Friday, July 7, 2017

[BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Previous: [BTT0028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7


Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”


Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
This is a difficult one, and not only because Matthew seems to be quoting from a different version of Isaiah (note discrepancies between the verse in Isaiah and their quotation in Matthew).

The first thing we have to understand is that the triumph announcement of the coming Messiah - who will be both "a Child" born to Israel and the "Mighty God," comes directly after Isaiah 8's prophecy of the Assyrian invasion. This is what the "darkness" and "shadow of death" refer to.

If we look at the immediate context of Matthew, he appears to be saying that Isaiah was prophesying that the Messiah would spend some time in trans-Jordan area. That would be silly, because Isaiah is clearly saying that the Messiah will emerge to rule in truth, justice, etc. This seems double silly because Jesus was born long after Assyria existed. How could Jesus be the light of hope against an empire that no longer existed?

However, things start to make more sense when we take into account the idea that Past, Present, Future do not matter in prophecy. Assyria has been out of the picture for centuries, but the people of Zebulun and Naphtali are still under a different military occupation: Rome. We might even further spiritualize things and say that the true darkness is the darkness of sin and death.

The point is, both the original context and the fulfillment context can be misleading if you take them over-literally. Unless we keep in mind the idea that Past, Present, and Future get mushed together in prophecy, they become unintelligible.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Next: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

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