Isaiah 9:1-7 (CEB)

Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
    On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
You have made the nation great;
    you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest,
    as those who divide plunder rejoice.
As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them,
    the staff on their shoulders,
    and the rod of their oppressor.
Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned, fuel for the fire.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
    and authority will be on his shoulders.
    He will be named
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace
    for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
    establishing and sustaining it
    with justice and righteousness
    now and forever.

The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.


Is it Christmas yet? This passage is probably familiar to anyone who has been in worship on Christmas Eve or heard Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. It’s a message of hope, from a time when the people of Jerusalem were facing invasion by the Assyrians. It’s a vision of a coming Savior that Christians have traditionally applied to Jesus. Here’s the thing: it would be another 700 years before the vision would come to pass! And while the city survived the Assyrian onslaught in Isaiah’s lifetime, about 100 years later the Babylonians DID invade Jerusalem. In those days, many of the nobles and other officials were taken captive, the Temple was destroyed and life in Judah became very difficult. Sometimes things get worse before they get better.

It is so hard to wait on salvation. It can be hard to hold on to hope when your prayers don’t seem to be getting answered. But there’s an old saying: “Whenever you’re going through hell, keep going!” It may look dark now, but hear the word of the LORD: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.” Remember, your Christmas is coming!

For Pondering & Prayer

How can the names of God from Isaiah 9 (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace) keep you focused on hope?

Is there someone whose words or actions have been a source of hope for you during difficult times? Have you thanked them?