Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
This part of the book of Isaiah is the part about him calling the faithful believers of God to look beyond their challenging times, telling them here will be a future where light comes and fills their present darkness. There so many verses about difficult times in the bible because such times are a part of life. This is the impact of sin entering our world, this is the condition of human brokenness that distresses every generation. And there are all kinds of dark… oppression, persecution, sickness, death of loved ones, war, poverty, injustice, betrayal, and so on.
What were the faithful in Isaiah’s time called to do? They were to believe that God keeps his word.
First, they were to remember that the tribes of Zebulun and Napthali were brought down as God had warned would be the direct consequence of turning away from Him. This would likely have triggered even older accounts of the fate of other similar peoples, cities and kingdoms like that of Babel, Sodom, Gomorrah and such.
Second, they were to trust in God’s ability transform things and situations into something good. Galilee was not particularly great or special at that time. Yet God said through Isaiah that He will honor Galilee in the future. Galilee would become the place where Jesus did much of His ministry, bringing hope and light to the world. Today, believers all over the world often come to Galilee to trace His footsteps and be inspired.
So what are we believers today supposed to do when we are in distress? We have even more reason than Isaiah’s listeners to trust in God because God has already delivered on His whole promise. We know He repeatedly rescued His people throughout history, and He executed the Galilee part of the promise when He came as Jesus, lived on earth, died and defeated death when He rose again. While all types of darkness is tough to experience, perhaps death (by any cause) is the worst because it is inevitable, and we are absolutely helpless to overcome it.
But because Jesus lives, because He is greater than all things that are right and wrong with this life, we know He has overcome the worst of all darkness. So we know we can face tomorrow whatever it looks like, and we can trust Him to bring us from what looks like nothing (great, pleasant, joyful) to a bright and glorious future in His time.
Thoughts for the day
- What dark circumstances surround you today? Recollect God’s faithfulness to you and those you know. He is in the business of saving His people since the beginning of time as we know it. Let Jesus’s resurrection, His power and promise, be the light breaking in on your darkness.
- Who do you know is going through a distressing time? Ask God to use you to be a light dawning on their darkness, reveal to you what that looks like for you to take action, and the courage and opportunity to show up and be that ray of love and light
(Today’s prayer is inspired by another old hymn…)
Dear Jesus, because you live, I can face tomorrow. Because you live, all fear is gone. And because I know you hold the future, life – whatever it looks like – is worth living, just because you live. May this truth sink deep in my heart and let its light radiate through me. Amen.