“The people who walk in darkness, will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” ~ Isaiah 9:2
Light is at the very center of the biblical story. “Let there be light” are the first words God said, speaking them into a dark and formless void (Genesis 1:2–3). The light He made on that first day was good. It created a separation between light and darkness.
We were made to enjoy the light, but from the beginning God’s creatures have been tempted to choose darkness instead. Satan was once known as “star of the morning, son of the dawn” (Isaiah 14:12). But he chose to rebel. He believed it was “better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,” as Milton’s Paradise Lost puts it. An untold number of demons joined Satan’s rebellion, and together they now make up “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12).
God created Adam and Even in His image as children of light, but they too fell into the depths of sin. They “became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). This darkness spread to all of us, their children. Each of us is born spiritually blind. The gospel remains “veiled to those who are perishing” because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). We’re lost in the dark, unable to see the light.
To remedy our blindness, the Father promised to send His Son to be our light. Glimmers of this hope are scattered throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah 9:2 gives us a glimpse of God’s promise. The prophet tells us: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Those who are walking and living in darkness aren’t going to work their way out of it. The Light is going to come to them.
As the gospel story began to unfold, there was a dawning realization that Jesus of Nazareth was the One who would fulfill Isaiah’s words. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied that his son would announce the coming of One who would be like a “Sunrise from on high.” Echoing Isaiah 9:2, Zechariah says that the Christ comes “to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” The unborn Jesus would one day bring God’s people “knowledge of salvation” and “the forgiveness of their sins” by the “tender mercy of our God” (Luke 1:77–79).
Isaiah 9:1 even specifies that this light will come “by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.” Matthew makes much of the fact that this is the exact location where Jesus began His ministry. Jesus went to the region of Galilee and settled in the city of Capernaum, right next to the sea, in order “to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet” (Matthew 4:14). Then Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:1–2.
Throughout the Gospels, wherever Jesus goes, the light conquers and the darkness flees. People are healed, and demons are cast out. This is why Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). Light gives life to all things. It restores them to what they were made to be.
God sent His Son to be the life-giving Light. He alone can break the power of sin and death. As Paul explained to the Corinthians, the “God who said ‘Light shall shine out of darkness’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). The same power God displayed at creation to make light can create light in our dark hearts. He can speak light into places where darkness used to reign.
It is jarring to realize daily just how much darkness surrounds us. I don’t need to recount for you all the ways our world is spinning out of control, how much hate and violence there is. You already know. The world is crying out for a great light that could dispel the evil that darkens everything.
“Light of the world” is not a sentimental title for a nice little baby Jesus. It’s a title for a warrior. The Light came to declare war on the darkness. He came to rescue and ransom us from the power of Satan. He came to free us from the hopeless blindness in which we were utterly lost. Christmas celebrates the coming of the Light, the dawning of God’s glorious victory that will never fade or grow dim.
Let’s praise God together for the triumph He has won for us through Jesus Christ. Christmas declares that darkness will not have the last say over who we are or what happens to us. The Light of the World has come!
Questions for Thought
- Read Ephesians 5:6–13. What are “unfruitful deeds of darkness”? What is the “fruit of the Light”?
- Read 1 John 1:5–7. What does John mean when he says that God is Light? How should that inform how we live?
Lord, thank You for opening my blind eyes and making me able to see the truth of the gospel. Thank You for sending Your Son to be the Light of the World. Reveal to me the ways that I have wrongly put my hope in the things of this world, and remind me of the only hope I have—which is in You alone! Embolden me to share this hope with others, for the good of others and the glory of Your name. Amen.
Think of someone in your life who is going through a dark or difficult time this Christmas season. Share the message of Isaiah 9:2 with them, encouraging them with the eternal hope that we have through the Light, who is Jesus Christ.
Dr. Robert Jeffress
Dr. Robert Jeffress is Senior Pastor of the 16,000-member First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, and a Fox News Contributor. He is also an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Jeffress hosts the daily radio and television program, Pathway To Victory, heard in over 195 countries.
Dr. Jeffress is the author of 30 books, including Courageous: 10 Strategies for Thriving in a Hostile World; Invincible: Conquering the Mountains That Separate You From the Blessed Life; and 18 Minutes With Jesus: Straight Talk From the Savior About the Things That Matter Most.
Dr. Jeffress and his wife, Amy, have two daughters and three grandchildren.