Yesterday, I posted a new Advent devotional, We Look for Light. I’ll post each individual day on the blog until Christmas Day. Here is Day 1.
We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes.
At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. (Isaiah 59:9-10)
While Jesus was most likely not born on December 25, it’s fitting that we observe the Christmas season near the beginning of the winter solstice—the time of year with the least amount of sunlight during the day (in the northern hemisphere!). December is a cold and dark month. Yet it’s in December that we celebrate the birth of the One who is the Light of the world.
Jesus did not arrive on the scene in a vacuum. He entered into a story. A terribly dark story! During the season of Advent, Christians intentionally pay special attention to that time when God’s people Israel longed for spiritual light. The prophet Isaiah’s day was a dark period in Israel’s history. Because of ritualistic religion, injustice, idol worship, and other sins, God vowed judgment on his people. They were told they would face exile from their homeland at the hands of Babylon. Their capital city, Jerusalem, and its temple would be destroyed. Their only hope through and after this was to acknowledge their sin, repent, and trust in God.
Israel was called to acknowledge the darkness within them. I don’t know about you, but I trend to think that my biggest problems are outside of me, not inside of me. I’m quite adept at making excuses. Perhaps if I were in a different environment, a different situation, or had a different set of variables or people involved, then maybe things wouldn’t go so badly. How about you? Do you realize that your biggest problems in life are not outside of you, but you? That’s what’s going on in Isaiah 59. God’s “hand is not shortened, that it cannot save” (Isa. 59:1). Of course not! God is perfect and powerful. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (v. 2). Strike one, two, and three against us. Deny this and you deceive yourself, only to face more and more darkness. But if you acknowledge this, own up to your offenses, and face your darkness, then the light of Messiah will dawn on you.
Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Isaiah 59:1-13
- What do you hope God does in and through you this Advent?
- Read vv. 1-3. How has your sin and rebellion contributed to the darkness in your life?
- Read vv. 12-13. In what ways do you tend to deny that you are responsible for your own sins?
- Do you see sin primarily as something you have done to break God’s rules or break relationship with God? Confess to God the ways you have broken relationship with him.