The Child Born as Ruler

The times were tough as a backdrop to Isaiah's bold statements recorded in chapter 9. The darkness he sees seems to refer to a military onslaught against his people, and a shadow shrouding the nation. He had been writing as if under a pall of gloom about the king of Assyria:

" . . . the king of Assyria and all his glory; he will go up over all his channels and go over all his banks. He will pass through Judah, he will overflow and pass over, he will reach up to the neck; and . . . will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel" (8:7,8).

It is interesting to note Isaiah's emphasis upon Assyria, because they were a nation that would go on to be a very strong empire of nations – disregarding borders, exchanging their peoples among each other, and administering them all from a central royal capital. It was the concept of a world empire once born that has never died.

As Isaiah confronts this menace he actually throws out a challenge, a challenge that has to do with a world Ruler who will be linked to the house of David. However Isaiah, far from emphasizing the military prowess to impress, shows instead God's disdain for Assyrian military might.

And he does this by revealing God's chosen combatant. It is a child! "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, Counsellor, 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 judgement and justice from this time forward, even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (9:6,7).

Surely this must have appeared absurd to the people of the prophet's day. For some it appears that way even today!. And yet as we walk with Isaiah through his writings spread over a number of years as God saw fit, we see the development of this Child born to rule.

As we look at the terms or titles that describe this Child we see that He is called Wonderful . That is one of His names, and that is how He revealed Himself to Manoah: "Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, 'What is your name . . . ?' And the Angel of the LORD said to him, 'Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?'" (Judges 13:17,18)

He is called Counsellor , an attribute that links very comfortably with 'wonderful'. This is in stark contrast with what was happening in the palace courts, religious corridors, halls of justice, and city gates in that covenant-rejecting era.

We are given a deeper insight into this quality as we read: "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 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" (Isaiah 11:1,2).

This Child has features that Isaiah attributes elsewhere to God. "This also comes from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance" (28:29). It is impossible to read this statement by Isaiah about this Child without realizing he is referring to somebody special. He is a person unparalleled in concept or promise. Such a person cannot be manufactured by cloning or human genetic engineering!

This Child must be the result of an intervention by God Himself, otherwise what the prophet is writing about is nonsense. This we must come to terms with by the next description he uses of this Child – Mighty God ! This is astounding. Why would Isaiah, a Jewish prophet who calls the nation back to its covenant roots and who insists on national repentance use this term for the promised ruler?

Here the word mighty is gibbor and it is used with the idea of a champion. To be mighty or a champion requires prowess and perseverance that bring victory. This term is used in that magnificent Psalm 24: "Lift up your heads, O you gates! And lift them up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory." As the prophet unveils the mystery of the babe as per 7:14 (see THE VINEYARD February 2000) – we are being led into another mystery that only God can unravel. And as we journey further into Isaiah's pictures of the promised One we will gain deeper insights that point us to the One Isaiah had in mind.

The word for God used in this Scripture is El . This word in itself means Mighty One. It is a descriptive word used two hundred and fifty times, and mostly in connection with God's ability to fulfil His promises, in spite of opposition, and indifference, and unbelief, and the sincere and often stupid actions of His followers.

Everlasting Father: Somehow or other the God who fathered the peoples of this world, but in a unique way the nation of Israel, is intimately linked to this Child. The relationship is so intimate that the Child can wear the term which is impossible for anyone else to measure up to. It would be as though whenever we looked at this Child we would in effect be looking at the everlasting Father – another dimension for us to reflect on as we wrestle with this mystery Child born to rule!

Prince of Peace: We live in a world that needs peace, but the trouble is that we cry out 'Peace!' when really what we often mean is 'I want my own way.' There can be no peace without righteousness and justice and truth – qualities the majority of people and nations don't want to adopt or practise. Yet they belligerently demand peace.

Why is it that the Prince of Peace wears a sword? It is evident from the Scriptures that before peace can reign God's enemies must be subdued. Whatever sets itself up against God's glory and holiness, whatever has defied and degraded His Word, whatever has trampled on His Temple and city and people must be defeated.

The Messiah, the Rabbi from Nazareth said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). We notice it is peace makers, not merely peace lovers who are blessed! And it often requires the force of arms, of the Law and of judgement to implement peace. This the Child will do.

As we reflect on this Scripture we begin to grasp what a marvellous hope is being presented. We behold the Child who is born to rule. And He surely will do just that! "Then the angel said to her (Mary/Miriam) . . . you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Yeshua (Jesus).

"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever" (Luke 1:31-33).

NEXT: The One Set as the Standard Bearer