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Do you feel the darkness? It’s all around you. It’s in you. It’s the darkness of sin, the darkness that was ushered into this world when, as we heard earlier, Adam and Eve chose to listen to the Prince or Darkness instead of listening to God.
Like Isaiah, we see the effects of this darkness all around us. In the first eight chapters of his book he points out how many in his day were walking in the darkness. They brought meaningless offerings to the Lord because, as they brought them, their hearts were far from him. They darkened justice by taking advantage of the poor, the fatherless and the widow, while favoring the rich. They practiced divination and sought guidance from forbidden sources, like the dead, and the stars- so whatever guidance they thought they received was really from Satan. Money and things had become their idols because they loved them more than God. They trusted in man, in the institutions of man, to take care of their needs. They praised and flaunted outward beauty over morality and truth. They were drunks. They called good evil, and evil good. As a result, God allowed their society to implode and their enemies to conquer them.
There is nothing new under the sun. We see many who are walking in the same darkness today. But let’s not get all high and mighty and point the finger at “those people.” We too are walking in darkness. We have the darkness of sin living in our hearts. We inherit it from Adam and Eve. It shows itself in our daily walk; in jealousy, in judgmentalism, in neglect of our neighbor in need, in how highly we value money, things, beauty, sports; in the lack of attention we give to God and his word. We don’t have to look anywhere but the mirror to see that we are often in league with the darkness and that we deserve to be cast out of God’s presence into outer darkness.
You may feel the darkness sin brings even more during this holiday season if the deep darkness, the shadow of death, has touched your family. The empty chair, the missing laugh, remind you of what God told Adam and Eve would happen because of sin. Dust you are and to dust you will return. The shadow of death is creeping over all of us and there is no escape.
But Pastor, how can you be such a downer? It’s Christmas! Because we can’t truly appreciate how much we need the light until we realize how much in the dark we are.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. This light causes people to rejoice as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. What is that light? What could cause such overwhelming joy?
To us a child is born, to us a son is given. Ok, the birth of a child makes you rejoice, but how is the birth of a child going to give us, the world, the light it desperately needs?
The government will be on his shoulders. The government usually tries to provide light for its citizens but ultimately only provides more darkness. It cannot give the light that is needed. How will this ruler be different?
He will be called Wonderful counselor. The counsel he gives is light and life instead of the false hope of other counselors. The words he speaks are truth, they light the way to eternal life.
He will be mighty God. Unlike all other rulers, he is able to do whatever it is he promises, nothing is impossible for him, none of his promises ever fail.
He will be everlasting Father. Fathers care for and protect their children but, eventually they grow old and need care and protection themselves. This Father never grows old. He is always there to care for and protect his children.
He will be prince of peace. Shalom, a complete lack of worry about anything. Under his rule everything needed for battle will be destined for burning. These things are no longer needed. He will usher in a peace that has no end, a peace between God and man that brings the kind of peace that passes all understanding.
Who is this light-bringer, the one who shines in our darkness and causes the darkness to flee? The one who reigns on David’s throne. The one who rules with perfect justice and righteousness, not just for a few years on earth, but over all things for all eternity. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of David. The one perfectly suited to drive out the darkness. The only one who could live under God’s demand for perfection and satisfy it. The only one who could experience the outer darkness we deserve, the punishment of hell, die, and then banish the darkness of death and hell with the light of his resurrection. The only one who can cause his light to shine in our hearts to bring us from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the freedom of the children of God, from death to life.
How can this be? How can God become man in order to save us? The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. His zeal, his burning love for us combined with his perfect wisdom and almighty power has accomplished this. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, but on the third day he rose from the dead and has ascended back to heaven, the kingdom of light, where he rules all things for the benefit of his church, those who trust in him.
Jesus is the light of the world. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Because of his zealous love for you he came to earth and won a victory for you that you never could have won on your own. Through his powerful word he has worked to open your eyes so that you see the light, the truth that he is your savior from sin.
Now walk in the light. Let your light shine. Let his light that is shining in you shine through you, so that others may be brought from darkness to light, from unbelief to faith, from an eternity spent in outer darkness to one spent in the place were we will need no sun, because the Lamb at the center of the throne gives us perfect light.