Introduction: Last week’s lesson ended on a very dark note. We saw that life goes poorly for those who do not rely on God. First, bad things happen. Then those without God become angry and blame God for the bad things. When they continue to look away from God life brings them to a point of “utter darkness.” That doesn’t sound like the direction I want my life 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. Thus, two of the twelve tribes of Israel were descended from them. This text is a reference to the land occupied by these two tribes. Historically, these sections of Israel bore the brunt of the attack of the King of Assyria. See 2 Kings 15:29)

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

  1.         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 that most of the disciples came from the Galilee region.)

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

  1.         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).)

  1.         Do you sometimes feel that you are walking in darkness? If so, what can bring you out of that and give you “great light?”(Jesus.)

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

  1.         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.)

  1.         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 light – you feel like you are a success.)

  1.         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. This further underscores the point that walking in the path of light is walking in the power of God.)

  1.         The Other Victory

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

  1.         What does verse 5 suggest? (The warriors will be bloodied. The victory is temporary. So far we have been talking about military victories – for example Gideon. We know that historically Israel was now facing defeat at the hands of the Assyrians. Past victories do not control the future.)

  1.         What does verse 6 suggest is the alternative means of victory? (A child king who is called the “Prince of Peace.” As we will see in the next text, His victory over evil is permanent.)

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

  1.         Step back a minute and consider the full picture of Isaiah 9:4-7. Do you want a permanent victory in your life? Do you want to rise above the “bloody” battles you have experienced? (Jesus is the answer!)

  1.         Let’s look at this from another angle. 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.         I’m sure some of you readers are asking, “Why has my life not turned out better – I was faithful? (The mistake of the disciples is another caution to us. We may well be misreading things. Our job is to trust God and not try to supervise Him.)

  1.         What basis do you find in the 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” (
    ). 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.)

  1.         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 take!

  1.         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.)

  1.         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 dead.)

  1.         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?” (Jesus. Notice that the text also says that Jesus is the “root.” Jesus existed before Jesse and David.)

  1.         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.)

  1.         Contemplate 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? (It paints a picture of a powerful, honest and fair ruler.)

  1.         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 fulfilled.)

  1.         When will they be fulfilled? (At the Second Coming of Jesus.)

  1.         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? Will you repent of your reliance on yourself, and trust Jesus as your Savior and King? Why not do that right now?

  1.         Next week: Playing God.