Zebulun and Naphtali are two of the tribes of Israel which, along with tribe of Issachar, make up the region of Galilee. This is in the northern part of Israel. Israel as a whole nation is conquered and taken into captivity in 722BC. However, a decade prior to this the region of Galilee is captured by the Assyrians (see 2 Kings 15:29) and the rest of the nation doesn’t come to their aid. Thus Isaiah describes Galilee as being ‘treated with contempt’ and being a place of gloom (v1).
But the promise that follows is astounding… The people in this region of Galilee will see a great light (v2). Joy and gladness will increase (v3). Oppression will be ended (v4). The enemy will be defeated and there will be an end to war (vv4,5).
This will all come about because of a child who will be born for them (v6). This child will be special. He will be known by marvellous names:
Wonderful Counsellor - the child will stand in the royal courts and advise and guide
Mighty God - this child is God Himself!
Eternal Father - even though a child, He will represent the Heavenly Father
Prince of Peace - He is heir to the throne
This child will carry the government on His shoulders (v6) and the government He leads will be one of ever increasing influence and peace (v7). He will be the one who will finally establish the throne of David forever and will go on to ensure that it continues with justice and righteousness.
And so Jesus, when He beings His earthly ministry starts things off in Galilee (see Matthew 4:12-17). They are the first to see the Son of God in action. The part of the nation that was treated with contempt will house the eternal throne of David. Truly the light had dawned on them, even though they did not understand it.
Further reading: Matthew 4:12-17 John 1:1-18
To think about:
Isaiah describes Galilee as being ‘treated with contempt’ and being a place of gloom (v1). So often we feel that we have been treated with contempt, or we treat ourselves with contempt and feel in a place of gloom. Isaiah was talking to a nation but how can we use this passage in Isaiah to encourage ourselves?
|Artwork by Esther Sweeney|
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