Sermon on Isaiah 9:1-4
Text: 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 nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan —
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness 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 warriors 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.
There are many things that people are afraid of. We might think of spiders, closed in spaces, and speaking in public, just to name a few. There is one thing, it seems, that just about everyone has a fear of, and that is the fear of the dark. Maybe, it’s not a debilitating fear for you. However, there is something about being in a place where there is no light, at all. You don’t know what’s there in the dark. As a result, children ask for nightlight. We reach until we find the light switch. We feel a sense of relief when we have light. This morning, the prophet Isaiah uses the picture of light for people walking in darkness. In particular, we note that THE LIGHT SHINES FOR THE GENTILES. 1. A Light Shines Out Of Darkness. 2. A Light That Shines For All.
It says in verse 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 nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan.” Zebulun and Naphtali were two of the tribes of Israel. When the Israelites settled the land, these two tribes occupied the northern most area, around the Sea of Galilee. Since it was on the northern border of their country, this would be the area that invaders would attack first. It was vulnerable and often a doormat for invaders. This is the gloom and distress that Isaiah talks about. What would often happen was that the residents of the area would be taken off into captivity. In their place, the invading country would settle some of their own citizens. That is why this region is referred to as “Galilee of the nations.”
Yet, the prophet says that God would “honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan.” The same territory where the feet of invading soldiers trampled away any hope and left nothing but gloom and distress would be the scene of a bright future. God had chosen this area for a special honor. This would be the area where Jesus would do so much of his ministry. We read in Matthew 4:12-14, “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali — to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah.” Even the very region where Jesus would spend so much of his ministry was prophesied hundreds of years before he was born.
Matthew 4:17 gives the message that Jesus shared when he was in Galilee, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Jesus was reaching out to those people in Galilee, who were walking in the darkness of unbelief. He came to shed his light on the benighted souls. We read in verse 2, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
Jesus continues to shine his light into the world today. You and I were also those who were walking in darkness. By nature, we are hopelessly lost in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. We know that this darkness has such an unbelievable pull. It still tugs at us every day, tempting us to disregard what God wants, and, instead to follow the corrupt desires of our sinful flesh. We are told that this is where true freedom is, doing exactly what we want, without any sort of rules. The truth of the matter is that we are, by nature and sinful deed, hopelessly lost in the darkness. Those who are lost in the darkness will find God’s judgement and, ultimately damnation.
However, it says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Something radical has happened to those who were walking in the darkness. A light has pierced their darkness. Jesus makes it very clear who the light is in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus came into the world to be its Light, leading people from the darkness of destruction to the light of salvation. Jesus accomplished this by carrying out a divine rescue mission. It started with his perfect life that he lived for all. In order to serve as our Light, he had to descend to the depth of hell to pay for all of our sins on the cross. Just as the light broke that first Easter morning over the eastern horizon, Jesus burst from his tomb in triumph. Jesus shines the light of his salvation into our hearts when we are brought to faith. The darkness brought ignorance, sin, judgment, and condemnation. The light that Jesus brings means rescue, forgiveness, faith, God’s revelation of himself, and ultimately, salvation.
This light is intended for all people. It says in verse 3, “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy.” Again, remember the history of the region that this prophecy is addressed to. They were continually under attack. Their countrymen were being carried off. All of these foreigners were living in the land that God had given them. Yet, God promised that their nation would be enlarged. This told the people that they would not be living as slaves forever. They would return home. God’s promise to their forefathers would not expire because of their sin. However, this nation of God would be enlarged as people from all over the world would be brought into his kingdom. Again, we think of the ministry of Jesus in this region of Palestine. There are some beautiful examples of Gentiles coming to faith, such as the Canaanite woman, who prayed so fervently for her daughter’s healing. More than that, the light of Jesus’ message has continued to go out to the four corners of the earth. You and I are beneficiaries of this. We have been brought to faith. Jesus has pierced the darkness of our souls and brought us into his wonderful light.
Because we have had the light of Jesus’ love shine in our hearts, we have great joy. Again, it says in verse 3, “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest.” What a joyous time it is when the harvest is in, when you can finally put the combine in the shed. The crop is safely put away. This is a good picture of the joy that is ours when someone is brought to faith. It may be a baby being baptized. It may be someone who is older, who is brought to know the love of Jesus. We feel joy when someone who has wandered from the faith comes back home. There are few things that can give greater joy to our heart than when the harvest of God’s fields is brought in.
We also have the joy that is ours because of Jesus’ light shining in our lives described this way, “They rejoice before you as . . . as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 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.” Isaiah brings to mind an event in Israel’s history. There was a time when the nation of Midian had invaded the land. The conditions that the Israelites were living under are described in this way, “Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.” (Judges 6:3,4) The size of their invading force is pictured in Judges 7:12, “The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.” There was no way, humanly speaking, that the people of Israel would ever be able to get rid of them. However, God called a man by the name of Gideon to lead a force to defeat the Midianites. This force would not number thousands upon thousands of soldiers. Instead, Gideon led an army of three hundred men. Because God was with Gideon, those three hundred men so thoroughly defeated that the Midianite army was routed and ran all the way back to their country. The yoke was broken. The rod of their oppressor was shattered.
This is a wonderful picture of the freedom that we now enjoy. We were held in the slavery of the devil. We could not help but do his bidding, even though it made our lives miserable. Jesus came and thoroughly defeated the devil. Through his life, death, and resurrection, we have been set free. Now we are truly free. We have the freedom to serve Jesus with our lives, not out of fear, but out of joy and thanksgiving for all that he has done for us. We see that we have true freedom when we do it God’s way. This is a joy we would never have known, if Jesus had not come into our lives with his gospel light. This light is for you. This light is for me. This light is for all people.
When we were little, we may have made up clubs for our friends. You had to have certain qualifications if you wanted to be a member of the club. Of course, what happened was that someone felt left out. The little sister can’t go into the fort because it’s “Boys only.” The child can’t be a member of the club, because they don’t have the right clothes, or the right game, or didn’t read the same books. How wonderful it is that the club that God has set up doesn’t have any exclusions. God wants everyone to be in it. He provided the way to enter. He sent his Son, Jesus, to be the Light that has pierced the darkness of sin and unbelief. He continues to shine that light across the world. We thank God that this light has shined in our hearts and pray that many more may be drawn to https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/viagra-definition/ that light. Amen.
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