The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

Pastor Ino

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This is the second message from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. This passage is often quoted in Christmas message. Today’s message is from Isaiah 9:2,「The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;」(‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2‬ ‭NIV)‬‬ By learning about the backgrounds of these prophecies, we hope to process through together the meaning of prophecies about the birth of Christ. As I said in my previous message, the country of Israel was divided into two parts, north and south, and when Isaiah was called, it was time for Northern Israel to be destroyed and taken captive by Assyria. At that time (around 734 BC), the Northern Israel left the Lord, formed an alliance with the King of Aram, and attacked the Southern Judah. The king and the people of Southern Judah became anxious, forgetting the promise of God given to the descendants of David, and it was the time that their faith was under the trial. Under such circumstances, the promise of God was given to them, which we will learn about today. We know that history repeats itself, and that’s why we should learn from the past mistakes. Even in our lives, when we face challenges and difficulties, we would like to intentionally pay attention to the promise of God, instead of only focusing on the problems. Now, please read Isaiah 9: 1-7.

  Returning a little, but in Isaiah 7:1 says that, when Ahaz was king of Judah, the King of Aram and the king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it. Following verse 2 describes that when the people of Southern Judah heard that “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; the hearts of the king and his people were shaken and upset. At such times, God sent Isaiah to give a message to King Ahaz that Southern Judah will never be conquered by Northern Israel. Do you remember the covenant of God that He made with King David? Please refer to 2 Samuel 7: 12-16. In particular, verse 16 says,「Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”」(‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:16‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
In Isaiah 7:11, God spoke to Ahaz through Isaiah,「“Ask the Lord your God for a sign,…”」
‭‭In verse 14, God gives the promise of a Savior to King Ahaz, the descendant of David who refuses to seek signs. It says,「Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.」(Isaiah 7:14 NIV)
As you all know, this prophecy came true when Jesus was born as a descendant of David. Even if King Ahaz loses his country on this earth, Jesus, who is born as a descendant of David, will bring about an eternal kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. King Ahaz will eventually receive this promise to play a part in the covenant between God and King David.

Isaiah 9: 1 says that there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. There are several names of places mentioned here, which were destroyed by Assyria. The expression of “Galilee of the Gentiles” prophesies that after being conquered by Assyria, foreigners will be located and Galilee becomes a land of Gentiles. However, such land will become a glorious place when Christ is born. Isaiah 9:2 says,「The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.」The authority of this world is only for temporary, and it is the same for the current countries where we live. However, the kingdom of God is for eternal. God is still working through those who believe in Christ. What kind of person is Jesus, who was born as a descendant of David? Please read verses 6-7 slowly. It is written that「…the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.」‭‭‬‬We have this access to live with Jesus, who is called Wonderful Counselor. We can live with the one who is called Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Furthermore, he is able to increase the number of his people. Verse 4, for the expression of “in the day of Midian’s defeat”, you can refer to Judges chapter 7. God is able to do great things through only few believers. It is said,「Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, (establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever…)」(Isaiah‬ ‭9:7‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
On the other hand, Northern Israel say with pride and arrogance of heart (verse 9), Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth (Verse 12), and they are finally destroyed by Assyria. It is said in verse 13 that it was because they have not returned to him nor have they sought the LORD Almighty. Moreover, Isaiah prophesies that even Assyria will be struck and destroyed by God. (10:24, 25) God sees such nations which grow arrogant, and get eaten up with pride. And one day, the day of destruction will come. Isaiah continues to speak such prophecies.

 Today, in Japan, many people are living with anxiety and worries of the coronavirus pandemic. Difficulties and trials happen everywhere in the world in any time in history. History repeats itself. Let us not focus only on our problems. But instead, let us have the eyes of faith. We believers should never forget to trust in the Lord. Let us remember that we have the savior who loves us and provides a way of salvation for us. He is the one who has become the light and welcomes us into the kingdom of heaven.

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