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sharing in the devastation and depopulation of the country on the other side.
Again, with regard to the exaltation of the same districts which had been then brought low by the Assyrian invasion, the second portion of the prophecy is distinctly declared to have received its accomplishment in the abode, and personal ministry of our Lord, within those same regions of Galilee; Nazareth, the city where He first dwelt, being within the tribe of Zebulon, and Capernaum, the city of His adoption, within that of Naphtali.
The accomplishment of the latter-day recompense of the wasted and desolated country is described by the Evangelist in the following words :" And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up." (Matt. iv. 13–17.)
It was the Gospel of the grace of God as proclaimed on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, “the great thoroughfare from Babylon and Damascus into Palestine, amidst the busy throng of Jewish fishermen, of Roman soldiers, of publicans, i. e., taxgatherers, and of women, who were sinners, which removed “the yoke" of Satan from “the shoulders" of the oppressed, and which dashed in pieces “the rod of the oppressor.”
It was in that Galilee of the nations where the Jewish inhabitants were “mingled with the Gentile races of Lebanon and Arabia,” amidst that “multiplied nation" which was “to the Roman Palestine almost what the manufacturing districts are to England," that the vail of Jewish prejudice, and the darkness of heathen idolatry, gave place to the light of “the day-spring from on high.”
And as in the discomfiture of the hosts of Midian by Joshua and his “three hundred men,” when these same northern tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali, so distinctly specified in the prophecy, were “found faithful amongst the faithless," the victory achieved was not "by might nor by power," but by the arm of the living God; even so the greater victory over sin and Satan was wrought, not by the arm of the greaved warrior amidst the crash of conflicting hosts, and with garments rolled in blood, but by the proclamation of that Gospel which brings peace, inward and outward, wherever it is embraced, and whose direct aim and object is to teach men to “beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into reaping-hooks," and to “ learn and therefore practise) war no more."
by mightongst the faithlesified in th
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ords, thought, or subthe earlier prophes by theum
With a third emphatic “For," (not when,) the Seer carried forward in the Spirit into the days of the promised deliverance, proceeds to renew and to amplify the prediction already given in ch. vii. 10–17 of the Incarnation of the promised Deliverer; and in words, the general import of which is too clear to admit of reasonable doubt, or subtle evasion, he not only reiterates but unfolds the meaning of the earlier prophecy, and expounds the mystery of “Immanuel,” God with us, by the clear and explicit assertion, on the one hand, of His proper humanity as the child that should be born, and, on the other hand, of His essential Divinity as the mighty and everlasting God. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
And now, premising only that in accordance with the established usage of the prophet Isaiah, both in his earlier and later prophecies, he represents the promised Deliverer as being called* by those names which describe His Nature, His Attributes, and those Offices which He should sustain towards men, we will proceed to enquire into the meaning of the several designations by which He is here described — " Wonderful, Counsellor, (or Wonder, Counsellor,) Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(I.) If we take the first of these words by itself, we are at once reminded of the account contained in the 13th chapter of the book of Judges, of the appearance of the Angel of the Covenant to Manoah and his wife, and the enquiry addressed to Manoah, ver. 18, “Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret ?" i.e., (for it is the same word in the original) “Wonder” or “Wonderful.” This designation is admirably adapted to express the miraculous conception of the virgin-born Immanuel, the wonderful character of the words which proceeded from His lips, and the wonderful nature of the works which He wrought in attestation of His claims.
If, however, we combine, as the context and other parallel passages seem to suggest, the words rendered Wonder or Wonderful and Counsellor, and regard them as forming but one designation of the promised Redeemer, we shall derive still further confirmation of the doctrine of His divinity by a comparison of this designation with two passages, the one from the pen of Isaiah, and the other from that of Jeremiah ; in the former of which the origination of the same wonderful counsel is ascribed to “Jehovah of Hosts,' and in the
* E.g., “And shall call His name Immanuel.” (vii. 14.)
“Mine house shall be called a house of prayer." (lvi. 7.)
“Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise." (lx. 18.)
“ Thou shalt be called Hepzibah, and thy land Beulah.” (lxii. 4.)
latter of which the attribute “Great in Counsel” is ascribed, as in the prophecy under our consideration, to the same “Mighty God.” The passages are as follows:-(1) Is. xxviii. 29, "This also cometh forth from Jehovah of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” (2) Jer. Xxxii. 18,“ Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, Jehovah of Hosts is His name."
(II.) “Mighty God;" the fact that these latter words (as interpreted of Hezekiah) have been rendered "mighty hero," demands that, though apparently too explicit to admit of misconception, they should not be passed over in silence.
The inadmissibility of the proposed translation will at once appear from the consideration (1) that the same great Deliverer who is supposed to be described as a Mighty Hero, is represented, in the words which almost immediately follow, as Prince of Peace; and (2) that the peaceful character of His sway is the very subject of the prophecy under our consideration.
The true meaning of the words, and also the sustained continuity of subject, will appear, if we refer to a passage which occurs in the 21st verse of the following chapter of this prophecy, “The remnant shall return (Shear-jashub, compare eh. vii. 3), even the remnant of Jacob, unto the Mighty God;" whilst, as if to dispel any doubt as to the Divinity of Him to whom this designation is applied, we read in the preceding verse that this same “remnant of Israel” shall no more stay upon him that smote them, i.e., as Hezekiah did upon the Assyrian, “but shall stay upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel."'*
(III.) Eternal or Everlasting Father. The precise sense in which these words are used as a designation of the promised Messiah may fairly admit of a difference of opinion. The most obvious rendering is, Father of Eternity.
If we accept the interpretation given to the word Father, in accordance with Arabic usage, as equivalent to possessor, we have here a renewed attestation of the essential Divinity of the Messiah as One “who only hath immortality," with whom there is no past or present, but who is the one unchanging and eternal “I Am.”+
* The designation occurs as early
Delt. x. 17. It is found also in Jer. xxxii. 18; Neh. ix. 32; Ps. xxiv. 8.
+ Abiezer, father of help; i.e. source or possessor of help; Abinoam, father of grace or favour; i.e. possessor of
Vol. 68.- No. 375.
the same, &c. &c., may perhaps be regarded as illustrations of the sense in which Abi is thus used in compound names. There are, however, many compound personal proper names to which this explanation is inapplicable, 2 C
If, again, we regard this designation of the Messiah as having primary reference to the relation in which He stands to His covenant people, we may explain and illustrate it by a reference to a cognate prophecy of the same writer, the altimate application of which to our Lord, though the primary reference is to Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, is attested by St. John, Rev. iii. 7. The prophecy occurs in Is. xxii. 21, 22, and it is as follows:-"And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand : and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
And once more, if we may be allowed to combine these two intepretations, we shall then understand the designation (i.) as a personal attribute of the promised Deliverer, as the absolute possessor of eternity, and therefore to be invoked as the Eternal; and (ii.) as implying that unchanging relationship which He sustains to His people, in virtue of which, having loved His own whilst in the world, He still loves them even to the end, and will continue to supply their wants, alike in time and through eternity, out of His own inexhaustible fulness.
IV. Prince of Peace. If we were required to sum up within the shortest compass the distinctive characteristics alike of the person and of the work of the Incarnate Saviour, we could do so in no more emphatic or more comprehensive words than those in which He is here described as the “ Prince of Peace.” “On earth, peace," was the joyous proclamation in which His adventwas announced to the shepherds. “He came and preached peace," is the inspired record of His earthly ministry. Peace is that pearl of great price which He purchased for us " through the blood of His cross;" peace, that choicest and richest legacy which He bequeathed to His sorrowing disciples, ere He left them as strangers upon earth; and peace, that fruit of His ascension which, as a “Prince" and a “ Saviour," He now ever lives to bestow. As understood, then, alike of the nature of the blessing bestowed, of the source from whence it proceeds, and of the channel through which it flows, there is a depth of meaning, which eternity alone can disclose, in the few but comprehensive words in which Isaiah announced the advent of the great Deliverer as the Prince of Peace.
Having thus endeavoured to establish and elucidate the
and in which the Abi seems to be
God is, or is to be invoked as, the
exclusivt, ve proces Hezekiah
exclusive application of this prophecy to the person and work of Christ, we proceed to observe that, as applied to the person and reign of King Hezekiah, the interpretation fails in each and all of the following respects :
(1.) Instead of being, as the prophecy unequivocally reqaires, an infant just born, Hezekiah was, at the time when the propbecy was uttered, fast approaching (Eastern) maturity.
(2.) In that sense which the terms of the prophecy necessarily require, Hezekiah did not sit upon the throne of David," nor was his influence felt in those regions occupied by the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali, to which the prophecy has primary reference.
(3.) Hezekiah was, in no sense of the words, a great and mighty hero, nor an acquirer or distributor of spoil.*
(4.) Hezekiah could not justly be designated as a “ Prince of Peace,” inasmuch as, throughout a considerable portion of his reign, the kingdom of Judah was the object of the con. tinuous assaults of external foes, whilst that of Israel, to which the prophecy has special reference, had become the prey of hostile invasion.
Our space will not admit of more than a very brief elucidation of the remaining portion of this most important prophecy. Its fulfilment embraces at once the present and the future. As into the hands of "a Priest upon His throne," the one Priest to whom belongs “the counsel of peace," the government of His Church is now committed to the hand of “the man Whose name is The Branch," and the key of the house of David is laid upon His shoulder.
Concerning the doors of that house, it is emphatically true that it is He, and He alone, to whom it belongs to open so that none can shut, and to shut so that none can open.
Concerning that “throne,” that “kingdom," that "govern. ment," and that "peace” of which the concluding portion of the passage under our consideration treats, the ancient prophets seem to have exhausted the resources of language with a view to express more adequately their duration and increase. Of that “throne" Isaiah predicts that “in mercy shall the throne be established; and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and ruling judgment, and establishing righteousness.” |
# The second word in the designation which we have rendered “Eternal Father,” occurs three times in the Old Testament in the sense of booty or spoil. In this sense it has been understood with reference to Hezekiah as the possessor or distributor of booty. As thus interpreted, however, it is sin.
gularly inapplicable to that king, con. cerning whom we read that he laid his land under tribute in order to comply with the exactions of the king of Assyria; but we nowhere read that he was a successful warrior acquiring, or enriching his subjects with, spoil.
+ Isa. xvi. 5.