By Sally Lombardo
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2-6)
In our country, we celebrate the fact that we live in a free nation with a path to education, work and a future. We have God given freedoms, we believe, that allow us to speak freely, assemble together, and to worship where and how we choose. Thankfully, we are a nation that was destined to multiply in the way that Isaiah 9 states, and to increase joy for all people who may have ‘“walked in darkness” (9:2). A great light shined when our country was founded because leaders tried to build a path toward human freedom and happiness.
Maybe Israel heard Isaiah’s declaration of peace and hope and believed in God’s blessing on their nation. They had known deep darkness and were willingly praising God and thanking Him for a new road ahead. Psalm 23 describes the terror of ‘deep darkness’. The “darkest valley of the shadow of death” were Hebrew words that described the physical reality of wind-cut sandstone pits in the desert. These long crevasses in the cliffs and hillsides created rushing rivers in the rainy months, that would sweep travelers to their deaths. Additionally, when the sun set, the deep pits would become so dark that a shepherd could not see the path ahead, especially if there were no moon to light the way. In our lives, we may wander into valleys of despair— looking into the darkness, hoping for light.
Isaiah’s prophecy in this passage is a remedy for walking in darkness. He promises a child will be born with authority to make things right, to reveal the path forward. Isaiah’s hearers must have wondered at this, having no idea what he meant, and maybe supposing a great human king would come to rule them and bring peace. We have the vantage point to look back and know that he was speaking of God’s Son, a Savior sent to light the way and give us safe passage to where we need to be.
Reflection: Do you feel you have been delivered from some kind of deep darkness? Does your faith in the child include seeing him as ‘Wonderful Counselor’? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Do you feel you have been delivered from some kind of deep darkness? Does your faith in the child include seeing him as “wonderful counselor”? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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