Isaiah 9:1-4 is set in context of the Assyrian invasion of northern Israel over 700 years before Christ. “It was a time of distress and darkness…gloom of anguish…thick darkness” (Is. 8:22). However, Isaiah points to a time when God’s people can say, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” God will bring about a time of joy, like the celebration of the harvest.
The time of light, joy and freedom from the oppressor’s rod will come with the birth of a child (Isaiah 9:6) who will shoulder the responsibility of governing the people in peace, justice and righteousness “from this time forth and forevermore” (Is. 9:7). This child who will sit on the throne of David was predicted in chapter 7 when a son born, to a virgin and will be called “Immanuel.”
The banishing of the gloom of anguish, is accomplished in the coming of Jesus. Jesus son of Mary, God’s Immanuel, calls us to turn around because the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). He begins his government by calling disciples to leave their nets behind and become fishers of men. That is Jesus plan to bring the light of his government throughout the whole world. He now invades the very area Assyrian had invaded centuries before. However, Jesus is after a different enemy, one that brings disease and death. Ultimately, he will take on the cause of all affliction as he saves his people from sin by taking the burden of their sin upon himself.
Just as many came to John to be baptized, so now ever greater crowds heed the call of the good news of his rule. He is beginning a movement which will extend to the ends of the earth. We are now part of that movement, as we promised in the entrance psalm. “I will tell of your name to my brothers; amid the congregation I will praise you” (Ps. 22:22).