Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7
Key Verse(s): 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. (v. 2)
Observation: First Isaiah (chapters 1-39) is mostly a series of prophetic warnings about the impending judgment for Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. However, since God is a loving and inviting God, among the warnings are passages of promise of a brighter future. In this passage the promise is that a child will be born who will sit in David’s throne and will establish justice and righteousness. For Israel, that king is most likely King Hezekiah who enacted a series of reforms after his father Ahaz did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 16:2). God speaks to the people through the prophet Isaiah and offers a hope that requires faith on the part of the people. The hope of the nation is built on the birth of a child born in the midst of fear. The people are faced with the political reality of being overtaken by foreign powers and are asked to place their hope in a vulnerable, defenseless little baby.
Analysis: With Christmas as our lens, we Christians proclaim Jesus to be the king spoken of in this passage. We recognize Jesus as the light who has come into the world. We recognize Jesus as being wonderful, mighty, everlasting, and peaceful. We recognize that Jesus and Jesus alone can bring justice and righteousness that will stand forevermore. However, to dismiss the original context of this text is to risk missing the importance of Jesus coming as a vulnerable, defenseless little baby. Yes, we believe that Jesus is greater than Hezekiah or David or any other king or political leader who has risen throughout human history. However, we cannot forget that Jesus does come to live as a human being and he does grow in his authority. Through his incarnation, Jesus invites us to join him, the light of Christmas, in being a light in a dark world. We are reminded that we are the people who walk in darkness and our hope is in the child that has been born for us, that is for our salvation; the son given to us, that is to show us how to live in a world filled with corruption, cruelty, violence, oppression, sexual immorality without losing hope. Instead, we see God at work and use the skills and talents God has given us to participate in the spreading of this light in a dark world. The light of Christmas is intended to bring us hope and joy so that we join God in establishing justice and righteousness.
Prayer: God of light and love, we marvel at the light that comes to us at Christmas time. We pray that we reflect that light that shines on us and that we will turn from our darkness to walk in the light you provide. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.