Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
2020 was a year characterized, in many people's minds, by bad news. Thus far, there's been a good bit of bad news in 2021. In our Old Testament reading for Epiphany, though, we have some good news. Very good news. I think we will benefit from it.
The passage in Isaiah 60:1-6 makes a sharp division between darkness and light. In the Bible the darkness is pictured as a place of sorrow and despair. If you've ever been misplaced in the dark, you know why. It is disorienting. And you really can't tell if you are going to drop into a bottomless hole in that dark cave or go crashing into something dangerous in that dark basement.
Darkness is over the earth, covering the peoples. All the nations are wandering around in the dark, with no clear path. It's a time of discouragement.
What is God's promise? In the day of restoration, which he pictures as coming - sometime - hopefully soon - certainly at the right time, the light of the Lord will come to you and show the way for all nations to come into the light. This is a promise of hope and deliverance.
But when is it going to happen? At some undetermined point in the distant future? The New Testament would understand this to be a prophecy with two fulfillments. Yes, in the very last day, at the end of the world, it is a picture of the reconciliation of all nations, drawn to the Lord. But in the meantime, Jesus, pictured as the light of the world, has come.
During this season of Epiphany, then, as we look to Jesus, we expect to see true light. It is in Christ that we can make sense of our world. It is in Jesus that we find our way out of darkness, bondage, and even death. We look to Jesus to enlighten our eyes. He is the light who shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. He is the one who enlightens all who trust in him. His light has come.
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