************ Sermon on Isaiah 9:2 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 19, 1999
Candle Light Service 1999
Topic: MissionsAll of this is the darkness of sin. Or, I should call it spiritual darkness.
* France has twice as many Muslims as Protestants.
* There are more spiritist healers in Paris than medical doctors, priests and pastors combined.
* Europe is the only continent where the church is growing more slowly than the population.
B Isaiah the prophet speaks of this darkness. In the passage in front of us this darkness is particularly severe. The end of chapter 8 shows a situation in Israel that is pitch black. This is what the prophet says:
(Is 8:21-22) Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. (22) Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.God, says Isaiah, has hid His face from the house of Jacob (vs 17).
When the prophet Isaiah looks at the world he lives in he sees so much darkness. He sees men and women and children who refuse to serve and obey God: the people have lost God's way (vs 20); they consult mediums and spiritists (vs 19). They either have made a deliberate decision to do without God in their lives or they have chosen to ignore Him. Whatever the case may be, these men and women and children live in sin and in rebellion against God and His ways.
Isaiah also looks at the darkness in the public institutions of his day. He sees kings, rulers, priests, and prophets who are first in line to sin against God. He sees injustice and evil on the part of the rich and powerful against the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien. He sees false prophets and teachers that lead thousands astray with their lies and heresies.
Isaiah sees a spirit-filled world of darkness too. He knows about Satan and his host of evil spirits and demons. He knows how they oppose God and His kingdom at every turn. He knows how they rejoice in lies, prejudice, arrogance, wrongs, and every form of sin.
Lastly, Isaiah looks within his own heart. He sees that darkness is there as well (Is 6:5). He knows that within himself and you and me there is sin and evil and all sorts of desires that run counter to the will of God.
C Darkness. Darkness everywhere. Deep darkness. Darkness that many times throughout history has threatened to prevail. I think of the days of Noah. When God looked down from heaven upon the world of men, he saw only one family that still loved Him and served Him. I think of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not even 10 righteous persons could be found in that city. I think of Israel during the days of Elijah. Out of a population numbered in the millions, only 7,000 did not bend the knee before Baal. I think of Nazi Germany or the former Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, or what used to be the U.S.S.R. I think of China. I think of Western Europe – less than 10 percent of the people attend church on a regular basis anymore. I think of a horrible divorce rate in our country – for every two couples getting married there is one couple getting divorced. I think of the increasing acceptance of adultery and premarital sex – so much so that most newly weds are not virgins. I think of the violence and guns that make our cities dangerous places to live and work. I think of the push to make gay relationships and lifestyles acceptable. I think of churches and pastors that no longer preach the Gospel. Darkness is everywhere.
A The whole book of Isaiah is a mixture of gloom and glory. So Isaiah goes from the darkness of chapter 8 to the light of chapter 9. Listen to the prophet:
(Is 9:1-2) ... there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress... (2) 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.
B Why this sudden change? How can Isaiah speak of deep darkness in one breath and then speak of a great light in the next breath? How is this possible?
Isaiah's prophecy about light is dependent upon the birth of the Messiah. The Messiah's coming, says Isaiah, means light for a people walking in darkness.
Seven centuries later what Isaiah wrote about became fact. The Messiah came and brought light. Matthew writes this:
(Mt 4:13-16) Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum ... (14) to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah ... (16) "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."
C Messiah Jesus is Isaiah's great light.
Now, what is the purpose of light? The purpose of light is to shine in darkness, to oppose darkness, to overcome and dispel darkness. This is true for Messiah Jesus as light too. He has come to get rid of the darkness of sin, injustice, evil, war, and death.
Over and over again, no matter how strong darkness seems, light has always prevailed over darkness. Over and over again, no matter how hard darkness tries, the light is always able to overcome the darkness. In fact, darkness cannot put out a light. If the darkness increases until it is black as a cave, it is still not dark enough to extinguish a light. No one has yet smothered a light by increasing the darkness. Light always overcomes darkness.
We see this in the beginning already. "In the beginning ... the earth was formless and empty," says the Bible, and "darkness was over the surface of the deep ..." (Gen 1:1-2). And then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light (Gen 1:3). Light overcame darkness.
The darkness was deep and black when man first fell into sin. Curse after curse, judgment after judgment, was pronounced by God upon the serpent, upon the woman, upon the man, and even upon the ground. But the darkness was not so deep and so black that there was no light. For God announced a Savior Who would crush Satan's head even though Satan would strike His heel (Gen 3:15). The light would overcome the darkness.
The darkness was also deep and black at Calvary. For three hours, in the middle of the day, a heavy darkness descended upon the land. For three hours Christ was forsaken by His Father. For three hours the forces of darkness held sway. But even then light overcame darkness. Not only did the darkness lift, but three days later the darkness of the tomb was replaced with the brightness and glory of the resurrected Lord.
The same thing happened during the ministry of Jesus. Jesus saw a man blind from birth. The poor man lived in darkness. Jesus announced, "I am the light of the world." Then He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. When the man went and washed in the Pool of Siloam his darkness was turned into light; he was given sight (John 9). The light overcame the darkness.
D What has happened throughout the history of salvation happens today as well. Today, too, the light continues to overcome the darkness. Every time a sinner – by the grace of God – repents of sin and turns to Jesus, light overcomes darkness rather than darkness overcoming light. Every time a Christian – by the strength of God – resists sin or flees sin, light overcomes darkness. Every time a good deed is done – the hungry are fed, the lonely are visited, the sorrowing are comforted, the poor are assisted, the sick are encouraged – we see an instance of light overcoming darkness. Every time an abortion is stopped, an illness is healed, a broken relationship is restored, and a wounded soul is made whole, then too we see light overcoming darkness.
III Is Jesus Your Light?
A Now I need to ask you a personal question: Is Messiah Jesus your light? Jesus is your light only if you believe in Him. So I need to tell you: believe in Jesus. Confess Him today, right now, as your Savior and Lord. Ask Him into your heart.
B In the Bible, belief involves more than just the mind. It also involves the heart, the tongue, the life. You see, we must be more than hearers of the Word; we must also be doers of the Word (Mt 7:24; Rom 10:9; James 1:22; John 12:47).
To believe in Jesus requires, then, a whole-hearted discipleship, not a casual relationship. Jesus wants a life of commitment. Jesus wants us, by grace, to cut ties with all the works of darkness. In other words, if Jesus is your light it should be obvious in your life and in my life.
First, we should be people without the darkness of sin. We are in the light, not in the darkness. So we should live as children of light (Eph 5:8) and not as children of darkness. Paul identifies the deeds of darkness for us: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, sexual immorality, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, idolatry (Eph 4:29 - 5:7). If we are in the light, none of these should be found in our life. Instead, our lives should be full of the fruit of the light: goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph 5:9).
Second, the light of Jesus should be obvious in us. People should be able to look at us and see the light and radiance of Christ within us.
I remember the time I was making a hospital visit. As I was talking with the patient one of the cleaning staff came into the room. She stopped and looked at me and said, "You are one of us!" "Pardon me," I said. "You are one of us," she said. "I can see it." "What do you mean?" I asked. "You are a Christian," she said.In all of us at all times the light and radiance of Christ should be obvious.
This woman caught me by surprise. After all, I don't see a halo around my head as I look in the mirror when I shave every morning. Yet, she recognized the reflection of the light of Christ in my heart.
Third, we should be eager to pass the light on to others.
Topic: Stumbling BlocksLike that man, we too must be providing light so that those who are lost can find their way to heaven. Without the light of Christ shining through us, His followers, they will stumble in their search for peace and satisfaction. Think of the plight of those unreached by the Gospel. Millions will never know anything but spiritual darkness because no one has shared with them the Light that has come into the world. I came across a poem this past week that speaks to this:
From his book Daily Gems comes this story by D.L. Moody: "A blind man in a great city was found sitting at a street corner with a lantern beside him. Someone went up to him and asked him why he had the lantern, since he was blind and the light of if was the same to him as the darkness. The blind man simply replied, 'So that others will not stumble and can find their way.'"
Topic: MissionsSo I want to challenge you: reflect the light of Christ; show others the way to God and heaven.
Title: They Never Heard of Christmas!
Why have we not heard of Christmas?
Why have you denied us light;
We who long have groped in darkness
Chained by sorrow, sin and night?
Why have you refused to tell us
Of this Son born from above?
Why have you withheld such tidings
Of God's condescending love?
When was it you learned of Christmas?
Has this story just been heard?
Can it be that God would send Him
Just for you who hold His Word?
Will you still deny us Christmas?
Will we still reach out in vain?
Can it be that we must perish
Never having heard that Name?
All our fathers died in torment,
Racked with anguish, fear and pain;
Never knowing of a Savior,
Never breathing Jesus' Name!
Hear the words of hopeless millions,
Dying where no light has been:
"Won't you share this Christ of Christmas,
Let Him save us from our sin?"
-- John H. Sanford
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