Introduction: Last week’s lesson ended on a very dark note. We found
a progression of life for those who do not rely on God. Life turns
out badly and they become angry and blame God. Continuing to look
away from God finally brings them to a point of “utter darkness.”
That doesn’t sound like the trip I want to take. There is another
journey we can take instead. Let’s dive into the Bible and discover
that path!

  1. The Other Path

    1. Read Isaiah 9:1. What is the future for those in distress?
      (No more gloom. Note to readers: Isaiah has a “two-track”
      message. One track is a prophecy of what will happen to
      the people of Judah and Israel. The second track is a
      message for people of all times. Since the historical
      events are of less relevance to us, I am focusing this
      lesson on the timeless message.)

      1. Who were Zebulun and Naphtali? (They were two of the
        ten sons of Jacob and Leah. Those sons were the
        beginning of part of the twelve tribes of Israel.
        Thus, this is a reference to the land occupied by two
        of the twelve tribes of Israel. Historically, these
        sections of Israel bore the brunt of the attack of
        the King of Assyria. See 2 Kings 15:29)

      2. Notice Isaiah mentions two of the Jewish tribes and
        “Galilee of the Gentiles.” What meaning do you find
        in the mention of Gentiles? (I think this is an early
        hint of God’s work moving from the Jews to Gentiles.)

      3. The area in which the descendants of Zebulun and
        Naphtali lived was Galilee. From where did most of
        Jesus’ disciples come? ( Acts 2:7 reminds us most of
        the disciples came from the Galilee region.)

    2. Read Matthew 4:12-16. Where did Jesus spend most of His
      adult life? (The area of Zebulun and Naphtali – Galilee.)

    3. Read Isaiah 9:2. Who or what is the “great light?” (Jesus!
      He shared His message in this area, thus bringing it
      “honor” ( Isaiah 9:1) and “a great light” ( Isaiah 9:2).)

    4. If you are walking in darkness in your life today, what
      can bring “great light?” Who can start you walking in
      light? (Jesus.)

      1. What was the conclusion to our lesson last week?
        (That we should trust God, not humans.)

      2. How does last week’s message fit into what we just
        learned? (Whether we are talking about a physical
        peril or a spiritual peril, God is still the answer
        to our problem. We need to rely on Him.)

  2. The Other Experience

    1. Read Isaiah 9:3. Recall that when walking on the path of
      darkness the people were “distressed and hungry,”
      “enraged” and “curs[ing].” ( Isaiah 8:21) What attitude do
      we find among those walking the path of light? (Joy.)

      1. Isaiah 9:3 helps us to understand the nature of this
        joy by comparing it to a couple of events. What would
        be the modern equivalent of these events? (Harvest is
        success in your business. Imagine that you just won a
        new contract. Landed a big, new client. Tallied up
        your business income and found you had done very
        well. “Dividing the plunder” means you have just
        overcome the competition (or, your enemies). When I
        was in school and got great grades, I felt terrific.
        When I win a hotly contested case, I feel great. That
        is the attitude God offers to us on the path of

    2. Read Isaiah 9:4. When you read “the day of Midian’s
      defeat,” what comes to mind? (This is the story of
      Gideon’s victory over the Midianites found in Judges
      chapter 7.)

      1. What is so striking about the “Gideon defeats the
        Midianites” story? (The allied Midianite/Amalekite
        army was “thick as locusts” ( Judges 7:12). However,
        they were defeated by an army of only 300 (Judges
        7:7). This was clearly the victory of God, not
        Gideon, thus further underscoring the point that
        walking in the path of light is walking in the power
        of God.)

  3. The Other Victory

    1. Read Isaiah 9:5-6. Contrast the messages of verses 5 and

      1. What does verse 5 suggest? (The warriors will be
        defeated. So far we have been talking about military
        victories – for example Gideon.)

      2. What does verse 6 suggest is the alternative means of
        victory? (A child king who is called the “Prince of

    2. Read Isaiah 9:7. To whom do verses 6 and 7 refer? (Jesus.)

    3. Step back a minute and consider Isaiah 9:4-7. Can you
      blame the disciples for thinking that Jesus was going to
      defeat the Romans and set up a kingdom on earth (see Acts
      1:6)? (These are certainly the texts I would cite (among
      others) to show that Jesus would be a warrior/messiah.)

      1. If it is easy to misunderstand (without the benefit
        of hindsight) the nature of Jesus’ first coming, what
        is the lesson for us who look forward to His Second
        Coming? (Beware. Don’t be arrogant and cocky about
        what you think you know. Instead, continue to study
        the Bible and compare it with current events.)

    1. What basis do you find in these verses we are studying to
      conclude that Jesus intended to bring about a spiritual
      kingdom instead of an earthly kingdom? (If you give these
      texts a serious study, as opposed to a superficial look,
      the entire message is one of reliance on God and not human
      power. A “son is given” ( Isaiah 9:6) who is the “Prince
      of Peace” (Id.). Instead of ruling by yoke and rod (Isaiah
      9:4), or relying on warriors ( Isaiah 9:5), this King
      carries the government “on his shoulders” ( Isaiah 9:6). If
      you compare Isaiah 22:22 and think of soldiers and rulers
      today, you see that the symbols of authority are often
      worn on the shoulder. Thus, this “Prince of Peace” rules
      on the basis of His authority.)

    2. Read the last sentence of Isaiah 9:7. What brings about
      this radical change? (The “zeal,” the enthusiasm, of God!)

      1. Friend, would you like God’s enthusiasm to bring you
        through every difficulty? This is the path I want to

    3. Let’s skip a chapter and go to Isaiah 11. Read Isaiah
      11:1-2. When you see a stump, what do you conclude? (This
      tree is dead and gone.)

      1. The “stump” is Jesse. Who is Jesse?(1 Samuel 16
        recounts the story of the prophet Samuel looking for
        a new king. God sends him to a family where Jesse is
        the father and David is Jesse’s youngest son. Samuel
        anoints David as the next King of Israel.)

      2. Why is Jesse a “stump?” (Jesse is long dead. However,
        he was the father of King David and could reasonably
        be pictured as the base of the family tree. The
        earthly political power of the House of David is

      3. What, then, is the “shoot?” (This is a person who
        comes from the family of Jesse and King David.)

        1. Read Revelation 22:16. Who is the “shoot?”

    4. Read Isaiah 11:5. We may not be so familiar with sashes
      these days, but what is the purpose of a belt? Why would
      Jesus’ righteousness and His faithfulness be compared to a
      belt? (A belt holds your pants up. It is an essential
      article of clothing. Righteousness and faithfulness are
      essential parts of Jesus’ character.)

    5. Step back a moment and tell me why you think God wants to
      tell us that Jesus comes from the House of David and is
      righteous and faithful? (Jesus has good “genes” and good
      character. It is painting the picture of a powerful,
      honest and fair ruler.)

    6. Read Isaiah 11:6-7. What is the result of being governed
      by a powerful, honest and fair ruler?

      1. Wait a minute. Has this happened? (No.)

        1. Why not? (Isaiah 11 speaks of both Jesus’ first
          and second comings. These verses are yet to be
        2. When will they be fulfilled? (At the Second
          Coming of Jesus.)

    7. Read Isaiah 11:10. Friend, at the end of the path of
      reliance on God is a perfect heaven and an earth made new.
      You are invited today to take this path, will you?

  1. Next week: Playing God.