Summary: The light of the Lord coming to earth was prophecied hundreds of years beforehand. We can know this light in our individual lives by receiving Jesus into our lives. He is the Light of the World.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
January 2, 2005
“Lord, Shine Your Light on Me”
INTRODUCTION: Today’s scripture speaks of a prophecy that has been unfolding throughout history and which is still unfolding. To the people of Isaiah’s day, the prophecy seemed a long time in coming, but God was working out many details leading up to the birth of Jesus and the epiphany--the appearance of His light breaking into a darkened world. This Jesus who already existed with God before the foundation of the world, made His appearance in human flesh and revealed God to us. Let us look at how this prophecy gave hope and light to a darkened world.
I. Hope for a Darkened World: The prophet Isaiah looks to the future glory of Israel, a reflection of the Lord God himself. He calls them to arise and to shine for their light has come. Although darkness covers the whole earth now, he was telling them that it would not always be that way. Although the impenetrable darkness had enveloped Israel when she was not obeying God, they were encouraged to lift up their heads--to arise. In this prophecy there is a spotlight shining on Zion’s hill for all to see. People would be attracted to this light and be drawn toward it. They are encouraged to look toward this day when the streams of people would come from the far corners of the earth. People would come bearing appropriate gifts and find their place of worship. Those coming would include both Jews and Gentiles alike. Whereas before Jerusalem reflected the judgment of God, then it would reflect His grace and His favor. The prophet called the people not only to arise but to shine with this divine glory, the Source of which was God Himself.
The unfolding of this prophecy in their day was only partial as it is in ours until Christ comes back again and God’s final plan has unfolded. It is true that they returned home from captivity and the Persians helped in the rebuilding of the walls to the city; but the full impact of this light had not come yet. Fulfillment of it was beyond the Old Testament era. Perhaps to have the vision of hope was enough for them at the time as they waited and held these things in their hearts. It was a turning point for them. When the Jews returned from captivity, they had a measure of light, gladness, joy, and honor and were made to rejoice in His goodness. They had a small portion of this light but more was to come. When the Jews were settled again in their own land after the captivity, many other people joined them, but it does not appear that there ever was any such following to them as would answer the fullness of this prophecy. This looks to the time when the Gentiles would be brought into the church--flocking to Christ and coming by faith and hope. The gospel church is referred to as Zion and Jerusalem. In this sense all believers are said to come to it.
Hebrews 12:22 says, “You have come unto Mt. Zion to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” This serves as a key to the prophecy of people coming to Mt. Zion and Jerusalem.
II. Light Appearing in a Darkened World: The epiphany of the light finally came in the New Testament era. People reacted in different ways to the light just as they do today. There was apathy among the Jewish leaders who didn’t bother to check it out. There was hostility from Herod. The light was a threat to him and it troubled him. The Magi showed an eagerness to find and worship Jesus in spite of their limited knowledge. All of these people had scripture to inform them, but all did not receive the light once it came. People reacted in different ways just as they do today. Many did not think they needed the light. People did not consider the light of Christ when making their decisions. Neither do they today.
Story: Making Decisions in the Dark
Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tightfisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look what you got!” Source unknown
The Magi or wise men, thought to be astrologers from Persia, responded to the light of the star and went to the capital city first looking for Jesus because it seemed to be a fitting place for a king to be born. They asked the question, “Where is he who is born king of the Jews that we may go and worship him?” (Matt. 2:2).