Isaiah 9:3-5

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. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.  Isaiah 9:3-5


I care deeply about people who “walk in darkness”, whatever that might look like in their lives.  They might be living in horrific physical conditions, hungry, thirsty, cold.  They might live with debilitating physical or mental illness.  Their families might be struggling to find work, or struggling to make ends meet no matter how hard they work.  I care about people and families who live in the gut wrenching power of untreated addiction.


So, when I hear this simple line from Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” I feel a new measure of hopefulness.  There IS hope.  There IS a way forward.  There IS good reason to hold on, to hang on, to let go, to let God.  There is hope in the God who increases joy, who works that people might feel the yoke of their burdens lifted, no more stung with the rod of their oppressors.  “As on the day of Midian”.


That phrase hearkens back to the story of Gideon in Judges 6-8.  Israel was suffering because they “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.” (Judges 6:1)  Sometimes we experience darkness in our lives as victims.  We realize we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or had the bad luck of being born into the wrong family.  But that isn’t the case here.  The Israelites are not just getting what they deserve, God is making it happen.


Ouch.  Sometimes discipline, even from those who love us, hurts.


So the Israelites cry out to God for help as we all do when the pain gets painful enough.  And God listens.  He sends an angel to find a young man named Gideon.  When the prophet shows up, Gideon is crushing grapes to make wine to hide from their enemies.  The angel tells Gideon, “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.” 


Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian.”  Judges 6:13


Like Moses at the burning bush, or Mary in the night, Gideon could not understand why or how God could do anything to change the painful circumstances of his life, much less why God would reach out to someone as unlikely as him to be part of that change.


I don’t understand it either.  But that is God.  God hears the cries of the broken and in the most amazing, yet utterly down to earth, ways, God brings healing to bear.  I want to be part of that.  I want that.  For everyone, everywhere.  No matter how long it takes.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, be our deliverer.  Work in our lives to do what we cannot do ourselves, that we do do what only we can do.  Draw near to those who suffer with a word of encouragement and a hand of friendship.  Bring food to the hungry and safety to those who live in terror.  Bring light into darkness.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


4 Responses to “Isaiah 9:3-5”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    God our maker, our redeemer, our deliverer, our master, our healer: bring us into the light and out of the darkness that we may trust in your guidance, wait upon the Lord Jesus, whom you sent to save us. And may we walk with you, and serve you all the days of our lives, for you are the power and the glory forever.
    In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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