Isaiah 9: Galilee

Nevertheless there shall be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time He contemptuously treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

Isaiah 9:1 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

The prophet Isaiah is speaking of a time yet future for his contemporary Israelis. Instead of sending the lands mentioned into captivity, God will restore glory to them. Specifically, Galilee will become the future focal point of the nations of the world. Yet in the time of Isaiah, Galilee was a rather insignificant backwater.

This verse is also the only mention of Galilee in the prophets. In the order of the books in the Old Testament, it is the last reference to the region by the name Galilee.

It was in Galilee where the first sign of Jesus was done. It is considered the moment His Ministry began. That seemingly unnoticed yet long silence demonstrates the insignificance of the region that now commands attention.

Jesus left Galilee and went up to John the Baptist to be baptized. This is where God testified audibly to Who Jesus is. The Spirit testified visually.

As His Ministry grew, those in authority couldn’t help but to take notice. John records this in an interesting way. Those in the authority wanted Jesus arrested.

Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?”
The officers answered, “No man has ever spoken like this Man.”
Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? Not at all. This crowd who does not know the law is accursed.”
Nicodemus, being one of them who came to Jesus by night, said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
They answered him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”

John 7:45–52 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

At first, it was the religious authorities who didn’t know. One would think that the Pharisees would know their Scriptures, and notice that the attention of the nation is being drawn to Galilee. As Israel is under the rule, that concern would spread to the government of the nations of the world at that time.

When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the Man was a Galilean.

Luke 23:6 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

As with all prophecy, it’s a pattern given to be watchful for a match. That match can appear multiple times and in multiple ways. In this example, Jesus begins His Ministry in Galilee and consequently begins to draw the attention of the world to that region.

When Jesus spoke of His impending death to His disciples, take note of the place where they would go to Him.

But after I have risen, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Matthew 26:32 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

Matthew will continue to witness that Jesus is of Galilee.

Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

Matthew 26:69 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

What I am saying is testified to plainly in the Bible. When Peter preached at Cornelius’ house, it’s clear where Jesus started. (The testimony is so good, I will give most of it.)

Then Peter began to speak, saying, “Truthfully, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. But in every nation he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which He sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, the word, which you know, that was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. “We are witnesses of all that He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. But God raised Him on the third day and presented Him publicly, not to all the people, but to witnesses previously chosen by God, to us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness that whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins through His name.”

Acts 10:34–43 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

We see the pattern worked, and it expands. Jesus’ Ministry in a temporal body began in Galilee as Peter testifies. Just as Matthew tells us His Ministry in His Resurrected body began in Galilee.

Note some important details Peter introduced. God is no respecter of persons. That there are believers accepted by God from other nations. The disciples are called to deliver the message, that whoever believes in Him will receive not just forgiveness of sin, but remission of the same.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. All the believers of the circumcision who had come with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and magnifying God.
Then Peter continued, “Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these, who have received the Holy Spirit as we have?” So he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Acts 10:44–48 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

They watched as the same Holy Spirit that baptized the Israeli disciples gathered on Pentecost (the inauguration of the church) fall on Gentiles. Gentiles could be Spirit-baptized believers, too.

This is yet another pattern we match back to Isaiah 9:1. And like the last mention of Galilee in the Tanakh, Acts 13 is the last reference to it by name in the New Testament.

Now we know that Galilee will be the gateway of the nations who come in peace to worship God. This pattern started with Jesus and will finish with Jesus. It points to yet a future time (for us) when glory is restored to Israel under the rightful King who will have dominion.

Keep all of this in mind as we move forward.


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