Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Messiah's Reign

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned" (Isaiah 9:2).

In the days of the judges, the northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were oppressed by Sisera the Canaanite, until God raised up Deborah and Barak to deliver His people (Judges 4–5). Barak means “lightning bolt,” and Isaiah drew from the history of Barak to prophesy concerning the coming Messiah in Isaiah 9. He said that in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali a “great light” would be seen, a greater Barak who would deliver the nation from sin and enslavement, the consequence of sin.

Then Isaiah moved forward in the history of judges to the story of Gideon, who delivered Israel from Midianite oppression (Judges 6–8). Isaiah said that the future Messiah would save Israel “as in the day of Midian’s defeat” (Isaiah 9:4).

What would bring this about? “For to us a child is born,” said Isaiah. The coming Messiah would be a greater Barak, a greater Gideon, and He would deliver the people once and for all. Gideon refused the crown saying, “I will not rule over you.… The LORD will rule over you” (Judges 8:23). The greater Gideon, however, is God Incarnate, and “the government will be upon His shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6).

The Bible speaks of rule as a heavy weight. Rebels think that it is nothing to rule over people. They seize the robe of office, never realizing that the robe is extremely heavy. Young people do not have the maturity and strength to hold up such a heavy garment. The Bible reserves the weight of office for elders, those who by means of experience have learned wisdom and discernment. In a sense, the fullness of government is too heavy for any mere man to shoulder. In order to bear such government, one would have to be like Atlas, holding the entire world on one’s shoulders. Such a person was the coming Messiah. He would have the strength and wisdom to bear the governmental weight of the whole world.

Some liberal expositors have maintained that Isaiah 9 is only predicting the coming of Hezekiah, the good king who would restore Israel in the near future. But the language of Isaiah 9 cannot possibly be intended for any mere human king: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (9:6). Only the Incarnate Son of God merits such ascriptions.

Knowing Christ as we do, and walking in more light of revelation, should cause us to long all the more for His second coming. To what extent do you anticipate His full and complete reign when His kingdom comes in power?