Light in a Time of Darkness


“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2).

The prophet spoke these words in a time he characterized as “the gloom of anguish.” It was a time of foreign invasions, accompanied by distress, despair, and death. Worse than the hopelessness of their physical circumstances was the darkness of sin and ignorance, and the spiritual bondage in which they found themselves.

The good news announced by the prophet was that a time would come when a great light would shine in the land of deep darkness. The prophet looks forward to a time when a man-child would be born, the one identified as the Prince of Peace (v. 6), the one called Immanuel—"God with us” (Isa. 7:14). When the gospel of Matthew (4:12-17) records the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, it is presented as the fulfillment of this prophecy. It was at that time that Jesus began to preach his message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The identification of Jesus Christ as the light is a consistent theme in Scripture. John introduced his gospel by affirming that “in him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:4). “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (1:9). Jesus later made the great claim, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12).

Scripture uses the imagery of light and darkness to convey important spiritual realities. It’s not surprising that darkness signifies ignorance, evil, bondage, and death. Light stands for truth, goodness, freedom, and life. This is why the gospel is referred to as “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). The good news is that, in spite of all the darkness, light has come. The gospel is a message of light. It brings hope.

Christ is the light of the world because he is the image of God. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Based on this truth, we are taught that we can have fellowship with God if we “walk in the light.” Our lives should reflect his light. In fact, John also warns in this text that we belie any claim to have fellowship with him if we continue to walk in darkness.

Jesus not only presented himself as the light of the world, but he also said to those who would be his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” His challenge to us is to “let your light shine,” and by so doing, cause others to see the glory of God (Matt. 5:14-16). This world can be a very dark place at times, and it is in such times that the children of God need to “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

The announcement of a great light shining in the darkness gives us hope. It is also true that in times of darkness and gloom, we have a great opportunity. Perhaps our light shines brightest when our surroundings are the darkest. The light of the gospel is a great blessing. Let’s be sure to avail ourselves of the blessing of divine light, and share the good news. Let’s consider what we can do shine our light so that others can see and have hope!

Dan Petty