Reading through the Bible together
Isaiah was full of sorrow. Spiritual darkness in the Northern Kingdom of Israel had resulted in Assyrian captivity of people living in places like Galilee (v.1). However, he saw a day coming when the shadow of darkness would be replaced with “great light” and “joy” (vs.2-3) as Jesus, the “Light of the world” honored those very places with His presence (Matt. 4:15,16).
Then Isaiah bursts out with the most wonderful, expressive and joyful words that begin, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” (vs. 3-5)! We need to hear that because we are immediately taken back to the sinful world as Isaiah describes the end of the Northern Kingdom—called Ephraim and Samaria. They are repeatedly warned because they have not returned to the Lord. Yet His hand of love and mercy “is stretched out still” (vs.12,17,21) in further judgments hoping they will return to Him. Isaiah gives indictments against the rulers and false prophets (vs.14-16) who have led the people astray. The last part of this chapter is portrayed in these words, “selfishness at length consumes itself.” (SDABC, vol. 4, p. 149).
History shares many times when there were days of darkness followed by great joy as described in the beginning of this chapter. Like the bitter, dark day the disciples laid Jesus in the tomb only to later greatly rejoice when the reality finally dawns on their minds that Jesus is now alive! Like the Adventist pioneers disappointed on October 22, 1844, only to be filled with joy as they came to understand Daniel 7:13 was not referring to Jesus coming to earth at that time, but rather to the heavenly ceremony marking the beginning of His end-time ministry. Good news! We are soon to be delivered from the “shadow of death” in this land of the dying (v.2).
Like the bitter sorrow we felt when we were told the birth mother had changed her mind and we must give up the little girl we were adopting. Then six months later our sorrow turned to joy as we sat before a judge holding a baby boy and heard, “It’s final, he’s yours,” and also knew we had miraculously conceived and that another child would be born to us!
Prayer: “Thank you Lord that You still offer the “oil of joy” in place of “mourning” (Is 61:3). Please fill us with Your love and use us to Your glory. Amen.”
Lloyd and Sheila Schomburg