Dr Jim McClure reminds us that Christians have triumphant hope above the storms, sufferings and sadnesses of today’s dark times…
‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’ declared the prophet in Isaiah 60:1 over 2700 years ago.
In chapter 59 he painted a picture of corruption that primarily referred to a time of national distress for Israel, a time when people were blindly groping in the darkness of sin, a time of hopelessness and fear, a time when encroaching despair threatened to extinguish all confidence for the future.
But Isaiah’s message contained a further dimension. It was not only relevant to the collapse of society at that time but also pointed into a future time when that crushing darkness would be banished in the glorious light of God’s intervention and presence.
Crushing darkness in our time
We are living in perilous times!
This year we have seen a global infection of evil by the invading and grossly heartless and inhumane atrocities of Islamic terrorism; we have had our emotions violated and our sense of horror outraged at man’s capacity for cruelty and heartlessness as many thousands of innocent people have been murdered.
We wonder if there is no end to the appalling acts of violent hatred and total disregard for the value of life that those corrupt people exhibit in the name of their god.
We have also seen, moving at an unprecedented pace, the overthrow of sound moral principles that have stood the test of time and the welcoming of perverse values in which good is called evil and evil is called good.
Abandonment of biblical truths
Isaiah had something to say about that also, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight’ (Isaiah 5:20-21).
Political correctness, encouraged by the media, is the new ‘right.’ To hold an opinion that is not in line with political correctness is not only considered wrong but should be silenced altogether. And those who do not hold PC ideas are castigated and pilloried as racist, bigoted or worse!
Sadly some Christian denominations and pastors and well known preachers have abandoned biblical truths and have chosen the more ‘informed’ and ‘progressive’ way of political correctness.
• In Australia we have recently seen a street preacher arrested by a policewoman (even after he had obtained permission from the authorities) for preaching the gospel which she considered to be offensive!
• And in Victoria we have been told by the state government that Christmas songs that mention Jesus are forbidden in schools!
• As Isaiah commented, ‘So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows’ (Isaiah 59:9).
One could imagine that Isaiah was commenting on our world today when he wrote, ‘Justice is driven away, and right cannot come near. Truth stumbles in the public square, and honesty finds no place there’ (Isaiah 59:14).
Isaiah’s good news!
But that is not the complete message!
When we move from Isaiah chapter 59 into chapter 60, the message radically changes. Bursting into the appalling darkness is an immensely resplendent light! ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’ (Isaiah 60:1).
This different kind of darkness (which is the corruption that is seeking to envelop the world) doesn’t have the final word for this different kind of light (which is the glory of the Lord) will always vanquish it.
And that, par excellence, is the message of Christmas – and we really need to lay hold of this in these dark days.
In referring to the coming of Jesus into the world, John wrote, ‘The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out’ (John 1:4-5 GNB).
Jesus himself declared, ‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ (John 12:46). And on two occasions he categorically stated, ‘I am the light of the world!’ (John 8:12; 9:5).
Living with a triumphant hope above storms
What a glorious Christmas message that is!
• No darkness is deep enough to extinguish God’s light
• No human corruption is evil enough to render ineffective the work of Christ
• No despair is deep enough to destroy our glorious hope in Christ.
Because of Christ we can live with a triumphant hope that the storms and sufferings and sadnesses in life will one day shrivel up and be destroyed.
Then shall we experience the meaning of the Christmas message of the light of hope in all its magnificent fulness, when those who belong to Jesus Christ will be with him forever.
John confirmed this in Revelation 22:5: ‘There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.’
Phillips Brooks, a Philadelphian Episcopal minister, after visiting Bethlehem, was inspired in 1868 to write to write that still popular Christmas carol, O LittleTown of Bethlehem.
The first stanza declares:
‘Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.’
Let’s declare this truth of hope, this light of hope, to troubled hearts this Christmas.
Dr Jim McClure, author of several books and Bible study series, welcomes questions from concerned Christians. In his well-researched Grace Revisited he reveals grace as having a strong active meaning. Link: firstname.lastname@example.org. See also Biblical Perspectives