Summary: Isaiah talks about the effects of the Light on those living in darkness. How do you know you’ve seen it? Read on and find out.
January 30, 2005 Isaiah 9:1-4
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 -- 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
As the winter time plods along I tend to get tired of it getting dark at about five or six o’clock in the evening. It’s just hard to get much accomplished or get out and enjoy life when it is constantly cold and dark out. So when we get a good snowfall it’s kind of nice - at least to me. I like it because it seems to brighten things up - you look out the window and have to squint because of the sun coming off the ground. Even at night there is a glare that shines in your windows.
God didn’t design this world to be dark and dreary, cold and frigid. Yet ever since the fall, or at least the flood, we’ve had to endure these seasons for endless generations. Much worse than the physical darkness that we have to live in, is the spiritual darkness. Isaiah describes this by saying that “The people walking in darkness . . . . living in the land of the shadow of death.” That sounds familiar to Psalm 23, which we hear at funerals - the valley of the shadow of death. When a shadow hits you, you realize that the actual object isn’t far behind. At every funeral the shadow hits us - reminds us - that we are all doomed to die. It brings out the darkness of a world drenched in sin - living in a spiritual darkness. Most of the people we live with don’t see that there is a heaven or a hell, don’t think about angels and demons, and don’t know about a holy God who lives in the heavens and on the earth - who is watching their every move - waiting to judge them on the Final Day. They’re blind - living in darkness. It’s like Jesus said in John 3:19, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
I’m afraid that our eyes have adjusted to this darkness as well. Like modern day Helen Kellers, we have adjusted to living in this world much like the unbelievers. We live like blind people, saving our money for the next vacation, planning out our next date, cheering on our favorite teams, acting as if we never really saw God or recognized he was there. Our friends listen to the way we talk and act and don’t see any light in us at all. Oh, sure, we’ll recognize Him and see Him in the things we want to see - maybe in the nice car He gives us or during the surgery we have to get through - then we’ll look to Him. But otherwise, we tend to close our eyes to this whole spiritual world and live like the blind. I might call it selective sight. I’ll look at the passage that tells me to love my neighbor, but I’ll pretend that my neighbor doesn’t include my wife or kids, but only my friends. I’ll read the passage that says “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” but I’ll forget about it when I have an opportunity to watch a movie or sleep in. We have adapted to the eyesight of the world around us, learning to live in the darkness, and all the while claiming to have perfect sight. It’s shameful.