The People Who Walk In Darkness Shall See A Great Light
It was during times of apostasy and sin that God sent prophets to Israel and Judah. The work of a prophet was to proclaim God's word as the Lord gave it to him through His Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20,21). This would include the foretelling of future events, though it was not limited to that. Prophets also reminded the people of past events and gave instruction about what they ought to do at the present.
One of the most well known of these prophets was Isaiah. He has come to be known by some as "The Messianic Prophet" because so much of his message had to do with the coming Messiah and His kingdom. In one such section, Isaiah tells of a time to come when a great light will come and shine throughout the land now draped in darkness. This prophecy was fulfilled about seven centuries later by Jesus, of Nazareth, our Messiah and Redeemer. Let us consider Isaiah's text and how it is fulfilled in Jesus. (Isaiah 9:1-7).
From Gloom to Glory
"But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Napthali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. Thou shalt multiply the nation, Thou shalt increase their gladness; They will be glad in Thy presence as with the
gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For Thou shalt break the yoke of their shoulders and the staff of their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as in the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and the cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, as fuel for the fire." (Isaiah 9:1-5).
One of the most serious thrusts of Isaiah's prophecy is the disloyalty of Judah and Israel to God and His withdrawal of His divine favor from them. But following this judgment, which will bring gloom and anguish to the land, there will be glory. Isaiah even pinpoints the region where the Light will dawn. It would not be in Jerusalem, where one might expect, but rather far to the north, in a region called Galilee. Seven centuries later, this very passage is referred to by the apostle Matthew who tells of Jesus beginning His preaching in Galilee, from Capernaum by the sea (Matthew 4:12-17).
The idea of Jesus as the Light shining forth in the darkness is also a most appropriate description of the Savior and His gospel. The apostle John tells us that the Light is Jesus; that He is the True Light which comes into the world (John 1:9-13) but that many loved the darkness rather than the light (John 3:19-21) and thus reject God's light, the new spiritual birth into God's family, and eternal life. Instead, loving the evil of darkness, they secure only judgment for themselves; eternal ruin. How much better our lives in this world would be if all came to the light and swept away the darkness!
At the time of the coming of the light, the LORD promised to bless the nation again. He would multiply their blessings and make them glad, as in the time of a bountiful harvest. This most certainly has reference to God's spiritual nation of Israel, His church; and the spiritual riches we have in Christ; and our joy in Him. Our harvest is the "fruit of the Spirit" which is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23).
The enemy has always been sin. This cruel oppressor will be defeated as well. Jesus, indeed, lifted the burden of sin from the souls of His people. Sin is no longer our master and instead of the wages of sin, we look forward to the free gift of God; eternal life (Romans 6:1-4; 12-18; 20-23).
A Description of the Messiah
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6). The Messiah came to us first as a child; an infant born in Bethlehem.
He grew into manhood and fulfilled this and all prophecies made concerning Him. Notice the various aspects of His reign:
First, "the government shall rest on His shoulders". Today, in His spiritual kingdom, Jesus has all authority (Matthew 28:18-20). When we obey the gospel, we leave "the domain of darkness" and are transferred into "the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Colossians 1:12,13).
Second, Jesus has become our "Wonderful Counselor". In the Hebrew, the idea is that His counsel is a thing of wonder and awe. In Jesus' teachings we have the absolute best advice on how to live our lives to be eternally successful. Though the Law came through Moses, "grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
Third, Our Lord Jesus is also our "Mighty God". The word for "mighty" also means "hero" teaching not only the Deity of Christ but also His action in our behalf to save us from doom. He is the greatest hero of all time, for nothing compares to His sacrifice, his love and His power. And He is "Immanuel" which means "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Philippians 2:5-11; II Peter 1:1).
Fourth, Jesus is also referred to as "Eternal Father". Jesus, the eternal Word of God, has indeed become our spiritual Father by giving us "the right to become children of God" (John 1:12,13). Jesus also reveals the Heavenly Father to us (John 1:18) and since the Son of God bears His Father's characteristics we can truly say when we have seen Jesus we have been shown the Father (John 14:8-11).
And Finally, Jesus is the "Prince of Peace". Only He could bring about reconciliation between God and man (II Corinthians 5:18,19). Though faith in Christ brings conflict with the forces of darkness, and sometimes hardships and persecution and betrayal, it also brings harmony with God and a "peace that passes understanding." Even the announcement of the angels at His birth refer to this peace that we may have with God and His goodwill toward us because of the Savior (Luke 2:11-14).
The Messiah's Kingdom
"There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:7). Isaiah then turns from the Messiah to the Messiah's kingdom. There will be no end to the kingdom of Christ. Unlike the nations of earth which come and go; and human governments which are constantly replaced, the kingdom of Christ "cannot be shaken" Hebrews 12:26-29).
Even at the last day, when by the command of God the heavens and earth are shaken and removed, the kingdom of Christ shall stand, and Jesus Himself will deliver it up to the Father in Heaven (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
Jesus is now on His throne, the throne of David, ruling over His kingdom at the right hand of God (Acts 2:29-33). His throne is forever; and His "righteous scepter" is in His hand (Hebrews 1:8-9). The zeal of the Lord has indeed accomplished this! It is time to live in the Light! One of the most well known of these prophets was Isaiah. He has come to be known by some as "The Messianic Prophet" because so much of his message had to do with the coming Messiah and His kingdom... Isaiah tells of a time to come when a great light will come and shine throughout the land now draped in darkness. This prophecy was fulfilled about seven centuries later by Jesus, of Nazareth, our Messiah and Redeemer. (Isaiah 9:1-7).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 11.6; June 2004