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.
We've all seen the advertisements which introduce products a little at a time, gradually showing the claim that you will get far more than you bargained for and that it will cost less than it might, a true value. Our passage from Isaiah 9:2-7 may look like that kind of advertisement, at least at times. We read about light shining in the darkness. We learn that the light in the darkness includes our nation and others being multiplied, especially multiplied in joy. We read about several different types of joy, all having to do with a greater reward than we would have expected. We see that it has something to do with being rescued from the enemies who would oppress us and force us into servitude.
How many of our social activists would stop right there, at the end of verse five, then tell us to get busy about doing just those things we thought valuable? Be light. Learn to have joy. Break free from oppression. Break oppression for others. Go and do it.
That's a fine thing to do. I would like to think that I could find joy and bring joy to others. I'd like to stop oppression, especially when it has influence over me, and also when it troubles others. I'd like to enlighten people. That's all find and good.
There's just one problem, and it's a serious one. In myself I am unable to accomplish the task. I can understand some of it, and pursue some of it. I can shine what light I have. But I can't do the whole thing, and neither can you.
Perhaps we will grasp the problem best if we continue through verses six and seven, seeing the context. What did Isaiah think God was telling the people?
In these verses there is a child to be born, one who will rule, and who will be the great, mighty, fair, and charitable ruler. His reign will increase. He will be the righteous ruler, who can actually complete the goal of light, joy, and freedom.
Christians understand this child who is king to be Christ, God the Son, very God and very man, born to save us and rescue us from the oppression of sin and death.
As we begin the season of Christmas, then, let us look to the Christ who will rule the world in righteousness. He is our hope. He is our light. He is our salvation.
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