We long for every wrong to be punished with exactly the punishment it deserves. We long for every good deed to be rewarded with exactly the reward it deserves. Isaiah saw that Jesus’ rule would be perfectly fair, and that it would bring about exactly this kind of perfect justice: “He will reign, establishing and upholding his kingdom with justice and righteousness” (Isa. 9:7 NIV). This sounds logically irrefutable, for are not justice and righteousness one and the same thing?
Jerome was one of the teaching fathers of the early church. He was born in Stridon (in or near modern day Croatia) around AD 347. He went to Rome to study Latin, rhetoric, and philosophy and willingly followed his peers into alcohol-fueled orgies and the worst kinds of sexual deviancy. At age twenty-six, disgusted with himself, he repented and turned to Christ.
Jerome lived out the rest of his life in simple poverty. He devoted himself to teaching the Scriptures and translating them into Latin. His classic translation is called the Vulgate, because it was in the vulgar (meaning common) language of the people. Jerome was therefore an ancient Wycliffe, longing for people to be able to read God’s Word in their birth language, the language of their heart. Jerome founded a monastery in Bethlehem in 386 and died there in 420.
This is what Jerome said about Isaiah: “Isaiah should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet because he describes all the mysteries of Christ and the church so clearly that you would think he is composing a history of what has already happened rather than prophesying about what is to come.” When we read Isaiah, we see how spot-on Jerome’s analysis is, for even though Isaiah wrote some seven centuries before Christ, he describes his person and work with astonishing detail and clarity.
It is no wonder that the book of Isaiah has often been called “The Fifth Gospel.” And perhaps nowhere is Jesus seen more clearly in Isaiah than in chapter 9:1-7, Isaiah’s beautiful description of the coming Christ. Isaiah 9:1-6a shows us the power of Jesus, that “the government will be upon his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6b shows us the character of Jesus, that he would be a “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:7 shows us the nature of Jesus’ kingdom:
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Here the “Fifth Evangelist” teaches us that
- Jesus’ reign is infinite.
- Jesus’ reign is righteous.
- Jesus’ reign is established in God’s promise.