There is a need in our world for real joy. Not joy which is temporary, and because of an increase of wealth, or peace of man; but rather the “peace of God which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:67). The world is plagued with sorrow upon sorrow. Earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, cyclones, sicknesses, disease, hatred, financial collapse. We do not need to hear much more about it do we? There is only One who can give us this real, abiding joy, and He is the one who is the Light that we read about in the previous two verses of this prophet. The One who brings the light to the “people who walked in darkness”.
“Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.” Isaiah 9:3-5 (KJV)
The prophecy of Isaiah was written in the eighth century B.C. so this was approximately 150 years or so before the Babylonian captivity of which Jeremiah writes, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah was written around the time of the captivity, it covers the time shortly before captivity, and the beginning of the captivity. Ezekiel the prophet himself was one of the captives writting from Babylon. The reason I mention those things is because Isaiah is giving a prophetic statement in the above verses. He warns so often of a captivity that is coming upon Judah and Israel, but then, he gives hope by telling of the return of the captives, and wonderful blessings far beyond a believer’s expectations.
A big portion of this chapter is given to hope. Verses one through seven are the verses of hope. In our present verses we see that the prophet is recognizing the fulfillment of God’s Word toward Abraham, His covenant He made with him and with Isaac and Jacob. “You have multiplied the nation”, is the LORD’s confirmation of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise to the nation of Isaiah’s time of its fulfillment. He has promised that their descendants will be multiplied as numerous as the “sands of the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).
With them comes the joy that has been missing. Joy of seeing the promises of God fulfilled, and it does have a way of inspiring our hearts and lifting us above our life situation, no matter what burden has been placed on our shoulders. There will be rejoicing in the cities, the provinces, the homes, and all the land will be rejoicing, and the prophet likens it to soldiers who have won a victory and taken much spoil.
There will come a day, a future day from Isaiah, when God will free Israel from Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and any other nations which have carried them away, and oppressed her. As in the days of Gideon when he was used by God to deliver them from the burden of Midian, so to will there be a breaking of the yoke again;
“And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.” Judges 7:22-23 (KJV)
Reminding us of the mighty power of God to deliver from our enemies. Though the enemy of the Christian is not any human being, the threat of the enemy is still real. Our enemy is the devil, the enemy of Jesus Christ and His Father. Our enemy is to be fought with the Word of God and prayer. We ought to never lift our hands or physical weapons aganst a fellow human being except to save life; whether if be our own, our family, or a neighbors. Then, only when we have no other choice. There is freedom to the follower of Jesus Christ. Freedom from sin and its bondage, and freedom from death; and a life to live for all eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ.
There will come a day in the life of the nation of Israel when soldiers of the earth will stand against them, and God will defeat their enemies. Their carcases will be devoured by the vultures, and the weapons of the enemies warfare will be burned in fires. What a joyous victory our Lord will have. What a great victory the world will experience as the earth will experience the renewing of the One who came bringing this light to the world nations, and to the nation called Israel.
True peace and joy can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins, His burial carrying our sins and their condemnation and guilt far, far away: never to be laid on us again; and believing that God has raised His Son from the dead. Jesus also said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” John 14:3b.
-Tim A. Blankenship