A light has dawned

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Isaiah 9:1-7

1. Walking in darkness

a. My first experience

Like a lot of people who have grown up in the city, I’m not used to the dark. I’m used to the streetlights coming on as soon as the sun starts to set. I’m used to them going off only when the sun reappears in the morning. I’m used to having to shut my curtains at night, not just to keep the sun out in the morning, but to shut out the city lights at night. I’m not used to going outside and being surrounded by nothing but darkness. I’m used to being able to see where I’m going.
I remember my first real experience of significant darkness was up on a farm in the Hunter Valley. I must have been in my late teens or very early twenties. We were camped down by a river, but the shower block was some distance away maybe 500 metres further up and around a hill. When it became time to go to bed, I got a lift with someone up to the shower block, but not quite understanding just how dark it can really get, I foolishly said to my lift, that I’d be right to get myself back to the campsite.
When I came out of that shower block everyone had gone and I was totally unprepared for how dark it really does get in the bush on moonless cloudy night. There were no stars out because of the clouds. There was nothing to be seen at all once I left the shower block behind me. I found myself in absolute darkness. It was pitch black and at first it was a bit of a novelty. I remember holding my hand up before my face, thinking ‘wow! I can’t even see my hand in front of my face.” It was the first time that that had ever happened. I was used to the city where there was always a little light even the darkness. But the novelty soon passed, and my mood changed from curiosity to being just a little concerned about how I was going to get back to the campsite. I couldn’t see the road or the campsite. I couldn’t see anything. What if I just wander off the road and fell into the river or a ditch? I remember shuffling my feet in the ruts of the dirt road hoping that I could stay on the track until I saw the light of our campfire. I was groping around for whatever I could find and I found myself stumbling around there in the darkness for what seem like a long time. I don’t think it really was a long time. It’s just seemed that way there in the dark. The longer I was out there in the dark the gloomier I became, my mood changed. I can tell you that seeing the light of the campfire brought a tremendous amount of relief. I didn’t take my eyes off it as I made my way towards it.
We need light otherwise we stumble around walking in the darkness looking for anything to guide us and cling on to. Walking in the darkness you are uncertain and fearful. You don’t know where you are heading, and your mood soon become dark and gloomy.

b. The Israelites

In the passage from Isaiah that we are looking at today, Isaiah describes the people of God as those who were walking around in the darkness. If we had time to read the earlier chapters of this book, we would discover that he was talking about the 8th century BC Israelites and, in particular, the southern kingdom of Judah and the people of Jerusalem. These people had plunged themselves into a darkness of their own making for they had rebelled against the Lord and turned their back on him (see Isa. 1:2-4). They had forsaken the Lord they’d become a wicked nation. They’d lost any moral compass that they had. Isaiah condemns them in the early chapters of this book. Listen to his condemnation of them.

Isa. 1:4

4 Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.

 

Isa 5:8

8 Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.

 

Isa 5:20-23

20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, 23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.

The darkness started within them, but eventually it filtered through everything that they did. They’d become an evil nation, not only turned their backs on the Lord, worshiping the gods of the nations around them, but they ended up turning on one another. The rich were exploiting the poor buying up the land locking out the poor from their own inheritances (5:8). And there was no justice because their rulers loved bribes and gifts (2:23). It was a society where everyone was only concerned for themselves. They loved their wealth and prosperity and they built great houses for themselves and fine mansions (5:9). They thought themselves too clever and wise to listen to God but they were fools trying to run their lives their way but making a mess of things. They turned away from God and worshipped the things that they made with their own hands and turned to mediums and spirituals to consult the dead looking for answers to what the future might hold. (8:19-20).

These were dark days and Isaiah’s message was that there were even darker days to come. For God was going to thrust them into the utter darkness of his judgment. In chapter 8 and verse 7 he told them that he was going to hide his face from them. You might remember the blessing that God gave Aaron and his sons, to pronounce on the Israelites. He was told to say to them…

Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

For the Lord to tell them that he was going to hide his face from them was to tell them that his was no longer going to shine upon them. they were coming under his judgment. He would thrust them into the utter darkness of life without him. He was removing them from his presence from the land that he had brought them to. Like Adam and Eve cast out of the garden they would be cast out of the Promised Land into the darkness. The Lord told the Israelites that he would use the king of Assyria to do it who would invade the land and destroy it and carry them off far away from the Temple, the symbol of his presences among them.

But even amid the darkness of human sin and rebellion the Lord holds out light and hope to those living in the land of darkness. It is this hope that is described here in this passage. It’s hope that we all need for we are rebellious foolish wanting to live life our way rather than God’s way. We’ve all thought ourselves wise in our own eyes and believed that we are clever and know better than God. This generation of people have rejected God. We live in a world of clever people who call the good evil and call what God says is evil, good.

Friends, brothers and sisters, our world is still a dark place in which there is so much pain and suffering and where the poor are exploited by the rich so that they can grow richer and acquire more property and build their bigger homes. We think we are clever, but we no different to the people that Isaiah was speaking to in his day. We are still looking for answers in the wrong places groping around in the darkness trying to find meaning and purpose in things. We never have enough. We are never satisfied, we want more and we build grander homes and mansions for ourselves only to have to give them up. But there is hope. There is light in the darkness if only you would stop to take it in.

2. A light has dawned (1-5)

This what chapter is about. We had to spend some time looking at the darkness and the gloom to understand our great need for the light. The dawning of the light is described in verses 1 to 3 of chapter 9 and that’s what we want to look at today/tonight.

Isaiah 9:1-3

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.

 

a. There will be no more gloom

The first thing that verse 1 says is that there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the last verse of the previous chapter Isaiah said that those who have rejected God would look to earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom. But here we are told that there is hope. There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress because there is a light that will dawn in our world beyond the darkness. Isaiah reports it as though it had already happened because it is a vision, and he reports it just as he sees it happening in Zebulun and Naphtali.
When the Assyrians invaded from the north Zebulun and Naphtali were the first tribes to suffer at their hands. Those living in these lands were the first to be humbled and be carried off into captivity. But what Isaiah saw in his vision was that those in north of Israel would also have the privilege of being the first ones to see the dawning of the light. They will be the first to see the first rays of a new day which is coming.

b. There will be great joy

For those who would see the light, instead of gloom there would be great joy. The Lord will enlarge their nation. He will make them great and multiply them and they will come into his presence. His face will no longer be turned from them. Isaiah likeness the joy of that day to that which people experience after a successful harvest has been brought in or after a battle had been won with the soldiers dividing up the plunder.

You perhaps have seen those photos of the celebration that happened all around the world after WWII ended in Europe with the defeat of Germany. It was an ecstatic joy, and overflowing joy that burst out everywhere. People who were there wrote of an incredible release from the fear and pain that had held them captives for so long. It was a joy that spilled over in unadulterated jubilation. People poured out onto the streets laughing and dancing. Bonfires of victory were lit all over England lighting up the sky with the glow of victory. After so many years of having had lived in the darkness, everyone was out on the streets celebrating.

c. There will be no more suffering

There is joy because the yoke of the oppressors will be broken. Isaiah likens it to the day of Midian’s defeat. This is reference to a much earlier time in Israel’s history when the suffering of the Israelites was terrible and nearly broke them (see Judges 6:1-6). For seven years the Midianites had ruthlessly oppressed the people of Israel. It got so bad that the people had to leave their homes and build shelters for themselves in the mountains and hide themselves in caves. Whenever they planted crops the Midianites would sweep down and ruin all of them and they would kill every living thing that they came across, sheep, cattle and donkey. They didn’t spare anything for Israel to live off. But the Lord delivered them from their oppressors. He shattered the yoke and removed the bar that was across their shoulders.

And the promise for those like Isaiah who said in the previous chapter said that despite the darkness he would wait for the Lord and trust in him (see 8:17) was that there would be a day when the light would dawn. The Lord would do it again – break the yoke of their oppressors. He would end the pain and suffering of his people. He would deliver them from their enemies.

d. For there will be everlasting peace

The suffering will end for the Lord will establish an everlasting peace. There will no longer be hatred and war and the things of war will be no more.

Isaiah 9:5

5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

All the boots used in battle won’t be needed any more . All the garments rolled in blood will be fuel for the fire. The fighting will be over. The battle will have won not by the people of God, but the Lord who is their deliverer. The victory won’t be temporary, like in the past, it will be forever. There will be no more war, no more fighting, no more hatred. There is hope for our world. There is light in the darkness that promises a new day.

But how will this all be accomplished?

3. A child born to us (6-7)

Well Isaiah says at the end of verse 7 that the Lord will accomplish it, but in verses 6 to 7 he explains that the Lord will do it through a child who will be born, a son who will be given to the people who sit on the throne of David forever.

It’s the birth of this son that we celebrate at Christmas. The apostle John wrote that John the Baptist testified to the coming of the light. That was his job. John confessed that he wasn’t the light, but he was there to testify that true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world (see John 1:6-9). But John came as witness to that light that we might believe (John 1). It was Jesus Christ who said:

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.”

The son of God entered our world as a child and promised those who would believe in him that they will never walk in darkness (John 8:12).

In Matthew’s gospel Matthew explained that when Jesus returned to Galilee by the lake preaching in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali, repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near, that this was to fulfill these words of Isaiah about the people having seen a great light. (Matt 4:12-17). Jesus is the child that has been born to us to rule over us so that we might not walk in the darkness. He is the light of the world, the dawn of a new day.

a. The government will be on his shoulders

Isaiah wrote that the government will be on his shoulders and when it is finally on his shoulders then all the wickedness will cease, and the cycle of hatred and oppression that goes on in this world will be broken once and for all. Wars will be no more, and suffering and death will be done away with. There will be no more tears or sorrow and there will be no more groping around in the darkness looking for answers for he is everything that we need. You might not know it, but Jesus is the one that you need to believe in so that might not walk in darkness. He is the light that God has sent for you into this world. He is what you need. We see this in what Isaiah says that this child will be called.

b. He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6b
“And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

• Wonderful counsellor

Firstly, he is the wonderful counsellor. He is the wisdom that you and I need to live in this world of darkness for in him we find the wisdom of God. Paul wrote to the Colossians that in Christ Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). When Christ rules, people no longer go around looking for answers in the wrong places for he is the answer. He is our wisdom. He is the Wonderful Counsellor who lights up the way that you and I are to live and find life.

• Mighty God

But he is more than just wisdom. He is the Mighty God. He comes with all the power of God almighty. He is God in the flesh, and he has the power to make all wars cease. He has the power to heal our world and make people like us new again. He can change and transform us into who we ought to be and ultimately the promise is he is make all things new again. He is the dawn of a new day. He is the promise that the sun shall shine. If you were to read through the gospels you would see that Jesus had the power to heal the sick, give sight back to the blind, make the lame walk again, forgive sins and even raise the dead to life. He is Mighty God dwelling among his people. In him we behold God Almighty.

• Everlasting Father

Thirdly he is the everlasting Father. He is the sort of father that we all wish we had. He is the one who is always there to care for his children guiding them and lead them. He never abandons them. He never gives up on them. He is always watching out for us providing us with what we need like a father should. But unlike our fathers who can’t always be there for us he is the everlasting father. His love goes on forever.

• Prince of peace

Finally, he is the prince of peace. He gives us the peace that our troubled hearts and minds are seeking. He makes it possible for us to have peace with God and with one another. He made it possible for God face to be turned towards us in blessing rather than away from us in judgment. Later in the book of Isaiah explains how he will suffer for his people to bring them this peace.

Isaiah 53:4-6
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

This child is not like other kings that sat on the throne of David. He rules to bless his people and he gave himself that we might have peace with God and that peace won’t ever end because his reign won’t ever end.

c. His kingdom is eternal

Lastly, his kingdom is an eternal kingdom that will go from strength to strength.

Isaiah 9:7
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

In Israel kings came and went – some did a good job. but many didn’t and there was none that were perfect. Even the best of them were deeply flawed. But Jesus is the king that the Lord promised David in 2 Samuel 7. He lived the perfect life and he would be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace. He would be the one to sit on David’s throne and over his kingdom forever administering justice and righteousness from that time on and forevermore.

4. Waiting for the new day

We are people who have seen the light but are still waiting for the new day to arrive in all its fullness. Jesus first coming was the dawn of that light. But the new day isn’t completely here yet. We don’t see the fullness and splendour of his reign on earth yet. But from that time from when the light first dawn, until now, the Lord has been bringing light to people living in darkness through the preaching of the gospel. As Paul says to the Colossians God’s been rescuing people from the dominion of darkness bringing them into the kingdom of the son he loves (see Col. 1:13). The Lord has been enlarging the nation calling people out of the darkness into the light getting ready for the new day. Jesus promised all those who will follow him that they will never walk in the darkness again but will have the light of life.

a. Follow the light

We don’t have to go on in the darkness. People get used to stumbling around. We like be wise in our own eyes even though we are in the dark. You know when I was walking down that track in the dark, I could have called out and the others would have heard me but I was too proud to admit that I was stumbling around in the darkness. But friends, we don’t have go on groping about looking for answers. We don’t have to keep on making a mess of things in life. But when the light is held to you, you need to come to it and believe in the one who is the light of the world. We need to follow Jesus, the light that shine in the darkness. If you tired of looking but not finding any real answers to life, then turn to the one is the light of the world.

b. Don’t take your eyes off him

If you have come to the light, then keep on trusting in him. Don’t take your eyes off him. Don’t be led astray by those groping around in the darkness around you. Let him be your wisdom in this life. Let him be the light that lights your way. I don’t know what you might be going through, but he is the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how dark the night might seem for you, but he is the dawn of the new day. Even when we find ourselves one day walking through the valley of the shadow of death, he is the light that light up the way until we come to the other side. He is the promise that there is yet more to come, that a new day will dawn. So, fix our eyes on him and never take them off him for he is the light of the world.