June 13 I Monday
“There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress...in the future He will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light...”
After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He withdrew to Galilee and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. Matthew tells us that this fulfilled what the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—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” (Matthew 4:15-16). Whenever Scripture quotes Jesus fulfilling something from the Old Testament, it is always wise to read it from its original text to get a fulsome explanation. In this case, Matthew was quoting Isaiah 9:2, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
When Isaiah speaks of a people walking in darkness, he is actually using a Hebrew word that is loaded with meaning. Used about 77 times throughout the Old Testament, khoshek means “darkness, obscurity, chaos, distress, calamity and fearful gloom.” More than just physical darkness, khoshek describes something that is “evil, utterly dark and void of anything good.”
Isaiah wrote his prophecy hundreds of years before the time of Christ, during a time of peril for the people of Israel. The Northern tribes had been rebellious, rejecting God’s truth and God’s Word to them. They were blinded by sin and, as a result, were exiled to Assyria. The region of Galilee had been resettled with people from all over the Assyrian Empire, becoming more Gentile than Jewish in its worship.
But in this darkness, Isaiah gave a vision into the future, into the ministry of Jesus. In the land of the New Testament, in the land of disobedience and pain, at a time when Rome was oppressing the people and there was political darkness, a great light had dawned. What Matthew was revealing to us in his Gospel is that Jesus is the light that Isaiah saw, the great light dawning on the earth. As Jesus Himself declares in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Also, in Colossians 1:13-14, Paul tells us, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
The great light has dawned, giving us redemption and forgiveness of sins. May we “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NASB)!
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for being the great light that has dawned in this dark world. In You, I have redemption and forgiveness of sins. Praise You!