Every Tuesday my intention is to post some notes drawn from a commentary on some part of the Old Testament. Drawing on scholars who take a high view of history, integrity, truth, and Scripture will help with our day to day focus. These notes are pulled from Martin Luther’s works, volume 16 in the American Edition. His lectures on Isaiah were given between 1527 and 1532. Much of the preserved information is a transcription of student notes taken during the lectures. Isaiah chapter nine points to the source of joy and comfort even when our political and cultural lives crumble. Let’s jump in.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 9” pp. 97-106.
In Isaiah 9:1, where Isaiah speaks of happiness, Matthew speaks of Christ. Luther observes that Matthew regularly seeks to encourage people by applying the Old Testament to Jesus (LW 16, 97). In verse three, God’s Word comes to all nations. Despite the challenge of life, as in the harvest (v. 3), the nations find joy in God (LW 16, 98). In verse 4 the barrier to joy - sin, Law, and death, are all broken down (LW 16, 98). Luther discusses the power Law, sin, and death hold in some detail. After these powers are broken down and the destruction burned (v. 5), Luther observes a time of peace would have to follow (LW 16, 99).
The description of restoration begins in verse 6. Luther does not here tie the Child to the one noted earlier in Isaiah. He doe make it clear that the child is Christ the king, who is more powerful than any earthly king (LW 16, 100). Jesus is the one who frees people, rather than being the king who is cared for by his people (LW 16, 100). Luther discusses the Hebrew words at the end of verse 6 in detail (LW 16, 101). All of Jesus’ roles here stated are uniquely his. He is the eternal king who will reign on David’s throne. However, Luther points out that Jesus does this through his Word and by creating faith, rather than by military force and human opinion (LW 16, 102).
In verse 8 Isaiah turns his attention back to Israel, who have fallen into sin. Through God’s call everyone will know his will (LW 16, 103). Because they will not look to God in faith, but prefer to trust their own efforts, God will continue to oppose them (vv. 11-13). Luther is clear that this opposition is due to the refusal of those he has called by his grace (LW 16, 104). God’s opposition in verse 17 goes so far as to deny care for orphans and widows. The people of Israel have turned themselves over to destruction (LW 16, 105). The end of the nation is to be reduced to ash and rubble (LW 16, 106).
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