The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warriorâ€™s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7, â€œFor unto us . . .â€, is a familiar passage for the days of Advent. Many pastors choose it during the Christmas season to either read or upon which to base their sermons. â€œFor unto us a child is given, unto us a son is born.â€ Itâ€”seeminglyâ€”so fits with the pastoral scene of the Nativity.
But, in some ways, this passage is more about Easter than Christmas, more about freedom than gifts, more about salvation. Period.
â€œThe people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.â€
Who walks in darkness, dwells in death except an unredeemed sinner? Who needs the lightâ€”the Light of salvationâ€”desperately? Those who need the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage is hailed as one of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. When the Jews were looking for a Messiah, they werenâ€™t looking for a babe in a manger; they werenâ€™t looking for a baby at all, but rather for a warrior-king who would free them from the slavery of the oppressive governments that had conquered them. â€œFor you have broken . . . the rod of his oppressor.â€ War, servitude, subjugation would be over. Israel would be free.
What the Jews didnâ€™t grasp, didnâ€™t realize is that this life in itself is oppression. There is a sense of slavery to the very sin that permeates the earth that crushes each and every one of us. Paul writes: â€œ. . . the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption . . .â€ (Romans 8:21b, NKJ). Simply living here, in this life, is a kind of slavery, a slavery to sin.
Paul talks about this slavery . . . to the earth, to sin:
â€œFor what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?â€ (Romans 7:15-24 NKJ)
As Christians, we feel this slavery down to the very cells in our body. Our hormones, our lusts, our very sin nature fight against our desire to please God and to do His will. We know that itâ€™s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to trust Him and to do His will.
â€œFor unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.â€
The wonderful truth is that Jesus, the Lord Jesus Whom we love and trust, is the One Who has become our judge, our jury, our King! It is to Him we owe allegiance, Him that we serve. And He, through His great sacrifice, has already paid the price of our sin. The miracle of Christmas isnâ€™t about Bethlehem, as tender and wonderful as it is, but rather is about Calvary and what Father God planned and accomplished that Easter week long ago. The miracle of Christmas is about a baby who became a man, but more than a man. Who because our Savior, Who died and rose again to pay the price for our sins.
Itâ€™s easy and fun to celebrate all the aspects of Christmas. But what looms as a shadow over every nativity is a cross, for without the cross, the nativity has no value, makes no sense.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, as we look, even today, toward the next weeks where the decorations are packed away, where homes are cleaned of the accumulated clutter, letâ€™s also look toward the spring where the celebration of Easter rises. Letâ€™s not see Christmas as an end unto itself, but rather the beginning of the time when we rejoice because our Lord is truly risen indeed!
Copyright 2007 by Robin L. O’Hare. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Permission to reproduce will be given by author by contacting servinggodalone @ yahoo.com. All copies must be reproduced in their entirety and distributed without cost.