“But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” (Isaiah 9:1)
There will be those bible commentators who will say this also refers to Jesus. And it does point to Jesus, for that is the area where he grew up and ministered. But the ministry of Jesus was not confined to that one place, or what it confined to that one time. (Please note I am leaving alone the who argument that the prophet Isaiah/the writer of Isaiah was writing to the audience of the time! Or at least trying to.)
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” (Verse 2)
Because Jesus was for all people and for all times, it does not matter if this passage foretells Jesus, or is comfort for those who read this in the time of the book of Isaiah. We are believers in Jesus Christ and God can take comfort from it to. I know I do.
“You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.” (Verses 3 – 4)
So we can read this passage and walk forward knowing that never again will we be burdened? Ah, that is the rub beloved reader. (I will identify that “rub” a little further one.) One of the reasons I am so vigilante about not taking verses/passages from the time they were written, and from the people they were written for/to. I know that is not the aim of biblical commentators. But after you read enough of that, you start to feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation that was not meant for you!
When this passage of the book of Isaiah was written, people were suffering, burdened with weights across their shoulders and opposed! When the Jews (contemporaries of Jesus) read it, they were also burdened and opposed. And when we, as modern believers read it with our troubles and burdens we can take the same good news from it that our spiritual forebearers did before us.
The rub? Belief in God in the time of the writer of Isaiah, belief in God in the time of Jesus, and belief in God and Jesus Christ now – does not exempt us from burdens, weights, and oppression. Yes, the promise comes down to us that God and Christ is with us. But we still live in a world that has problems and strife. The called people of God have problems and strife. That is why we must take these verses to our heart and soul, and use them to mend ourselves with God’s compassion, love and care. Let us do so! Selah!