Writing 700 years before Christ, Isaiah spoke of people who “walked in darkness”–certainly true of his own day, as even God’s people sought “mediums and necromancers” instead of God (mentioned in the verses at the end of chapter 8 just prior to our text).
And it was also true of the early days of the Roman Empire to which Isaiah pointed, when the Israelites also lived in dark times–those who were clustered in Judea as well as those scattered throughout the Empire. Their world was characterized by “violence, injustice, abuse of power, homelessness, refugees fleeing oppression, families ripped apart, and bottomless grief” (Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ).
But those words aptly describe our world as well, don’t they?
The people in darkness see “a great light” . . . on them “a light has dawned” (NIV).
There’s so much we learn from God’s entrance into the world, and tomorrow we’ll focus on the significance of Christ’s birth’s signifying the inability of all of our human schemes to fix the world’s ills, as well as our personal struggles. Apart from God, we are powerless to make much of a dent in the brokenness around and within us.
But God’s taking on human flesh is where we see true light. That, the gospel authors would later tell us, is the “gospel”–that is, “good news.” It’s God’s coming into a broken world and bringing healing and hope.