Isaiah reveals a message of future hope for Israel through the birth of her Messiah King, who will rule on David's throne forever.
The context of this chapter is the threat of invasion that hung over Israel and Judah in Isaiah's day. Assyria exiled the northern kingdom of Israel to Assyria in its invasions of 740 BC and then in 722 BC when the capital city of Samaria fell. The southern kingdom of Judah, and its capital Jerusalem managed to resist such a fate until its fall to the Babylonian empire in 586 BC. But into this context, in verses 1 to 7 Isaiah receives revelation of Israel's future Messiah.

Verse 1 speaks of a time in the past when God humbled the lands of Zebulun and of Naphtali (in the north of Israel), as happened during those Assyrian invasions and deportations. But verses 1 and 2 then look to the future when God would honour the region of Galilee and shine his light into the darkness. This was fulfilled through Jesus' Galilean ministry in the first century AD, and these verses are quoted in Matthew 4:15-16.

Verses 3 to 7 look forward to a yet-future day when Jesus will deliver Israel from yet another Assyrian invasion, that is by the Antichrist. The Antichrist is referred to as 'the Assyrian' in several end-time passages (e.g. Isaiah 10, 14 and 30, and in Micah 5). Though not called the Assyrian in this passage, the Antichrist is described as "the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor" (v4). In this future invasion by the Antichrist, Jesus' defeat of the Antichrist is likened to Gideon's defeat of the Midianites (verse 4), and God promises to enlarge the nation of Israel. That is, Israel will gain territory from its defeated enemies. Verses 6 and 7 look forward to the establishment of Jesus' Millennial kingdom, with him reigning on David's throne in Jerusalem, and over his kingdom which is ever-increasing.
Places: Assyria, Israel, Judah
Tags: Antichrist as the oppressor, Birth of Jesus, First coming of Jesus, Jesus delivers Israel, Jesus as the end-time Gideon, Jesus establishes his kingdom, Jesus rules as king, Jesus rules in Zion
9 (8:23) The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious. In earlier times he humiliated the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali; but now he brings honor to the way of the sea, the region beyond the Jordan, and Galilee of the nations.
2 (9:1) The people walking in darkness see a bright light; light shines on those who live in a land of deep darkness.
3 You have enlarged the nation; you give them great joy. They rejoice in your presence as harvesters rejoice; as warriors celebrate when they divide up the plunder.
4 For their oppressive yoke and the club that strikes their shoulders, the cudgel the oppressor uses on them, you have shattered, as in the day of Midian’s defeat.
5 Indeed every boot that marches and shakes the earth and every garment dragged through blood is used as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Amazing Adviser, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His dominion will be vast and he will bring immeasurable prosperity. He will rule on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom, establishing it and strengthening it by promoting justice and fairness, from this time forward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will accomplish this.

God’s Judgment Intensifies

8 The Lord decreed judgment on Jacob, and it fell on Israel.
9 All the people were aware of it, the people of Ephraim and those living in Samaria. Yet with pride and an arrogant attitude, they said,
10 “The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with chiseled stone; the sycamore fig trees have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”
11 Then the Lord provoked their adversaries to attack them, he stirred up their enemies –
12 Syria from the east, and the Philistines from the west, they gobbled up Israelite territory. Despite all this, his anger does not subside, and his hand is ready to strike again.
13 The people did not return to the one who struck them, they did not seek reconciliation with the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
14 So the Lord cut off Israel’s head and tail, both the shoots and stalk in one day.
15 The leaders and the highly respected people are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail.
16 The leaders of this nation were misleading people, and the people being led were destroyed.
17 So the Lord was not pleased with their young men, he took no pity on their orphans and widows; for the whole nation was godless and did wicked things, every mouth was speaking disgraceful words. Despite all this, his anger does not subside, and his hand is ready to strike again.
18 For evil burned like a fire, it consumed thorns and briers; it burned up the thickets of the forest, and they went up in smoke.
19 Because of the anger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the land was scorched, and the people became fuel for the fire. People had no compassion on one another.
20 They devoured on the right, but were still hungry, they ate on the left, but were not satisfied. People even ate the flesh of their own arm!
21 Manasseh fought against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh; together they fought against Judah. Despite all this, his anger does not subside, and his hand is ready to strike again.