Title: The People Walking in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light - A Piercing Light

Sermon Summary

This message looks at a passage in the Old Testament book of Isaiah as it pertains to the piercing light the Messiah would someday shine on the world. Each point is taken from that text and then looks at passages in the New Testament which show how Jesus was that piercing light and the things He revealed! It also makes the connection for us today and how we need to let the light of Jesus pierce any dark places in our lives so we can live in the light.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. When Jesus came into this world He brought a piercing light which revealed some of the serious issues going on within the Jewish society. If Jesus had been born during our time, what kind of things do you think His light would expose?

2. Isaiah gave at least six examples of serious issues within his culture that needed to be exposed and dealt with. One of those was man's hypocrisy. Here's how he put it in Isaiah 29:13: "The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." Are we ever in danger of falling into the same kind of hypocrisy? What can we do to avoid making the same mistake?

Psalm 129:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

3. Three of the points kind of go together: man's wisdom, man's plans, man's arrogance. It's not wrong to seek wisdom or to make plans for the future, but when we leave God totally out of lives we are being arrogant to think we don't need Him. What are some things we can do to make sure we include God in every aspect of our lives?

Matthew 6:31-34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

4. The last two points of the message talk about man's deafness, blindness, despair and deprivation. Discuss how the piercing light of Jesus exposed these human conditions.

Luke 4:17-19 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

5. Discuss the extreme action God took to remedy humanity's deafness, blindness, despair and deprivation.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Full Sermon Notes

A Piercing Light

"You're everything You've promised, Your faithfulness is true and we're desperate for Your presence, all we need is you!"
That is such a true statement, although some in our world don't think they need Him. And then there's those of us who know we do need Him but we are not always aware that a part of that need is for Him to shine a piercing light into our souls and lives. When God's light was shone through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, it was piercing in many ways. We're going to look at some of those ways this morning. This is a Christmas message, but it's one that is very rarely preached because we all want the warm and fuzzy's, but if we don't deal with the things the light of Jesus reveals, then we will still walk in darkness and the light of Christmas will dim.

Let's pray and ask God to reveal to us the things we need to see so we can address them and allow the light of Jesus to change our lives for the better!
Pray.

Today we go back to our ancient prophecy written some 700 plus years before Jesus was ever born. We will once again see some striking things revealed about the great light the people walking in darkness were to see.
Our text is Isaiah 29:13-19...

Isaiah 29:13-19 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

The Great Light Pierces Man's Hypocrisy

Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

When Jesus came into the world, He exposed the tragic hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day. The light was great and revealed just how far away from God the people of God had fallen. In fact one day the Pharisees and some teachers of the law from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus. They were watching Jesus and His disciples to see if they could catch them doing something wrong. And what did they discover? Jesus' disciples didn't wash their hands before they ate. The Pharisees had elaborate washing rituals before they would eat that included not only washing hands, but re-washing cups, pitchers and kettles to make sure they were ceremonially clean. They were all about the letter of the law, but they had forgotten the importance of the heart, and godly intentions.

They asked Jesus the following question…

Matthew 15:2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

The great light of God who had been sent into the world clicked on the high beam of intensity and pierced through their hypocrisy. Listen…

Matthew 15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

Jesus gave an example of their hypocrisy and then said this…

Matthew 15:7-12 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:    “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. ’ ” Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

I just love that last part…"Jesus, I think you hurt their feelings!" Jesus wasn't trying to be mean, He was trying to get them to see the light! He was trying to save them from their hypocrisy and their deception. Light is a beautiful thing and without it we are left to stumble in the darkness, but the light of Jesus does reveal our inconsistencies, our hypocrisies and things that make us unclean. Here's a question for you. Are you willing to let Jesus shine that piercing light in your heart? It's like a search light and if we are willing to give Him permission He will shine that light and help us to see things we need to clean up and change. The Psalmist said this...

Psalm 129:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The Great Light Pierces Man's Wisdom

Isaiah 29:14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. ”

Jesus Christ the Messiah would be that great light that would totally confound the wisdom of those who thought they knew everything. The truly wise men would seek the Messiah. Well talk a little about the wise men who worshiped Jesus later in this series, but there were many who thought themselves to be so wise but the light of Jesus pierced holes in their perceived wisdom.

Paul would later put it this way in his letter to the Corinthian Church...

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

The Great Light Pierces Man's Plans

Isaiah 29:15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD,who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”

Back in Isaiah's day the leaders were making pacts with pagan nations and doing many things that broke the principles and laws of 
God and they thought they were so slick and that God didn't know anything about it. Isn't ironic that we still think we can do things behind God's back? That somehow He doesn't know or won't see what we do in secret. But the great light, Jesus illuminates. And please know this: It's not that God doesn't want you to dream or to make plans and look forward to your future, but He desperately wants you to understand that if you totally leave Him out and refuse to let Him give you direction, guidance and divine wisdom, you do so at your own peril. We're going to talk more about His desire to guide us in two weeks, but think about this…

When the Hebrew people had rejected God and made their own plans and got themselves into terrible situations, God had this to say...

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

And Jesus shined a great light on this when He said this in His sermon on the mount...

Matthew 6:31-34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

But when we go back to our text we find people are sometimes just too prideful to follow God's plans, but once again the great light shines and...

The Great Light Pierces Man's Arrogance

Isaiah 29:16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? 

Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? Well a pot cannot, but people sure can! How many people today have decided that God didn't create them. Some would rather believe that aliens seeded life on this planet, rather than a loving, all wise, mighty God who created us with a divine purpose! Jesus came into this world to expose the arrogance of that kind of thinking. Now before you get the wrong idea about me, I love science! I think it's wonderful to pursue scientific truth. But I don't think you have to reject the idea of a Creator God in order to objectively study the creation and the origins of life. For those who just outright reject any possibility of a Supreme Being, their pursuit of scientific explanations may be more of a pursuit of justification for their rejection of God's moral code rather than a search for truth! I'm just sayin'! If you don't mind, I'll read you a passage I read last week because it goes with today's message as well...

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 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.

But here's a powerful truth. Some of the world's greatest and most profound scientific minds are also people of great faith. So many scientist testify that the more they learn and the more they understand the mysteries of nature and creation the more they see patterns that suggest an extremely intelligent creation architect, engineer and builder. Okay, let's look at our text for just two more ways in which the great light pierces the darkness. First...

The Great Light Pierces Man's Deafness and Blindness

Isaiah 29:18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.

Jesus doesn't light up your deafness and blindness in order to make fun of you or to humiliate you! He does that so you can see the lies, the deception, the carnage, the pain, the consequences, and the tragedy of being spiritually deaf and blind! His goal is that you might let Him help you hear the truth and see the truth and be able to fulfill your God-given potential! In fact Jesus quoted Isaiah when speaking of His purpose for coming into this world.

Luke 4:17-19 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Now the final way in which Jesus shined a great light to those walking in darkness. This is amazing...

The Great Light Pierces Man's Despair and Deprivation

Isaiah 29:19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

How does that great light pierce our despair and deprivation? Well, the great light is not only a piercing light, it is also a purifying light and next week we're going to see how the light Jesus the Messiah brought into the world has the ability to heal and cleanse like a laser because the great light the people living in darkness saw was a purifying light, and that's next week's message! But before I let you go, I want to read you a portion of the Christmas story I believe you will find jaw dropping given what we've talked about today and the verse I just read from our text.

Isaiah 29:19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

What a prophecy!!! Mary the Mother of Jesus went to visit Elizabeth who was a relative! They were both pregnant and excited! Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist and Mary with Jesus. Listen to Mary's words which reflect everything we've talked about today from Isaiah written some 700 years earlier...

Luke 1:39-55 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Let's pray!!