Isaiah 9:1-4 (NRSV)
Chapter 9But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. Verse 2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness- on them light has shined. Verse 3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. Verse 4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
Living as conquered people without much hope in God, the Israelites begin worshiping idols and false gods. Isaiah warns them of the consequences of their actions, but also urges them to return to God and to place their confidence in God who is faithful. Even though all the people can see is the present darkness, the prophet dares to lift up the promise of a light that will bring joy; their rejoicing will be as full as that belonging to the time of a rich harvest. That rejoicing comes from the assurance that God never abandons God’s people ever.
O God, thank you for being our light in our places of darkness. Continue shining your light in us, strengthening us as we live faithfully in your presence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.