Advent Devotional | Day 15: Jesus the Light in Darkness

Si Jesus ang Liwanag sa Kadiliman

Filipino / Isaiah 9:2–7

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
– Isaiah 9:2

In 1992, Metro Manila experienced massive power outages associated with the weather phenomenon known as El Niño. The greater population was plunged into total darkness. I still remember the days and nights we lived without power. Life was difficult. Darkness reigned, making it difficult for the people to live their lives in freedom and joy. There was no peace but rather all sorts of economic and political trouble.

Living himself in a time of political, economic, and spiritual uncertainties, Isaiah hoped for a better future for Israel when he prophesied about a great light dawning on those living in darkness (Isaiah 9:1-2). Israel’s rejection of God and His king­ship plunged them into darkness. This darkness was Isaiah’s metaphor for God’s inactivity, if not God’s absence, as Israel’s king. Through disobedience, Israel had lost not only their kings but God Himself as their real king, resulting in all kinds of suffering. Into that darkness, Isaiah prophesied about the renewal of God’s activity among His people in and through the birth of a new king who would bring peace, justice, and righteousness to the nation and nations (Isaiah 9:6-7).

While some better kings and some better days came to Israel after Isaiah’s prophecy, darkness mostly reigned for centuries. Matthew recognized that Isaiah’s prophecy remained unfulfilled, took up the hope it held out, and applied it to Jesus (Matthew 4:12-17).

Why does the coming of this king bring light in darkness? Why is He a joy to Israel and the nations? Isaiah 9:6-7 provides a poetic summary:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The joy of the great light is anchored in the kind of kingdom He would establish: a kingdom of peace through a reign that reconciles people to God as well as people and nations to each other; a kingdom of justice through a reign that assures that oppressors, swindlers, corrupt leaders, and all evil shall have no place and a kingdom of righteousness through a reign under which all things shall be put to rights so that all may live lives of flourishing! And this kingdom, Isaiah says, shall last forever (Isaiah 9:7).

For Matthew, Jesus is that promised king through whom the kingdom of God would come. Christmas is indeed the dawn of the kingdom of God promised and prophesied in the Old Testament. When Jesus was born, the light shone among the people (Luke 2:1-21). It continues to give light to the world today. And to those who have seen the light, joy does indeed fill their hearts.

Looking at the world today, particularly places like the Philippines, where I’m from, and Guam, where my wife and I now live and serve, Isaiah’s words of prophecy appear to be far from reality. Both countries experience economic and political troubles, not to mention people’s daily personal and social struggles. Where do we find the truth of Isaiah’s words? In the church, the new people of God. The church is the enlarged nation where Jesus is king and where the kingdom of God is advancing through its mission in the world. We who obey the call of King Jesus to repent and follow Him (Matthew 4:17, 19) certainly experience the joy of the great light and the first fruits of the kind of kingdom prophesied by Isaiah. King Jesus is our light in darkness.

Jason Hallig


Jason Valeriano Hallig

Jason Hallig and his wife live in Guam and serve as Church of the Nazarene missionaries in the Micronesia District. Jason is a pastor and an adjunct professor of New Testament at the Asia Graduate School of Theology–Philippines and the Alliance Graduate School in the Philippines.