Imagine yourself in a dark auditorium. On stage, you can barely make out some pitiful figures groaning and weeping, groping for relief. Some, attempting to walk, stumble and fall in the blackness.
This was the nation of Israel in the days of Isaiah. Their longstanding rejection of God had brought them under Assyria’s cruel fist. It was a time of darkness, gloom and anguish, as God disciplined Israel with shame and humiliation.
But suddenly the darkened stage is drenched in blazing light.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined. (Is 9.2)
John Oswalt says, “They did not produce [the light] nor are they responsible for it. Where they had been groping in darkness, or sitting in the land of death’s shadow, they suddenly find themselves blinking in the light.”
What a picture of God’s grace. Israel, loving darkness, had said “no thanks” to God, but instead of abandoning them to their sin and misery, he graced them with light, like he did with us:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 CO 4.6)
When God enlightened our hearts, it was as great a miracle as when God first spoke light into existence. In our sin and darkness, we never saw Christ as desirable, but when God shone his light in our hearts, suddenly we could see God’s glory shining in Jesus. We too, found ourselves blinking in the light of salvation.
This Christmas, think back to when God gave you light, and give him praise.