Summary: Part 1 of 5-part series, Jesus in Isaiah. 1) Light was predicted; 2) Light arrived; 3) Light came surrounded by darkness; and 4) We have a role today in bringing light to the world.
Jesus the Light
Jesus in Isaiah
December 3, 2006
Wildwind Community Church
Last week we concluded our series on Emotions in the Psalms. I hope that brief series was enough to get you interested in reading the Psalms. Psalms may be more about you than any other book in the Bible.
In keeping with my desire to immerse you for a while in the Old Testament, we begin a new series today called Jesus in Isaiah. Isaiah was one of the most poetic prophets, writing with power and beauty. And it just so happened that Isaiah, in the 66 chapter book named for him, wrote many prophecies that ended up being fulfilled by Jesus. And that brings us to Advent season, 2006. We’re going to spend the weeks of Advent looking at some of those prophecies.
Let me begin by getting you into the world of Isaiah. My guess is that the vast majority of you have spent little or no time in Isaiah. The OT books of prophecy are a lot to take on. They speak of historical events that are far removed from us, and we often don’t know whether or not, and when, the prophecies came true. I don’t think this is the time to get into deep scholarly detail about the book of Isaiah, but before we move into our text for today, I do want to try to help you get a feel for how the words of Isaiah might have felt in the ears of the people who heard them twenty-seven hundred years ago.
The prophets of the Old Testament spoke of terrible things; of wars and disease and disaster that would come upon the nations to whom they spoke. Life was very different for people back then. People lived with the constant threat of war. I mean, you think we live under a threat now because of terrorism, we don’t really understand what it means to live under constant threat. People wonder why the Old Testament contains so much bloodshed, but the answer is simple. War was a way of life. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. War was the climate of the time. The Old Testament prophets spoke into this climate.
It is not a dramatization to say that the people of this time were stalked by death. At any time a foreign power could assemble an army and overrun the city walls, raping women, killing children, destroying precious landmarks, and dragging people off into slavery. This happened again and again to the people of Israel. The ancient Jews had war-scarred psyches. I guess some things don’t change, do they?
Now although we associate prophets with the idea of predicting the future, a prophet’s role was actually to proclaim God’s impending judgment on a nation if it did not repent and turn to God. [Anytime a preacher today warns people of the need to repent and turn to God, he or she stands in a prophetic role.] It is essential that we read the Old Testament prophets so that we can be reminded that yes, God is love, yes God is good, yes God approaches us with grace, but that eventually we will be held accountable for our actions and choices in this life. Ultimately God will demand obedience. This is critical in a society that is so touchy-feely, so hiking boots and granola, that we cannot bear to imagine God as anything other than a harmless old man who occasionally grants our wishes. But if God seems a bit like James Taylor in parts of the New Testament, he might seem more like Rob Zombie in parts of the Old Testament. The truth is that both God’s love and God’s wrath are beyond our understanding, but we must consider both if we are to get a complete picture of God. Reading the Old Testament prophets restores to us what scripture often calls the “fear of the Lord,” which is a deep respect for God based on the fact that God chooses to bear with us, even though he could just as easily destroy us.
This morning I want to draw your attention to the 9th chapter of the book of Isaiah, verses 1-7, and I want to use this text to talk to you about Jesus, the Light-bringer. But you cannot understand the brightness of the light until you grasp the darkness of the darkness. Even in this prediction of a coming light, you can hear the drums of war beating, feel the dread and the fear that was commonplace for the people of this time.
A country drenched by war and violence, cloaked in the shadow of death. A time when there was little hope of lasting safety. It is in this world that the prophet writes;