Today, our advent Bible passage takes us back into the Old Testament and once again to Isaiah.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)
There have been times during 2020 when it seems the whole world has been ‘walking in darkness’. On Wednesday 9 December, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world (outside of clinical trials) to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination. For many, hope is restored by the promise the vaccine brings in life soon returning to ‘normal’.
Isaiah writes about the most significant light of all coming into the world – Jesus. In the popular worship song ‘Here I Am to Worship’, Tim Hughes wrote these words in verse 1:
Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes let me see
Beauty that made
This heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You
Tim Hughes © 2000 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Integrity Music) CCLI Licence No. 1307495
The words of this song and in Isaiah, remind us of how Jesus’ light coming gives us eternal hope. They also speak of Jesus coming to us, something Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 9:6.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
Isaiah describes the type of child Jesus will grow up to be. One who will be exalted far above every other name and rule and reign with authority (Isaiah 9:7). The English translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh translates Isaiah 9:6 as follows:
For a child has been born to us,
A son has been given us.
And authority has settled on his shoulders.
He has been named
“The Mighty God is planning grace;
The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler”
Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Isaiah 9:5).
The NIV’s ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God’ is rendered as ‘The Mighty God is planning grace’. Grace is God’s unmerited favour towards us. Grace isn’t earned, it cannot be bought – it is a free gift!
Perhaps you are feeling hopeless at this time year and without direction, stumbling around in the dark. Open your eyes to the light that Jesus brings, gives us hope in this dark world of ours.
Have you accepted the free gift God gives us by inviting Jesus into your life? It is humbling to think God Himself became a baby who would grow up to die in our place on the cross. This is the real reason for celebrating Christmas – God’s gift of grace entering the world.
Jesus, Name above all Names, thank You for Who you are. Thank You that you bring light and life into our dark world. Thank You for the free gift of grace found in you. I pray that many who are in darkness will have their eyes opened to You and receive Your free gift of grace. Amen.
Graham Crosbie works in IT for a global Christian relief and development agency. He serves on the leadership team of Hope Church Newham.