Read Isaiah 8:21–9:7

Growing up in a small town in Alaska, I was well acquainted with darkness. In the depths of the winter, a mere few hours of sunlight each day would quickly give way to the long, unforgiving nights. And the effects of the darkness went beyond the inconvenience of shoveling the driveway under artificial light. The lack of light brought about a lack of hope. The long winters of Alaska produce isolation, depression, and sometimes despair. In the darkness, there is no vision, no direction, and no purpose.

Isaiah 8 tells of a time when Israel was well acquainted with darkness. Under the threat of invasion by an international superpower (Assyria), God’s people were in a place of fear and dread. Rather than turning to God as their hope, they doubled down on their fear by embracing conspiracies and consulting with occultic mediums (vv. 12, 19), which led them only deeper into utter darkness.

And yet, amid this distress, the prophet Isaiah proclaims that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” Despite their own attempts to claw their way out of the darkness, a light has dawned upon them. What is this light? Who could bring hope amid utter darkness? Isaiah declares, “For to us a child is born.”

While a child is certainly no match for the Assyrian military, this child is different. This son will grow up to be a king who will rule with righteousness and justice. Though he will reign from David’s throne, his kingdom will extend to the ends of the earth and will be established for all of eternity. Through this anointed child, not only will the light shine amid the darkness, but the light will overcome it.

The promise given by Isaiah was ultimately fulfilled hundreds of years later when a child, a son, was born under the threat of another international superpower. Jesus is the Light of the World. And while our world still remains in utter gloom, the light of the gospel shines bright amid the darkness. For this king reigns with grace and rules with love. Of his kingdom, there will be no end.

The winters in Alaska were harsh. But I have not told you about the summers. At the height of summer in Alaska, there is daylight 24 hours a day. No darkness. All light. So much joy. When Christ returns, he will make all things new. And the Book of Revelation tells us that in the new creation, there will be no need for the sun (22:5), for the glory of God will shine brighter than a thousand suns! We will walk in the light and experience the pure joy of Christ’s kingdom forevermore.

Jeremy Treat is a pastor at Reality LA and an adjunct professor at Biola University. He is the author of Seek First and The Crucified King.

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