The prophet Isaiah declared that “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
He was speaking in what is called ‘the prophetic perfect tense’ – addressing the future as though it were in the past. There was a lot of darkness in Isaiah’s world. There is a lot of darkness in ours too. What was the great light that would dawn for those living in the shadow of death?
A few lines later in his prophecy, Isaiah would identify that light: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given…”
It would be 700 years later, but that child would be born and he would indeed be “The Light of the world” – Jesus of Nazareth.
But Isaiah was not the only one who would look down the corridor of time and see light arising in the darkness.
Another prophet, Micah, spoke out in the midst of the national misery that surrounded him, declaring, “Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light” (Micah 7.8).
His pronouncements (Micah 5.2) were acknowledged by the chief priests and teachers of the law to identify for King Herod the birthplace of Israel’s true King,
Then we come to Doctor Luke’s biography of Jesus and we read about a priest named Zechariah. He, with his wife, Elizabeth, had longed in vain for a child for decades. As he discharges his duties in the Temple he is visited by an angel and told that their longing would be fulfilled. It was, and when it was, Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed that his newborn son, John, would go before the one who is “the rising sun” that would “come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness” (See Luke 1. 76-79). That one would be the child Isaiah wrote about, the ruler Micah said would be born in Bethlehem and who would be “The Light of the world.”
Whether we sit in darkness or walk in darkness, Jesus of Nazareth is the Light from heaven that can lead us out of the shadow of death. He can do it because he gave himself as the sacrifice to taste death on behalf of every person and then rose to life again. We no longer need to live in darkness or shiver in the shadow of death. We can call out to God and experience the Light of Christ shining into our own hearts. That Light will bring forgiveness for all the things we’ve done wrong, and it will give us hope, purpose and direction in life. And the promise of life everlasting.
It’s much better and safer to walk in light than in darkness, don’t you think?