What does it mean for God’s people to “have seen a great light” and to have light shown “on them” (Isaiah 9:2)? It means, quite simply, that God in his mercy and grace promises to still save Israel from complete annihilation. He promises that this same people who now dwell in utter darkness will one day see a great light; while darkness hovers over them now, one day light will shine on them.

Now, this light that Isaiah refers to is packed with meaning. First, it is a rescuing light. Just as people who are lost as sea or lost in the desert, God will shine His light upon His lost people. Israel will not be lost and desolate forever. God still loves them and will find them again and, when this light comes upon Israel, it will change their lives entirely. Second, it is a revealing light. God is literally going to shed light on their situation by giving them a snapshot in the following verses of their future. The light that God shines upon them will illuminate their new life. They will see that while they need to be punished for their sins, God still loves them and desires to make them flourish as His people.

There will be more detailed discussions later this week on who this light is. But for now in Isaiah 9:2–3, it is important to focus on the effect that this light will have upon Israel. For the focus in verse 3 is specifically on the joy that will be experienced.

When the day of light comes, the people of God will grow and expand. This of course means the liberation of God’s people. Israel will be returned to God and all those scattered will rejoin the body. This is what God promised to Israel – and this will bring great joy! Do you see what it says in Isaiah 9:3? The joy of that day will be like the coming harvest and even more so because it is been preceded by a long, severe famine.

Try to imagine the joy and excitement that the people of God would feel in this reunion. After many hopeless years, they find an end to their despair. Certainly each of us knows that feeling to some extent? This is how Isaiah describes the joy of Israel. When this light comes upon them and restores them, they will rejoice with great joy.

For those of us who are believers, we know that this coming light is Jesus Himself, and His arrival is no less than advent. So let us now connect the sense of depravity that we lingered in yesterday with the joy of Jesus’ coming today. Do you now see and understand all the more deeply how the one leads to the other? Like the chronology from famine to harvest, so too do we move from deprived mortals to joy-filled sons and daughters of the everlasting King for those who believe. So let us rejoice today in the way that Jesus as light has come to bring a harvest of salvation!

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