The Seventh Day: Morning
Christmas for the Sorrowful (1)
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
Read Isaiah 9:1-7
There can be no question about the identity of the member of the “Ful” family being entertained here. Here we have the people of God entertaining none other than Sorrowful. The words “gloom” and “distressed” (v. 1) tell us as much.
What was the cause of this sorrow? The Assyrians had inflicted great distress on the northernmost tribes of Israel, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they were now hovering menacingly over the remaining portion of the kingdom of Israel and over the kingdom of Judah. So the people of Zebulun and Napthali were already living in deep darkness (v.2), and the dark storm clouds were gathering for many others.
It is possible that the words of the passage before us were sent by Isaiah to the distressed northern tribes to comfort them. The other possibility is Isaiah delivered this message to his own people, the people of Judah, to assure them of a glorious future that would include even those northern regions now under Assyrian control.
This much is beyond dispute: the message of Isaiah found its ultimate fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this because when Jesus began His ministry in the northernmost region of Israel, Matthew claimed it as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Matt. 4:12-16).
We can say, therefore, that through the words of this passage the prophet Isaiah was comforting the sorrowful people of his day by pointing them ahead to the coming Christ. In essence he was saying: “You must look beyond the sorrow of this time to the coming of the one who can drive sorrow away.”
We are also living in an age of sorrow. Millions know what it is to have the dark clouds of gloom hovering over them. Why are so many sorrowful today? “Gloom-makers” abound. Sickness, death, financial hardship, family tensions—all of these and many more generate sorrow. Sorrow is not, however, the only thing that connects us with Isaiah’s distant day. Just as he pointed his sorrowing people to the Christ, so we can point the gloomy of our day to Christ. The only difference is that while Isaiah pointed to a coming Christ, we are able to point to the Christ who has come.
How does Christ drive sorrow away from human hearts? The prophet gives us the answer to that question by calling our attention to the four names by which the coming Christ would be known: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
What balm and solace there is for the sorrowing in those four names! They affirm that each sorrowing child of God has four things in Christ that can drive sorrow away.
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