“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you!” ~ Isaiah 9:2-3
In Isaiah 9, God is speaking through his prophet to a people who have trusted in their own power instead of the Lord’s. They’ve rejected God and his ways. In their own pursuits of power and pleasure, wealth and success, they’ve turned their backs on God and his will for his children. Instead of having the canopy of God’s protection over them, instead of being guided by the pillar of cloud and fire, they are living in darkness. They are in bondage to the Assyrians. They’re destitute. In distress. The very nations they have trusted for protection have now imprisoned them. They’ve been plunged into deep darkness. The land of the valley of the shadow of death kind of darkness.
And the Father in Heaven, our God, the eternal Creator of Heaven and Earth, looks down with compassion on his burdened children and says, “I will not leave them in the darkness.”
In the very places where the Assyrians conquered them, in the very location where the death and destruction began, God says, a new light will dawn. For these people walking in darkness, I will send this great light.
And as a result of God’s gracious intervention, because of God’s generous and merciful act, the people will rejoice.
God’s people will experience great joy and they will rejoice just like farmers after a record-breaking harvest. They will rejoice just like the soldiers after VE Day. The people will rejoice as if a loved one had been raised from the dead, like a Powerball Lottery winner, like a Hail Mary touchdown pass to win the Super Bowl! The people will rejoice!
The yoke will be shattered. The burden will be lifted. The enemy’s tools and weapons will be destroyed. Bright light will shine into the darkness. Victory will come from defeat. Life will spring from death. And the people will rejoice!
When? When is this going to happen? And how? How is God going to accomplish this?
“For to us a child is born. To us a Son is given.” ~Isaiah 9:6
God accomplishes the salvation of the world in the birth of a baby. Immanuel. God with us.
All of your fears, all of your pains, all of your sins and your brokenness — it’s all met head-on in Jesus Christ and dealt with forever. All your hopes and dreams, everything you know as right and good and true, all your deepest longings — they are all found in Jesus and delivered to you forever. God has been born to us, he has come to us. He made himself subject to all our pain and suffering in order to bring healing and comfort. He became open to loss while he is mighty to save. He is vulnerable to death in order to give eternal life. He walks in your darkness — he walks through your darkness with you — and shines his salvation light.
It is through this Christ, this promised Savior, that God personally gets involved in your situation and fixes it. He enters your mess and makes things right. God in the flesh comes to this earth, in the very place where your brokenness and sickness and sin took over your life and wrecked everything — that’s where the new light dawns! Jesus brings right into your circumstances the eternal Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of everlasting peace, of which there will be no end.
Jesus is born in Bethlehem and the light shines in the darkness. God himself walks our streets and touches our people, he hugs our kids and eats with us and loves us. Distressed people are encouraged when they meet Jesus. Hopeless people are given hope when they encounter this Lord. Prisoners are released, outcasts are brought in, cold people are warmed, hungry people are fed, sick people are made well, sinful people are forgiven, the weak are given power and the tired are made to soar on the wings of eagles! The devil’s grip on God’s people is broken forever! Sin and death and Satan and all the things that work around the clock to separate us from God and from one another are eternally destroyed! That’s the Son of God! That’s our Savior!
To us a child is born! And the people rejoice! They can’t help it!
May we all be joyful in our salvation.