What was the first thing that went through your head when you read today’s text? For me, it was singing Handel’s Messiah with several different choirs over the years. The song “For Unto Us A Child is Born” is now running through my head. But before this glorious promise of a child, there is a time of darkness and despair. Isaiah’s words are meant to give the people a glimmer of hope, or a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. The promise, when fulfilled, will be bigger than anyone could have imagined.
Don’t you love these words, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like we, too, are living in a world full of darkness. There are many people who are feeling oppressed, unheard, and stifled in sharing their faith in Jesus. It seems like the darkness is taking over the land. My confidence is in Jesus, and I stand firm knowing Jesus is the light of my salvation (and yours, too). The apostle John referred to Jesus as the “light” in John 1:9, “The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” I love who John is inclusive here of “everyone.” Jesus came for all the world.
Those who have been bound in slavery will be set free. Burdens will be lifted, and the people will rejoice. We know that Jesus did come just as the prophecy says. Yet, he was not recognized by all. The people were expecting a mighty warrior. After all, “The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.” It makes sense that people would be expecting a different kind of peace. Jesus was not the king they expected.
We might feel like we are stuck in some way ourselves. Certainly, our situations are different than to those hearing these words and clinging to the future hope. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not know about our Savior King. The same saving power that was promised to the people of Judah is promised to us. Even though Jesus has come once, he has promised to return. We are positioned in the time between the times.
Knowing Jesus goes beyond what we read in Scripture. Let’s reflect on the royal titles we read here: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus plays all these roles for us. Jesus is an exceptional advice giver, God himself, timeless, as well as focused on justice and peace. The message of hope was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ and the establishment of his eternal kingdom. He came to deliver us all from sin. His rule will be fair. “The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”
It’s hard to speculate how Isaiah’s words resonated with the people. For most, those who weren’t listening at all, the message fell on deaf ears. However, for the remnant God promised, there would be hope. It would be many generations into the future, but their burning hope would build the suspense and anticipation for their coming Messiah. That’s the kind of hope that would get them out of bed each day. Have you ever been stuck in a situation where even getting out of bed was a chore? Clinging to a promise from God might be the best and only strategy to employ in those times.
We know we are powerless on our own. We need Jesus. We need a Savior just as much today as in past years. We are privileged to be in the beautiful position able to call on Jesus to be our guide and friend. We may all long for his return, but Jesus did promise to be with us until that day comes. He is alive and well, and his Spirit is dwelling in and among us. We simply need to believe and cling to that promise.
Here are some great verses to remind us how close God really is. Deuteronomy 31:8, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Hebrews 4:16, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Joshua 1:9, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Take heart. Spend some time today giving praise for how God is good on fulfilling his promises to you.
Let’s pray … Lord, I thank you for all that you have done and are doing in my life. I marvel at the sacrifice of sending Jesus to be the light for this dark world. I overflow with gratitude for your love for me. Help me to stand strong against the dark forces of this world. Shine through me that people will see you through my words and deeds. In Jesus’ name. Amen.