thus the Targum suggestion is this:
"The God who is called and who is Wonder, Counsellor, the mighty God, the eternal Father, calls his name the Prince of Peace..." (Delitzsch, on Isaiah, p. 248).
As to the actual text (red print above), there is nothing unusual in principle about specifying the verb and then putting the all important word NAME right next to what the name in fact is, as you can see in the red print is what is in fact done in Isaiah. Nor is it unusual for emphasis to put the verb "will be" before the thing about to be revealed. We also can use inversion for emphasis.
Why the Targum should add "the God" and why they should transpose to the distance, "His name" way off to "PRINCE OF PEACE" when in fact it is next to "WONDERFUL", and so transpose what is statedly the 'name', put right next to the same, so that this irrelevant, intrusive, unwritten reference to the Father is forced in, like a carrot mark with text above, in defiance of the textual order and array, is a very interesting question! THAT it is wholly impossible, and not merely richly implausible follows from the simple fact that the word of God has to be taken as it comes, not where it is placed (Proverbs 30:6). That is precisely the work of tradition, as so perilous in Romanism, so that what is given is not what is gained! (cf. Mark 7:7). As the profoundly scholarly Delitzsch justly remarks of this particular effort by some Jews, "this rendering evidently tears asunder things that are closely connected".
Proverbs 30:6 condemns such gross additive fiddling with the word of God. Why not add a zero to a cheque figure, after all, for is it not a thing of nothing! EVERYTHING matters in an investigation, the more so of the word of the living God, and to intrude is to obtrude, to add is to be listed in the hall of infamy, of specified rebuke from God as in Proverbs 30.
IN THE END, when the text states clearly that this Messianic event is a prodigious coming, a transforming work of revelatory magnificence, is light in pitch darkness, joy in anguish, then the name being announced has portent. We expect to find what IT IS, with some expectation and excitement just after it is stated that "IS CALLED HIS NAME". To suppress the name in view of this impelling and obvious feature is mere obscurantism. It also leads to dispersion, disruption, collision and mangle, absurdity.
But that, it is precisely what happens when the Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself (as in Psalm 45, Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 2, Isaiah 43:10-11, 52-53, Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 6:14, 3:9, 2:8, Isaiah 52-53 with 43:10-11, Psalm 72 with its redemption and with Hosea 13:14) comes into sight. He is nearly dropped over a cliff in Nazareth, His sweet place of youth, and dropped on a cross into the soil, perhaps jolted in the process, as a combined reaction and feed-back from the Jews of priestly dimensions and from the Romans, in the Governor. The Messiah (until His return shortly, Luke 21:24), is always heavily ABUSED, REJECTED (cf. Isaiah 49:7, 53:3-4, John 16:2, Matthew 10:24-25, John 15:20), and many of those who seem to receive Him, deceive themselves, following Rome or New Age or other name changes which merely disperse and disrupt, precisely the treatment accorded the text (cf. SMR pp. 864ff.).
In THIS case however, though the option is as brutal to the words as His assassins were to His body, it does not stand. It is error demonstrable, eisegetical and intrusive.
does however have the marvellous power of being turned to account.
TURNING THINGS TO ACCOUNT
You realise, reader, do you not, that the crucifixion was not not cruci-fiction for the very good reason that He endured it. It was part of a plan that HE DID, expressly, CHOOSE to endure it (as in Hebrews 5:7, Matthew 26:41ff., 52ff. - cf. SMR Appendix C), because it led to the RANSOM price demanded by justice (Romans 3:23ff.), being paid once and for all for all time for all people who would avail themselves of it (as in Romans 8:32, Matthew 26:28). This was the price desired by mercy and instituted by lovingkindness (this is really a BEAUTIFULLY comprehensive translation of the Hebrew at this point, and well worth retaining therefore in the language - there is overtone of tenderness, mercy and love).
IF the devil and his associates (Devil Enterprises Inc. is listed on the Hock Exchange, and many are those hocked by this, needlessly cf. Hebrews 2:14ff., I Peter 5:7) did not understand (I Cor. 2:8), what then ? There is such a thing as a spiritually congenital INCAPACITY to understand which one meets from time to time! and it is not in the end so uncommon - cf. Ephesians 4:17-19, 2:1-10), and so went ahead, using Judas (cf. John 13:18-20, 27) as a catspaw. If then the devil did not understand, there is a special dulness of misused brilliance!
Otherwise, they might have sought to AVOID the cross of Christ (as in I Corinthians 2:8), that elegant mode of triumph which sounded the depths, in order to raise many from them.
we are seeing the JUST WONDER of the WONDER OF THE JUST, Jesus Christ the
righteous (Acts 3:13-15), "the Prince of Life",
that what He is leaves nothing behind of Deity.
There is ONE GOD, as we insist and demonstrate (as in SMR Ch. 1--2, 10). This of course requires that John 1:1 is referring to the ONLY ONE available when it states that the WORD which was with God, also was God (as stated independently in John 8:58, 10:30ff.);
and this is He (John 1:14).
This CHILD was wonderful!
We not often find in some child, some youth, some young person the HOPE that THIS TIME it will be better, more noble, more clean, more beautiful in spirit, chaste in disposition, courageous in heart, sympathetic in disposition, crucified with Christ in the gloaming of the day, filled with colour and pregnant with peace, that someone will somehow do MUCH BETTER! But the ONLY ONE who has really done MUCH BETTER is Christ (Hebrews 8:6-13, 6:17-20).
He has done it better in miracles, in healing, in word, in deed, in raising the dead, and above all, in being personally raised AFTER ALL PERSONAL PARTICIPATION IN THE FLESH WAS EXTINCT, His body being dead (as in Revelation 1:18-19). This He broke it, bore the penalty for those who will receive this blessed act, and liberated what was His, eternal life for all who come to Him in faith, as the fountain of cleanliness and the source of creation, the ONLY SAVIOUR for all the world (Zechariah 13:1, Revelation 1:5-6,15-18).
THIS is the SON who is GIVEN. This is the inexpressibly thrilling billing, the thought into form, the person into perfection, the only way being the incarnation so that God sent forth His personal expression, His word to BECOME flesh. THIS is the thing which Ahaz in Isaiah 7 is seen to miss. THIS is the ASK UPWARDS TO HEAVEN, DOWNWARDS TO THE DEPTHS provision of God (Isaiah 7:11). This is the LIGHT which evacuates darkness, the source of sight which removes spiritual blindness, the power which makes the feeble strong, the purity which rejoices the heart, the wonder who blesses the eyes. Here is the paragon, here is perfection, BEHOLD THE MAN! GOD AS MAN, God manifest in the flesh, the prince of Peace, the very image of His Father, so that His NAME is even this, the EVERLASTING FATHER. Here is site of harmony, expression of love so intense and commanding, between Himself and His Father, that it exposes to the spiritual optic nerve, the verve and delight of life!
Love is of God, and God is love (I John 4:7ff., 5:1ff.), and by His word He shows it, in His living word He has fulfilled it.
It is Christmas now. It is not the season but the reason for the season that counts. It is Christ who counts; and it is priceless to be ABLE to reflect, not sodden with counter-culture, or infected with intellectual viruses, that the CHILD came and grew, that childhood CAN be noble, that youth CAN be sacrificial and loving, that manhood and womanhood CAN be beautiful, that LIFE can be found in its place and placed where it should be found, in the very heart and life of God the Maker, through faith by grace. In His in coming at all, His in being willing to die, His in being ready to bear the awful estrangements of sin (Isaiah 59:1ff. shows the incredible seeming dislocation when HE suffered THAT), and then to rise and populate the earth with SPIRITUAL CHILDREN, there is love, willing love,sacrificial love, mercy proffering redemption.
you are not one of them, hurry and come (as in Isaiah 53:10, Romans 3:23ff.,
John 1, 3, Romans 5, 7-8), and having come, live as in Romans 6, with sin
not in sovereignty, the disease stayed and the Saviour your spiritual blessedness
and presidential, residential reality that makes life a noble, beautiful,
yes even a HOLY, and spectacularly INTERESTING thing. It is when you are
with God, and as to Him, GOD WITH US is your experience of Him (cf. John
14:21-23), then you come to realise that ABUNDANT LIVING and abundant loving,
abundant obedience and abundant fruit is the loveliness of the garden,
and that the gardener is He who was dead, but is alive for ever, undimmed,
undiminished, unchanged, candid, light into darkness, dismissive of all
the powers of evil, so that with Him, NOTHING shall be called impossible.
THE AGENDA OF GOD
He came. He is coming. He did it in suffering, He is to do it in sovereignty, not only over sin, as now, but over the earth. It is coming.
As this writer types away, he hears the sound of hammering as not seldom. Houses are being extended, new houses by the THOUSAND, even in this comparatively modest city of one million, appear on hillsides; while construction is at a rate, this year, astounding in the face of the slim proportions of this place. Building is proceeding notably as predicted for this Phase of the Age (Luke 17:28-37). One even finds in South Australia that a new electricity power house seems to be built not far above sea level, of all things when the waters are more and more confidently predicted to be going to rise, to the point some Pacific Islands are expected to be covered! This watery dynamic, this too is part of the Agenda of the Lord, as specified in the Time Architecture for this Period of the Last Days (see on this, Luke 21:25, which specifies "the sea and the waves roaring"). This whole scenario is covered, for example, in Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Thus, people are building for space, for this earth, for inventions, for housing, for impressive and portentous housing of this, that and the other. It is not diminished. Floods require it, storms insist, expansion in population to the 6 billion and beyond, demands it. Despite the evil predicted, these results were also predicted. It was thousands of years ago, when death by decimation and discouragement was an option; but it was not to be. That sort of loss is sudden and spectacular, near the end itself (Revelation 9:15). Meanwhile, buoyant self-confidence and building and marriage would not wait. As in the pre-deluge days, so now. So it is paralleled by Christ (Matthew 24:37ff.). It goes on pell-mell as it has to do. It is also a symptom of that other side of the mood swing of much of mankind: desolation, disaster, on the one side; profit, performance, effort, on the other, then war and famine, all of it in multiplying confusion and profusion. So it was to be; so it is.
The falling away of our atmosphere, so much a focus in this past week in the European Conference featuring DESERTIFICATION, which means the aridifying of once verdant or portentous places such as those near the Mediterranean coast in Spain, for example, as well as elsewhere, in South America, and as the Chairman indicated, all over the world: this also is moving on apace.
The Greenhouse Effect, also mentioned by the same Chairman in TV interviews, is not the least cause of this. Heat is coming and good things are going. War is booming, never such a plethora, and it of course is destructive, and not what could be called the modest living our environment clamours to find. Energy invents itself increasingly into our meteorological systems, clad with carbon dioxide casing if you will; and water is increasing in volume as Arctic wastes become liquefied, and long standing areas, depart in watery haste.
But it is not only in things terrestrial that the wheel is turning, the road is leading to the predicted furore of faithless turmoil; it is likewise in things spiritual. There the desertification is measurable; here immeasurable. It is present notoriously in politics, in education, in literature, in fallen ideologies, in broken dreams, in dreamy dopings, in laceration of the soul, incarceration of the mind, rotting of spirit; and indeed, a whole wave of disastrous immersings in the arsenic of cynicism and power, greed and blinded aspirations better left dead, proceeds below, that the dust storms of results above are mounting on every phase of the life of the race. Deliverance lies in one place; but this is not desired by many. All this is as predicted (cf. I Timothy 3, Matthew 24:10-14, 24:21-24, I Timothy 4:1ff.).
The conditions of AIDS are laying waste to Africa, where famine and other disease and racial hatred does not manage to do so; drugs, there and elsewhere, are laying waste to many who become wasters, ruining their physiological systems as though the wealth needed to run down so, were simply for fun. Irresponsibility is becoming an independent disease, so that whether it is in Italy or Japan, in South America or even Germany, in war or in peace, this or that figure is subject of investigation, resigns, with fraud or misuse of funds the core trouble; this or that nation is piling corpses, hacking bodies, satisfying lusts unspeakable, reaping what is sown, and then sowing the seed once again.
As the world rushes to its touch-down on the return of Christ, when it suddenly will come to realise the pure and unimaginative folly which sin has been permitted to induce, there is abundant notice. The DIVINE AGENDA is working like the ticking of a clock. It is not catastrophe as such, though this is promised as such (Matthew 24:21-22), to the point of making life virtually impossible in a little, in this world; it is the coming of Christ which is more to the point. It is not the wail of the police car which is the ultimate abasement of the criminal, but the prison. Before, there is judgment.
How people in this world with these ways can doubt judgment and not leave reason altogether, is a question the answer to which is a compliment, express and bountiful, to the powers of rationalisation which our exalted beginning, in the image of God, has made possible. In this, even the wrath of God praises Him, for it is turned to account. But how foolish!
Come and let us return to the Lord, says the prophet Hosea, with just that overtone of tenderness and compassion, realism and sensitivity for which the Lord is justly so prodigiously renowned:
"Come, and let us return to the LORD:
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days, He will revive us:
On the third day He will raise us up
(cf. Isaiah 26:19, "my dead body will they arise"),
"That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
His going forth is established as the morning: He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth."
May we at World Wide Web Witness Inc.
wish you all the happiness
in substance and spirit which nothing can dim,
found only in the Messiah of God, the Prince of Peace, the Prince of Life,
through repentance of sin, ransom by His blood
and the power of His resurrection which raised the corpse from the dead,
and made for all mankind, the gift and bounty of the calling to this,
His blessed release and redemption.
Christmas speaks of His coming, but if you have not come, it is time to be going, for He is coming.
To be a child of God IS WONDERFUL!
I loved my parents,
but this one even more!
There is quite truly, none like Him, inimitable, stern as needed,
authoritative without oppression, liberal beyond belief, insisting on goodness and supplying it like a fountain, friendly but holy,
delightsome (how can one bypass such a word when such a Person is in view) and even inclined to require the difficult (I Timothy 2:21, 2:3ff.), but then, not to meet the difficult, what is that, but to refund life! In the midst of it all, in confidence and quietness, there is rest (Matthew 11:27ff., Isaiah 30:15).
from Jew to Gentile,
God to Man, Heaven to Earth
*1 There is here a quite fascinating and enormously instructive perspective.
IMMANUEL is introduced in Isaiah 7. This is that pervasive but personal presentation to come with, by, in and through the CHILD who is to be born of the virgin in such a spectacular and - if not earth-shattering, then instructive coruscation of wonder to this watching globe.
In Isaiah 9, we see first the WONDER of the WONDERFUL, which is introduced in the contrast from Ch. 8's ending to the startling and impactive start of Ch. 9, where not merely is there to be a transmutation of darkness to light, but of anguish to delight, all through the CHILD to be born.
By the time we reach the naming of the CHILD, in verse 6, it is apparent that something of staggering immensity and unparalleled power for any man, is to be forthcoming. Indeed it is scarcely surprising, more like a coping stone to an arch which has every other stone in place and is being built before our admiring eyes, to find that the FIRST element in the NAME is "WONDERFUL". This is almost like taking out a cake from the oven, after rave notices about it, and finding the smell fits the publicity. Here the name fits the works.
It proceeds to Counsellor. In view of the government being His, the personal and intimate manner of it - upon His shoulder - and the forthcoming words in v. 7 about the expansion, and eternal continuity of His rule, and the impregnation of peace, this too is of small surprise. If anyone could be COUNSELLOR, surely such a sovereign as this has all that could possibly be asked. Indeed, in Isaiah 8, we find that the whole LAND is now termed HIS, Immanuel's; it is in fact designated as "your land, O Immanuel".
This is in the context of the coming invasion by Assyria, precipitated by the blatant equivocation and latent simple unbelief of King Ahaz, in his daring defiance of the grace, peace and mercy of the LORD, in giving a rationalisation of the first order of deviousness, instead of simply accepting the prodigious divine offer made through the prophet Isaiah (7:1ff.). Such a humiliation and spoliation is to follow unbelief, and the enormities so long practised in the land. It is ONE thing to sin; it is quite ANOTHER to rebuff mercy and to waste grace, considering loss of face or place, and forgetting God!
Thus the land to which the olive branch had just been extended, is now to face the consequences BEFORE the time for the MESSIAH. What prodigies of divine mercy might have met it, this is not revealed to our eyes. THAT they are now in abeyance pending discipline, yes and judgment, is clear. Thus there is a devastation of the very land where IMMANUEL, the child so focussed and to grow into such a wonder of manhood that the whole earth is to bow to Him, in His time, is to come. Indeed, GOD WITH US is His very name! Already before His coming, it is HIS. There is no need for God to 'shove over', before such majesty and such language. It is of GOD that the speech is made; it is of God COMING in the flesh that the commotion is soaring to the skies in response. It is divinity in humanity, unloaded in its fabric, the divine imprimatur set and the result from very birth, yes from inception, a miracle.
Hence in Isaiah 8, however, it is with PATHOS, with SUCH a blessing in store and SUCH rebellion in process, that this very land where HE is to come with such unbounded and rightful authority, and unfluctuating efficacy, is so subjected, subjugated and spoiled.
Already, the land is seen subject to Him, indeed His. This, then, is to be expected in this, that IMMANUEL is, as Psalm 45 so clearly shows, GOD in human form. It is for this reason that HE can be called "the mighty God". To be called less would suggest idolatry in the motion and commotion, the trust and the allegiance demanded: total and triumphantly inspired as in Psalm 2.
In Isaiah 11, we see indeed, further, the necessity of the reality which the name COUNSELLOR provides. Here is the COUNSEL itself, in this descendant of David and inscription of deity. His very word the ultimate, He speaks and it HAPPENS; but His judgment is pure beyond sin, and His knowledge knows no fluctuation with inadequacy. What is, is what He sees; the heart is what He knows, and nothing will obliterate or qualify this knowledge. NOT as the eyes see, does He discern; but with judgment.
This of course is one of the prerogatives of God, or name tags at all times. it is one of the identity specifications of deity (cf. Jeremiah 17). The heart is desperately wicked, WHO can know it ? asks the prophet Jeremiah. The he records the divine response to this question: I KNOW, says the Lord.
Accordingly, THIS CHILD is to know, and this child is being revealed as form and figure in a sculpture as it is hammered into exposure of the vision: He is made manifest as God in human form, to be trusted by faith, though no man MUST have this place, as specified and indeed dramatically REQUIRED, in Psalm 2. In fact, the prerogatives of God are in fashion here. It is not one or two. It is the array which displays itself in the man to be, the child to be full grown. The rainbow of breadth is in this delicate format. What is forbidden for man as such, is now commanded for this UNIQUE SOVEREIGN: for the case is infinitely different when the infinite God becomes man. Then what is NOT suitable to man, becomes obligatory; and what IS the limit for man becomes dispersed in the attitudes of His people, and the actions of His grace.
Thus when, in Isaiah 10:21 we find that a remnant, those who have the grace to believe, are eventually to return from all the immediate troubles in store, it is to THE MIGHTY GOD that they come. It is to the very ONE who as a child is exposed in Isaiah 7 and 9, and as a man in Isaiah 11. "The destruction decreed will overflow with righteousness". There is to be a realised result so splendid, a provision so noble, that the very enormity of the destruction to rage on a disgraced nation (as in Isaiah 30:8-11) will be surpassed by the sheer WONDER of what is yet in store, all focussed, featured and provided through the child. It will however be a quietened and meek people who will receive Him (as in Zephaniah 3:12). Thus the land is that of the God of Israel and it is that of Immanuel; for the One is the other and the other is the One, implanted in virgin, manifest as man, the ONLY Saviour, just as God is the ONLY Saviour.
It is thus a double understanding. NO Saviour of the spirit of man is available but deity. Christ is the Saviour. Thus there is coincidence, not rebellion in the revelation. The one is the other. That is the first point. But there is NO other Saviour but Christ. It is HE who is be believed, not someone else (as in Isaiah 53:1, with 4-6). It is there that the iniquity is to land from its long flight in the darkness of sin. It is not in another place. It is not in the Nation, or even the United Nations, in the EU or in the psyche of man in any way whatsoever, and foolish is he, is she deceived by ruminations in the ruined spirit of man, cocky with confusion, dynamic in delusion, ever greedy for greatness, never finding any, a mere residue from reinforcement, cut off in iniquity, awful in autonomy, miscreant in muddle, wondering at the sense of the impending, but nevertheless not bending.
There is no such way: it is whey before the steel, obliterative in destiny, inane in aspiration.
There is no escape and there is no need; for it is here, and those who do not accept it where it is to be found, in Him (as in Deuteronomy 18:17ff.), the LORD will require it of them. in HIM is rest (as is the Lord, Isaiah 30:15-17). In HIM is the shelter and the refreshing, the shade and the support (as in Isaiah 4:6 with 32:1ff.). HE replaces the very temple with His realities, which that had merely symbolised. In view of HIS action (Isaiah 52-53), sacrifice of animals is a grotesque cruelty (Isaiah 66:3).
This is not contest, but a provision; it is no double and blurred vision, but accurate sight. It is FROM God that the provision is made; it is OF God that the miracle has come; it is GOD that the gift comprises, and it is come in flesh, as one among many brethren. He is the LORD and the LORD is He. It is not one or the other, but the other as the one, and the one as the other. Height has come to depth, to cover the need of man; depth has arisen to height, to behold the gift. God is manifest in the flesh, as man; and this, it is the work wrought in the virgin, found in the child, whose names are so portentous, so totally eclipsing anything before or to come, shining with the very intensity of deity, declaring to mankind in its own form, the love and wonder, counsel and might of God. It is not a deputation; it is a declaration; it is not suggestion; it is sovereignty. It is not help; it is presence. It is GOD WITH US, and how else, since He who is with us, is God. As such He is exposed, revealed and manifest.
HE is the light (Isaiah 49:6), EVEN to the Gentiles, as exposed here in Isaiah 11:10. From Him is met all the yearning and intimate need, spiritual call for resource and recourse, of mankind
Small wonder then that the names provide a fitting specification base for the actions and the works to be performed. SO quickly into Isaiah 11 we come to see it all exposed in sequential form, the Davidic descendance, the measureless wisdom, the impervious imperative, by which He is not duped or deceived, but KNOWS and does what is good, the power which by mere word is effectual as in Genesis 1, the transformation of Nature, its curse upanchored (11:6), while the power and majesty will protect the land, just as in Isaiah 8, in the discipline for unbelief phase, there was a wantonry of destruction which brought sorrow in its profundities and poignancy.
Not only so. There is, Chapter 11 instructs us, to be an overflowing of this specifically divine blessing to the point that the very land of Israel is not enough (as in Isaiah 49:6): the GENTILES will find His resting place delightful. It will be universal, globe grabbing, delicious, heart enthralling, but deep and strong and long, divinely beautiful, the very focus of the things which ONLY GOD can provide, released from this CHILD grown to manhood, with all the sovereign majesty and soul satisfying completeness which is the prerogative of God to bestow.
WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, MIGHTY GOD, yes, this is to specify in names what is envisioned in works, spirit and power.
More: in Isaiah 48:16 we find that the speaker being the LORD (Isaiah 48:12ff.) who speaks to Israel is identified, and says, "I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last" as in Revelation 2:8, where He speaks as the Messiah who has come to earth in the way we have been studying. Now in Isaiah 48:16, He makes a further preliminary announcement, just as He does in Psalm 40 (Heb.10:5-7). Come, He says,
Here is God-the-sent speaking in terms of God-the-Sender, and specifying particularly His Spirit as well, in considerable parallel to John 15:26. The TRINITY is being identified; and with what consistent intimacy God reveals Himself throughout the Old Testament, and then throughout the whole Holy Bible! But the next point is most fascinating, instructive and coherent with what we have been seeing elsewhere in Isaiah concerning the Messiah, the sent One.
identified specifically the Speaker, as God the sent, whom John in 1:1
identifies as the Word who was God and was with God, the word of God continues
He proceeds with the tenderness of the Good Shepherd (as which He promised to come in person, in Ezekiel 34), exposing just that solicitude which Christ exhibited as seen for example in Luke 19:42ff..
Thus we find the Redeemer specifically appearing as God the Sent One, and of course this is made most clear and signally apparent in Isaiah 52-53, where the MANNER and method of His redemption through His own blood, bearing the iniquities of those who receive and believe in Him in reality, on HIMSELF! This ? It is just as He indicated in principle He would do, when God spoke of HIMSELF in Hosea 13:14:
Now in Isaiah 44:6, we find this, now quite clear in its signification, in view of the exposure referred to above:
We here see again what has been revealed elsewhere then, that it is the LORD AND HIS Redeemer, the One who spoke specifically in Isaiah 48:17 having been revealed in 48:16. The differentiation having being made, there is no ambiguity. "Have I not told you from that time?" He expostulates just as in the cases above.
we meet the expression of this categorical revelation of Isaiah 48:16-17
with all its specialised characteristics, in Isaiah 41:14, including the
tender and Israel-bent solicitude:
He is protesting, exhorting, offering, but also in the end there is judgment,
condign and consequential. On earth His voice has been heard in writing,
from flesh, in blood, His own (Isaiah 52-53). The good news tossed aside
by Ahaz in his time, and by Israel when this Messiah came in person, is
still circling the earth. It is for the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6) as well
as the Jews ? The Gentiles ?
THE CONTEMPORARY APPLICATION ?
Just as Ahaz was presented by the prophet Isaiah, in God's name, with an offer most solemn, most majestic, dominating the very light of day, and yet rationalised himself deviously away from its reception, as if to be an angel of darkness and a professor of dimness, so now there is a hideous parallel.
Just as Ahaz did, so now the contemporary Gentile for whom this CHILD grown to maturity, is the LIGHT (Isaiah 49:6) can release the opportunity, relinquish the wonder and the counsel, turn as if to obliterate the light, speak as if to extinguish the hope, and in thoughtless wander, replace the wonder with the whole spectrum of violets, indigos and blacks which so characterise our generation, in so much and so far, setting God aside, the child to no account, the Messiah to no use, and so growing experienced in a darkness that is more than denying the sun. Sunken like those poor Russian sailors, not rescued from their Arctic submarine, earlier in this non-glorious earth-year, expressed in divine terminology, A.D. 2000, they are stricken, self-imprisoned, in submergence.
Yet in this illustration, those sailors are like saints by comparison. For there was delay in their rescue, in their disastrous enclosure of maritime circumstances and broken ship; and this they did not cause. But here, there is a delay self-imposed, by those who act as if the depths were their native land, and disaster their preference, dimness their delight and doom their inheritance of choice. It is of course quite possible to PREFER DARKNESS as we read the case in John 3:18-19. "This," says the apostle in the word of God given, "is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
It is NOT because they are sinners, in the end, that the fateful and fatal condemnation comes (as seen also in John 15:21ff.). It is in the rejection of remedy that it lies; it is in the preference that this implies, in the very face of the divine willingness (as in I Timothy 2:1-6). GOD is not mocked; but when people mock themselves in the presence of the CHILD, this CHRIST, this MESSIAH, this One who stooped in such humility, that we might share from His nobility, and find redemption in His obedience, even to the Cross, in His ransom, in His redemption, in His gift of eternal life: then there is a tragedy which makes the Arctic submarine situation seem by comparison, a small thing.
was to a doom of time; but with the CHILD who came into our midst to perform
the works no man could do, since He was as He is now, the glorious and
glorified Messiah in His time, GOD with us, it is different. When He is
rejected, it is to doom beyond time. THAT death, that destruction, that
contempt, it is eternal.
Repent or Perish Ch. 7, pp. 174ff.
THERE is the one who as predicted, came seated on the colt of an ass: entering Jerusalem (which was to slay Him), amidst the exuberant and rejoicing plaudits and praise of so many (Zechariah 9:6); and as to Him, He was the One "having salvation". Hence (Isaiah 49:6), He IS the salvation of God, and as such is shown a light to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people. HIS is the focus, HIS the name, HIS the fame (cf. Isaiah 9:6, 9:1-7).
It is of HIS kingdom there is no end, with peace eternal (Isaiah 9:7); and it is accordingly HIS NAME which is "prince of peace" (9:6), and for that matter, "the mighty God", as we there read, in perfect harmony with Psalm 45, and Hebrews 1:8, Philippians 2. The PRINCE OF PEACE designation requires the preceding names to be its company. The couples, or the sententious series in this name refrain are undivorceable, and this not only because if this were not so, it would be peremptory, arbitrary and intrusive, as if to presume some lapse in divine concentration, some carelessness in composition, some abstruse and unevidenced complexity of speech.
They are undivorceable likewise because it is a person who is promoted, exposed and exhibited, who though a child in coming, is yet ‘Everlasting Father’, for that Father is to perfection exposed by Him, and moves by and through Him (cf. John 14). It is not per se a statement about the Father, but about the Son, His dealings and His advent, His Kingdom and His power, His future and His qualities.
The announcement in 9:6 is of HIM, and it is HIS NAME which is explicitly focussed, just as it is HIS WORKS which draw the eyes in 9:7, the latter the justification of the former, and both of the huge announcement in Isaiah 9, concerning the light which is great, which comes to overcome darkness, the great light which (49:6, 9:1-2) He is.
It is, moreover, to Him who is wonderful and Counsellor that we are introduced, as also exposed for us in Isaiah 11 and 53. There is no ambiguity about whose throne it is in 9:7, and none about the characterisation of the One to sit upon it, whose qualities are set forth like the sun. It is no wonderful thing that is counselled, as though we were dealing in the abstract. The case is wholly other.
Rather it is the wonderful counsellor who is provided. It is in HIM, and not in some other thing, that the name is found, located, lodged, with the qualities leading on to the power and the glory in 9:7. It is not the plan but the person, not the thought but the deed, not the idea but the actualisation, not the potential but the person. Only as wonderful, that name used of the LORD in His theophany to the parents of Samson, can we find a way to put together the Prince of Peace who is both Almighty God and child, everlasting Father and yet one forwarded by the LORD! As God in the flesh, God-the-sent (Isaiah 48:16), the Word, He can be both, and in no other way. (Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock p. 773.)
As Isaiah 49:6,8,10 and 40:10 show, it is Christ who is the plenipotentiary in all functions of salvation, itself the unique prerogative of God (Isaiah 43:10) - He is the covenant, the leader, the giver of inheritance, the establisher of the earth, the deliverer of prisoners, the provider of mercy, guide; and as to God, there is NONE LIKE HIM (Psalm 89:6-8), no,
THERE is the Saviour, now shown on earth, for all eyes shall see His salvation (52:10). As to GOD, He is the only Saviour, while as to Christ, of necessity, He is indeed God... for there is NO OTHER SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:11, Acts 4:11-12). He is the Saviour from sin in the most personal way, even figured as a stone on which sin is ETCHED (Zechariah 3:9),
"He has chosen you" (49:7), even though
"man despises" Him, and
"the nation abhors" Him!
Chosen to display God's divine prerogatives, He is as Colossians states, Creator and in bodily form, possessed of the fulness of the Godhead.
God did not do things by halves!
J.G. Machen expresses himself in WHAT IS FAITH? (from pp. 115ff. in substance - scriptures added) essentially like this:
If Christ had merely drawn us closer to some great beyond, however far beyond our own unaided powers that might be, however great an advance it might comprise; if He merely had done this, taking us to some shoal or bar with the great beyond still in place, and we still out of that place, we would be left as helpless as we had been, short-changed as it were, at the edge of eternity. But less than infinity can ONLY be infinitely less. If it is NOT infinity, it is infinitely less. That is the nature of infinity. Short of God is desperately, despairingly deprived. Yet Christ being from God, and being God, has not brought us to some journeyman's sand-bar within the oceans of the unknown. Not at all! Christ offers to bring, and for the Christian has brought us, to God, from whom He came (John 8:42, 5:19-23, 6:62, 17:1-3, 1:1-14, Philippians 2).
As Jesus Christ directly put it,
and indeed, WHATEVER the Father did, HE did in the SAME WAY (John 5:19-23). Now if I were a champion golfer, you might "do" what I did, in your mutilated and cramped, crimped fashion; but you COULD NOT, if you were not of the same quality, do it in the SAME WAY! That is the prerogative of greatness. Hence the marvel,
"He who has seen Me has seen the Father!" (John 14:9),
and the force of the announcement in Isaiah 52,
"All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God"...with "Behold My servant...",
and that following report before the time came, on the method by which Christ was that salvation, victim, vicarious victor and triumphant sin-bearer (Isaiah 26:19) breaking death (cf. Hosea 13:14), this the very prerogative in turn, of God Himself.
How simple it all really is! God suffered it, God paid for it and to God repentance is made, in terms of the salvation which Christ IS: a light and a covenant, He is also the SALVATION of God, which He shows, declaring, "Behold My Servant" (Isaiah 53:13), and indeed then showing that beyond which there neither is nor could be any greater, higher or more essential salvation: the BEARING OF SIN TO DEATH. Similarly, He is shown as the REDEEMER, the paying party who recovers what is lost.
As Psalm 2:12 has it, it is in HIM that one is to trust, while to trust in "flesh" is a cursed perversion of faith (Jeremiah 17:5ff., Isaiah 30:1-3); it is to Him one renders that divinely commanded devotion (Deuteronomy 6:5). It is HE whom God delights to honour, to exalt, to make Judge of the peoples and focus of His salvation. It is to HIM, Christ, that every knee therefore shall bow (Philippians 2:9-11, Psalm 72), in that very act which God requires towards Himself (Isaiah 45:23), declaring it required for Himself as the only One who is God. It is this one and only God, who - as He so greatly emphasises in His word - has no equal, there being none comparable, none to whom He gives His glory (Isaiah 42:8, 43:10-11, 13, 44:6,8,24, 45:12,18-19, 44:6, 46:5,13), who thus requires THIS acknowledgment of His Son (Psalms 2,72).
This is He, the Christ, the salvation shown (Psalm 72:11,15): it is He to whom this homage will be paid! It is He who is the judge of all (Psalm 2:7ff., John 5:26-27,30). As for others than the Lord Himself, they do not even KNOW and CANNOT know the human heart; but this One judges (Isaiah 11:3ff.), and knows all, as only God does. It is HE and HE ONLY who is the effectual ONE (Isaiah 41:28-42:1) - and Isaiah 53:4 shows the intimacy of this, the Lord Himself, in the interstices of flesh, which He assumed for a purpose, like a novelist coming to inhabit a novel for a purpose of grandeur indeed, pity and wonder.
It is HE likewise who is the Redeemer (Isaiah 55:2-4, 52:3, 53:11); and as to the Redeemer of humans, those image-bearing, image-defacing persons, it is GOD HIMSELF (Isaiah 44:6) one again, who takes this role, has this function, this capacity, this glory. As the ONLY ONE who is God, HE takes this service and nobility to Himself:
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God."
HE is the Redeemer, He the First and He the last, He beside whom there IS NO GOD; and this, redemption of sinners, it is His prerogative, His power, His identification criterion; and it is Christ's. As John puts it, "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (I John 4:4), as Isaiah, "By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many" - why and how? this way: "For He shall bear their iniquities!" (53:11). As the Psalmist declares it, "He shall redeem their life from oppression and violence" and "He will save the souls of the needy" (Psalm 72:13-14).
How it is so, even this is explained, for the inter-communion of the divinity is explicit, God being no loner, and all our society being expressive of this in Him, though in Him what has splendour of eternal wonder, in the sinfulness of the human heart often instead becomes oppression, delusion and deceit. Listen then to this His statement, which so mirrors, or rather is mirrored by parts of John 5:19-23, Colossians 1:19-23:
I have not
spoken in secret from the beginning:
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me."
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
Indeed My hand has laid the foundations of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them
They stand up together....
I even I have spoken:
Yes, I have called him,
I have brought him, and his way will prosper."
The intimation concerning the Messiah, God-the-Sent in this context, then follows ...
"Come near to Me, hear this...", as we saw above. The ONE GOD is not isolated, but there is plurality in His Majesty: there is His Word, whom He sends, who says in Zechariah 2:8, in similar vein:
In the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-3), He is called "the express image of His Person", in Proverbs 8, Wisdom (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 27, and
Bearing the divine prerogatives, He is God, and His unity has this diversity (Philippians 2:6, John 8:58, 5:17-23); and there is no other God but He who, God the Sender, God the Sent, with His Holy Spirit, so declares Himself (John 15:26, Zechariah 4:6, Psalm 104:30).
Despite the intense satire sometimes found in the Bible (as in Psalm 82, Ezekiel 28: 9), there is but one God, and this, as we have seen, is Biblically stressed almost to infinity! Those who are interested in having some new one (Deuteronomy 32:30,3-5, 16-17), new-fangled, new-boy gods, gods "newly come up" as Moses put it, may do so; but they are not God, merely names for fictitious identities of the deluded mind, like those of Legion in the vast healing wrought on the troubled man in Gadara by the Lord Himself.
The Bible does not hesitate so to designate OTHER gods than He who IS God: Psalm 96:5 - "All the gods of the peoples are idols!" It is this ONE God, the only one recognised by God, the only one KNOWN by God, the God who has none formed before Him and will have none after (Isaiah 43:10), of whom John 1:1 writes: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." Thus to Thomas - talking of repentance, Christ gave the invitation to satisfy himself physically that the body had risen, and being satisfied, Thomas replied,
We have spoken of the need of repentance. There is an alternative. It is to defile, deface, caricature, crucify Christ, and so seek to grab the "vineyard" from the owner, and rule the earth "without God" (cf. Mark 12:1-10). In the way of any such procedure, however, is this, that Christ was
and is to be
1) returning to duties, on this earth and
2) judging those who prefer darkness to light (John 3:30-36, 5:19-23);
and look at the world,
is it not dark!
The night comes when no man can work (cf. John 9:4, Isaiah 13; 21:11-12); today is the time to repent, receive, being redeemed, delight in the Lord; to wait upon Him, knowing this:
"Trust in the
Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass."
The Magnificence of the Messiah, Appendix IV,
Creating Waves, Ch. 3, That Magnificent Rock, and
The Everlasting Gospel, Item 17 of Barbs, Arrows and Balms.
SMR p. 773-774
One should first read Isaiah 7-10-14, and preferably 7:14, to better grasp discussion. We see in Isaiah 7:14 a Hebrew term which denotes "the lass", something as E. J. Young points out in his Studies in Isaiah (p. 183) rather more definite even than 'damsel', since there is no evidence it was ever used of a married woman. A simple girl, unmarried (a 'laddess' as Dr Duff Forbes rendered it), is to be with child. This Hebrew word is unlike bethulah, a technical term which, though it may mean 'virgin' may also be associated with marriage (Joel 1:8 - where a bethulah mourns for the husband of her youth). Young notes this other term may also be used with the addition, 'who had never known a man' (loc. cit.) which, in view of the betrothal arrangements, is not meaningless.
'Almah,' however, the term in Isaiah 7:14, conveys the sense of simple, normal, as yet unwed, uninvolved, untouched youth. It is divorced from marital maturity or participation like Spring from Summer.
Now rightly denounced, in no uncertain terms, has been any sense of a fornicator or slut.
There is simply no ground for assuming an immoral or fallen or guilty young lady. "Innocent till proved guilty" is merely one facet of the case. You don't engineer a focus for deliverance (as is the context in Isaiah 7), a 'sign' as this young lady in that place undoubtedly is, with a reference to the perversion of youth or the squandering of sanctity in sexual licence - as a mere guess! The context says no such thing; nor does it censure. It speaks rather, categorically of youth outside child-birth considerations, that would in any way relate to marriage. It is indeed set in idyllic atmosphere (Isaiah 7:21 ff.). Further, for God to designate a simple young lady in His holy plan as a focus, (Behold the virgin, He announces, "the unmarried maiden with child"), and for us to assume that He has a 'dirty', distorted or specifically fallen thing in mind: this comes near to imputing to God a breach of His own principle,
"whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -
meditate on these things"
(Philippians 4:8), and breaches this one:
"Love hopes all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7).
We have no right to enter here such territory, no warrant, no ground or basis, without being instructed so to do. It would be eisegesis - that is the importation of thought from outside the passage, not exegesis - the expression and bringing out of the passage, what is written. To add to God's words is forbidden (Proverbs 30:6), and to follow such a procedure would be to become a joint author with God, without invitation so to be...
Yet the 'case' for avoiding the virgin prophecy is far worse than that. How can a straightforward and not very uncommon 'fallen woman' syndrome be a sign (Isaiah 7:ll) of such magnitude as is found here, and found rather rarely in Scripture. As Machen points out (op. cit. pp. 290-291), the divine offer of the sign in this passage would naturally lead us "to think of some event like the turning back of the sun on Hezekiah's dial, or the phenomena in connection with Gideon's fleece" - the first in Isaiah, the other in Judges - such focus was made on a sign...
Such focus ? some such focus, for in this case the focus is explicitly more than merely astronomical, it is CELESTIAL. "Ask a sign!", God challenges, reaching up upwards into the heights, down into the depths ... There is not only a request to ask a sign, and this being God, the limits of magnitude are not there; these limits are explicitly off as well. Here is a sign to end all signs, making history a preliminary! Events in the coming will 'unwrap' what is more than remarkable, or even unique; they will paint, portray, institute a supreme marvel even in the action of the divine One, of God Himself, upon this earth.
As Machen puts it, "Equally suggestive is the elaborate way in which the 'sign' is introduced. The whole passage is couched in such terms as to induce in the reader or hearer a sense of profound mystery as he contemplates the young woman and her child." The offer to Ahaz was virtually infinite and the Lord's choice of sign, when Ahaz declined to activate the matter, is in the category that has no bounds. Such is this setting, situation and scope.
To seek a simple, common, all too natural signal in the sight of such supernatural initiative is to ignore what is written, be blind to the context and to miss the point... which is that here is something prima facie all but incredible! But that is precisely what we have been led to expect, might expect in any case perhaps, but certainly must expect in such a context. God appoints it on His own, with scathing effect on the welfare of Ahaz, but no remission of His intended utterance. Weary God they may, but God is not wearied to perform what He will (Isaiah 7:13). "Therefore - [in the very face of this weary faithlessness of man], the Lord Himself will give you a sign!" activating on a personal basis what they failed to appropriate, in a way that might have brought blessing personally as well.
The divine irony is intense, for the onset of Assyria in desolating triumph over Jewry is announced at once (Isaiah 7:17-20), penal clauses proliferating in the face of this rejection of mercy by jesuitical jousting with God. Certainly this blessedness of Immanuel is far removed from the people whose faith was as far removed from accepting the unconditional gift and glorious deliverance so lightly esteemed by Ahaz. This, their defaulting king, was all too fitting a representative of the people (Isaiah 1:4-17), for which only chastisement was fitting; yet to whom IN THE LORD'S OWN TIME, THE virgin would nevertheless come. It WOULD come however wearisome (Isaiah 7:13) the contemporary hardness of heart and blindness of eyes, deafness of ear, might be! It would come when once the penalties were come, and the realities of trifling with God, as if to try His patience, were met with long years in which the people would need in patience to await their deliverer, so lightly esteemed.
Does not this action of Ahaz, then, rise to the peak as the very exemplar for all the straight, liberal radicalism, frothy existentialism, name of the game changing neo-orthodox and neo-evangelical lethargy now provided by the parallel deviations of the Gentiles ? He, Ahaz would not tempt the Lord by believing what He said! Such sanctified restraint by which to characterise rebellion! He would not accept the unlimited bounty of the divine gift - ASK! (Isaiah 7:11-12). God was merely mocking him perhaps in giving such a gift as this ? a gift which was later, despite the lack of hands at that time to receive it, to come in any case as the Lord Jesus Christ, not a god without power, but the power of God and the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1)...
Yes, the Gentiles have come, as in the time of judgment which began to settle on Judah, now themselves near the end of the Age appointed (SMR Ch.8), and in their falsetto evasions and spectrum of deviations to match the error of the Jews at that critical point, they too in droves will not 'tempt' the Lord by believing in obedience what He says, by acting on what He gives; but rather from the midst of the structures of many churches, they build with Ahaz a resort of verbal subterfuge, a substitute for the wholehearted acceptance that walks with God in the way He assigns, as well as talks about Him (cf. Ezekiel 33:32). But let us return to the tableau in Isaiah 7.
THE virgin then ? Not some woman of unknown character, unnamed, in the crowd whose time was coming fast for desolation, castigation and correction. Rather the one who would do the job, perform the function, encompass the man who, as sinless for a human offering (Isaiah 53, Leviticus 4:3, Hebrews ) and of eternal divine character (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45) MUST obtain a parentage which was not encompassed by sin. THE virgin is the one predicted, THE virgin is the one written, who must bear the MIGHTY GOD (Isaiah 9:6), one who can be called the Everlasting Father (cf. John 14, Zechariah 12:10); for this is the name of Isaiah 9:6.
It is there, in Isaiah 9:6-7, that the Messiah is in focus, His works in view, His name announced with accolade, deposited in profusion. THAT, it is no scope and position for the Father to take, post to fulfil, become as in this false translation, but for the gift, the sacrifice, the ruler to come, the Son of David to bring the glory of God to the earth. Is the Father to be counselling AS the Son ? Why indulge in comedy! That would mean that the everlasting Father would be on the throne of David, in terms of this parade of spiritual squalor in the false translation...
THAT, it is no name for the Father, as distinctive speaker, but for the Son as centre here of attention, Him whose kingdom shall know no end (Isaiah 9:7): for how would it be a specific for the Father when it is specialised in the precise person of the Son in this way! The Son may be (and is) elevated to this level, but the Father is NOT made to act in the specific actuality of the Son, becoming a Son of David. It would be simply untrue as well as unwieldy. Such a translation cannot stand.
Names may be stacked, but persons do not act as BEING one another. Is the Father to be the son of David, sitting on the throne of David ? How far must confusion go ? as far as with Ahaz, who simply WOULD NOT ACCEPT plain dealing and unambiguous blessing from God, and who dared to pretend reason backed him, humility helped him to ruin his people by trifling with God, as if he were some magical modern theologian, inventing gods that are not there, and fittingly enough, failing to worship what he makes.
It is not ONE Person exposed as talking about the name of ANOTHER, as mistranslation would have it, and as if it were the Everlasting Father BEING the Prince of peace, and so coming to take office on earth Himself! It is rationally rather ONE NAME for ONE PERSON, concerning the Son only as recipient, one who has the infinite criteria of deity. Thus it is He who as Saviour and Son, possessing all the Father has (John 16:15), is thus having His deity displayed in exaltation. It is just ONE Person who on His birthday on earth, as a babe, is being given vastly important names, piled up even to the height of the Father, for discernment and realisation, just as Christ gently exposed the reality, so that faith m ight have its object at hand, believed in heart, in John 14:7-11.
Thus the virgin does indeed beget GOD WITH US. It is not a confused medley of two persons, but a simple donation of One of incalculable eminence whom God so designates, just as in Psalm 45. It is the eternal Word translated through the virgin to the virtue of office, God as man to deliver man.
Let us then pursue this parallel to Isaiah 9, since Isaiah 7 and 9 are like twins here.
Hence THE virgin is announced with the clarity of mid-day sun overhead in the open fields; the virgin whose offspring had been so long predicted, the seed on its female side, of woman, whose heel would be bruised in crushing the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). There is exactly no other specific for the "THE" which signalises, except the signal given, which is 'God with us', through the medium of the one chosen to bear His incarnate form.
It is there, in Isaiah 9:6-7, that the Messiah is in focus, His works in view, His name announced with accolade, deposited in profusion. THAT, it is no name for the Father, but for the gift, the sacrifice, the ruler to come, the Son of David to bring the glory of God to the earth.
THAT, it is no name for the Father, but for the Son whose kingdom shall know no end (Isaiah 9:7), for how would it be a specific for the Father when it is specialised in the precise person of the Son in this way! Is the Father to be the son of David? How far must confusion go ? as far as with Ahaz, who simply WOULD NOT ACCEPT plain dealing and unambiguous blessing from God, and who dared to pretend reason backed him, humility helped him to ruin his people by trifling with God, as if he were some magical modern theologian, inventing gods that are not there, and fittingly enough, failing to worship what he makes.
Hence THE virgin is announced with the clarity of mid-day sun overhead in the open fields; the virgin whose offspring had been so long predicted, the seed on its female side, of woman, whose heel would be bruised in crushing the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). There is exactly no other specific for the "THE" which signalises, except the signal given, which is 'God with us', through the medium of the one chosen to bear His incarnate form.
There is then simply no other option but something like Jeremiah's "new thing" (31:22) and at that, a new thing in the world. What was that? "A woman shall encompass a man!" This is in the context of a change from catastrophe and calamity, in the midst of tender and solicitous divine love and appeal, leading to incalculable blessing. The term 'encompass' is, as Harris and Archer point out in their Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, related to concepts of damming, shutting up, encircling, being shut up to something so that it is all around you, as to God's will for our life. The totality of word and context indicates categorically a human prodigy of divine basis which is transformative of malignancy to benignancy, in the love of a tender and seeking Father.
This therefore is precisely what we find in Isaiah 7, with the differences noted, and this we discover in particular: that this blessing is delivered to unbelief; for the day of its coming is by the sovereign will of God. On the other hand, Jeremiah adds to the total context also, despite amazing and intimate similarities: in that case, the new covenant is spelt out (Jeremiah 31:31), alike with Jeremiah 31:22 as a new thing, in all its transformative, and inward wonder and as a procedure for a new inward thing for all who receive Him. We are in the same transformative, infinitely sacred and vastly significant arena. The vistas merge both in content and uniqueness, in preliminaries and in results. As in the Isaiah 7 case, we marvel at the human vehicle in its providing certain bounds to so amazing a result as this prince; in Jeremiah we wonder at the exclusion of the human male partner. One deals with the inclusion of deity via result; the other with the exclusion of the human male, by method. Both share the consequences, the need and the prodigious character of the stakes, significance and wonder involved, with the intense blessing to come to those over whom this incarnate Sovereign will rule in peace with hearts who know this peace (Jeremiah 31:33-34, Isaiah 9:7).
In both however, is this transcendent wonder and absolute novelty, the key, the king, the incarnate One, the penetration of God in Person into this realm, with uncontainable results. In Isaiah 7, in particular, it is to be something so categorically different, celestially filled with initiative that even among signs it will have an initiative and wonder that will stagger. So it does and that is both the demonstration and verification.
Yes, the prophecy means just what it says: not in a common way, but in a unique and celestial way, which God only could do, there will be a sign among signs, reaching as we see in the outcome - up, upwards, yes up to God Himself and coming down to earth from God Himself, in a way that will spell categorical, absolute, spiritual and effective deliverance, though not for the anti-opportunistic, unbelieving, devious seeming Ahaz (Isaiah 7:11). The splendour of this thing is illimitable, boundless, incomparable: those are its criteria, this is the offer. And to this ? To this king relates his negative to a divine offer in terms of a specious humility; and small wonder it is deemed a weariness (Isaiah 7:13) to the sparkling glory of the practical and performing divine love, to encounter this jesuitical (to allow the anachronism for the sake of the spirit of the thing, which matches to perfection) substitute for faith, on the part of Ahab.
Thus there is simply no other meaning but that given by Matthew in rendering the prophecy. A young damsel is to be with child, without marriage and with morals. A donation of deity is to occur, as Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:1-3 make so clear, as does indeed Isaiah 48:16, in human format. In human form is to come One whose name is the same as God's (Psalm 45:6, Isaiah 9:6), who being on the one hand, able to be deemed "the everlasting Father", is also called "the Prince of peace". God has chosen to include Himself, not merely for display purposes, not only for performance, but for being stricken by men. The grandeur of the beginning of this action will lend lustre to the meaning of its end, and indeed, of its ends!
It is not an unknown but a declared thing that is given, focussing a stated Prince who is identical with the Father, One with an everlasting kingdom while His shoulder will bear both this and the glory (Zechariah 6:12-13), in a way stringently forbidden to any but God as we have seen; and do it in such a manner as to combine that forbidden synthesis, as far as Israel was concerned, Prince plus Priest!
What then could be both "everlasting Father" and "Prince of peace", as a man? nothing could have both except an incarnation, express and unique, categorical and complete, depictive and declarative of God without essential diminution... indeed, without being such as Paul describes in Colossians 2:9 as a matter of fact - "in Him was the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form."
For this incarnation, then, the context of Isaiah more broadly asks, as indeed does that of the prophets; and Isaiah 7 gives the medium. This is met by the young damsel, the virgin it is, the one without whom genuine incarnation could not occur: the incarnation which is so often assumed, but now as in Jeremiah and in Micah 5:1-3, is spoken of in more terrestrial terms. This is how and through whom the Christ of the Psalms and the prophets (Psalm 40 tells us that a body is to be gained by the One who is to dispense with sacrifices), is to gain that body, which as man on earth He would need to have. Not through a splendid creation of a new frame without man; but through woman will this Messiah come. This Immanuel is the crux.
To the Jew for whom, as Machen points out, Isaiah 53 would remain mysteriously obscure, for whom indeed the concept of celestial splendour reaching down to human squalor and its sin (albeit as a ransom for that part of it surrendered in repentance) could be repugnant, this passage would be a trial! As with so much else (Luke 21:44), the plain sense of prophecy can be avoided with spectacular ability when God's prodigious and sometimes spectacular works are not faced with that simple realism with which He faces us. Taken as it undoubtedly stands, this virgin birth prophecy is so prodigious as to make many baulk at it. Yet it is in the area, the arena of prodigy, quite explicitly, that this scripture, this benign event, this hallowed offer to Ahaz is found - the sign reaching up to heaven or down to the abyss.
Hence what amazes becomes what verifies that the plain sense is meant. We are not told that the sign will be the absence of sign, or the signal will be a metaphor. Behold the unmarried and moral damsel, she is with child! Small good it may do faithless Ahaz, and indeed the prophecy is now addressed to the house of David which is to continue. It is rebuke; and this and the remarkable - are now to mix. The sign will come; it will meet the specifications; but it will not be so used as to bring on Ahaz the blessing he missed; but rather God's choice within these dimensions is a sign of magnificence formed so as to constitute contemporary rebuke, to the king who missed the opportunity of a lifetime, indeed of an epoch, and future blessing which indeed applies to any (cf. Isaiah 53:1) who will believe.
It is nevertheless to be faced, and when faced, and pondered, its full benefit to belief perceived, it is small wonder that we find such a song as that of Handel, in the Messiah, "I KNOW that MY REDEEMER LIVETH."
There is probably no greater rebuke to disbelief than the format of the sign which is the focus for faith. God-with-us is the name the mother (the only one involved other than God, not the father as normal child-namer, at this time) is to give this prodigy: in Himself, that is what He confers. Wherever he goes, where faith is and hence operation, that is the result. Isaiah 9:6 expatiates much more on this aspect, but here in Isaiah 7, it is already announced. It is God (Isaiah 48:16) who is being sent; and this through a human mother so that His powers and protection will be available, through faith, to man (Isaiah 11, 32:1-3, 9:6-7, 7:14).
There was disfaith then, that poignantly pathetic disease, as there is the same syndrome now; there was disheartened rejection then, with appalling consequences complementing other inducements to disaster for the Jews; and there is disfaith now, with similarly appalling disasters for the Gentiles, for all those little Ahabs indeed, who flock to the contemporary scene as if the whole world were Surfer's Paradise, and the prime sport of luxuriant folly were this: to skid down the wave of unbelief. This was crucial then; it is as crucial now; and those who have more light now (John 1) have merely this in store, more responsibility for the same folly. Let us however proceed with the exposition.
God in His grandeur is able to despatch of Himself no mere glint or glimmer, but a Person who is His very expression, bearing His name and glory (Zechariah 6:13, 2:8-10, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Micah 5:1-3). If that is not a sign to eclipse signs, what is! The match of meaning to word is perfect; and rational alternatives do not exist.
The fact of the incarnation, its place in tribe (Genesis 49), in geography (Micah 5), and in woman (Isaiah 7, Jeremiah 31), in Jewish history (Isaiah 49:7, Zechariah 11:1-11), and in consequences in the face of sustained unbelief (Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 19:42 ff., Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 18) on the one hand, and for faith on the other (Isaiah 7:14, Psalms 2, 45) are all set forth.
All that the devil had to do was to breach THE PRACTICAL AND HISTORICAL FULFILMENT of any one of these prophecies.
He tried in Herod at the 'Massacre of the Innocents', as it is called (Matthew 2:16-19).
He tried at the temptation more subtly (Matthew 4), and of course,
the devil tried yet again at Calvary (1 Corinthians 2:6-7).
He tried and he failed.
Neither his power nor his wisdom is sufficient. His negativity is overwhelmed by reality. His failure, like that of all his minions, whether conscious and committed or unconscious and duped, it is simply one more verification of the word of God. Satan and his cohorts, whether glamorous or merely fallen and specious, always fail.
His performance according to His prophetic word, unspotted in any feature, adequate in all, never able to be exposed as error in any part or way, regard or aspect, but to the contrary, always luminous with creativity, wonder and precision: