Jan 22 – 3 Epiphany
Isaiah 9:1-4
The Righteous Reign of the Coming King

Background: This passage is taken from the portion of the Prophet Isaiah often referred to as First Isaiah (Chapters 1-39). This passage can be tentatively dated to the Syro-Eprhaimite war (735-732 BCE). This passage borrows from other Ancient Near-east eulogies for kings and leaders but seems to refer to a different type of leader.

Theme: Principle themes in this passage include: the coming of one who will be the light to the nations – the perfect King or leader of Israel and all creation. Likewise, Isaiah highlight’s Israel’s plight while they are in exile, picking up on preceding verses that describe the coming darkness and oppression. Leading to the last theme, one of restoration and reversal of fortunes of Israel as they follow God’s appointed leader.

Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Isaiah 9:1-4. Review Judges 7:15-25 for context.
* Briefly describe the life situation in Israel.
* Please provide a summary of the passage. What do you think the intent of the passage is?
* Who or what are the following: Zebulun (land), Naphtali (land), “the way of the sea”, “the land beyond the Jordan”, and Tiglath-Pilser III?
* Which sea do you think Isaiah is speaking about in verse 1?
* Why would or did God place Zebulun and Naphtali in contempt? Why might those portions of the Nation of Israel be singled out in this passage?
* In verse 1, to whom or to what do you think the “former” and “latter” refer to? Some assert the “former” and “latter” refer to people not times. If “former” and “latter” are applied to a person as opposed to a period of time, how does that effect the interpretation of this verse and passage?
* Why do you think the writer was ambiguous about who or what “former” and “latter” are? What impact does an ambiguous statement in Scripture or at least in our interpretation from Scripture?
* Verse 2 is typically found in the season of Advent and Easter, both times referring to Christ as the light that will come to lead the nations. Does the appearance of that passage during the season of Epiphany change the interpretation of the passage? How or how not?
* What do you think the “Day of Midian” is a reference to in verse 4?
* Do you think the light that is promised is a given, something that must happen (at least temporally)?
* Do you think this passage implies or tries to imply that the coming season of light is a certainty for a specific period of time? Why or why not?
* How does this passage help us to “answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works…” an intent presented in the Collect of the Day?
* What is the challenge you find in this passage as you are called to action in this present place and time?