Third Sunday after Epiphany

 Sermon Text: Isaiah 8:19-9:4

 Other Readings: 1 John 2:3-11 and Matthew 4:12-23


  1. A problem in Isaiah’s day was that people were not looking to God’s word for instruction and perspective. Instead, they were looking even into the realm of the dead! What are some non-biblical resources and/or individuals that people–even believers–sometimes turn to for instruction and perspective on life?
  2. Often, people mention how miserable and negative people sound on talk radio, TV talk shows, and social media. Based on Isaiah 8:20-22, hypothesize why people might seem so negative and miserable in those media.
  3. In order to illustrate the joy and freedom faith in Jesus brings, Isaiah refers to the joy and freedom that the Israelites experienced “in the day of Midian’s defeat” (v. 4). What specific period was he referring to? (Consult Judges chapters 6 and 7.)
  4. How does Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites help us understand and picture what Jesus does for us?


  1. Answers will vary, but one pastor noted that the Hebrew for “whisper and mutter” could be translated “whisper and twitter.” He then made a special connection to things like Twitter, where people go into realms of the internet to get to hear what they want to hear.
  2. People are often miserable in those media because the word of God with its instruction is not part of the discussion. Apart from God’s word, our outlook on life is selfish and negative.
  3. Isaiah is referring to the surprising victory Gideon gained over the Midianites with just 300 men.
  4. The small number of Gideon’s army and its pretty “hands-off” approach proved that God was really the one behind the victory. In the same way, Jesus’ public ministry did not happen because we had a hand in it. Nor did we come to faith because we were so powerful. Instead, God brought this about by his love and power, just like he did in Gideon’s day.