Isaiah 9:6-7

From the Archives – Peace on Earth

The gospel according to Luke records that on the night of Jesus’ birth an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks in a field outside the Judean village of Bethlehem. The angel announced “good news of great joy” which included the benediction: “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:10, 14).

Peace had come to earth in a person. The “Prince of Peace,” prophesied centuries earlier by the prophet Isaiah had come (Isaiah 9:6). In a mystery never to be fully fathomed, the “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father” was born a child with flesh and blood to dwell on earth for a season (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; John 1:14). And as the Bible repeatedly demonstrates, whenever the living God comes to dwell among his people, he always brings peace.

But what is peace? The word is not difficult to define. Peace is the calm that prevails in the absence of war. It is the serenity that marks freedom from hostilities, strife or dissension. Peace is a paucity of agitation, upheaval or chaos. Although used in an array of contexts, the definition is fairly straightforward.

Peace is far more difficult to identify and experience. There is peace which is really no peace at all. False peace shatters many lives and poisons many souls. There is peace in the midst of hostility—peace that operates at full throttle in the war zones of human experience. There is peace as ethical responsibility. There is peace we desperately want, but can do nothing to attain.

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Isaiah 9:6-7, the Hebrew Text & the Ancient Versions

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Of Old Testament prophecies of the birth of the Messiah, among the most famous and well-known (in part because Handel included its words in his magnum opus, ”The Messiah”) is Isaiah 9:6, 7 (numbered 9:5, 6 in the Masoretic Hebrew text, the Septuagint Greek version and in German and some other translations). The KJV’s translation of vv. 6, 7 reads:

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, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David & upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and forever; the zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah chapters 7 through 12 are all a connected unit presenting a progressive series of Messianic prophecies. Franz Delitzsch in his famous 19th century commentary on Isaiah wrote:

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