I’ve got a confession. Never have I laid down in a tanning bed. Never. I just can’t bring myself to shell out a few bucks to cook my skin in a speedo. I don’t get it. But I’ve always wanted to grab ahold of a pair of those tiny eye goggles.
Light transforms us. In a tanning bed, it changes our skin from soft and deprived of rays to leathery and overcome by rays (or something like that). In a room, light changes dark shadows into false realities. In our spirituality, light changes dispair and misery into abundance, power, and joy.
Isaiah says the people of God have seen a great light. He then says in 9:3 that Israel will again be great, and its people will rejoice as people rejoice at harvest time. They will shout with joy like warriors dividing the plunder.
The light that shines transforms physical distress into blessed assurance. The light converts spiritaul misery into unrestricted joy! It is a joy that will be like the harvest, a time when you are assured that your family will be fed and you know you will be able to survive and prosper during the dark season. It is a joy that will be like a victory over an evil enemy, when you realize that you are still alive and you will actually benefit from the end of the fight.
At the age of two, my wandering little boy, after stumbling around in the darkness all night long, rejoiced when the sun finally comes up. When that big light shined he knew it was time to have breakfast… and this gave him tremendous joy. "Benji," we asked, "would you like some pancakes?" And he would jump and sing and dance and smile in affirmation. The joy was unrestrained in his two-year-old heart. He saw the light and it was good.
All of us truly long for joy. We want our nation to prosper, our community to do well, our family to flourish, so that we can be in an environment of joy. We don’t want to live in darkness. We want the opposite of physical distress- the antonym of spiritual misery. We want unrestricted joy!
Isaiah wrote 700 years before Jesus that the coming light of God would be so great that it would cause Israel to grow and flourish. As a result of the light shining in the darkness, the people would benefit from an enlarged and strong kingdom. Isaiah promised: Israel will again be great, the nation will expand beyond limits. Provision and victory would mark its existence. Joy will define its identity.
Doesn’t that sound great? Don’t you want that reality in your life? How will this be true?