Summary: Friends has God been dealing with you in a gentle way trying to lovingly get you to return to His light yet you resist? Have you heard message after message from preachers trying to convince you to step out of the darkness yet you continue to stay put.
A Great Light
As we near the Christmas season I want to continue with the theme of light. A few weeks ago I talked about the star that shone over Bethlehem and the wise men that followed the sign in the heavens. We talked about the signs that exist today in the night sky and about Jesus returning for us someday soon.
We will soon begin our Advent services and candles will be lit each week as we near the great celebration and proclamation that is Christmas. I say proclamation for it is just that the Lord of Lords and King of Kings is making a public announcement to all subjects of the realm. That announcement is that light is coming into the world. Light is a very important part of our celebration for what it represents and for what it provides.
Todays scripture passages are familiar ones. But I wish to present them too you in a different context. It is one that I had not seen before and so God wants me to share it with you as He has put it on my heart. Isaiah tells us that the people are living in the land of the shadow of death. This phrase caught my attention when I first read it and I was immediately drawn to Psalm 23 where the same language is used by David.
Both men knew and understood what darkness truly meant. Our world is continuing to walk in darkness. It is the darkness of sin that people all over the world allow themselves to be trapped by. Darkness is the thing that separates us from the presence of God. It is the darkness of our hearts, the darkness of our minds and the darkness of our souls.
Not many of us enjoy the darkness and in fact as little children we request a night light to comfort and reassure us. What comfort and reassurance is it that we seek? We want to know that all is well, that we are safe, and that nothing will catch us by surprise that may threaten our safety. Jesus has come to end the threat of darkness and to usher us into a new and wonderful light, the light of Gods love, mercy and grace.
You would think that people who find themselves vulnerable to the effects and limitations of darkness would want to be set free from it but oh no; that is not the case.
We seem determined to bump into things, groping in the dark, reaching out in an effort to find our own way without the aid of a light.
Im sure you have all done this too. I know I have, I have tried to walk around in the dark only to bang my knee or smash my toe or my foot as I went. Sometimes the pain was so intense Id let out a horrific yell. Jesus wants to show us a way to avoid that pain forever.
Life as Ive experienced it can be a lot of bumps and bangs and loud words caused by all kinds of pain along the way as we try to travel in the dark. The great news is that it can all be avoided and we can be given safe passage leading us away from the dangers that lurk in the dark.
A little background about the land of the shadow of death:
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan
The Cross and the Switchblade
Writes on September 22, 2001
At the time that Isaiah prophesied, God had been dealing patiently with Israel for about 250 years. The Lord had sent light afflictions upon his people, calling them to repentance. He was trying to woo them out of their brazen idolatry and back into his blessing and favor.
All of the prophets throughout the years had spoken to Israel the same essential word: Humble yourselves. Scripture says, They served idols yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes (2 Kings 17:12-13).
But Gods chosen nation rejected his call to repentance. They would not hear, but hardened their necks (17:14). These people mocked the prophets who called them to humility. And, instead, they followed vanity, and became vain and they left all the commandments of the Lord their God and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel (17:15-18).