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Isaiah 9:2-7 1
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

chainsBackground 2

The Syrians and Assyrians first ravaged the countries mentioned here, and that was the first region to be favored by the preaching of Christ. Those that were in want for the gospel’s message, walk in darkness, and are in the utmost danger. But when the gospel comes to any place, to any soul, light comes with it. Our prayer should be that the gospel’s message shines light into our hearts, and make us wise to see, understand and seek salvation. There is really good news. The gospel brings joy with it. There is of course a catch: Those who seek to have the gospel’s joy, must expect to go through hard work, as the laborer in a field labors before he has the joy of harvest; and experience hard conflict, as the soldier, before he divides the spoils.

The Jews were delivered from the yoke of many oppressors; this was, however, only a shadow of their deliverance. Isaiah foretold that they would be also delivered from the yoke of Satan. The cleansing the souls of believers from the power and pollution of sin, would be by the influence of the Holy Spirit, as purifying fire. These great things for the church, were to be done by the Messiah, Emmanuel. The Child is born; it was certain; and the church, before Christ came in the flesh, would be the beneficiary by Christ’s undertaking. It is a prophecy of Christ and of His kingdom, which those that waited for the Consolation of Israel would read with pleasure. This Child would be born for the benefit of us men, of us sinners, of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world. Justly is he called Wonderful, for he is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints. He is the Counsellor, for he knew the wisdom of God from eternity; and he gives counsel to men, in which he consults for our welfare. He is the Wonderful Counsellor; none teaches like him. He is God, the mighty One. Such is the work of the Mediator that has no less power than that of the mighty God Himself. He is God, one with the Father. As the Prince of Peace, he reconciles us to God; he is the Giver of peace in the heart and conscience; and when his kingdom is fully established, mankind shall desire war no more.

The really good news here is that even the government will be upon Christ’s shoulders; He will bear the burden of it. Glorious things are spoken of Christ’s government. There is no end to the increase of its peace, for the happiness of its subjects and all of this will last forever.

Biblical Truths and Theology 3

Verse 2: ‘In darkness’ is a powerful description. It describes the feelings of people who had long been prisoners in a foreign land. They could see no possible hope ever again.

Verse 4: The people’s enormous relief felt as if a very heavy weight had gone from their shoulders.

  • Centuries earlier, God’s people had been slaves of another enemy called Midian, for 7 years. But then God appointed Gideon, a most unlikely hero, to free them (see Judges 7:15-25). It was such a wonderful surprise that the nation long remembered the story. Isaiah himself mentions it twice more (see 10:26 and 60:6).

Verses 6-7: God allows Isaiah to glimpse what the arrival of the Messiah (Christ) will mean. The Messiah will be born as a child. That is, he is human.
But he is also the holy Son of God. And he will be our ruler, that is, our King. His names cover the whole of our lives:

  • as ‘Wonderful Adviser’, he is all Wisdom (see 1 Corinthians 1:30);
  • as ‘All-Powerful God’, he is all Power (see Philippians 4:13);
  • as ‘Father Always’, he is all Love (see John 14:21); and
  • as ‘Commander-Who-Brings-Peace’, he is all Calm (see Philippians 4:7).

Items for Discussion

  • Why does the “church” exist?
  • If you rated our Christian Churches today, where to they get an “A+” and where to they get an “F.”
  • Christ would become the world’s role model – why are the people of the world not learning?
  • How does a skill get passed on to future generations?
  • Why should we believe that Christ will bring Peace?
  • What do you think Christ’s government will be like? Are there any lessons for us today?

 

Matthew 9:35-36
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Background 4

Matthew documents that Jesus was not only visiting the great and wealthy cities but also the poor, obscure villages. He was “going” and “ministering” to those people. Jesus’s ministry took the form of preaching and healing. We would learn that even the souls of the dregs of society were as precious to Christ, and should be so to us, as the souls of those who make the greatest leaders. There were priests, Levites, and scribes, all over the lands He visited. Unfortunately, those “great people” had been idol shepherds (Zechariah 11:17) Christ’s ministry showed us that we must have compassion on the people as if they were sheep that had been scattered, as people perishing for lack of knowledge. Even now, multitudes are nothing more than sheep without a shepherd. Our calling is to have compassion and do all we can to help them. The multitudes of people in need of spiritual instruction still leave a plentiful harvest. These “fields” are in need of many laborers and Christ is the Lord of the harvest.

Biblical Truths and Theology 5

Matthew repeats the words that he wrote in Matthew 4:23. From the end of chapter 4 to the end of chapter 9, Matthew shows how Jesus did His work. It was the kings and the religious leaders that had the duty to look after their ‘sheep’ for God. They often failed. (See 1 Kings 22:17; Ezekiel 34:1-10.) In Jesus’ time, the people were weak and worried. They were like tired sheep that wanted to eat some grass. They wanted to know God. But the religious leaders could not guide them. All the laws that they had made were like a great weight. That weight pushed people down so that they became even more worried. Jesus cared deeply about these ‘sheep’. He wanted the disciples to care about these people (sheep) too.

Items for Discussion

  • Jesus went to the towns and villages: How do we do that today?
  • There are two actions that take place in congregations-people come to them as tired sheep and the congregation goes out to help those who may be too tired to even come in. Look at both actions: how should a modern day congregation serve these needs?
  • How would you describe the role of “ministering” to the flocks? What is it, who does it, where does it happen?
  • What is the role of the family in ministering?
  • What problems in our society can you attribute to not enough ministering of people?
  • So what is the threefold purpose of the Church?
    • Proclaiming, Teaching and Healing

Discussion Challenge

  • What suggestions do you have on how a group of people can live up to and live out the words of these two verses?
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