Thursday 16 December 2021

Bible Book:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined. (v. 2)

Isaiah 9:2-7 Thursday 16 December 2021

Psalm 145:1-7


In today's reading there is powerful symbolism of darkness and light. Its hearers would recall the imagery of the beginning of the world:  the Book of Genesis telling us that in the beginning darkness covered the deep and God’s first act of creation was to bring light. (Genesis 1:2f)  The prophet Isaiah uses the imagery of darkness and light to suggest to the people that another new beginning is being brought into being by God. A new beginning brought by the birth of a child.

The people of Israel were living in dire times. Isaiah had just predicted that Judah would be defeated by the Assyrians. Despite this impending doom, he foresees that it will be temporary. The heavy yoke across the people of Israel's shoulders will be broken, as in the day of Midian. (Midian had oppressed Israel in the days of the Judges but had been defeated.)

Isaiah predicts a new dawn: a child has been born for us, a son given to us. A new era will be ushered in. We will see a new kingdom based on Godly attributes. Isaiah says it is not a yoke that rests on this child’s shoulders, but ‘authority’ and all the qualities of a heavenly king. Later in  his teaching, Jesus will tell people that his yoke is easy, his burden light. (Matthew 11:28-30) Instead of conflict and strife, there will be a reign of peace. It will follow the tradition of David and be everlasting.

In his own time Isaiah may well have been celebrating the coronation of a king, perhaps Hezekiah. Within the Christian tradition we have understood the words to be a prophecy of the birth of Jesus.

In the northern hemisphere this Scripture reading comes at the darkest time of the year. The powerful imagery of God bringing light, doing a new thing, brings hope into the hearts of people, and especially struggling people and indeed ourselves. At Christmas we celebrate Christ as ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12) born in our midst. 


To Ponder:

  • Perhaps listen to Handel’s Messiah and let the music stir your heart and imagination. What do the words and music communicate to you?
  • In verse 6 which of the four descriptions of the child (Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) speaks most to you and how? 
  • How does the imagery of darkness and light speak to you of God?
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