Jesse Tree 19. “A Son Giving Hope for All People”

Scripture: Isa 9:1–7

Yesterday we saw the prophet Isaiah leading all of Hezekiah’s court and temple personnel in prayer (2 Kgs 19). This was a time when serious prayer was needed, and the people of God looked to a prophet rather than the priests to lead the prayer for deliverance. At that time, Isaiah had prophesied the downfall of their enemy. Here he prophesies that God would raise up his ultimate deliverer, who will rule the world.

Great Light

Addressing the Darkness of Sin

Christ the Light of the World
Christ the Light of the World

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light” (Isa 9:2; Matt 4:16)Sin darkens life with the very shadow of death, and salvation can be described as coming into the light (Eph 5:8, 13–14; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 John 1:5–7). One way of talking about the coming of the Messiah was to say, “the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78–29; see John 12:35, 46).

In the original context, this was the light at the end of the tunnel of slavery and foreign oppression (Isa 9:3–5). But the light was not only for Israel; Jesus was “a light to reveal God to the nations” (Luke 2:32). Indeed, Jesus Christ came claiming, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12).

A Son Is Given

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us” (Isa 9:6)—This was to come through the birth of a child, a “son” after the fashion of Psalm 2:7. He would be God’s own son and a son in Israel, a son from the line of David whom God himself would call “my son.”

Great Titles

He will be given great titles (Isa 9:6–7).

Wonderful Counselor

The first thing to note is that we have four not three titles. At a fair number of Christmas programs, I have heard: “He will be called ‘Wonderful,’ ‘Counselor,’ ‘Mighty God,’ ‘Everlasting Father,’ and ‘Prince of Peace,’” which followed the older translations (e.g., KJV, ASV). But the first of these titles is “Wonderful Counselor,” not just the unattached adjective “Wonderful.”

I like the NET Bible’s rendition of this as “Extraordinary Strategist.” In the ancient Near East, the office of counselor was often attached to the palace, and it could even be a royal title in its own right (Mic 4:9). So it’s no surprise that it took on messianic scope; he would rule God’s people wisely (Isa 11:2).

Mighty God

Messiah's Dominions
Messiah’s Dominions

Perhaps in Isaiah’s own context it indicated that the coming king would be the warrior-God’s own representative (e.g., Ps 45:6), much as the sign-child born in Ahaz’s time could be called “Immanuel” (Isa 7:14).1

Certainly the New Testament’s use of this saw it as an indication of the messianic king’s deity. Even for Isaiah himself, the understanding would have been that fighting against this king was fighting against the Lord himself (see Ps 2:2).

Certainly the New Testament’s use of this saw it as an indication of the messianic king’s deity. Even for Isaiah himself, the understanding would have been that fighting against this king was fighting against the Lord himself (see Ps 2:2).

Everlasting Father

We shouldn’t misunderstand this title as collapsing Jesus’s sonship into fatherhood; the New Testament clearly portrays the Son and the Father as separate persons. Neither should this be understood as a bit of Old Testament confusion about the persons in the Trinitarian Godhead. Rather, this symbolic2 use of “father” portrays the messianic king as a protector of his people, just as we see elsewhere (e.g., Isa 22:21; Job 29:16). The qualifying adjective “everlasting” would be especially appropriate to the one who inherited the eternal Davidic promise (2 Sam 7:1–18; 1 Chr 17:1–15).

Prince of Peace

This title depicts the Messiah as one who establishes the kind of security and strong position for his people that ensures their reliable shalom (“well-being”). The Hebrew term shalom doesn’t indicate just the absence of strife; rather, it indicates a strong and secure position wherein the benefits of the kingdom of God are ensured and enjoyed in comfort. Indeed, this sometimes comes about through messianic warfare to subdue all enemies (Pss 72; 144).

Royal Heir

He would inherit the throne of his ancestor David. And this would be the ultimate branch of the Jesse Tree, the ultimate fulfillment of every promise and hope that belonged to the Davidic dynasty. This memorable promise was not forgotten. When Jesus Christ was born, they realized that this was the wonderful child that Isaiah had promised (Luke 1:78–79). A child indeed, but the “Mighty One” coming to give his people light and peace.

Questions, Reflections, and Commitments

  • Do you think you would have believed an old priest if you had been there to hear him tell people that this baby was the “Almighty” Messiah king? (Luke 1:67–79) What does your answer to yourself tell you about how open you are to God?

Ornament for the day

  • Click here to download cross-stitch patterns for all the daily ornaments.
  • Click here to download a simple coloring book for all the daily ornaments.


  1. God promised Ahaz a sign-child born to an ‘almah, a young woman of marriage age. This sign-child would signify that God was with his people, so people would call him “Immanuel.” It’s not clear to me whether this was a son born in Ahaz’s royal household (i.e., Hezekiah), or if it was the prophet’s own sign-child named “Mahar-shalal-hashbaz” (Isa 8:3). But whatever the case, this prophecy must have been fulfilled during Ahaz’s lifetime, or Isaiah would have proved a false prophet for promising Ahaz a sign that he would never see (Isa 7:10–25, esp. vv. 16–18). Whoever that child was, he served as a symbol of the “Immanuel” principle, which got its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and is indeed “Immanuel,” not bearing that as a symbolic title but owning it by eternal identify (Matt 1:23).
  2. The promise includes two other symbolic titles, namely “counselor” and “prince”; and note that Jesus is neither a literal court counselor nor prince in a royal family.

Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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