Isaiah 9:1-8 has been a Scripture that I have been returning to frequently this year. In the OT, it is titled "A New Day is Coming" but as you read through it, you realize that this prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled and that a "New Day is Here" today. Reading these verses has challenged and encouraged me to recognize what God has offered us now and to begin to live in it on a daily basis. Here are the verses in the NCV:
But suddenly there will be no more gloom for the land that suffered. In the past God made the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali hang their heads in shame, but in the future those lands will be made great. They will stretch from the road along the Mediterranean Sea to the land beyond the Jordan River and north to Galilee, the land of people who are not Israelites.
2 Before those people lived in darkness,
but now they have seen a great light.
They lived in a dark land,
but a light has shined on them.
3 God, you have caused the nation to grow
and made the people happy.
And they have shown their happiness to you,
like the joy during harvest time,
like the joy of people
taking what they have won in war.
4 Like the time you defeated Midian,
you have taken away their heavy load
and the heavy pole from their backs
and the rod the enemy used to punish them.
5 Every boot that marched in battle
and every uniform stained with blood
has been thrown into the fire.
As I read through verses 1-5 the concept of contrast stands out. There is a definite difference between the way things were and the way things are now:
- Before there was gloom, suffering and shame now there is GREATNESS
- Darkness but now there is GREAT LIGHT
- War and heaviness now there is HAPPINESS, VICTORY and JOY
Scripture repeats over and over again that there is and should be a distinct contrast between the darkness that was and His great light! It began in Genesis 1:1, where God spoke to the chaos that hung over the world and said, "Let there be light." You can imagine what a huge contrast there was between those two moments. The same God who said, "Let there be light" in the very beginning now declares it over us, who have new life in Jesus:
Declare the praises of Him who
has called you out of darkness into His wonderful light .
Once you were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
(I Peter 2:9-10).
We are His people and we are benefactors of His great mercy!
6 A child has been born to us;
God has given a son to us.
He will be responsible for leading the people.
His name will be
Father Who Lives Forever,
Prince of Peace.
7 Power and peace will be in his kingdom
and will continue to grow forever.
He will rule as king on David's throne
and over David's kingdom.
He will make it strong
by ruling with justice and goodness
from now on and forever.
The Lord All-Powerful will do this
because of his strong love for his people.
I just love these verses. It starts out saying that, "He will be responsible for leading His people." This revelation has been very freeing for me. I've spent much of my Christianity, trying to get God to do things "for me and for others." There was a sense that I had to beg Him in order to get Him to move on my behalf. But looking at verse 6 along with what was said in 1 Peter 2:10 it has become clear to me that God is leading me - not the other way around. We have already received His mercy, His grace and His love and we have the opportunity to follow His leadership in what He is doing.
What makes this so much easier to do is to look at who He promises to be for us: Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace! I will admit that there are situations and times when fear begins to seep in again. At those moments, I've been taking the time to stop, breathe and remember these truths. "You God, have promised to be my Wonderful Counselor, I am listening for your counsel right now! You are the Prince of Peace I receive that peace right now!" These truths have released me from the "need to always be in control" of how situations turn out and instead turn to trusting in Him to lead me and guide me.
"Power and peace will be His kingdom and His kingdom is ever expanding. He rules it with justice and goodness." These words have helped calm me and give me insight into how to recognize His hand. His kingdom is always growing, am I making room for it to expand in my own life?
What will the results and effects of His kingdom look like?
James 3:17 gives us more things that we can look for:
- easy to please
Knowing the fruit of God's operation will help us to recognize His leading and become more confident in following His voice.
The foundation to help us move in all this is - love (vs 7). Not just any love either, His strong love! These are the places in which we can and should rest. We are living in the times declared by Isaiah. Let us walk confidently and joyful in the light of His love, mercy and grace following Him in His wonderful counsel to expand His kingdom.
Photo courtesty of Melanie Guest Photography