Nyctophobia — fear of the dark — is consistently listed as one of mankind’s greatest phobias. An almost-universal knowledge tells us dark places are unsafe. In a movie, when the hero or heroine enters a dark alley or room, we instinctively know something bad is about to happen. Darkness usually does not bring thoughts of warmth and happiness.
In Isaiah, God’s people were familiar with darkness. They had experienced tumultuous times of political and spiritual unrest. They would see the holy city of Jerusalem be destroyed. They would see their own friends and family members carried off into exile. They sat by as God’s chosen people repeatedly turned away from His commands and worshiped false gods. I’m sure they wondered many times if God had abandoned them altogether.
As we’re writing this book near the end of 2020, we’ve experienced a year unlike anything in recent history. A worldwide pandemic has, at last count, led to over 200,000 deaths here in the United States alone. We’ve seen cities burn as political and racial tensions hit a fever pitch. Perhaps as you’ve witnessed the events of this year, you’ve felt the weight of darkness. Perhaps, as you’ve tried to navigate decisions during the Covid-19 crisis, you’ve felt hopeless and helpless.
Yes, the darkness the children of God experienced in the 8th century BC, and the darkness that we still experience, is real. But so is the hope God offers to the people walking in darkness. In fact, the light of the gospel really only makes sense to a people who understand the darkness of sin and death.
In Ephesians 2, Paul begins by explaining darkness. “At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world,” (Eph. 2:12). Thankfully, he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to describe the hope we now experience in Christ Jesus. “But now, in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” (Eph. 2:13).
Yes, the people walked in darkness, but the light of God’s promises was still present for them. In this series of blog posts this month, we will unpack the hope of Christmas: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light!
We will celebrate the gift of the Savior born in Bethlehem. We’ll rejoice in the gift of salvation He offers to all mankind. So, put on your favorite Christmas music, grab a cup of hot apple cider, and rest in the hope of the gospel with us!
This is the first in a series of blog posts excerpted from Kyle & Matt’s new book, The People Walking in Darkness: Christmas reflecctions on Isaiah 9:2-7, available now on Amazon.
Published December 1, 2020