II. For to Us a Child is Born

When Isaiah 9:2 talks about a people walking in darkness, what does this image represent?Unless we understand this, we won’t be able to see how the baby in verse 6 is the answer to the darkness in verse 2. This darkness is the absence of godly leadership, the result of rebellion against God’s rule. When God is rejected, leaders have no light to guide their steps, illuminate their decisions, or show them what justice and peace look like. When your rulers know nothing of peace, justice, and righteousness, then your land is in deep darkness.

In Isaiah 8, Judah has made a disastrous alliance with Assyria in order to protect herself from Israel and Syria. Ahaz the idolator rejects powerful and loving Yahweh for bloodthirsty and cruel Tiglath-Pileser as the protector of Judah. His sin blinds him to the folly of this choice, and he brings down darkness on the whole land.

In spite of this, God reminds His people through Isaiah that He will save them if they trust in His promises, which He renews through the birth of baby Maher-shalal-hash-baz. “Don’t fear what they fear” God says. “Fear the Lord of Hosts, and honor Him as holy.” Faith is the path to salvation.

But Judah doesn’t listen to God’s prophet. They go instead to mediums and necromancers for wisdom and direction. They’ve exchanged the true God for idols, godly rule for wicked tyranny, and inspired prophets for muttering wizards. The result of their rebellion is “distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish” (Isaiah 8:22).

Now hear Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” And when this dawn breaks, joy erupts throughout the land, like joy at a great harvest festival. The yoke, the staff, the rod of the oppressor are broken, like God broke Midian’s power. The instruments of war and bondage become fuel for the bonfire at the great harvest feast.

What makes the change? What brings the people from starving in darkness and cursing God to this joyful feast of praise? Verse 6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son in given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The birth of this child signals the arrival of a new king. The darkness is a lack of godly leadership; the light that shines is a son of King David who will rule in righteousness like his father.

Seven hundred years later, another prophet spoke the Word of God to another wicked king who was allied with another world power that would soon destroy Jerusalem. John the Baptist called on the Roman puppet Herod Antipas to submit himself to the law of God. Instead of fearing God, Herod threw John in prison, and thus threw Galilee into darkness.

When this happened, there was only one thing for Jesus to do. As Matthew 4:12-17 says, when the darkness of Galilee reaches its very blackest, Jesus went to shine the light, fulfilling Isaiah’s words. Since this darkness is rebellious rule fueled by sin, Jesus announces God’s solution: “From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” Sins forgiven and a new king on David’s throne! That’s the light that shines in the land of deep darkness. That’s the joy that this child brings. Christmas is about a king and a kingdom, arriving on earth as it is in heaven.

As our nation repeats the errors of God’s people by turning away from God, getting mired down in destructive alliances, listening to loony prophets, and being led into high sexual rebellion, we need to hear again the good news of Isaiah 9. God’s answer now is the same as it was then: “For to us a child is born.” God disperses sin, rebellion, and idolatry by announcing the arrival of King Jesus.

The good news is that a great sunrise began to dawn in Bethlehem when that child was born, and the light is still rising over the whole earth. “Of the increase of His government, and of peace, there will be no end.” Even the rebellion of kings, presidents, and supreme courts cannot blot out the sun. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” God is bringing light to the world, and He will not be stopped. “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2015 by CJ Bowen