Though much of Isaiah’s message is directed thus far to Israel (the northern kingdom), there are enough references to Judah to lead us to believe both nations stand condemned; it’s just that the end of the northern kingdom will come first, so it gets the most attention.
It is always difficult to live for God when all about you are living for the devil. Sooner or later, the pressure of community will get to you. It certainly got to Isaiah who is told not to allow his community to influence his confidence. God is in control and he should remember that (chapter 8).
Those about him seek everyone’s advice but God’s, and they are determined not to change. When their circumstances force them to look up from their distress, surprisingly, they don’t turn to God, but curse Him instead. Having looked up to curse, there is no place left to look but down, and there is nothing left to see but darkness and fearful gloom (8:21ff).
Surprisingly, God is not willing to leave it at that. From the north country (chapter 9) a great light will come, and it is the light of God himself. This is where that wonderful passage occurs: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Who does Isaiah mean?
Note that this passage is never quoted in the New Testament to refer to Jesus (though 9:1-2 are). And yet, who else could it possibly be? What earthly person would, by Jews, be called “Mighty God” or “Everlasting Father?” It has to refer to Jesus.
There are a few passages in Isaiah that are called “messianic” (refer to the Messiah), but some of them have dual meanings. This passage however can only have one meaning. Those living in darkness should take note: God is coming. We too should take note. God is returning. We don’t want to be walking in darkness when He does.