Darkness turns to light! (Isaiah 8:19-9:7)
By: Pastor Sascha Wyrwal
Exactly today we have the shortest day and longest night of the year and marks the start of the winter. At the moment it is indeed very dark outside. However, if you go even more North like in Lapland of Finland, there is even during day a complete darkness. And there it is really dark. Could you imagine to live in such place, where it never gets light?
- Truth is that we do not really like darkness. Most people feel scared to be in the dark. One feels to have less orientation and thus very insecure.
- When I go Jogging in the night, I put always a fluo-west on. Also I carry a small flashlight like this one. I get to some main roads that are very dark. In order that cars see me jogging (I am running on their side towards them), I put my flashlight on at these dark spots. And mostly cars really make a big bow to pass me by. But without this flashlight I might not even be seen. The flashlight is very important for me when I jog in the dark.
- There is not only the physical darkness existing, but even more a spiritual darkness in mankind’s life. People with a spiritual darkness are feeling miserable in their life. Any kind of misery and bad circumstances make deep black spots in our lives. Many people are so deep in trouble that they see only black. There is no hope, no light in their lives. Eventually it is always any kind of sin that brings darkness in our lives. If we are caught in sin we are in deep darkness. Life then just feels miserable.
- Our world is through a very twisted world-view and all immoral and ungodly behavior in deep darkness of sin today. Probably we are feeling in our world as being in a very dark place. There are so many miseries and so little hope. But how do you feel personally today? Do you feel like being in darkness? Has sin entangled your life? Has sin brought deep darkness in your life? Are you in such darkness that you do not see any way out?
- From our Bible text from Isaiah 8:19 – 9:7 that we just read, we actually read in the beginning how the people of Judah got deep darkness in their lives. It is a point when someone turns aways from God. And that is sinning. It is the point when we seek help from other spirits or gods and neglect the almighty God as Judah did. We see in v.21 that then distress and hunger had come to the people of Judah. They got into full darkness without God. At the end of chapter 8 we find a complete darkness and hopelessness of the people of Judah, since they were without God.
- But in chapter 9 it seems completely to turn. God is appearing and bringing changes. And then we read in verse 2: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
- A great light is appearing in the darkness of the people. “Light” always express new live, hope, peace and security. And here it is not just any light, but it is a great light. It is a light as no other light can be or ever will be. Also John speaks about the light saying in John 1:9: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” Some verses before in John 1:4-5 he explains the following about that light: “4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
- This light is the Messiah that is sent by the almighty God. This light is Jesus Christ, whose birth we are remembering again in these days of Christmas. It was not just any birth, but it was the birth of the great, promised light for mankind. It was the birth of the great light that should come into the darkness of mankind. We know also from the New Testament that Jesus the son of God is that light for all mankind. But…
Prop.: Already Isaiah prophesied approximately 700 years before, that Jesus birth has brought the promised light to us!
- That is exactly what we just read here in our Bible text. Isaiah proclaims the promise of the great light. He prophesies that people will see and experience the great light. This promise is still true today. If we meet Jesus we meet the great, promised light. And this light wants to shine in and through our life and take all darkness away. This is the message of Christmas.
- That Jesus’ birth has brought the promised light to us, we can actually see in two points of Isaiah 9:6, which is a key verse of this chapter and saying: “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.” What are these 2 points of Jesus’ birth as the promised light for us?
- Jesus’ birth has brought the promised light to us, since he was born as a human being in our midst (verses 6a)
- Verse 6a: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…”. Verse 6 begins with the word “for”. It refers to the previous verses, where Isaiah is speaking about the coming light into darkness and its changing power among the nations. We read for example that this light has enlarged the nation of Judah and increased their joy. Where before was only oppression and heavy burdens, there is now peace and joy because of the light. There is clear changing power in the light.
- With the word “for” Isaiah indicates now why this coming light has such a changing power. That is important to know so that we can really trust and dwell in this light. In fact today various Religion and Ideologies offer us various “lights” for the darkness in life. Eastern religion offer meditation and philosophical wisdom for life. General Philosophy offers positive thinking and humanistic principles. We find all kind of lights. These lights might shine for a moment. But they have no changing power. They will not last long, but dye in our darkness.
- : When I was a kid I would sometimes make a round with my grandmother and the dog in the evening in order to lock the gates of the town cemetery. It was always quite scary. But luckily grandma always had a flashlight with her. However, sometimes the battery would be almost empty and the light getting very dim. It even would get totally dark. I never liked that and was upset with grandma that she did not change the battery before.
- What the world and other religions offer as a solution for our darkness of life are batteries that get empty and have no power.
- Here is the difference to the eternal light of God. It lightens every darkness of our life and changes it into full light for eternity. This light is Jesus Christ. He is the light that never diminishes or goes off. Jesus is the eternal light. There are firm reasons for that.
- What we read in verse 6a is that the Messiah was born as a child. What Isaiah is saying here to the oppressed people of Judah is, that there will certainly come a Messiah to them, who will be their savior. And the sign for that is that the Messiah will be born as a child. The Messiah will not just come in glory and power suddenly, but he will be born as a child so as any other human being is born.
- This tells us that Jesus the promised Messiah truly became man like you and me, since he was born as a child into this world. Isaiah says in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The promised Messiah was born by the virgin Mary. Even though He is from God, He was a human being like you and me. But He was a special human being. He was the savior of the world and thus the light for the world.
- As it was prophesied by Isaiah, the Messiah was indeed recognized as a child. Even the three wise men recognized the Messiah when they found the child. Thus we read in Matthew 2:11: “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” It was also this child that Herod was searching to kill. Final it was the child that the shepherd on the fields came to see and recognize as their savior too.
- God approached us in the closest way possible. He became man like you and me. The light was not just something in a spiritual realm, but it was visible in our human realm. Also Jesus did not just come for a particular class of people, but he came for everyone. Even though Jesus was the king of kings, he was not born in a big palace, but in a small stable or cave, so that even shepherd on fields could approach Him. Jesus human being tells us that He is indeed approachable by anyone, also by you and me.
- Jesus was born as a son. Jesus title is both “Son of Men” as well as “Son of God”. “Son of Men” refers to his human attribute. It expresses the fact that Jesus has come for all man. We read then also in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” As son of man Jesus has come to serve us and to give us life. Jesus was not only born as the son of man, but he also died as the son of man for our sins. As the son of man Jesus took everything upon himself. Jesus is the true, changing light for our lives.
- But Jesus also came as the “Son of God”. We read in Psalm 2:7: “I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.” Jesus was not just any human being like you and me, but He is the living son of God.
- The fact that Jesus was born as a child and a given son, tells us that He became man in spite of being God. God became man. This is the greatest thing that no one can every imagine. We do not find that in any other religion or philosophy. God came down to us and became man in order to save us from our sins and bring us light into our darkness. When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we celebrate Jesus as our savior. He became man so that we can receive the light and new life. The sign of his birth is the saving power for each one of us.
- Jesus’ birth has brought the promised light to us, since he has come and acted with full divine authority (verses 6b-7)
- As the son of God, Jesus has full authority and power, even though he did not use it in his human nature. Verse 6 states obviously his authority to govern the whole universe and the fact of his strong names.
- Ill: The known classic song writer Gregor Frederic Händel wrote the most famous symphony “The Messiah”. In that symphony we find one music peace which is called“For unto us a child is born”. It is just about verse 6 in Isaiah 9. I like to play this peace to you. Please pay close attention how the orchestra and choir first play and sing very smoothly. When it comes to the part of the names, they put all their power in it. This peace of music strongly demonstrates Jesus’ authority and power – play video.
- “…and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness 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.” (Verses 6b -7). There is full authority upon the Messiah. It is an authority…
- … that is coming from the fact that Jesus, the son of God is God. His authority is coming from his position as God.
- … that is given to him even more by God. Jesus was given the full authority from God, as we can also read in the great Commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:18: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
- “The government will be on his shoulder”. Jesus receives the authority to govern heaven and earth. But with this authority Jesus also has all the responsibility. When Jesus is governing us he is taking care of us as a good shepherd takes care of his sheep. As we can see then in verse 7, Jesus government has the following features:
- His government is in the same time providing peace for us
- His government will never end.
- He will reign on Davids thrown and over his kingdom.
- His government is established and uphold with justice and righteousness
- His government is driven by the zeal of the Lord Almighty
Jesus’ government over our life is the best. In his government we have the full light and the perfect guidance.
- His government is marked by the attributes of Jesus, which are highlighted by His names:
- “Wonderful Counselor” – In Jesus we find all the truth. His teaching is full power and authority for our lives.
- “Mighty God” – In Jesus is all the power, as the power of God. There are different words for God. Here it is “EL”, which is the highest use of it. Isaiah as well as other OT writers hardly use that name.
- “Everlasting Father” – The expression “Father” it is not necessarily directed to the father of the three person in the Godhead. Rather more it expresses the headship of Jesus. He is the creator and preserver of mankind. Mankind is existing in Jesus.
- “Prince of Peace” – There is no other peace than the peace that we find in Jesus. Jesus has brought peace to mankind in that he died for all sins and carried the punishment of God for them upon Himself. Jesus wants to bring peace to every person, home, family, nation and the world.
- Because Jesus has all the authority and power he is truly our changing light. Let the power of Jesus allow and let Jesus govern your live.
- As we approach Christmas and celebrate the birth of our savior the Lord Jesus Christ, let us be aware, that this event of Christmas has revealed the light for our lives. As Isaiah prophesied approximately 700 years before, Jesus birth has brought the promised light to us! The fact that Jesus is born as a child and son and that indeed the whole government and authority is upon Him confirms the truth that Jesus is the true light of the world.
- Every one of us needs this light. Without the light of Jesus there is so much darkness in our world and maybe also in our lives today. There is no other strong and life changing light than Jesus Christ. If you feel today that you have darkness, let Jesus shine into your life.
- As we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Christ let us be again aware of Jesus as the light for us. Let us seek Jesus and be changed by Him. Let us give the full government of our own life to Jesus. Let us proclaim and carry out the light of Jesus to the world. As we celebrate Christmas may the light of Jesus Christ shine fully in our hearts and into the world through us. Amen
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