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. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
What a beautiful poem Isaiah gives us. It is a poem that follows the historical setting in verse 1, “There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” This historical setting is a carryover from Isaiah chapter 8 which describes a time in Israel’s history when God was silent (or at least not listened to). From Isaiah’s perspective, this poetic message is a sign of hope. The throne of David is reaffirmed. This king referred to will bring the promise of transformation, recreation, and perpetual peace all with justice and righteousness!
The Darkness will become Light – we have seen the power of light on Christmas Eve as the one light of the Christ candle makes the entire sanctuary awash in soft light. We have seen the power of light in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge as he reflects in front of his grave marker of the message of Past, Present and Yet to Come. Scrooge cries out, “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
The bright light from the Ghost of Christmas Past that Scrooge fought hard to snuff out, continued to shine in his life – revealing his true character. The light overcame Scrooge’s darkness and can overcome ours as well, if we will open ourselves to see and hear the message Christ brings.
Isaiah also points to a great celebration – people shout and sing to God as if it were thanksgiving at the end of a great harvest or when war had ended! When our lives are touched by Christ in us, we are not the same. Scrooge was completely transformed. Dickens shares these final passages from A Christmas Carol – “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”
The poetic celebration of a life transformed. The celebration of Christ’s redeeming work.
This Isaiah passage also speaks of something deep and universal – perpetual peace. The tramping boots and the bloody uniforms will all be burned. This is God’s desire for his creation and we must do our part to make it a reality – as we shine the light of Christ through our lives every day.
Finally, the scene in Isaiah shows us the future. It moves to the throne room of the King and even beyond! The newborn king is shown to be the true king, seated on the throne of David. This king will administer justice, establish righteousness, and bring a reign of peace. This is God’s will and this reign will extend forever.
Always be open to the challenge of God’s word! Examine your past and allow Christ to help you overcome the limitations of it. Remember the simplicity and purity of our faith and live in the present – with love for God and those around you every day. Don’t be afraid to let God disturb you from any course of the future that is not in line with his will.
Christ has come. The time for redemption is at hand.