The Light of Hope – Isaiah 9

Winter is the darkest time of the year. So many people feel hopeless. More people are depressed and commit suicide during the holidays than any other time of the year. Yet, in the dead of winter, God gave us a holiday, a celebration of light! As we continue the series on light, we will look at Isaiah 9. Isaiah’s message is a message of judgment – God must judge sin. But it is also a message of hope – God has taken that judgment on Himself, sending His son Jesus to die for the sins of the world. The key verse is verse 2, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.” Looking at the first six verses of this chapter, we’ll see that light turns…

 

Misery into Miracles

The last verse of Isaiah 8 reads, “they will look toward the earth and see only distress, darkness, and the gloom of affliction, and they will be driven into thick darkness.” Chapter 9, which ultimately is a chapter on the judgement of Israel, begins with hope. “Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times… But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations” (v. 1). In the middle of a bad chapter, there is a message of hope. You may be going through a bad chapter in your life, but there is hope! Hope is always about joyous expectation. Hope is what you are looking forward to. Hope says my future will be better than my past and where I am going is better than where I have been. Hopelessness reigns in the world today. How do we find light amidst darkness? Notice the reference to Galilee. Jesus performed the majority of his miracles and ministry around the sea of Galilee. Jesus came preaching, teaching, and healing. God can turn your misery into a miracle. On HGTV they have demo day before they can rebuild.  Miracles come out of difficulties, challenges, obstacles, impossibilities! Jesus is the light of the world.

 

Sadness into Singing

Verse 3 talks about joy and rejoicing. When God brings you out of darkness into light you can’t help but praise Him. Praise is not only an instrument of worship, but a weapon of war. God inhabits praise. In Psalm 27, David says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— whom should I dread? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid; though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident… I will offer sacrifices in his tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord” (v. 1-3, 6). When God drowned Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, the children of Israel sang the song of Moses (Ex. 15). Give God the sacrifice of praise! God is turning sadness into singing!

 

Bondage into Breakthroughs

“For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian” (v. 4). Whatever binds you, God breaks. What are you in bondage to? Alcohol, drugs, pornography, lust, other strongholds of sin? Are you wondering if there is any hope? Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and set the captives free. God does not halfway deliver his people. He wants to take you to the Promise Land, the victorious Christian life. The devil will keep coming after you, like Pharaoh after the children of Israel. But God led them through on dry ground and drowned the enemy. When you walk with Him daily, He will deliver you daily. You can be free!

 

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (v. 6). Wonderful, He is awesome. Counselor, He gives us guidance when we are in the dark and don’t know what to do. He is the Mighty God who can speak “peace be still” to the storms of life. Eternal Father, He is the father who will never leave you or forsake you. He is the Prince of Peace. The angels announced the birth of Jesus with the words, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” The government is on His shoulders. God has it all under control. Whatever burden you are carrying, He can carry you. His shoulders carried the cross, government, and they will carry you. Let the light of Jesus be your hope and hope for those around you.

 

 

The Light of Beginnings – Genesis 1

On Sunday we started a new series on light. Light is a major theme of the Bible and is first mentioned in Genesis 1. Genesis, as its name implies, is the book of beginnings. In it we find the beginning of the universe, man, sin, salvation, nations, Israel, faith, worship, family, and society. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God had no beginning and He has no end, but creation had a beginning just like you and I had a beginning. God can make something out of nothing. He takes what is formless and dark and changes it into something beautiful and bright. How does God deal with the darkness, disorder, and deadness of our lives? The answer is Jesus! 

 

The Glory of Jesus

The Bible is a book about Jesus. Every chapter, character, and command points to Him. Our theme verse for this series is John 8:12: “Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’” Genesis 1:2 reads, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep….” I believe God created the earth in this way to show what our lives are like without God. Life without God is empty, dark, and meaningless. God spoke, and order came out of chaos. The word of God brings order to your life where there is chaos. Genesis 1 is clear that creation is the work of our triune God. God did not create us because He was lonely, but out of a love relationship. It is also clear that God is not detached from creation. A repeated phrase is “God saw….” God did not create you and forget about you. He sees you. God creates and sin de-creates. Life unravels and falls apart without God. Jesus, The Word, came to recreate and redeem creation. Wherever sin has brought darkness in your life Jesus says, “let there be light.”

 

The Guidance of Jesus

Throughout chapter 1 we see that God had a plan for every day and He has a plan for us every day. He worked. He created. He was productive. We are created in His image. God has a plan and purpose for our lives. You may have a big decision to make today and you don’t know what to do. God will give you light to direct your path. He gives us daily direction and guiding light. His word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path (Ps.119:105).  Just like the wise men were guided by the light, God orders our steps. He knows what is going on in your life and if He guided you into it, He will get you through it. You are not the result of chance, evolution, accident, or mistake. God planned you, formed you, created you, ordained you, and He will guide you step by step! God did not bring you this far to leave you now. Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light. He will never leave you or forsake you!

 

The Gospel of Jesus

When we give our lives to God, He puts His light in us. “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16). In a world of darkness, we bring the light of the Gospel. In a world of chaos, we bring the Gospel of peace. In a world filled with bad news, we have the good news. The world is so dark politically and culturally. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Let your light shine. The hope of the world is the local church. You are the light at your school, home, and workplace. People say, “I am the only Christian where I work. Pray for me another job.” The darker the place, the more they need your light! Jesus is the sun and we are the moon. The moon does not have light of its own. It reflects the light of the sun. That is what we do. We reflect the light of Jesus. Are you going be a half-moon, a full moon, or a total eclipse?

 

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, a strange thing happened. The earth became dark in the middle of the day. He took upon Himself the chaos, darkness, and emptiness of our lives so we could have eternal light and life. He makes us a new creation, old things are passed away, and all things are becoming new. He makes all things new! If your life is unraveling because of sin, turn to Jesus, trust in Him, and He will make all things new. He can make something out of nothing!