GETTING THE MESSAGE/The coming of Christ into the world

GETTING THE MESSAGE/The coming of Christ into the world


Isaiah 9:1-7 is a familiar passage to us during the advent season. We love to listen to a great choir sing verse 6 from Handel’s Messiah. There is a danger, however, of getting so caught up in the excellence of the singing or even the excellence of the words that we forget the theme of the passage, which is the coming of Christ into the world.

Paul summarizes the theme in 2nd Corinthians 4:6, “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” God commanding light to shine in the darkness is the wonder of Christ’s coming, and the great mercy of God to us.

The context of the passage is Judah around the year 733 BC. Assyria was the dominant power in the Middle East and had ravaged the northern tribes of the North Kingdom of Israel. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was facing its own threats from foes. 

The Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz with a promise of protection from these threats, but the situation was too serious for King Ahaz and most of Judah to rely upon God, so they put their confidence elsewhere. They rejected the Lord. 

We see the result of this rejection of the Lord at the end of chapter 8: “And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into deep darkness.”

This is the plight of man. He is in darkness. Israel exemplified the darkness in the heart of man by their repeated rejection of God, despite the Lord’s continual patience and mercy towards them. We are so prone to look away from God that we need the Lord to rule over us inwardly and outwardly. King Ahaz acted foolishly, but the same nature is in all men.

So, the hope for man is in what God is going to do. We had need of a great work of God, and that is what we see God doing in this passage. As Isaiah often does, he moves from writing about his present situation and looks to the future, to the latter time when God will fulfill His promise of a Savior for men.

Chapter 9 begins with the promise of light from God coming first to the Northern Tribes of Israel, Zebulun and Napthali, which had been the first to be devastated by Assyria. This is the region of Galilee, and the light that appears is a glorious light. The light came to a land of “deep darkness” (verse 2).

Isaiah 9: 1-2 are quoted in Matthew 4 to declare that Christ Jesus is the one who fulfilled this prophecy of Isaiah. In Mark’s gospel we read that when Jesus began His ministry in Galilee He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”

The gospel is good news because it is a promise of deliverance from the darkness into the light of God. To be in a dark place is a terrible thing. To be in a dark place with respect to your relationship to God is a much worse thing. God provides light not only in heaven, but light to heaven. This light comes in turning from confidence in yourself or men to embracing Christ.

Most of Galilee, and then Jerusalem, rejected Christ. But those who received Him were given the right to become children of God. In Isaiah 9: 2-5, we see the transformation that takes place when a soul receives Christ. Without Christ, none of this is possible. 

In verse two, there is an exit from darkness and entrance into the light of God. Paul said to Christians in Colossae that God had transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. In verse 3, we see a change from ungodliness and gloom to a joy that Peter says is inexpressible and full of glory.

In verse 4, we see that slavery to sin, darkness, and every weight upon the soul has been removed. In verse 5, instead of war-like enmity and strife with God, there is now peace. As Christians, we know that these transformations aren’t experienced perfectly in this world. Nevertheless, it is a new day in the newness of life, and we thank God that a child is born, that a son is given. 

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