Tag Archives: Fulfilled Prophecy

Organic Kingdom: Power

You will misunderstand Jesus’ kingdom if you fail to grasp the organic metaphors that describe it. It is a seed, a field, yeast. His people are sheep, branches, and living stones. Jesus’ kingdom is alive, and functions on the same principles as every other living thing He made.

Some people think that Jesus and the leaders in His kingdom reject power. They fail to see how He brought the powerful kingdom described by the prophets. But the prophets themselves compare the coming kingdom’s power to organic life.

In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.

Isaiah 27:6, ESV

Filling the whole world with fruit is no small feat. It is much more impressive than collecting taxes and enforcing laws. The only reason it might not look impressive is that it takes a long time.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Matthew 13:31-33

Creation and multiplication are more powerful than destruction. Jesus focuses on building something good and lasting before removing imperfections. When the mustard seed was planted, every other kingdom was essentially defeated, because they could not stand against the power of life that would soon overshadow everything they had built. They could not stop the leaven of the kingdom from transforming their kingdoms from the inside.

As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel 2:34-35

Jesus’ kingdom is powerful while it is small. His divine claim to authority strikes at the root of any competition. Goliath was wrong to laugh at David’s stone, because in God’s hands it was powerful. A mustard seed of imperishable life will grow, and no one will stop it.

Christians exercise life-giving power as they speak the message of the kingdom. Sometimes the word takes root in someone’s heart and produces fruit, a hundredfold or sixtyfold or thirtyfold. Other times the word is ignored, and the hearer is left with a real threat of judgment. In both cases, Jesus’ power is on display. If it seems weak, that is only because it takes time to see the results.

Isaiah 49:8 Fulfillment: Three Ways Jesus Has Begun to Fulfill the Land Promises

Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.”

Isaiah 49:8 ESV

The Lord continues to speak to the servant of the Lord. The servant had faith that the Lord was His strength (Isa 49:6), and so the Lord helped him, saved him, and kept him. This is true for Jesus, whom God raised to eternal life and seated at His right hand. But it is also true that the day of salvation is today (see how Paul uses this verse in 2 Cor 5:20-6:2). Whoever will be reconciled to God through Jesus’ death and resurrection will be helped, saved, and kept by God. The mission that looked like a failure in Isa 49:4 will overwhelmingly succeed by the power of God.

Jesus is given as a new covenant, and what may surprise Christian readers is that the blessings he brings are what we normally associate with the old covenant. The goals of the old and new covenants are not different; the difference is that the new covenant enables us to fully reach the goals. “Apportion desolate heritages” means to divide up the promised land between God’s people. But in Isa 49 we’ve already seen that the promised land is not only Canaan, but will grow to the ends of the earth (Isa 49:6). So when Jesus says “the meek will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5), he means the Earth.

A notoriously difficult question is whether the land promises have begun to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. I remember G. K. Beale giving an uncharacteristically weak answer to this question in his New Testament Biblical Theology (I have no idea what page, so just read the whole book): he said the land promises may have begun to be fulfilled in Jesus’ resurrection body. That is a glorious beginning to the physical new creation, but is it really the most we can say about the present fulfillment of the land promises? I haven’t given this enough thought to answer that question, but I think it should be raised. So here are a few quick thoughts.

  1. Paul speaks to this issue when he says the Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance (2 Cor 1:22, 5:5; Eph 1:14). These three verses are looking forward to a future fulfillment of land promises, but see the beginning of fulfillment in the gift of the Spirit. What does the Spirit have to do with land? The land promises will be completely fulfilled in the new creation, and the Spirit has begun the new creation in us (2 Cor 5:17). The blessings described in Isa 49:9-10 will be fully experienced after Jesus returns, but today the Spirit truly gives us spritual sight, light, life, provision, security, and guidance.
  2. The New Testament authors see New Jerusalem as a heavenly city, and in a sense we are already there in Christ (Gal 4:26-7 Heb 12:22-4, c.f. Eph 2:7). We look forward to the same city as Abraham (Heb 11:8-16), and we are already citizens of that city (Phil 3:20). I’ll probably write more on this when I cover the second half of Isa 49.
  3. Most controversially, if Jesus already has all authority in heaven and in earth (Matt 28:18), then can Josh 1:3 be applied to Jesus and therefore the church? “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you” (John 1:3). Just as the Israelites filled Canaan little by little (Deut 7:22), Jesus is conquering the world gradually. Matt 13:24-43 would be an interesting passage to consider, because the parables about the gradual growth of the kingdom are shoved in the middle of a parable that flattens out this age and sees the whole world as Jesus’ kingdom. Finally, if Acts 2:8 is fulfilled in the resurrection (Acts 13:33), then hasn’t Jesus already begun to receive the nations as his heritage (Psalm 2:9)?

I’ve raised the question. Comment if you have an answer.

Isaiah 49:1-7 Fulfillment: The Servant’s Mission

Listen to me O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.

Isaiah 49:1, ESV

This monologue by the Servant of the Lord begins with no indication that the speaker has changed, except that someone other than the LORD is now speaking. Is it Isaiah? Or Israel? Or Cyrus? We will gradually discover that this is the Servant of the Lord who is introduced in Isa 42, who speaks in Isa 48:16, and whom Christians recognize as their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Isa 42:4, the coastlands waited for his law– and now he speaks to them. The universal scale of the message is due to the servant’s unique qualifications (Isa 49:1-3) and the universal scale of his mission (Isa 49:6). He is named Jesus while in the womb, because he will save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).

He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.

Isaiah 49:2

The servant is the Lord’s secret weapon, hidden in the Lord’s eternal plan until the right moment. A sharp sword for close combat, and a polished arrow for long range, he is effective in any battle. David built his kingdom with a sword, but the son of David judges the wicked with his mouth (Isa 11:4). Cyrus conquered with a sword, but Jesus simply annouces the arrival of his kingdom and commands obedience (Matt 4:17). Like God, he creates and destroys by his words. The sword he brings creates war within households, because his gospel demands absolute allegiance (Matt 10:34-37). In Revelation, Jesus uses the sword of his mouth to make war against heretics (Rev 2:15-16), and at his coming he will kill the lawless one with his breath (2 Thess 2:8). Christians continue Jesus’ kingdom building work by wielding the word of God as a sword (Eph 6:17, c.f. Heb 4:12, 2 Cor 10:5).

And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

Isaiah 49:3

Jesus is the righteous remnant of Israel, the heir of its blessings and responsibilities. He can be called Israel for the same reason he is called David (e.g. Hos 3:5): He is the son and heir of the man named Israel. He is also the head and source of the renewed kingdom of Israel. He inherits and fulfills the calling passed from Abraham to Israel, to bless all the families of the earth (Gen 12:3). He glorifies God (John 17:1-4), and when his people abide in him they also glorify God (John 15:5-8).

But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.”

Isaiah 49:4

The servant has poured out all of his strength, and it looks like it was all for nothing. But the Lord will always enforce justice, and so the righteous servant expects a reward from God. The Lord Jesus preached and did good to people his whole life, and what did it profit him? Few truly believed in him, and only a few friends stood with him during his execution. But the Lord raised him to eternal life, and gave him all authority in Heaven and Earth. Likewise, we should trust that our labor is not in vain, because the Lord will reward all of our work.

And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him– for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength–

Isaiah 49:5

Bringing true repentance is a spiritual task that Cyrus is unfit for, but this is what the servant was born to do. The Lord’s spirit (Isa 42:1) and the sword of the servant’s mouth (Isa 49:2) perfectly equip him for this task. The servant is now confident that the Lord will give him the success he deserves. Don’t miss the paradox between this verse and verse 3: The servant is Israel, and the servant is born to bring back Israel. This implies that Jesus is the beginning of a renewed Israel that can be distinguished from the nation of Israel. Jesus is Israel, he is on mission to Israel, and he himself fulfills the mission of Israel.

he says– “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Isaiah 49:6

Far from failing in his mission to Israel, Jesus was overqualified! Jesus began his ministry with the lost sheep of Israel (Matt 15:24); and after his death, resurrection, and ascension he expanded his ministry to grant repentance even to us gentiles (Acts 11:18). Paul and Barnabas see Isa 49:6 as a command to them: since the Jews aren’t listening, they must do Jesus’ work of bringing salvation to the gentiles (Acts 13:46-7).

Light and darkness are recurring images in Isaiah, and the extended descriptions in Isa 8:16-9:7 demonstrate their complex meanings. Darkness is the aimlessness that comes from ignoring the Lord’s teaching, and it results in the further darkness of judgment (Isa 8:16-22). Light is the opposite of this, and will be seen in a kingdom of peace, justice, and prosperity under a divine son of David (Isa 9:1-7). Jesus is this light of revelation and salvation for Israel and for the ends of the earth (Luke 2:32).

Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Isaiah 49:7

Jesus was hated by his own nation of Israel, and he was a servant of Rome. Then he rose to eternal life and ascended to the right hand of God as king of kings. The kings of the earth will either submit to him willingly, or be conquered on the last day. The kingdom of light will fill the earth, and its enemies will be cast into outer darkness.

Jeremiah 31:4-6 Fulfillment: The Final Return

There are a few ways to understand Jer 31:4-6, but here are four reasons from the context to think it is describing the kingdom of Christ as the final return from exile:

  1. “At that time” in Jer 31:1 refers to the time of Christ’s kingdom (c.f. Jeremiah 30:1-11 and the Last Kingdom and Jeremiah 30:12-24 and the Lord’s Loving Vengeance)
  2. “I will be the God of all the clans of Israel” (Jer 31:1) is a summary of the longer description given in this passage (c.f. Jer 31:6).
  3. “I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:1) is classic covenental language pointing to a new covenant (c.f. Jer 31:33).
  4. Jesus connects the “drawing” of Jer 31:3 with the new covenant (c.f. Jeremiah 31:1-3 and the Final Wilderness Journey).

Even though you’re now thoroughly persuaded that I’m right, you might still have trouble explaining some of the imagery of this passage. Do not fear! That’s why this post has only just begun.

Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!

The nation of Israel will be rebuilt. In Jer 30, the restoration of national sovereignty comes when God raises up a king from the family of David (Jer 30:8-9), a ruler who will be invited into God’s presence (Jer 30:18-21). Today, Jesus has already been appointed as king over the world, and the capital of his kingdom is in a new, heavenly Jerusalem. He is gathering his people from all over the world, bringing them to Zion (Heb 12:22).

Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.

In the old testament, tambourines are used to celebrate military victories and to praise God. In light of Jer 31:2, this is probably a reference to the celebration after God drowned the pursuing Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exod 15:20). Today, the church always praises God for salvation and victory through Jesus Christ.

Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit.

Vineyards are a blessing enjoyed in times of peace and security. In the old testament, a newly planted vine’s fruit could not be lawfully enjoyed until the fourth year, when it would be used as an offering of praise to God (Lev 19:23-25). One day we will literally drink wine with Jesus in his kingdom (Matt 26:29) as the consummation of the blessings and security that have already been given to us.

The mention of Samaria is important because it shows the unity of Christ’s kingdom. From the time of Solomon’s son Rehoboam until the exile, the north and south were divided into two kingdoms. In the time Jesus walked the earth, there was a sharp division between Jews and Samaritans. This wall of hostility is broken down by Christ’s death and resurrection, so that even Samaritans and Gentiles are welcome in Zion. As for the geographical location of Samaria, Christ’s kingdom has been spreading throughout the whole earth for nearly 2000 years, and will fill the whole earth when he returns.

For there shall be a day when the watchman will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.”

The northern kingdom of Israel (a.k.a. Ephraim) was cut off from the temple and from the house of David. It constantly fell into idolatry, and God had already exiled them before Jeremiah was born. But in Christ’s kingdom, all twelve tribes are united in praising God. But we do not have to go on a pilgrimage to worship in the temple; the Spirit of God lives in us, and we gather together to worship God.


God is rebuilding Israel bigger and better, and all nations get to be a part of it. We’ve been welcomed into a kindom of eternal peace, security, and blessings. We’ve been invited to frequently worship God in His temple. We join in what God is doing when we gather to praise Him for His works of salvation, and when we invite others to do the same. The first step in setting the world right is building a kingdom where God is worshipped.

Jeremiah 31:1-3 Fulfillment: The Final Wilderness Journey

“At that time,” declares the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” Thus says the Lord, “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness– Israel, when it went to find its rest.” The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”

Jeremiah 31:1-3, NASB

Jeremiah 30 began to describe how Jesus would save Israel from exile (I wrote about this in Jeremiah 30:1-11 and the Last Kingdom and Jeremiah 30:12-24 and the Lord’s Loving Vengeance). Jeremiah 31 continues to describe what will happen “at that time.” Israel will be brought back into covenant with God and be His people.

The beautiful imagery of this chapter begins by comparing the exile to the exodus. Just as the Lord saved Israel from the sword of Egypt and led him through the desert under Moses, He saved a remnant from the sword of Babylon.

Jesus apparently refers to this passage in John 6. He compares Himself to the bread from Heaven that kept Israel alive in the wilderness. Moses gave water from a rock in the wilderness, and whoever believes in Jesus will never thirst. Now look at how Jesus conflates the loving “drawing” of Jer 31:3 with the description of the new covenant in Isaiah 54:

“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness'” (Jer 31:3).

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me” (John 6:44-45).

All your sons will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great” (Isa 54:13)

It is commonly understood that the end of Jeremiah 31 is about the new covenant, but Jesus understands the whole passage to be about it. The final return from exile will come when Jesus raises us up on the last day. In a sense we’ve entered this rest already, and in another sense we’re still wandering through the wilderness, being led to the promised land. If the Lord wills, I’ll explore this more by covering the rest of Jeremiah 31 in the coming weeks.

Joel 2:18-27 Fulfillment: Undoing the Curse

The prophets speak on behalf of the Lord to His people. They confront the people about how they have broken the covenant, warn of the curses that God will send on them (and on all nations), and promise blessings for Israel in the latter days. These promises find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus’ kingdom. Right now it takes faith to see that they are fulfilled, and when Jesus returns they will be more visibly fulfilled. 

In Joel’s short book, it is easy to see the contrast between current curses and future blessings. Currently, the people are not able to offer grain and wine to the Lord, because the grain, wine, and oil are destroyed (1:9-10). This should lead the people to fast and pray (1:14). The day of the Lord, further judgment, is coming (2:1-11), but if the people repent they may be blessed with a grain offering and a drink offering (2:14).

Joel 2:18-32 describes blessings that the Lord will bring in the latter days, motivated by His jealousy and pity for His people. He will send rain to produce grain, wine, and oil. The point is that He is undoing the curse and bringing blessings instead (see 2:25). This salvation is final; Israel will never again be a mockery among the nations (1:19) or be put to shame (1:27). This finality is part of why I understand this passage to be fulfilled in Jesus’ kingdom and not sooner. The meaning of the grain, oil, and wine is that there will be blessing instead of curse, and the people will be able to worship the Lord. Jesus’ death and resurrection, motivated by God’s jealousy and pity for his people, removes his people’s curse so they can share in the blessings he deserves. His jealousy led him to buy us as His permanent possession, and His pity led Him to give us everlasting salvation.

Then “afterward” (2:28), when the curse is undone and God’s blessings are flowing, the Spirit is poured out. He is the greatest blessing we receive in this life, and the guarantee of every everlasting blessing.

Psalm 16:10 Fulfillment: The Resurrection of the Christ

“For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Psalm 16:10, ESV

The significance of this verse is easy to overlook by modern Christians, because we tend to look forward to going to Heaven when we die. In the Bible, the main thing to look forward to is the resurrection of the body. If you only read the first half of the verse, you might think that David is talking about going to Heaven when he dies. But when David died, his body rotted. He must be talking about someone else.

The reason I chose to write about this verse is that Peter’s interpretation of it gives us a huge insight into the minds of the prophets. “Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendents on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:30-31).

When we interpret the Bible, we look for the meaning intended by the author. Some people would use this principle to argue that the Old Testament isn’t about Jesus. But here, Peter tells us that David, the author of Psalm 16, understood that the promises of God would be fulfilled by the resurrection of the Christ. This is the original meaning, and any other interpretation is wrong.

Jeremiah 30:12-24 Fulfillment: The Lord’s Loving Vengeance

This post builds on Jeremiah 30:1-11 and the Last Kingdom. In that post, we saw that the restored kingdom of David will be the only nation that lasts forever. The rest of Jeremiah 30 explains that Israel’s healing and the judgment of its enemies go hand in hand.

Israel and Judah are in a hopeless situation. There is no medicine for their wound, no one to advocate for them. The source of all of their problems is their sin, and the Lord’s consequent judgment. The nations look at Zion and say nobody cares for her. Can you blame them? Even her God is fighting against her.

But the Lord still cares for Zion, and he will prove it by punishing everyone who has harmed his people. Every sin against God’s people will be punished with perfect justice. This will happen when Zion is healed.

The description of healing explains that God’s people will regain everything that was taken from them. They will have houses and a city. They will be multiplied and honored. And the Lord will punish everyone who oppressed them.

The unique promise is the description of their ruler. He is one of their own people, and the Lord will bring him into His presence. King Uzziah was struck with leprosy for offering incense in the Lord’s presence, because only priests were allowed to do that (2 Chronicles 26). There’s something different about this king.

The king is the head of the people, so the way the Lord treats the people depends on the king’s obedience. Since I’m sure you just finished reading 2 Chronicles 26, keep reading. Second Chronicles 27 is about Jotham, a good king leading bad people. The kingdom was blessed because the king obeyed God, even though the masses were corrupt. Now, if your king is so holy that the Lord brings him into His presence, then you have nothing to fear. This is the source of the perfect healing that would come to Zion. The cause of their wound was sin, and the only cure is a sinless king.

And now it is clear why the healing of Zion means judgment for its enemies. If the kingdom is in perfect relationship with God, then who can stand against it? What will happen to anyone who fights against this king? “The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intentions of his mind. In the latter days you will understand this” (Jeremiah 30:24). Any nation that will not bow to this king will be destroyed.

The “latter days” have arrived, and so we understand. God healed Israel through a sinless king named Jesus. He died to take the punishment for the sins of his people, and rose from the dead to reign forever at the right hand of God. He has prepared a city with eternal dwellings, and his people are multiplying all over the world. And he is worthy to open the scroll of judgment and avenge his martyrs (Revelation 5-6).

Jeremiah 30:1-11 Fulfillment: The Last Kingdom

Jeremiah is writing a message of hope for the people who will inherit the promised land after the exile (Jeremiah 30:2-3). By the end of this post, I hope you’ll see that you are part of that people, in the restored kingdom of David. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you…” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

The Lord points out Israel’s and Judah’s humiliating suffering under their enemies: it looks like all the men are giving birth (Jeremiah 30:6)! But he comforts them by pointing forward to the time when His people will be saved from this distress (Jeremiah 30:7). Verses 8-11 are basically a restatement of God’s covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7:9-16. In the day when God’s people are saved, God will permanently free them from serving foreigners (Jeremiah 30:8). Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king (Jeremiah 30:9).

Who is this David? From the Babylonian exile until the birth of Jesus, there was no king in the line of David. Jeremiah must be pointing to the salvation that will come in the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ, the Son of David. God’s people will no longer be conquered, because they will serve their own king. They will no longer be corrupted by idolatrous nations, because they will serve the Lord their God.

In the days of Jesus’ kingdom, Jacob will be brought back from captivity and fear no one (Jeremiah 30:10). Is this only talking about ethnic Jews? Are Gentile Christians not called children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7) and elect exiles (1 Peter 1:1-2)? Peter says we are still in a time of exile (1 Peter 1:17) and should expect to suffer (1 Peter 4:12-19), even though Jesus has come to save us. Jeremiah 30:10 explains this by saying that we are being brought back from exile. Someday we will be at ease, but for now we’re walking on a long road to Zion.

Jesus’ kingdom will be the last kingdom. God is gathering his elect exiles from all nations, and he will destroy all of those nations; while Jesus’ kingdom will be disciplined, but never destroyed (Jeremiah 30:11). God will treat His people how He promised to treat the Son of David (2 Samuel 7:14-15). Jesus has overcome the world, and only his kingdom will last forever. You can perish with the world, or enter his everlasting kingdom now by faith and repentance.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

Isaiah 7-12 Fulfillment: The Divine Son of David

Is Isaiah 7:14 really about Jesus? What does that have to do with Syria, Ephraim, and Assyria? This is easy to see if you understand the flow of thought in Isaiah 7-12. Chapter 7 begins with a problem: Syria and Ephraim (Ephraim here is the northern kingdom of Israel) have joined forces, and they plan to conquer Judah and establish another king there. Ahaz, the king of Judah, is afraid of these two kings, so Isaiah goes to rebuke him for fearing the kings rather than God. Isaiah says the same thing three times (7, 8:1-9:7, 9:8-12:6): Isaiah says the conspiracy of Syria and Ephraim will fail, because Assyria will conquer them and also fill the land of Judah, but afterward a child will be born in the family of David. The meaning of 7:14 can be debated if it’s viewed alone, but each time Isaiah repeats the pattern he gives more details, until there is no doubt that the child is the divine Son of David.

Isaiah 7

The Lord says the plan of Syria and Ephraim will fail (5-9). Isaiah tells King Ahaz to ask for a sign, but he refuses to ask. So Isaiah gives a sign, not just to him, but to the family of David (13-14). The sign is that the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and will call his name Immanuel. This sign for the house of David means that their dynasty will survive long after Syria and Ephraim fall to Assyria. But Immanuel will not be prosperous. He will be eating curds and honey as part of a poor and oppressed people (15-17). The Lord will call Assyria against Judah like a man brings a razor against his hair, destroying the land and leaving the people in poverty (18-25).

Who is this Immanuel? Some modern Jews claim he’s Hezekiah, and some scholars say he’s a son of Isaiah. Hezekiah is much too old to be Immanuel, because he is a grown man when Assyria attacks, and Immanuel will grow up in poverty after Assyria attacks. We will see in the next section that Isaiah’s son is given a different name, and it is not a sign of hope like Immanuel. With Christian hindsight, we know that Assyria was just the first of many nations to trample Judah. The Jews were still in poverty when a divine Son of David was conceived by a virgin. Jesus is God with us, and the everlasting heir of David’s kingdom. He is a sign to the house of David that proves that God will keep all of His promises to David.

Isaiah 8:1-9:7

This section begins with another birth: Isaiah has a son with the epic name of Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which is a sign of the coming disaster. Israel refused the Lord’s gentle waters, and so they will be flooded and plundered by Assyria. Assyria will also sweep into Judah, submerging him up to the neck, but Judah will keep his head above water.

The kingdom of Judah is here called Immanuel’s land (8:8). Then the meaning of Immanuel’s name becomes clear: nations conspiring against Judah will be crushed, because “God is with us” (8:10). While Isaiah’s son is named for the coming judgment, Immanuel’s name is a comfort. Assyria will plunder Judah, but not overcome him. God will thwart the plans of nations to keep his promises to David.

Isaiah then gives moral instruction that will not be heeded by most of his people: fear the Lord instead of foreign kings, and inquire of Him instead of the dead. Becuase the people will refuse to honor God, they will wander the land in hunger, distress, and darkness. This, again, is the meaning of Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

In contrast to this darkness is the light that will shine when Immanuel is born (9:1-7) (note: he’s not called Immanuel by name here, but he is called “Mighty God”). The child yet to be born will multiply the nation, throw off the yoke of oppression, and put an end to war, because he will rule over the whole world. He will be a divine Son of David, the perfect king. He is called “Mighty God,” is which is exactly what the Lord is called in 10:22. This is the true meaning of Immanuel: God will become a human king in the line of David, and who can stand against him?

Isaiah 9:8-12:6

Israel is being punished for deceitful leaders (9:16), inter-tribal violence (9:21), and oppression of the poor and vulnerable (10:2). The Lord has already struck them with Syria and Philistia (9:11-12), but Israel didn’t learn his lesson, and boasted that he would rebuild his nation even stronger (9:9-10). And so the Lord now wields Assyria against them as the rod of His anger (10:5).

Though Assyria is like an axe in God’s hand, it boasts against God and His people . So when God is done punishing Israel and Judah, he will also punish Assyria (10:5-19, see Isaiah 36-37). A remant of Israel will surely be saved from Assyria, and they will learn to lean on the Lord instead of Assyria. The Lord’s salvation will require no help from the people, just like in Gideon’s battle against Midean and in the exodus (10:26). After the Lord wields Assyria as an axe, He will wield an axe against Assyria, leaving only a small remnant (10:19). Seriously, if you’re not sure what this is about, read Isaiah 36-37. You’ll be glad you did.

In chapter 11, we get another incredible description of Immanuel, here called the Branch from the roots of Jesse (which is a fancy way of saying the son of David). The Spirit of the Lord rests on him, and this Spirit is described with similar language to the son of David in 9:1-7. The branch’s most notable quality here is his perfect righteousness and justice. He will be he perfect ruler, defending the poor from injustice and killing the wicked (11:4).

The Branch’s righteousness will bring perfect peace. “The wolf will lie down with the lamb,” (11:6), and “the lion will eat straw like the ox” (11:7). Children will not fear snakes (11:8). The Lord’s holy mountain (i.e. His temple) will be free from sin through the knowledge of the Lord that will fill the whole earth (11:9). Verse 9 implies that God’s “holy mountain” will be expanded all over the earth. this is gradually fulfilled as the gospel fills the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, gathering believers into the temple of God (1 Peter 2:5). We preach a message of peace and reconciliation, building a worldwide kingdom that transcends ethnic boundaries. This perfect peace has been truly accomplished, but it’s not always visible now, because the knowledge of the Lord has not yet completely filled the earth.

The Branch will be a greater Moses. The Israelites came to Moses to judge their cases, but multiple nations will inquire of the Branch (11:10). There will be a new exodus, in which the Lord gathers his people from all nations (11:11-12). A united kingdom of Israel will plunder and subdue the nations, just like David did (11:13-14). In the first exodus the sea was temporarily split, but in the coming exodus the sea and river will be permanently scattered (11:15-16) so anyone can easily come to Zion, the glorious resting place of the Branch (11:10). This is being fulfilled today. Jesus is king over the Israel of God and over the whole world, and he is gathering his chosen people from all nations. He commands all peoples to repent and obey him, and anyone who doesn’t will be judged. He lives in the glorious heavenly Zion, and everyone who trusts in him joins him there.

Any exodus would be incomplete without a song of praise (see Exodus 15), and so in chapter 12 Isaiah writes the song that will be sung in the days of the Branch’s kingdom. We sing about how the Lord turned his anger from us and comforts us (12:1), and how we trust him and do not fear (12:2). As we “draw water from the well of salvation” (12:3) we thank the Lord, call on His name, and tell the peoples what He’s done (12:4-5).

This post is already too long, so I’ll end where Isaiah ends:
“Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (12:6).