Sometimes we children purposely sought the darkness. In a small storage room under the basement stairs, we shut the door against any crack of light and played with flashlights or some glow-in-the-dark toy. Intentional darkness could be banished at any time by simply opening the door.
Years later, deep in a Kentucky cavern, the tour guide flipped a switch and I felt darkness. It was heavy, pressing on my skin and creeping into my lungs. If I moved even a finger, I thought, I might lose my balance and fall. I was caught, afraid to move and almost unable to breathe.
Still, the guide would soon turn those lights on again … I hoped …
The most terrible darkness is that which we cannot banish ourselves. It comes uninvited, unwanted, and powerful. However darkness comes to your life — through depression, health issues, loss of dreams, divorce, death and grief — it can overwhelm and paralyze.
But for the children of God, there is hope even under the heaviness of such darkness!
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulon and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles … will be filled with glory.
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
This passage is written about the land of Judah, about to be crushed and destroyed. The people would be taken as slaves, and lush vineyards and fertile hillside gardens would become a wasteland of briars and thorns. Everywhere, trouble and anguish and dark despair.
Yet, in the midst of all of this misery, there is a hope. The deep darkness will not last forever; a great light will come.
For the people of Judah, the prophecy looked forward to the Messiah, their Deliverer. For the people of the world today, for you and I, this passage also points to the One who delivers us, who shines in our darkness.
Zebulon and Naphtali were two of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the land they were given in Canaan was the land called Galilee. Much of Jesus’ ministry is associated with Galilee … and yet, it was also called the land of the Gentiles. Many people lived there who were not of the twelve tribes. Awesome prophecy. To those who do not know God, Jesus carries the only light that banishes darkness.
He comes, first of all, to bring us to God, bring us out of the kingdom of darkness. And then, for those who become children of the heavenly Father, His light can defeat whatever darkness we must walk through here on earth.
God said that He would give a sign that He was with His people. A virgin would give birth to a son who would be called Immanuel, meaning ‘God is with us.’
Christ is still the sign that God is with His people. We’re nearing that time of year when we sing, “To us a child of hope is born …”
What hope does He bring to your life, child of God? How does He shine light in whatever darkness you must walk through?
I almost never write sermon notes in my Bible, but there are notes in the margins of Isaiah 9:6.
And he will be called:
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His names tell us what hope He brings.**
Wonderful – takes care of the dullness of life
Counselor – takes care of the decisions of life
Mighty God – takes care of the demands of life
Everlasting Father – takes care of the dimensions of life
Prince of Peace – takes care of the disturbances of life
And I would like to add: The Great Light takes care of the darkness in life.
Scripture: Isaiah 9:1,2; 8:22; 7:14; 9:6 (All NLT)
**I’d like to give credit, and I think this list comes from a sermon by Dr. John Williams, Jr., but I’m not 100% certain.