A stunningly beautiful portion of scripture is before us in Chapter 9 of Isaiah. We’ll go thought it slowly so we can absorb and appreciate all God has for us. Isaiah speaks poetically about the coming Messiah giving wonderful insights into this Savior who is to come.
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. The people in northern Israel from the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali suffered greatly when the Assyrian attacked in 734-732 B.C. God is encouraging them that their time of suffering will not go on forever but will be followed by a time when God will bestow glory and honor on their region around Galilee. This of course refers to Jesus and his ministry centered in the region of Galilee and Capernaum where he spent a great deal of time ministering with his disciples.
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. They were a people in darkness and Jesus will be the great light that comes to live and walk among them! He will shine his light of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles. Praise God as we too benefit from that light given long ago.
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. The nation of believers will be multiplied by Jesus which it was when Jesus invited both Jews and Gentiles to be a part of the family of God.
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. God promised to break the yoke of slavery to sin and oppression. He gives victory so there is always hope in Him.
This prophecy of Messiah’s coming as a light to the world that would be centered in Galilee and Capernaum shows the specificity of God’s prophecies. He gave the where and what this message would be about. This prophecy in verse 1-2 is quoted again in Matthew 4:14-16. Matthew gives us the details in verse 13 of how Jesus came to that region. “Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— . The idea of Jesus being a light to and for mankind in relation to God was stated by John the Baptist in John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” Jesus confirmed he was the true light in John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Amazingly, God gave the place where Messiah’s ministry would be centered and the results of that ministry – bringing light to a people in darkness. Those who believe in Jesus are called out of darkness into His light. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God also promised to break their yoke of slavery which He did by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Hebrews 10;10 “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Jesus paid for our sins so we can live in His light. Paul puts it this way in Romans 10:10 “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” These prophecies were given 600 years before Christ was born. God is amazing, Sovereign and Omniscient!
How does this speak to us today during this Lenten Season? We need to ask ourselves if we are availing ourselves of His light in our lives. Do we see His truth as light? Do we pursue His truth and light in His Word daily? God was specific about where Jesus’ ministry would be centered. Have you asked yourself where your ministry is centered? Do you purposefully seek to influence those around you for Jesus? Are you asking God to increase your area of influence? God has you where you are for a certain purpose. Don’t let it be wasted. Focus and be intentional about sharing Jesus with those around you. Lastly, keep repentance in mind as Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for our sin by dying on the cross. Am I taking advantage of the relationship Jesus made possible with God? How can I seek to deepen that relationship and make it more applicable to my every day life?
As you marvel at God’s intentional words included in Isaiah that were to give hope to the Jews and to us as well, let these facts grow your faith and trust in who God is, what He knows and what He does on your behalf.