First United Presbyterian Church

Isaiah 9:2-7

Isaiah 9:2-7

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.  3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.  4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  5For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.  6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.  He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 

In historical context, the leader named by Isaiah was coming to bring hope to the people in that moment. Thought to be Hezekiah, who ruled the Kingdom of Judah from 715 to 687 BCE, the anticipation of his rule cast a vision for them of hope, a light shining into their deep darkness.

We hear these words, particularly verse 6, as an echo of Handel’s Messiah. Familiarity with scripture often sends us into a place of comfort. After all, we as a people long for the hope and promise of the Christmas story each year, in all the ways the light of the baby Jesus shines into our lives and all the joy we often associate with this season.

It is also good to see how the scripture comes alive in our own context. The text references a communal longing in a time of extreme oppression. We can ask ourselves where do we see darkness in our world? Where do we see oppression? The answers we give are varied, and there will be new examples between the day I write this and the day you read it. New things cast darkness every day. We can become overwhelmed by the atrocities and injustice in our world. 

Yet there is an invitation in the vision of light and hope in this passage. Where do we see God breaking through? Take a deep breath and begin to name out loud or write down where you see the light of God breaking through. Where have you seen God at work in our world? Where do you see God’s light shining through the actions of others?

Isaiah paints a picture of a perfect ruler whose kingdom will sustain the people. What images come to mind for you when you think what endless peace and justice would look like?

In these words, the foretelling of a savior who came to live among us, as one of us, echoes through into our season of anticipation. We hear these words as hope and promise in a time of  darkness.

Contributed by Kristi Button

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