Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 9:2
“The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” – Isaiah 9:2
We see the reference to Galilee actually in verse one. “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.” Isaiah 9:1. The inhabitants of the region of Galilee were represented, by the Jews, as walking in darkness because they were from Jerusalem and the temple. And because of this, they had few religious privileges; they were intermingled with the pagan and were comparatively rude and uncultivated in their manners and in their language. There are several references made to Galileans that show how they were not all that liked. As an example, Nazareth is located in the land of Galilee, and when Nathanael found out Jesus came from Nazareth, he said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” John 1:45b.
The prophecy states that those in this region “who walk in darkness” shall see a great light. This area and the people suffered much in the first Assyrian invasion under their king, Tiglath-pileser. They were held captive and had very little freedom, resulting in very little hope. However, Jesus, the Son of God and the Savior of the world would change things. We read in the Book of Matthew the following, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead. So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:20-23. And this was because Nazareth was the home of Mary and Joseph, and where He lived while growing up.
And when He was ready to begin ministering, it started in Galilee. “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4:23-25.
And what was this great light? Galilee was a region where little was known and followed regarding the Jewish faith because they we so far away from Jerusalem and the temple that few were able to travel there on a regular basis. They did not have access to the knowledge those in Judea had, therefore they were not as trained in the Jewish ways as the land of Judea was. This is why they were denoted by Isaiah as ‘walking in darkness’. However, they were the first to see His ministry. John put it this way. “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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3. Now, notice the next couple of verses. “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4-5.
The light spoken of in our focus verse is the light of truth. In Galilee, the people walked in darkness because they were so far from Jerusalem with the Temple and the priests that they did not understand God and His ways as the people in Jerusalem did. But when Jesus began His ministry, He was in Galilee. “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4:23-25. The people heard the truth from Him and understood it. And the people spread the news about all the land. This was the light spoken of. And this idea of light was passed on to Jesus’ disciples. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. The psalmist put it this way. “I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Psalm 119:102-105. It is God’s word that is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path.
In closing, this is the reason Isaiah declared this prophecy found in our focus verse, “The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” And expanding on this, the light of God’s Word shines upon us now because we are called to spread this beautiful message to all we can. Everyone needs to hear it, and see it shining from us through our words and deeds. Jesus’ ministry started in a dark place, but eventually flooded the whole world with the light of truth.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.