Isaiah 1-39 - Lesson 6

By Harold Shank

Isaiah 9-10

God of Judgment and Hope


  1. The student can tell how Isa 9-10 reflects on the events of Isa 7-8.
  2. The student can explain the role that God plays regarding government, injustice, pride and sin.
  3. The student will continue to reflect on what Isaiah teaches about God.


  1. A Bible for each student
  2. A map of Palestine that includes the 12 tribes showing Naphtali and Zebulun
  3. A map that identifies Assyria


Isaiah helps the people process the crisis they have just experienced.

Setting the stage

    1. Review
      1. God engages Jerusalem and Judah in a variety of ways, all in an attempt to maintain his exalted status and his holy nature in his relationship with them.
        1. Despite rebellion and rejection, God continues to work in the life of these people through Isaiah and beyond Isaiah in the promises he makes to act in history.
        2. The book illustrates the life of faith and the consequences of unfaithfulness while stressing the persistent love, grace, justice, holiness and righteousness of God.
      2. Isaiah 1-8 addresses two crises.
        1. Isaiah 1-6 takes up the oppression in Jerusalem.
          1. Faithful living for God has both a horizontal (how they treated each other-love your neighbor as yourself) and a vertical element (how they worshipped God-love God with all your heart). The people failed in the former which threatened the latter.
          2. In order to jar his people back to faithful reality, God promises discipline in the form of an invading army.
          3. God responds by sending a prophet.
        2. Isaiah 7-8 takes up the threat of the Syro-Ephraimite War.
          1. Faithful living is not confined to one's private relationship with God but includes the nation's decisions. Isaiah illustrates faithfulness over and against the unfaithfulness of Ahaz.
          2. God promises that the threat of the Syro-Ephraimite War will pass quickly and that the nation in which Ahaz places his trust will prove to be their ultimate curse and downfall.
          3. God responds by promising a messianic king.
        3. Isaiah 1-12 alternates between three major concerns.
          1. Oppression-Isa 1, 2:5-4:1 and 5 describe the reality of a Jerusalem that does not know God evidenced by the way the powerful oppress the powerless.
          2. Judgment-Isa 1, 3, 5-8 anticipate God's judgment on the people as a means of refining them and restoring the faithfulness, righteousness and justice that God wanted and that was also characteristic of an earlier era.
          3. Hope-Isa 2:1-4, 4:2-6 and 7:15 focus on what God will do with an obedient Jerusalem.
          4. Review the historical background from the previous lesson since Isa 9-10 occur in the aftermath of the Syro-Ephraimite War.
    2. Preview
      1. God sends Isaiah to help the people process life after the Syro-Ephraimite War.
      2. Isaiah explores three case studies of God's contemporary and future work:
        1. Case Study #1-Galilee and the World (9:1-7)
        2. Case Study #2-North Israel and Judah (9:8-10:4)
        3. Case Study #3-Assyria (10:5-32)

Learning Experiences:

          1. Case Study #1-God's work in Galilee and the World. Read Isa 9:1-7.
            1. Despite the gloom (Isa 9:1-2) resulting from the Syro-Ephraimite War and the Assyrian response in both North Israel and Judah, God plans for a day of new light (Isa 9:3) when the Assyrian yoke is removed (Isa 9:4) and the army uniforms destroyed (Isa 9:5) which will be led by a remarkable new king (Isa 9:6-9). Earthly kings always disappoint in contrast to the Messiah who will completely fulfill the geographic (Galilee) and hopes political (king) of this prophecy.
            2. There are 4 names for the coming king and 4 qualities of his rule.
              1. Names
                1. Wonderful Counselor-a shrewd and discerning ruler who cares for his people
                2. Mighty God-someone with all the power and authority he needs
                3. Everlasting Father-a persistent one who guides his people as a father
                4. Prince of Peace-one who brings order out of the chaos
              2. Qualities of his rule
                1. Abundant peace
                2. A member of the Davidic line
                3. Justice and righteousness
                4. Enabled by the power of God.
              3. Compare this child (9:6) to Jesus.
                1. How would Isaiah's original audience have understood this passage? (Some believe that it may reflect the enthusiasm over Hezekiah's reforms so they rejoiced over his birth-see 2 Kings 18 and especially 2 Ch 30:1-10).
                2. Do all these names apply to Jesus? (Deut 32:6; Jer3:4; Isa 63:16; 64:7: Mal 2:10)
                3. List some other OT texts which expect a coming king.
          2. Case Study #2-God's work in North Israel. Read Isa 9:8-10:4
            1. This section divides into four parts
              1. 9:8-12-God's anger at North Israel's pride
                1. Note the common refrain in this section-9:12, 17, 21; 10:4
                  1. The "all this" refers to their refusal to follow God.
                  2. God's "anger" comes when they refuse to recognize his sovereignty.
                  3. The line about his hand recalls the powerful God of the exodus.
                2. God is unhappy with North Israel because they depend on themselves and not him.
              2. 9:13-17-God's anger at North Israel's leaders
                1. God unhappy with the leaders in North Israel because the leaders did not seek God but instead led the people astray.
                2. List the leaders mentioned.
              3. 9:18-21-God's anger in the destruction of North Israel
                1. This passage likely refers to the several assassinations of kings in North Israel in the last years before their destruction. Read 2 Kings 15 & 17.
                2. Manasseh and Ephraim were two of the largest tribes in North Israel. They fight among themselves and with Judah.
              4. 10:1-4-God's anger at Judah
                1. Isaiah returns to the oppression of the people by their leaders (see Isaiah 1, 3, 5) suggesting that this section describes Jerusalem.
                2. Isaiah's point seems to be that sinful Jerusalem is also on the brink of disaster.
                3. Compare the oppression of Isa 10:1-4 with the oppression described in Isa 1-5. What is repeated? What is new?
            2. Isaiah's rhetorical device is quite clever.
              1. In 9:8-21 he points out the error North Israel made to the people of Jerusalem and, to their delight, predicts their downfall.
              2. In 10:1-4 he summarizes what he said to Jerusalem in chapters 1-5 and then announces the same verdict on them.
          3. Case Study #3-God's work with Assyria. Read Isa 10:5-34
            1. How did God use Assyria? What images are used to convey the work God had Assyria do?
              1. Assyria was the rod God used to punish North Israel.
              2. Assyria was the ax God was using to punish others, but now Assyria the ax considered itself better than the ax wielder, God himself.
            2. God objected to Assyria for several reasons
              1. They are a godless nation-10:6
              2. They have exceeded God's command-10:6
              3. They are prideful-10:8-14
            3. According to Isa 10:15-19 God plans to destroy Assyria. Babylon will put an end to the Assyrian empire in 605 BC.
            4. "The remnant" is the theme of 10:20-27
              1. The mention of the remnant in the midst of a chapter on judgment against Assyria must have offered hope for the faithful in Jerusalem.
              2. The remnant is either in North Israel or Jerusalem, or perhaps both.
            5. A plan for an invasion of Jerusalem from the north is outlined in Isa10:27-34
              1. The first places mentioned are 8-10 miles north of Jerusalem.
              2. The distances get smaller until the last places are just over a mile outside the city.
              3. The message of this passage is that triumphant and powerful Assyria will march south but encounter God who will stop them.
              4. The forest metaphor reflects back on the ax passage.
                1. Now God will be the ax cutting down the forest which represents Assyria.
                2. Is there any irony between this metaphor and the ones in Isa 10:5 and 15?
          4. Summary of Isa 9-10
            1. Isaiah continues to speak in the months after the Syro-Ephraimite war.
            2. God will bring light to dark Galilee and send a mighty king of justice and righteousness.
            3. God will bring down the pride of North Israel which serves as a warning to oppressive Jerusalem.
            4. God is sovereign even over the dominate Assyrians who will be cut down like a tree.
            5. There are several theological themes of the three case studies.
              1. In the midst of chaos (Syro-Ephraimite War), God is in control.
              2. The God who uses war will send the prince of peace.
              3. God opposes injustice and oppression and will punish the oppressors (10:4) and send one to establish justice (9:7).
              4. God opposes pride.
              5. Even in the darkest times, God watches over the faithful and preserves a remnant.
              6. God moves to act against sin because unaddressed sin escalates and spreads and expands its power.


          1. Isa 1-10 contrasts those who are faithful with those who are not faithful.
            1. Faithful-Isaiah, Immanuel, future king, remnant
            2. Unfaithful-oppressors in Jerusalem, Ahaz, North Israel, Assyria
            3. What are the qualities of faithfulness and unfaithfulness being presented? Evaluate your congregation, your family and yourself in light of those qualities.
          2. Isa 10:1-4 suggests that those who profit from oppression will lose all they have? Is that true? Think of cases in history where it proved true. Who are the oppressed in today's world? What does Isa 9:6-7 suggest about the role of the king (government?) in dealing with oppression?
          3. Isaiah tells how God addresses escalating sin (9:17-19). Does unchecked sin grow in power? Give examples. How might God address escalating sin in the contemporary world?
          4. Isaiah places God in control of all government. Compare the way God dealt with Ahaz and the way he managed Assyria. What does Isa 9:6-7 reveal about God's sovereignty over government? What are some qualities of the way God deals with kings?
          5. Does Isaiah's concept of remnant have any meaning today? Consider 1:9, 27; 2:1-4; 4:1; 4:2- 6; 6:13; 7:3, 21-25; 10:20-27.
          6. Evaluate God's distaste for pride. Why does God have such a strong reaction against haughtiness? What evidence of pride do you see around you?
          7. These chapters contribute to the role God plays in violence. What additional points might be made about God and violence? Review past lessons. Keep in mind that our study of Isa 34 will focus on God's use of violence.
          8. Reflect on the nature of God in Isaiah. What are the qualities of the God presented here? Are there continuities or discontinuities with the New Testament description of God? What is problematic about Isaiah's presentation of the nature of God?

Additional Study: Use this material if the class spends more than one week on Isa 9-10.

        1. Case study #1 – Galilee and the world (Isa 9:1-7)
          1. Identify the region of Galilee
            1. Identify the region of Galilee.
              1. This was the area where invasions usually started and was also on the main highway making it a cosmopolitan area.
              2. "The way of the sea" is the area around the Sea of Galilee.
              3. Identify the location of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun
            2. This area had two qualities.
              1. Invasion. It was the first area to be attacked in an invasion from the north (the way Assyria would come) and after the Syro-Ephraimite war, Assyria took this part of North Israel captive.
              2. Internationalization. It was the most international area of Israel. Jerusalem was an isolated mountain city, but the major road of the ancient world connecting Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia went through this area.
          2. Former and latter times.
            1. Isaiah introduces a concept he will use repeatedly in the book: the "former times" (things that have already happened, some of which God earlier enabled him to predict) and the "latter times" (things which have not yet happened for Isaiah).
            2. What are some former things Isaiah has in mind? (darkness of 8:22; Ahaz' unfaithfulness during the Syro-Ephraimite War; Assyrian invasion of North Israel; Judges 7 events).
            3. What are some of the latter things Isaiah has in mind? (fulfillment of Isa 2:1- 4; 4:2-5; fall of North Israel; people of this area coming to Jerusalem for Passover in the time of Hezekiah in 2 Ch 30:5-18; the time over a century later when Josiah ruled this area; someone in the future bringing light to Galilee; coming of a new king to establish a new era).
          3. Compare the child in Isa 9:6 with the four other children so far mentioned in Isaiah.
            1. 1:2-God's son Judah
            2. 7:3-Shearjashub
            3. 7:14-Immanuel
            4. 8:1-Maher-shalal-hash-baz
          4. Does "forever" (9:7) always mean "forever" in the Bible?
            1. Gen 17:7-circumcision was to last forever but is set aside in the NT.
            2. 1 Sam 1:22-Eli was to care for Samuel forever.
        2. Case Study #2-God's work in North Israel.
          1. Isa 9:8-12 - God's anger at North Israel's pride.
            1. Given the events of the Syro-Ephraimite war (review 2 Chr 28:6-8 and note Isa 9:19-21), what would have been the reaction in Jerusalem to Isaiah's sermon against North Israel (Ephraim is another name for North Israel)? (Joy that their enemy would be defeated, relief that the threat was over, justification that the enemy would be punished).
            2. What has Isaiah already said about God's view of pride? (2:11-17)
          2. Isa 9-10:4 - Note the repeated refrain in Isa 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4. What does it mean? (Gary Smith notes three agendas in the refrain: 1-God has already punished; 2- God is still angry; 3-There is more punishment to come).
        3. Case Study #3-God's Work with Assyria.
          1. Isa 10:5-14
            1. Review the role of Assyria in the period around the Syro-Ephraimite War. Compare Assyrian attacks on North Israel and Judah to the attacks of major world powers on smaller countries at other points in world history. Assyria attacking North Israel would be like the US Army invading El Salvador.
            2. Identify the voices in this passage. Some belong to God while others are the words of the Assyrians. (God in v 5-7, 12; Assyria in 8-11; 13-14).
            3. How did God use Assyria? What images are used to convey that work God had Assyria do?
            4. What objection did God have against Assyria? What is revealed from the words of the Assyrians themselves?
          2. Isa 10:15-19
            1. What are God's future plans for Assyria?
            2. How would the Jerusalem audience have heard this message? Keep in mind they were hurting from the Syro-Ephraimite War which the Assyrian invasion had stopped but also burdened by Assyrian taxation and threat.
          3. Isa 10:20-27
            1. The remnant is the theme of this section. Consider the previous references to survivors and the remnant. Keep in mind that Shearjashub's name means "a remnant shall return."
            2. Scholars differ on whether the remnant is from North Israel or Judah.
              1. North Israel would be carried into captivity in 721. Many refugees from that area must have fled south during the Assyrian invasion of Naphtali and Zebulun
              2. Judeans were taken into captivity by North Israel during the Syro- Ephraimite War (734-32), by the Assyrians in the late 8th century (701), and then in a massive way in the 6th century (586) by the Babylonians. A remnant survived each exile.
            3. Read the section with each of these events in mind to see which might be most likely.

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