Grandest Childbirth on Earth Preludes Worldwide Security
“There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”—ISAIAH 9:6.
1. Under whom is worldwide security a certainty, and how do we know this?
WORLDWIDE security! Under “the Prince of this world,” Satan the Devil, it is an impossible dream. (John 12:31, The New English Bible) But worldwide security under the “Prince of Peace,” Jesus Christ, is an absolute certainty. Jehovah assures us of this in the prophecy about the birth and career of the “Prince of Peace.” At Isaiah 9:6, 7, we read: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”
2. (a) What were the circumstances under which the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, 7 was given? (b) How do we know that Jehovah will unfailingly hold to the covenant he made with David for an everlasting kingdom in his line of descent?
2 What a marvelous prophecy! It will be thrilling to examine this prophecy about the grandest childbirth on earth. But before we can fully appreciate it, we need to focus on the circumstances under which the prophecy was given. It was a time of international conspiracies during the days of the kingdom of Judah under King Ahaz. Although unfaithful to Jehovah, that king was permitted to sit upon Jehovah’s throne. This forbearance was shown to him because of the covenant that Jehovah made with David for an everlasting kingdom in his line of descent. Though David was denied the privilege of building a temple to Jehovah, God gave him an alternative blessing. This was set forth in the words of the prophet Nathan: “And Jehovah has told you that a house is what Jehovah will make for you. And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.” (2 Samuel 7:11, 16) That divine promise proved to be so satisfying to King David that he looked forward to its glorious fulfillment.
3. (a) With whom does that covenant with David find fulfillment, and how was that covenant unique? (b) What did the Devil make his goal with regard to the Kingdom covenant?
3 That covenant with David finds its fulfillment in the great Son of David, Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace.” No other royal house on the face of this earth has ever enjoyed such a covenant for a kingdom, with no end to the abundance of its princely rule, with no end of peace. But that Kingdom covenant held forth a challenge to all the kingdoms of the world of which Satan is prince, or ruler. So the Devil and his demons made it their goal to try to destroy the house of David and thereby eliminate the prospect of its having a permanent heir. Satan found ready instruments in King Rezin of Syria, in King Pekah of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, and in the king of Assyria.
Conspiracy Against the Kingdom Covenant
4. How did the Devil proceed in his efforts to stop the operation of Jehovah’s Kingdom covenant that was made with David?
4 What was the Devil’s scheme? His aim was to force King Ahaz of Judah, out of fear, into an improper alliance with the king of Assyria. How could the Devil do this? Well, he caused King Pekah of Israel and King Rezin of Syria to enter into a conspiracy against the house of David. They conspired to remove Ahaz from the throne of Judah in order to install their own man, the son of Tabeel, as puppet king. Who was this son of Tabeel? It is significant that he was not a descendant of David’s house. Hence, he was not a man through whom God’s covenant for the Kingdom could be passed along until it found its permanent Heir in the “Prince of Peace.” He was to be their man, not God’s man, on the throne of Judah. Thus the Bible exposes Satan’s effort to stop the operation of Jehovah’s Kingdom covenant that was made with David.
5, 6. How did King Ahaz react to the conspiracy against the house of David, and what encouraging message did Jehovah give him?
5 How did King Ahaz react to this threat? He and his people trembled with fear. So Jehovah gave him some encouraging information to turn him away from forming a protective alliance with the king of the rising world power, Assyria. Jehovah sent his prophet Isaiah to meet Ahaz and to deliver this message found at Isaiah 7:4-9:
6 “Do not be afraid . . . for the reason that Syria with Ephraim [the leading member of the kingdom of Israel] and the son of Remaliah [Pekah] has advised what is bad against you, saying: ‘Let us go up against Judah and tear it apart and by breakthroughs take it for ourselves; and let us make another king reign inside it, the son of Tabeel.’ This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘It will not stand, neither will it take place. . . . Unless you people have faith, you will in that case not be of long duration.’”
A Sign of the Conspiracy’s Failure
7. (a) What led up to the remarkable prophecy of Isaiah 7:14? (b) Of what was the birth of Immanuel a reliable sign, and as what were Isaiah’s sons to serve?
7 Thus, Jehovah foretold the overthrow of the conspirators. At that moment came the time for a divine prophecy of world-rocking importance, for it pointed to the royal Heir of the Kingdom covenant with David. But what led up to that remarkable prophecy? Well, Jehovah was speaking to King Ahaz. He told Ahaz to ask for any miraculous sign that he could think of, and then Jehovah would perform it as an absolute guarantee that God would break up the conspiracy against the house of David. But Ahaz declined to ask for such a sign. What happened next? Isaiah 7:14 tells us: “Therefore Jehovah himself will give you men a sign: Look! The maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel.” That name means “With Us Is God.” Since Immanuel and Isaiah’s two other sons were to serve as signs, the prophet said at Isaiah 8:18: “Look! I and the children whom Jehovah has given me are as signs and as miracles in Israel from Jehovah of armies.” So the birth of Immanuel was a reliable sign that all the conspirators and their conspiracies against God’s Kingdom covenant and its Heir would come to nothing!
8. (a) What did the prophecy at Isaiah 7:15, 16 state about the boy Immanuel, and what was the outcome? (b) Why might it be that the identity of Immanuel in the days of Isaiah remains uncertain?
8 The Bible record does not say who gave birth to the son named Immanuel. It may have been a Jewish maiden who became the second wife of the prophet Isaiah. In any event, the prophecy went on to state that before the boy would grow old enough to distinguish between good and bad, the two kings conspiring against the house of David would come to a disastrous end. (Isaiah 7:15, 16) This proved true. The fact that the identity of Immanuel in the days of Isaiah remains uncertain to us may be in order not to distract the attention of later generations from the Greater Immanuel when he would appear as a miraculous sign from heaven.
9. (a) What did the fulfillment of the sign and the overthrow of the conspiracy against the Kingdom covenant guarantee? (b) What is the greatest world conspiracy of all time?
9 Of course, in the days of Ahaz, there was only a miniature fulfillment of the sign and of the overthrow of the worldly conspiracy against God’s Kingdom covenant. Yet that first fulfillment guaranteed that the sign and the overthrow of world conspiracy would be fulfilled in the major sense in our critical time. Today we are face to face with the greatest world conspiracy of all time. In what sense? In that the nations completely ignore Jehovah’s arrangement for bringing in lasting peace, and they even oppose the representatives of the “Prince of Peace.” The conspiracy is really against the Heir of the Kingdom covenant, the “Prince of Peace.” What, now, about the complete fulfillment of the prophecy? If we discern the sign, then we will appreciate that the fate of this world conspiracy is a foregone conclusion.
Birth of the “Prince of Peace”
10. (a) In the complete fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, who produced the child as the sign and Heir of the Kingdom covenant? (b) How does the historian Matthew connect the sign of Immanuel with the house of David?
10 In the prophecy’s complete fulfillment, the maiden who produced the child as the sign and Heir of the Kingdom covenant was Mary, a Jewish virgin descended from King David. The angel Gabriel told her that she would give birth to a son who would be named Jesus, that Jehovah God would “give him the throne of David his father,” and that there would be “no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:26-33) The inspired historian Matthew connects the sign of Immanuel with the house of David. We read at Matthew 1:20-23: “Jehovah’s angel appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home, for that which has been begotten in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this actually came about for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name Immanuel,’ which means, when translated, ‘With Us Is God.’”
11. When and where did the foretold birth of Immanuel take place?
11 When and where did this foretold birth of Immanuel take place? All Jewish eyes were turned in the right direction by the words of Micah 5:2, quoted at Matthew 2:6: “And you, O Bethlehem of the land of Judah, are by no means the most insignificant city among the governors of Judah; for out of you will come forth a governing one, who will shepherd my people, Israel.” It was in the year 2 B.C.E. in the city of Bethlehem that the “Prince of Peace” was born, and the thrilling prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, 7 began to be fulfilled.
12, 13. To whom did the birth of the “Prince of Peace” bring great honor, and what glorious and dazzling features attended this birth?
12 Who of us would not consider it an honor and a joy to become the parent of the one who was to have the title “Prince of Peace”? It therefore brought great glory to the kingly Father of this Prince. In fact, never, no never before, has a human birth been attended by such glorious and dazzling features.
13 Jehovah’s radiant angel appeared to shepherds watching over their flocks by night in the fields outside Bethlehem, and “Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them.” The angel then announced the birth in fulfillment of divine prophecy, saying: “There was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city.” As if that were not glorious enough, there appeared in the skies above a multitude of angels praising the Father of the newborn child and saying as with one voice: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.” How appropriate for the angels to announce at the birth of the destined “Prince of Peace” that there would be divine peace for all men who have God’s goodwill!—Luke 2:8-14.
14, 15. (a) Over what events did the heavenly sons of God praise Jehovah? (b) Why could no other childbirth in all human history compare with this one?
14 Long before the birth of the one to be “Prince of Peace,” the angels had praised God on a special occasion. That was when, at creation, he founded the earth. (Job 38:4) Have you seen pictures of our earth taken by astronauts from outer space? Then you saw what only the angels had seen up until recent times. And how did the angels respond then? Job 38:7 tells us: “The morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause.”
15 The grandest birth ever to honor the earth would be no less an event over which the sons of God would unite their melodious voices in a song of praise. Just as an earthly father is congratulated at the birth of his firstborn son, so the celestial Father responsible for this grandest birth ever to take place on earth deserves to be magnified in song by members of his heavenly family. How that exquisitely beautiful concert must have been enjoyed by the divine Being on his becoming for the first time a father in an absolutely new set of circumstances! Never before in all universal history had there been a childbirth to compare with that of the destined “Prince of Peace.”
“A Great Light” Shines
16. When and how was there further fulfillment of Isaiah chapter 9?
16 When Jesus began his public ministry, there was further fulfillment of Isaiah chapter 9 vss 1, 2. This pertained to its first two verses, which foretold that “a great light” would shine on people “walking in the darkness.” The fulfillment of those verses is explained for us by the inspired historian Matthew at Mt chapter 4, verses 13 through 17: “Further, after leaving Nazareth, [Jesus] came and took up residence in Capernaum beside the sea in the districts of Zebulun and Naphtali, that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘O land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the road of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the nations! the people sitting in darkness saw a great light, and as for those sitting in a region of deathly shadow, light rose upon them.’ From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”
17. Why could Jesus cause light to shine on the people in Zebulun and Naphtali, and what would this light mean for those sitting in darkness?
17 Zebulun and Naphtali lay in the northern extremity of Israel and included the district of Galilee. Naphtali bordered the entire western shore of the Sea of Galilee. So it was by preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom in those areas that Jesus, along with his disciples, caused the light to shine to the people there who had so long been sitting in darkness. Jesus said at John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.” Thus, by means of Jesus “those sitting in a region of deathly shadow” were enabled to possess “the light of life” because he gave his life “a ransom in exchange for many.” He is the one Jehovah used to shed light on the means whereby men could gain life.—Matthew 4:23; 20:28.
18. (a) Why was this “great light” not to be restricted to people of Galilee? (b) What will be considered in the next article?
18 This “great light” promising deliverance from death and oppression was not restricted to men of Galilee. Had not Isaiah foretold that the government’s abundance would be without end? And had not Isaiah foretold that the role of the “Prince of Peace” would be a tremendous one? Yes, for Isaiah 9:6, 7 says: “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.” In the following article, we will consider the role of Jesus Christ as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father,” as well as “Prince of Peace.”
Do You Recall—
□ What conspiracy developed in the days of King Ahaz?
□ What was the miniature fulfillment of the sign of Isaiah 7:14?
□ What was the complete fulfillment of that sign?
□ Why was the birth of the “Prince of Peace” the grandest childbirth on earth?