Advent: Week Three. The Invasion. Reading: Isaiah 9:1-7
9 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2 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.
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.
6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
Without darkness we don’t know the nourishment of the light, its necessity, the help it brings. Darkness, punctured by light, is glorious. Like a laser show, the contrast is palpable. Yet, sadly, there are seasons in our lives when we have become quite comfortable sitting in total darkness. We get used to it. We love money and start to believe it’s a liberator from hardship. Sex consumes our society as it’s mistaken for intimacy. Social Media is the mirror we look to to confirm that we matter. Our addiction feels more calming than sobriety. We buy into the mentality that every single desire we have, or anyone has, should be satisfied. Darkness starts to feel like deliverance, like home. God’s pure light comes to heal, but it reveals our backwards way, our illnesses and it exposes our dysfunction. When this light shines in, it is unsettling. In time, however, it yields wholeness.
God pierced the atmosphere with his arrow of light. Matthew records the Old Testament prophecy fulfilled:
20 …an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
A light. A rescue. A bailout. A hope. God bore through the barbed wire fence of sin right into our human landscape. From the Garden of Eden until now, his plan was to reside with us. His closeness would be the means of our wholeness. Jesus said of himself, “I am the Light of the World.” His Kingdom ways would be a contrast to the destructive ways we live. His light would overcome the darkness enshrouding humankind. Isaiah prophesied this good news, “…that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.” God, in his mercy, would finally say, “Enough!”
Christmas is a annual declaration that our misery, the entanglements of our wrongdoing, the brokenness in our relationships, and the choking pain of our losses will one day cease at the culmination of God’s strategy to absorb all darkness. It is a fact. Luke reminds his readers, “For nothing is impossible with God.” Not one single thing.
Furthermore, Jesus commissions us:
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
We are transformed by the light, made free and whole. Though still in the process of being made new, our salvation has been bought, and we are secured. The light is in us, the Spirit of God lands on us like the tongues of fire at Pentecost. We are the light, the contrast, the heralds of salvation, the signposts pointing to the True Light. We break into the darkness around us and deliver hope, like a wrapped-up gift.
You and I are the recipients of the one prophesied: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is ours and we are his. The light has dawned, surrender your being to his influence, let him enter and exit, let it free-fall all over, everywhere.