Jehovah has feelings. Seems strange to even have to say that. Sometimes, though, we might forget or fail to appreciate that simple fact. Actually, we have thoughts and feelings and can relate to ourselves and the people around us and God because we are made in His image and likeness. For example, we may feel impatient in a certain situation. That’s because God endowed us with the capacity. We may become offended, even to the point of anger. Again, we were created with the ability to respond to things in a certain way. And yes, Almighty God gets hurt feelings, even as is stated in the Psalms: “How often they would rebel against him in the wilderness, they would make him feel hurt in the desert!” (78:40)
God grew impatient with Israel. He was highly offended by their worship of demons and all that went with it. So, after putting up with it for a long time God expressed His anger when he “whistled” for the Assyrian hordes to swoop down on Israel like a swarm of bees. In his fury, God had them dragged off the beautiful land he had given them. The terms and conditions were clearly stipulated in the Law covenant. It is not as though God acted in a capricious manner. Sadly, not long afterward Jehovah also appointed Babylon to measure out the same punishment to Judah and Jerusalem.
But God is merciful. That is one of His dominant qualities. In time Jehovah reclaimed the Jews from Babylon and Persia and settled them back in their ancestral homeland. True, they were thereafter ruled over by the Greeks and the Romans after them, but they were not overtly oppressed. Thus, the original setting.
“However, the gloom will not be as when the land had distress, as in former times when the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali were treated with contempt. But at a later time He will cause it to be honored—the way by the sea, in the region of the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who were walking in the darkness have seen a great light. As for those dwelling in the land of deep shadow, light has shone on them.” —Isaiah 9:1-2
The original territory of Zebulun and Naphtali encompassed the land where Jesus later grew up in Nazareth —a village in the north of Israel. After his anointing, Christ based his ministry in Capernaum from where he went out to preach among the humble country folk surrounding the Sea of Galilee. At least four of his apostles were lowly fishermen who made a living casting their nets on the sea, also known as the lake of Gennesaret. Those same fishermen witnessed Jesus walking over the waters of the storm-tossed lake and on another occasion, Jesus was roused from sleep by the terrified disciples and ordered a raging storm to be still before it capsized their boat. Jesus healed multitudes of people of the most grievous illnesses, including leprosy and people with withered limbs and deafness. He cast out devils and even raised the dead son of a widow. Jesus regularly spoke in their synagogues and taught them about the Kingdom of God.
Yes, those people in Galilee of the nations saw a great light. And those who continued to walk in the light were given the privilege of becoming sons of the light.
“You have made the nation populous; you have made its rejoicing great. They rejoice before you as people rejoice in the harvesttime, as those who joyfully divide up the spoil. For you have shattered to pieces the yoke of their load, the rod on their shoulders, the staff of the taskmaster, as in the day of Midian.” —Isaiah 9:3-4
The day of Midian was when Gideon and his band of 300 selectmen ambushed and routed the sleeping army of Midianite and Amalekite warriors by brandishing torches and smashing pottery and shouting “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!”
The expression “holy terror” comes to mind. Roused from a dead sleep by the crashing sound and the shrieking war cry evoking the name of Israel’s God, Jehovah, in the dark of night the panicked invaders slaughtered each other. There is no mention of the Midianites harassing the Hebrews after that.
It is doubtful that the apostles were aware at the time Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah by casting a divine light on the people in the land of spiritual darkness. Their minds were not opened up to understand those things until after Jesus fulfilled the things written. But it is true that the faithful Jews expected a messianic king to come. That was about the extent of their knowledge.
As previous saviors (also known as judges) had done, the apostles evidently expected Jesus to throw off the Roman overlords —perhaps like Gideon. No doubt that is why Peter ignorantly tried to counsel Jesus about his sacrificial course. Needless to say, Jesus did not shatter to pieces the Roman yoke. That is because the prophecy of Isaiah seamlessly shifts between Messiah’s earthly life in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali to his Second Coming. It is to the coming of the Kingdom that the above prophecy applies.
Indeed, the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy relates to the harvesttime, about which Jesus spoke concerning the weeds and the wheat. Although the masses of churchgoers with delusional heavenly aspirations suppose 144,000 is a piddling few, considering that God has never granted immortality to any creature except Jesus after he was raised from the dead, it is amazing that the Creator would gift corrupt humans with indestructibleness. Hence, the nation that God will make populous is what Paul referred to as “the Israel of God.”
In his inspired letter James, Jesus’ half brother in the flesh, sent his greetings “to the 12 tribes that are scattered about.” Of course, Christ’s congregation is not divided into tribes. The references to the Israel of God and the 12 tribes connects Christ’s congregation to the fulfillment of virtually all prophecy. The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali has a spiritual counterpart. After all, Zebulun and Naphtali are listed in the seventh chapter of Revelation from where 12,000 from each tribe are made to stand with the Lamb on the summit of Zion. And it is those chosen from the symbolic 12 tribes who will see a great light when Jesus is revealed to them.
WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, ETERNAL FATHER
“Every boot that shakes the earth as it marches and every garment soaked in blood will become fuel for the fire. For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and the rulership will rest on his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Jesus has lived the most extraordinary life. He was the first creation of the eternal God and Father. He is also the only spirit who has ever become a human. All the angels that have materialized flesh —whether in God’s service or for selfish purposes —were not really human. To illustrate the point, the sons of God who disobediently materialized as men before the Flood and had relations with women did not father human offspring. They spawned a freakish race of Nephilim.
Jesus, however, was fully human, having had his perfect life force converted from spirit to flesh so as to be grafted into the dying human race but without inheriting Adam’s sin. Hence, a human child was born and a son was given to us as a savior. And having been born into a family in David’s royal linage Jesus was also an heir to the throne.
Jesus’ exceptional life became even more extraordinary when he was born again —called back to the spirit realm by the anointing holy spirit. Thus, the right of rulership he inherited was transferred with him upon his resurrection back into the spirit realm. When Christ begins ruling from heaven he will indeed be a Mighty God —bequeathed with all the power and authority of the Almighty God himself.
Jesus will become an Eternal Father in the future by resurrecting the dead and rehabilitating mankind from the effects of sin; ultimately, abolishing death and becoming the surrogate father of all those who will achieve everlasting life on the basis of his human sacrifice.
Everyone seeks guidance and counsel from someone they view as an expert. People pay money to get financial advice and personal help and spiritual guidance. Imagine having direct access to someone who knows everything and who has a personal interest in you and is willing to teach you what you most need to know. Yes, that certainly would be a wonderful counselor!
The second chapter of Isaiah had already revealed God’s intention to abolish war —symbolized by men hammering their destructive swords into productive plowshares. The imagery of the marching boots of war and bloody garments being burned in the fire confirms as much. (In ancient times warriors in close combat would be splattered and even drenched, not necessarily in their own blood, but in the blood of the slain.)
The prophecy continues, reverting back to the situation in Isaiah’s day, saying: “Jehovah sent a word against Jacob, and it has come against Israel. And all the people will know it —Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria— Who say in their haughtiness and in their insolence of heart: “Bricks have fallen, but we will build with hewn stone. Sycamore trees have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” — Isaiah 9: 8-10
The fact that we are introduced to Christ in his capacity as the one who bears rulership upon his shoulders in the context of God’s judgment against Jacob (Israel) indicates that what took place in the past casts a shadow of things to come.
The previous chapters (7-8) related Israel’s alliance with Syria against Judah and Jehovah’s intervention in the form of the Assyrian conquest. The Israelites arrogantly assumed that they would recover and rebuild. It was not to be. Instead, Israel was swallowed down by its enemies.
It is noteworthy that Isaiah is the only prophet that referred to God’s people as apostates. The prophecy continues: “And Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, shoot and rush, in one day. The aged and highly respected one is the head, and the prophet giving false instruction is the tail. And those who are leading this people on prove to be the ones causing them to wander; and those of them who are being led on, the ones who are being confused. That is why Jehovah will not rejoice even over their young men, and upon their fatherless boys and upon their widows he will have no mercy; because all of them are apostates and evildoers and every mouth is speaking senselessness. In view of all this his anger has not turned back, but his hand is stretched out still.” (Vs 14-17)
Apostasy can only happen among God’s people. That is because apostates are those who turn away from God. Obviously, though, if people are in a position to turn aside from following Jehovah they must at one point have been faithful. That was the case with Israel. Their leaders misled the people, causing them to wander in confusion. Imagine, being so misled as to attack the city where Jehovah caused his name to reside!
As stated in a previous commentary on this portion of Isaiah, the fact that Israel had originated with God and yet allied with pagans to attempt to overthrow the king of Judah well pictures the professed Christians organizations that ally with the state to oppose the work sponsored by the Watchtower, such as the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
However, according to a closer examination of the sacred secrets contained in prophecy, the apostasy that the inspired apostle revealed must come first —first, before the revelation of the Mighty God —comes from among anointed Christians who are seated in the heavenly places.
That being true, apostate Israel ultimately pictures the Watchtower itself. Jehovah’s Witnesses well know that the Scriptures reveal that judgment starts with the house of God first. The ninth chapter of Isaiah harmonizes with this truth. First comes the one to whom rulership has been given. Then the harvest. Then God’s anger is expressed towards “Israel” —against the elders and the prophets, as stated above. Why?
Jesus foretold that prior to and even during his presence false prophets would be proclaiming Christ is here and there. It is a very serious thing to speak in Jesus’ name or to claim to be a spokesman for him. And yet, that is exactly what the Watchtower has done. Since its inception, the Watchtower has falsely proclaimed that Jesus Christ has returned. First, the proclamation went out that the parousia had begun in 1874. Then around 1930 the date was flipped to 1914. For over a century the Watchtower has falsely claimed that the Second Coming has already taken place, that Christ is ruling in his Kingdom. Despite having had their claims utterly demolished the prophets of Bethel continue to proclaim that true worship has been restored, that Jehovah’s Witnesses reside in spiritual paradise and speak the pure language of truth. Sadly, many will continue to utter sheer senselessness even when the sign of the actual conclusion commences. That is why Jehovah’s outstretched hand will condemn them to everlasting death.
As regards the symbolic harvest, Jesus stated that the angels would uproot and bundle up the weeds and pitch them into the fire. Isaiah continues: “For wickedness burns like a fire, consuming thornbushes and weeds. It will set fire to the thickets of the forest, and they will go up in clouds of smoke.” (vs 18)
Regarding the fiery times of judgment, Jesus said that many will hate one another and betray one another and brother will deliver brother to death. Like the Jewish authorities in the first century who expelled from the synagogue any who expressed faith in Jesus, the Watchtower has punished everyone who dares to discard the senseless 1914 rigamorole. And no doubt many current JW’s will be persecuted and expelled from the congregation when they give witness that they have seen the Lord. Isaiah continues: “In the fury of Jehovah of armies the land has been set on fire, and the people will become fuel for the fire. No one will spare even his brother.”
As regards the 144,000 taken from the 12 tribes of the Israel of God, what remains of the tribes from which they were taken? Isaiah continues: “Manasseh will devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh. Together they will be against Judah. In view of all this, his anger has not turned back, but his hand is still stretched out to strike.”
Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. That his earthly heritage has a spiritual facet the 5th chapter of Revelation refers to “the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David…” So, the tribes that come under Jehovah’s denunciation, who together will be against Judah, represent the apostate Christian leaders who at that time will be under the influence of the man of lawlessness —whom Paul said stands in opposition. Together they will oppose Christ and his chosen ones. Like Israel conspired with Syria to war against Judah, and the original son of destruction, Judas, a type of the man of lawlessness, conspired with the Jews and Roman authorities to destroy Jesus, the condemned elders and prophets will ally with the eighth king to destroy the sons of the Kingdom.
to be continued…