In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
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.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire. Isaiah 9:1b-5 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 ESV
For people who live very far in the north, such as in Alaska, winter days are very short and the dark nights are long. In Fairbanks, for example, at the winter solstice on December 21st the sun rises at 10:50 a.m. and sets at 2:41 p.m. Further north in Barrow, from November 18th till January 23rd, the sun doesn’t rise at all! Instead, the people there have 67 days of darkness. As spring gets nearer at the end of January, the days begin to get longer again and the people see more sun. The people of the north who have been living in darkness begin to see more and more light.
The prophet Isaiah talked about people living in the north of the promised land. When the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel, they came from the north, and the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, who lived the farthest north, were the first to be invaded and taken captive. Isaiah promised that these people who were once in darkness would see a great light in a time of joy and peace. This prophecy came true at the time of Jesus. He grew up in the north part of the promised land in Galilee, and he spent much of his ministry teaching and helping the people of Galilee. These people were far from Jerusalem and sometimes were ignored or not thought to be very important, but it was to them that Jesus came and gave himself as the light of the world.
We also have lived in the darkness of sin and death. But Jesus came to us and gave himself to us to be our light. He defeated death and all the forces of darkness by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. We have Jesus with us all the time, in the darkest days of winter and the brightest days of summer. No matter what kind of sadness or trouble we have, Jesus is our light to help us and guide us. We can count on him now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to us and being our light. Amen.