The People Walking in Darkness Have Seen A Great Light - An Everlasting Light

Sermon Summary

This message begins a series which examines the ways in which Jesus brought light into a spiritually darkened world when He took on flesh and lived among us. In this first installment the background of Isaiah 9 is discussed because it is one of the most well known and most quoted Old Testament passages concerning the coming of the Messiah. In this passage we discover that the coming King would be known as a Mighty Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. While we are not living under the oppression of an occupying foreign nation, what ways are the times we are living in similar to the times when Isaiah wrote his prophecy of the Messiah and the situation surrounding the birth of Jesus?

2. God sent Jesus at just the right time in history so He could fulfill each and every one of the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah. The taxation which caused His parents to go to Bethlehem so He would be born there, and then how He was raised in Nazareth. He was known as a the Galilean. We walk by faith, but have you found these amazing fulfillments encouraging? Explain.

Isaiah 9:1b-2 In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

Matthew 4:13-16 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

3. Take the remaining time and discuss how Jesus has fulfilled the prophecies of Everlasting Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace in your life.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Full Sermon Notes

An Everlasting Light

"I hear the Savior say, 'Thy strength indeed is small; Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in Me thine all in all.'" The longer I live in this old world, the more i realize that my strength is small and that I need to find in my Savior my all in all! We live in a world of spiritual darkness, but when Jesus came to this world as a little baby boy, He brought the light we all so desperately need! Over the next four or five weeks we're going to look at the different kinds of light Jesus brought to us. Of course, there are those who close their eyes and minds to that light. There are those who would rather live in darkness. However, for all who desire to walk in the light and to be guided by that heavenly light He has promised to shine a great light upon their lives. Let's pray and ask God to help us see the light as we examine how Jesus brought great light to those walking in darkness. Pray!

You might find this a little surprising, but our text for today's message is actually found in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah. Before I read it, I want to give you a little background. Things had been tough for the Hebrew people. Their nation was split into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Assyrians controlled the whole region and exacted heavy taxation. Any attempts at rebellion where brutally crushed by Assyrian leader Tiglath-pileser. During this time the King of the Southern Kingdom Judah was Ahaz. He rejected any advice from men of God like Isaiah and Micah. Instead he turned against the things of God and brought in terrible pagan practices. He bolstered his power by making pacts with Tiglath-pileser. Terrible idolatrous behaviors were accepted and even promoted and injustices were rampant throughout the land. When Ahaz died, his son, Hezekiah took over as King of Judah. He was not at all like his father and had a great desire to see Judah return to God and even wanted the Southern and Northern Kingdoms to be reunited. This caused a wave of Messianic hope.

Here's the way commentator Page Kelley described things...

"Hopes ran high that God had at last visited His people and raised up an ideal prince of the line of
David, one who would be anointed with God's Spirit and whose reign of justice
and peace would extend to the ends of the earth. Hezekiah completely reversed the political
and religious policies of his father. He attempted to throw off the Assyrian yoke and to
purge religion of its pagan elements."

Unlike his father, Hezekiah did listen to Isaiah and Micah and was very influenced by those men of God, but later on he would also succumb to the temptation to rely on pagan powers to solidify his rule instead of seeking God and relying on Him. This was disastrous for the nation of Judah. The new Assyrian leader Sennacherib was swift to bring retaliation against Judah. In fact Isaiah said this about things...

Isaiah 1:9 Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.

In other words they would have been completely wiped out. Isaiah withdrew from public ministry after this and concentrated on teaching a few godly disciples and writing poems of prophecy concerning God's Kingdom and how someday a true Messiah, a leader, a godly King, would rule! Listen to his words in Isaiah 2:1-4...

Isaiah 2:1-4 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’S temple will be established as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach
us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

I don't know about you, but I long for a day like that! A day when people will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. In other words, there will be no more need for weapons of war so people will turn their attention to peaceful things like planting gardens. Now what does all of this have to do with Jesus coming into the world and people living in darkness seeing a great light? Quite a bit actually. I wanted you to see clearly the context behind one of the greatest prophecies concerning the coming of the Christ Child into our world. People wanted, and needed, hope! They knew they needed God Almighty to intervene and bring a ray of light in their otherwise hopeless situation. The problem was that they nor their leaders were willing to listen to God or His prophets like Isaiah. Isaiah withdrew from public ministry but before he did he made this announcement...

Isaiah 8:16-17 Bind up the testimony and seal up the law among my disciples.
I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.

Isaiah longed to see the day the people would be willing to follow God and that God would then send His Messiah, The Savior. He probably hoped it would be in his life time. Maybe he initially hoped it would be Hezekiah. Of course he later realized it was not, but he still wrote the words God spoke to his heart. He wrote with great hope and anticipation for a future deliverance! I hope you will find Isaiah's Old Testament Prophecy concerning that future deliverance   as exciting and amazing as I did. It was written around 740 years before Jesus was born. Okay, with that in mind, let's read our text...

Isaiah 9:1-7 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of
Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people
rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,  
the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Now let me say this: The language of this text seems to indicate that Isaiah was originally talking about a Judean King at the time he wrote and many Jewish scholars interpret this to be Hezekiah. However, as we've already seen, Hezekiah turned out not to be the King Isaiah and others had hoped he would be. So Hezekiah did not fulfill the words of this text. However, the words of Isaiah were still God-inspired. So had God made a mistake? Absolutely not! God knew who He was talking about and although this may have been written for the coronation ceremony of Hezekiah, God was using Isaiah to give a prophecy concerning the true Messiah, the Christ, the eternal King of the Davidic line. God was using Isaiah to speak of the One who would be the true light, the everlasting light that would bring great light to those walking in darkness. Now let's go back and look at this everlasting, great light that people walking in darkness were to see. Verse one says...

Isaiah 9:1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of
Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan—

Zebulun and Naphtali were tribes in the Northern Kingdom who had been devastated by the Assyrians. This was a promise of a future deliverance from the kind of gloom and distress that this old world so often brings. Isaiah was using very relevant examples the people could understand and relate to. The next part of this verse is truly amazing...

Isaiah 9:1b...but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan—

Did you know Jesus was known as the Galilean? And for Isaiah to make mention of honor and Gentiles in the same sentence was astounding since the Jews felt the Gentiles were totally unclean and many believed unredeemable. That this was a prophecy concerning Jesus was affirmed by Matthew in his gospel. Right after Jesus' temptation by Satan in the wilderness we read these words:

Matthew 4:11-17 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.
Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—
to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
How about that! Matthew just quoted our Old Testament text.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

There's no doubt that the people of Isaiah's day had been walking in spiritual darkness and a shadow of death had been on them by their oppressors. Isaiah once again was being inspired by God's Holy Spirit to encourage the people to allow God's light to shine upon them in their darkness. This was a prophecy about Jesus, no doubt, but Isaiah had said this in Isaiah 2:5...

Isaiah 2:5 Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Certainly the Messiah, the coming King, the everlasting light of God was going to shine God's light in a special way, but Isaiah was crying out for the people of God to walk in His light! Even though The Messiah had yet to come literally to the earth back in Isaiah's day the people were to have faith that He would come someday and provide a way for them to be Saved. They were to walk in that light. It is so interesting to me how the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth were similar to when Isaiah wrote his prophecy. Once again the Hebrew people were under oppression by a pagan nation, only this time it was the Romans. Great spiritual darkness had once again overtaken their culture and their religious and political leaders had become very ungodly. In many ways the Jewish people were in need of the same deliverance they had needed back in Isaiah's day. With this in mind, listen to what happened not long after Jesus was born. Check this out...

Luke 2:21-33 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus,
the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed,
Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ),
and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.
He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus
to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

I don't know about you, but I marvel too! To see how the Word of God is so consistent and so interwoven and so prophetic. Luke says the Christ Child was named Jesus, the name the angel had given before He had been conceived. How long before He had been conceived? Well, let's go back 740 years to our text...

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and
upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

You might remember a few weeks ago we talked about Jesus' name and what it means.
The name of Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua.  Joshua means "Yahweh is salvation" or "Yahweh delivers." Christ means "the anointed One," or "Messiah." So the name Jesus Christ means "The anointed One who delivers salvation!" With that in mind, let's see what Isaiah said this Messiah to be born someday would be called...

Isaiah 9:6 And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Now I want to ask you a question. Are there any similarities between our world today and the world in which Isaiah live, or in which Jesus was born? We may not be under the oppression of a foreign government, but would you say many are walking in spiritual darkness and a shadow of spiritual death? Could we benefit from seeing a great light in our society today? Does America need the light of a Wonderful Counselor? Do you need the light of a  Wonderful Counselor in your life? Isaiah said He would be called...

Wonderful Counselor

Have you ever wished you could have a personal counselor with you 24/7? How about when you encounter a tough situation at work, at school, or in a relationship. Well, Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor and as such He has the ability to shed light on any situation you are dealing with, and if you have a personal relationship with Him then He is your personal counselor. Listen...

1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises of him who 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.

And just what does this mean for you as a people belonging to God? Well, in Peter's second letter he said this...

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge
of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may
participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

That's powerful! Some of you here today are struggling with life and circumstances, but God's Word is clear, Jesus Christ came into this world so you could have access to God's divine power and have everything you need for life and godliness by knowing Him! Okay, Isaiah also said that the Messiah would be called...

Mighty God

I don't know about you, but I sure need God to mighty in my life! Jesus was God in the flesh! He had come into this world to shine the true light of who God was. In fact listen to what the Bible says about Jesus...

John 1:4-9 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

And if you had any doubt that the Messiah was The Mighty God in the flesh, listen to Jude's words in Jude 1:24-25...

Jude 1:24-25 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—
to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord,  
before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Okay, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, but maybe you were looking for something a little more personal. How about...

Everlasting Father

Now I know that some of you in this room may not have had a good relationship with your earthly father and as a result you may have mixed feelings about thinking of God as an everlasting Father. But I want you to know that Jesus came to show us the Father. He came to show us the heart of the Father and what a good Father is.

Romans 8:15-18 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,  
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

And finally, Isaiah said that He would be called...

Prince of Peace

Do you think our world needs The Prince of Peace? Anyone in this room need The Prince of Peace in your life? Being a self-confessed worry wart, I find myself constantly asking The Lord to just let me have His peace. I'll just give you a little insight into my life. After a counseling session, I'm prone to wonder if I gave the right counsel. After a sermon,I'm prone to wonder if I said the right things. And when I think of all the needs in our church and in our community I wonder if we could't do more or be more effective. Not always a bad thing to think about these things and it can be helpful to critique yourself and find ways to do things better, but be careful because Satan can quickly take you down the road of self-condemnation or paralyze you from fear of messing up. The writer of Hebrews gives us some beautiful wisdom on this as he writes...

Hebrews 13:20-21 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him,  
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

My prayer is that we can all allow Jesus to be a great light shinning in our darkness so we can find our way in this life and then know He will get us safely home some day! Let's pray!