Friday, May 10, 2013

Isaiah 8:1-9:7 A Light in Darkness

Isa 8:18-9:7 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. 
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan —  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 as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning,will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The verse from Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," must be most read and loved text in Isaiah. It has been set to music and read every Christmas. In the midst of "distress and darkness and fearful gloom" (8:22), Isaiah was given a message of hope: "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of shadow of death a light has dawned" (9:2). This verse probably inspires the verse of the Christmas carol, "O Holy Night": 

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! 
Fall on your knees! O hear the angels voices, 
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

A light in darkness! That is what the birth of the Christ-child speaks of to a world dominated by the darkness of demonization: "When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?" (8:19). When people are desperate, when they are in distress and darkness, they will grasp at straws. Many prominent businessmen in Singapore still depend on such spiritual hocus-pocus like Feng Shui to bring success to their businesses, instead of relying on the wisdom that God's word can give: "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn" (8:20).  

We don't have to be despaired of the hope for renewal and restoration: there is always light at the end of the dark tunnel we may now be going through. But that light is Christ: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). We don't need to live in darkness. We can walk in the light and in the life of the Son of God. To have the Son is to have the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." What a privilege! What a joy!

Father, thank You that You have not given us a religion but a Son--and because we have the Son, we now have life and light! Amen.

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