The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists/Part 10

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©{{{copyright}}}
Isaiah 9:6-7—Who Is the Child That Is God and Will Have an Everlasting Kingdom?

Editor’s Note: This material was first published in book form in 1989 by the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association (now known as the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute).

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The Biblical Text

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. Of the increase 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. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

The Context of the Passage

Israel has been invaded by the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser (the first Jewish captivity). The captured Israelites are plunged into despair and humiliation.

In this prophecy God offers them hope for the future. God speaks of a coming Light who will illuminate those who are in distress, gloom and darkness—”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” (Isa. 9:2).

Isaiah the Prophet records that in the past God had humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali (Northern and Southern Galilee). However, in the future God “will honor Galilee…” (Isa. 9:1). It is these people who, walking in darkness, will “see a great light.”

Then God proceeds to describe the child born, the Son given, who will be both a human and God, and who will reign forever on David’s throne. This can be no other than the promised Messiah.

The Explanation of the Text

What this prophecy makes clear is the following:

1. A child will be born to the Jewish people.
2. The government will be upon His shoulders—He will be a ruling King.
3. He is called “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace”—as Dr. Merrill Unger points out, the phrase “his name” is a Hebrew idiom, and means that the child would not actually bear the names, but “deserve them, and that they are appellatives or descriptive designations of his person and work.”[1]
4. There would be no end to the increase of the child’s government and peace.
5. He would reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom forever and ever.
6. The zeal of God Almighty would accomplish it.
7. The passage places the fulfillment of this prophecy in Galilee as God says He will honor “Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.”

Concerning Zebulun and Naphtali, Hebrew scholar Edward J. Young comments, “Zebulun and Naphtali, the two north-eastern tribes of the land west of the Jordan (later known as upper and lower Galilee) were first devastated and depopulated by Tiglath-Pileser… (2 Kgs. 15:29)…. This despised district, despised even in New Testament times, was glorified when God honored it, and the fulfillment of the prophecy occurred when Jesus Christ the Son of God dwelt [settled] in Capernaum [‘in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali’— Mt. 4:13].”[2]

In Psalm 110:1 we saw the first biblical reference that stated the Messiah would sit at God’s right hand and therefore would be second only to God Himself. Here in Isaiah 9:6 we have the clearest statement that the Messiah will be both God and man: He is called “Eternal Father” and “Mighty God,” (El Gibbor)—the name used of God Himself in Isaiah 10:21.

Some scholars have written, “The Messiah early became known not only as the son of David but also as the Son of God. ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee’ (Ps. 2:7b)….”[3]

Young has shown that the use of El in Isaiah “is found as a designation of God and only of him… [thus we see that] the Lord, the Holy One of Israel—and El Gibbor [the term used of the Son in Isaiah 9:6], are one and the same.”[4]

So, for our purposes, what is most important to realize in this prophecy is that God says the Messiah will be both God and man. If so, no one else in human history has claimed 1) to be God, 2) to be the Messiah and 3) proved it by rising from the dead, except Jesus Christ.[5]

Was Isaiah 9:6-7 Recognized by the Jews as Messianic?

There can be no doubt that Jewish rabbis have accepted these verses as clearly applying to the Messiah.

The Targum of Isaiah rendered this passage, “His name has been called from of old, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, He who lives forever; the Anointed One (or Messiah), in whose days peace shall increase upon us.”[6]

Theologian and professor of biblical criticism at the University of Aberdeen Paton J. Gloag observed that, “The ancient Jews refer these words only to the Messiah. ‘The prophet,’ says the Targum of Jonathan, ‘speaketh of the house of David, because a child is born to us, a son is given to us,… his name is called of old Wonderful in counsel, God the mighty, He who abideth forever; the Messiah whose peace shall be abundant upon us in His days.’”[7]

Clues to Identify the Messiah

Whoever the Messiah is, He must fit the following descriptions:

Clue #1—He, a male child (the Hebrew text specifically uses a 3rd person, singular, masculine pronoun—”he”), will be born of the seed of the woman.

Clue #2—He will come from the race of the Jews, and specifically from the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Clue #3—He will be a great prophet, with the authority to teach like Moses.

Clue #4—He will be mocked, and people will cast lots for His garments while He suffers.

Clue #5—He will be David’s Lord.

Clue #6—He will be the child born who is God, and will have an everlasting kingdom.

Read Part 11

Notes

  1. Merrill Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1981), pp. 1167-1168.
  2. Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), pp. 323-324.
  3. Ibid., p. 330.
  4. Ibid., p. 336.
  5. William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Chicago, Moody, 1981); Gary R. Habermas, Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus: Historical Records of His Death and Resurrection (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1984); Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1983).
  6. J. F. Stenning (ed.), The Targum of Isaiah (London: Oxford Press, 1949), p. 32.
  7. Delitzsch and Gloag, Part 2, p. 115, emphasis added; cf. Edersheim, Life and Times, p. 723.

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