"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 warrior'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". (NKJV)
I’m sure the last thing you would ever equate the virgin birth of Jesus Christ with is any form of darkness. Almost immediately, I can hear your initial reaction as being what the Bibles said concerning God, that is, GOD IS LIGHT and there is no darkness in HIM at all. Now, if this is your response, you are 100% correct, however, there are some things you haven't taken in account of how Our Sovereign God move and operate in the affairs of this world, especially in the lives of human beings whether they are in a fallen state or going through the complete “redemptive” process. What this means is, you either missed or you didn't take into account the role "darkness" played in regards to fulfilling that 1st prophecy God proclaimed to Adam and Eve after they disobeyed HIM and fell from grace in the Garden of Eden. Believe it or not, "darkness" displayed in different manners around us and coming out of us played a major role in the redemption process, and brings forth the significance of this birth in Bethlehem and the baby Jesus lying in the manger.
Beginning with this 1st prophecy in Genesis 3:15, God in the progression of human history gave other revelations to us about the birth of the Messiah. These revelations came in "peace meal" as God gave us more clues to this prophecy through other scriptures progressively in the Old Testament which describes a time frame spanning a total of 42 generations, leading up to and culminated in the virgin birth of "Emmanuel", Jesus Christ, the “Christ child, that “Holy Thing”, conceived of the Holy Ghost birthed by and described to Mary by Gabriel the angel as the One who would become the “Son of God".
The text says the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah speaks to them about a future event in past tense as if this event had already taken place. To understand how light can burst forth out of darkness, we need a greater understanding about walking in darkness.....
In understanding Darkness the first thing we need to know is there are many definitions and types of "darkness". And as I eluded to in the outset, all of them played a tremendous and sometimes deadly role in the life and deliverance of fallen man. It was a dark time in many ways: dark socially, dark politically, and dark spiritually yet, Isaiah was prompted by the Holy Spirit to broadcast these words of hope found in the sermon text. And when you get to the 6th verse, Isaiah gives a detail description of the Messiah who was to come and this description gave the people further insight of what type of Messiah was coming. Isaiah said HIs name shall be called “Wonderful,“ Counselor,” the “Mighty God” “Everlasting Father”, and the Prince of Peace.”
Notice all of these attributes that Isaiah described were ascribed to a “son”, a baby not yet born, but would be born to a virgin conceive by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost who’s name would be called Emmanuel” named so because his name meant” God is with us.”
Changing the way we celebrate Christmas: In the "Private Sector":
Another evidence of darkness in today's world centers around how we celebrate Christmas in general. Every year, around the month of December, in fact, the day right after Thanksgiving, we begin to get into what we have called the “Christmas” spirit. People get into a frenzy, gearing up for all the “Black Friday” sales and specials and literally become aggressive, even violent toward each other fighting over potential gifts that are reduced in price but limited in quantity.. The “commercialization” of Christmas has caused many to forget what Christmas is really about. That’s the obvious. Here’s the “not so obvious” A lot of Christians get involved in the "Black Friday" frenzy and misbehave also and become part of the “darkness” that fosters misbehavior. So in the secular world, the manger has been pushed out of the way and Santa seemingly has become the "new savior".
Another important point I wish to emphasize at this juncture of this message is: as the church of Jesus Christ, we are in the post resurrection and ascending stage beyond Jesus' virgin birth and resurrection, it's alright to remember the manger but, by now we should be celebrating with great expectancy His second coming because the manger and the cross is behind us, but the second coming and the crown is before us. Jesus is coming back and He could rapture the true church at any moment and we will be change from mortality to immortality in a moment...in a twinkling of an eye at any moment.
Now the text here and every text in the 4 gospels sustains the fact that Jesus has already come the first time and fulfilled the purpose of redemption. Jesus has already fulfilled Isaiah 61:1-2a, the latter being to preach the acceptable ear of the Lord. The Remainder of the 2nd verse is yet to be fulfilled in our time.....YET....The rest of the 61st chapter will happen in His second coming.......Salvation is already here!
Jesus has redeemed us by HIS shed blood, at the cross, Everyone who accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior and what he did at Calvary right now is redeemed, saved. Don't get me wrong....It’s great to remember His virgin birth and we must always do so….but…the redemptive work was done on the cross, in HIS death, burial and resurrection and post scripted by the Great Commission and the promise of power from the Holy Ghost right before HIS ascending up into the clouds.
Looking Back and Pressing forward:
So the Isaiah text allows us to look back before the cross to celebrate the greatest historic divine event that happened in behalf of human history…because this historic event brought fallen mankind new life…and new hope….. redemption and reconciliation with our Creator God. Take a closer look at the living conditions at the time of the text… To better understand and better appreciate the significance of this prophecy Isaiah spoke about that started in Chapter 7:14 when Isaiah told a scared but proud 20 year old Ahaz, the King of Israel about a sign God would give the nation of Israel because the king refused in pride to ask God for one.. a "sign" about a virgin conceiving and that immaculate conception is what led us to the manger…to this chosen hay troth…in a chosen stable… in a chosen city called Bethlehem….where there was no room in the inn….in that chosen city….for the one who God chose to save us from our sin….in that chosen place called the City of David a long time ago.
Away in a Manger: The New born King is born.
As we fast forwarding from Isaiah 9 to Luke Chapter One…Luke, the beloved physician said at the time of our Savior’s birth…. "There were in that same country of JESUS’ birth…shepherds were abiding in their fields and keeping watch over their flocks throughout the night…and lo…the angel of the Lord came upon them….and the glory of the Lord shone around about them…. and they were sore afraid"….they were terrified!….They didn’t know what to make of this phenomena…but then…an angelic herald said to them:
“Fear not… BEHOLD… I bring you good news…good tidings of great joy…for all people…For unto you is born this day…. in the City of David ….A Savior which is Christ the Lord"… and this will be a sign….the indicator……you need….You will find Him….a baby… wrapped in swaddling cloth and laying in a manger….And about that time….along with the angel….euphoria filled the air because the heavenly choir started singing praising God and saying ….Glory to God in the highest and on earth… peace… good will toward men….
Away in the Manger: The New King is sought....God's Son is given!
Now…. as we go back to the Gospel of Matthew….Chapter 2 … Matthew said in that chapter….. after the birth of Jesus….our Emanuel… 3 wise men from the Orient came to Jerusalem to Herod the “sitting” king looking for the Christ the child anointed to be king asking: "Where is HE… the one born King of the Jews….in other words: Where is the one anointed the real King? This king has a star. We saw the king’s "GPS" star when we were in the Orient. We followed HIS star here to Jerusalem so when we find HIM, we come to worship HIM…
Here's the scenario: In Luke the shepherds were given the good news….and told where HE was….In Matthew…the 3 wise men were in search for the good News and guided to where HE was and Herod, the sitting king was disturbed to find out being appointed by man (Rome) does not always anoint you by God…You can have a lofty position and have no holy backing….Having a title does not always mean you are entitled…
More than a Jewish Messiah
Also, I found it interesting that 3 wise men from the Orient became fixated in the east on seeking the Christ child and followed a bright star west to find HIM….This heavenly GPS was their sign and their indicator that the Christ child ….the true king had arrived…which tell us that the birth of the Messiah was not just a Jewish event …..Jesus’ birth is much bigger than that… because His birth would literally change the whole world …..
So here's the Ultimately truth:…. The whole earth since the fall of Adam and Eve was suffering from the birth pangs waiting of Jesus to come….Because SIN entered into this world and death came as a punishment for SIN, the whole earth had been in labor for 42 generations….The moment the pair on the ground disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, "SIN" had a cataclysmic effect on everything! It was so much so that all of nature had been out of whack every since……and from a spiritual point of view in regards to the relationship between Holy God and now sinful lost man, It had been dark even dismal for a long time…..the world and mankind suffered morning sickness in darkness waiting on God's great light to break through the darkness.
Taking a historic look at the time of Isaiah’s proclamation both in Isaiah 7:14 and in our text today, Jesus was born in a time when darkness was everywhere in every sense of the word….. It was dark politically....dark socially....dark spiritually...Darkness was everywhere! The Lord told us to look forward to the coming Messiah….Look for the ONE… HE declared would come in Genesis 3:15 when HE said the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head and the serpent would bruise the heel of her seed….The people were in open rebellion....many while in Babylonian captivity intermingled and intermarried with their captors. Some took on Persian wives while in Persia and about the time between Ezra and Nehemiah when there were 2 great exoduses back to the Promised land (Israel),. Some got caught up in Greek mythology and became Hellenists - Greek speaking Jews...but the ones who did go back they were looking for a marvelous light to shine through a thickness of darkness of all the oppression they had endured..…
God Navigating Through the darkness: Darkness..
And while I’m at it there is something great we need to know: God has always responded to darkness all throughout the history of this world….especially in the affairs of mankind….whenever sin abounded…every time Satan and demons splattered fresh coats of corruptive paints over the face of God’s creation…In fact….God has always done His greatest miraculous work by bursting forth out as a marvelous light breaking through the cloaks of darkness. In all those times when it seemed like in society and in the world where it looked like there was nothing but utter chaos… .and darkness was everywhere… in every facet of society…. When the times and conditions were right….God’s providence and plan of redemption always came shining forth…as a Great Light bursting forth out of sheer darkness… How do we know this? As a matter of fact:
A "Dark" Beginning and a History of dark times:
This earth started out in utter chaos….In the beginning.... darkness was everywhere… Genesis 1:2 said the earth was formless….it was void and in total chaos…the deep waters were cloaked and covered with darkness…. The first thing God did in creation while HIS spirit hovered over the waters that covered the earth…was move upon the deep waters covered by darkness and said “Let there be light”!.....Light immediately burst forth out of the darkness that covered the deep waters and separated the waters from the waters…
Now, fast forward to Genesis Chapter 6, and another kind of darkness comes to mind. Sin had become so rampant by this time in human history the Bible said that man had become so corrupted with evil that his heart was on evil on a continual basis. It was so much so, that God repent, actually regretted the day he made man and set in motion a plan to wipe him off the face of the earth because of the darkness of sin.... But...in Noah....One man one light in the midst of all that darkness, Noah found grace in the eyes of God.....Noah was light cloaked by a dark society.
Moving up the corridor of time....…to the Egyptian Empire…at the time of the Exodus… God used darkness and it came forth as punishment and a plague…because it symbolized God’s judgment against Egypt and the worship of “Ra”….Egypt’s sun god…Look at what the Lord did….
The bible said…God pitched Egypt in total darkness….so dark and so thick ….that you could actually feel the darkness…..and nobody could see nobody in Egypt….but…while it was dark in Egypt… God’s marvelous light remained untouched by darkness in the land of Goshen where the Hebrew children was living….and then as the Hebrews exited out of Egypt….Yahweh’s light came forth as a cloud by day… form darkness in the face of the Egyptian army… and light protecting the back of HIS people leaving Egypt…..and a pillar of fire by night… God’s light delivered them from the darkness of 430 years of slavery wrapped up in in from Egyptian bondage… a freedom parting of the Red Sea…and the giving of HIS LAW from Mount Sinai..
So by the time we get to Mount Sinai….we see the darkness of the Shekinah glory cloud covering the top most part of the mountain… symbolizing the awesome power and the great mystery that surrounds our understanding or lack of understanding of the Great I AM THAT I AM…giving us a different meaning of darkness…And then…. you see the same cloud covering the Mercy seat above the Ark of the Covenant representing the presence of God with HIS people in 1 Kings 8:12. When the psalmist in Psalms 97:2 describes the inscrutable nature of God's workings among the sons of men, you can hear him say: "Clouds and darkness are round about him. He’s saying that" God dwells in thick darkness.
This is why must trust the Lord with all of our hearts and we can’t lean to our own understanding… like God said in Isaiah 55: 8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord….For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Now you must understand….even though God’s Holy light burst forth from the midst of darkness…God Himself has no darkness in HIM at all…
And you saw the effects on Moses when he came out of the dark Shekinah cloud having been there in the cloud with God for 40 days….You know the story ….When Moses went up into the darkness of the Shekinah glory cloud…talked with God….for 40 days…..got 2 clay tablets with the 10 Commandments…. written in God’s own handwriting….and by the time Moses came out of that cloud…the glory of the Lord was all over Moses…and lit up Moses face ….and when the people saw him his face was shinning so bright that they had to put a veil over his face…
Oh if we would go up to where God is ….. in the study of HIS word…..in prayer and the meditations of our hearts…..if we learn to let go and let HIM have HIS way in us….HIS WAY with us….HIS WAY through us….for our benefit…..and allow the Spirit of the Lord that sealed and save us and dwells now on the inside of us …..overshadow us in our thoughts and in our mind with the mind of Christ….and create in us a clean heart and renew in us a right spirit…WHAT a wonderful change the Lord would make in our lives and we would finally .If we would prepare to celebrate the impact of the birth of the Messiah and take the time to really commune with HIM….worship HIM….praise HIM…I believe the countenance of the Lord would cause our faces to shine too….
It was a dark time when Isaiah spoke…it was a time of darkness….a time of ignorance about the powerful God that chose these wayward people Judah had a good king named Hezekiah and even though he wasn’t perfect there was moral depravity…war was imminent…circumstances were adverse…You had a 20 year old king on the throne Judah’s ruling a fearful nation…..the country was about to be invaded by Israel and Syria….He ruled Judah…Pekah ruled Israel….Rezin the son of Remaliah ruled Syria….Israel and Syria plotted to overthrow Judah…As a matter of fact the Bible said they came to Jerusalem to make war with Ahaz….but….this young king is scared out of his wits…Chapter 7 said Isaiah was sent to this young headstrong scared king………
God told Isaiah: go meet Ahaz the king….at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool take your son Shear -Jashub with you ….Tell the king:' Take heed, and be quiet; Don’t be afraid or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands They have plotted evil against you….Don’t worry about them ….Whatever they plotted…..won’t stand and it won’t come to pass …Ephraim in 65 years won’t be a people anymore…And then God told a as a act of faith…ask of HIM a sign…You know the story this young king refused to do so….Isaiah responded by saying to him: Is it not enough you House of David that you try the patience of men…Will you also try the patience of My God? You say that you will not try God and ask Him of any sign…WELL….The Lord Himself shall give you a sign of His own: a virgin shall conceive ….give birth to a son and shall call him Emmanuel…..
A Fresher and Deeper Perspective of the Manger
Now as I get ready to come to a close….here’s why we need a fresher and more deeper perspective of the manger…..Jesus already has come in the manger came…..Jesus already have been crucified….He already ascended into glory and is at the right hand of the Father interceding in our behalf as our /great High Priest….Every year we celebrate his first coming….but we need to celebrate the fact that Jesus is coming again…..Look at the fiber of the world we are living in today….The world is sinking into darkness….yet we who are saved rejoice in the fact that we can still see HIS marvelous light
Look at what we deal with even now….natural things are being pushed aside by un-natural things …. Moral behavior got shoved to the ground by immoral behavior….the earth was looking for her king to come back… Sunshine and blue skies especially in these days and times are challenged by irrational weather patterns… tsunamies….earthquakes…..dormant volcanic from once dead dormant hills…are beginning to erupt once again…as sin began to overtake the heart and mind of man….noxious weeds and volcanic eruptions and crazy weather….The world is getting darker and darker…. Well…I got great news fro you….God’s Great Light will burst through the world’s darkness one last time…..Jesus said He would make all things new….
and I heard John the revelator say in Revelation 19:11-16
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had* a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,* followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp* sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords……
Not only that….but John also said in Revelation Chapter 21: .I saw a new heaven and a new earth coming down for God out of heaven…because the first heaven and the first earth died….This world as we know it is going to die… and God going to make a new heaven and a new earth…. Where the wicked will cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest….
Secondly joy will increase…..this joy that I have this world didn’t give it to me and this world can’t take it away….I’m so glad Jesus came the first time and I celebrate that….but I believe it’s time for all of us to look forward to His second coming…..a celebrate the fact that sin will be no more…sickness will be no more Satan will be no more demons will be no more…war will be no more…….Darkness will be no more the Glory of the Lord will always shine bright all around us...by day and by night.... Jesus is the Light of the World.
Dr. William Edward Boddie