2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death [a]
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Each of these three verses speak of a difficult task; walking in the dark, planting a field and waiting, being oppressed.
Walking in the dark may seem easy as you feel your way along the wall in the middle of the night, when you need to use the bathroom. That walk is one you’ve taken many times over in the day, the floor is familiar. But what about a prolonged season of darkness, in unfamiliar territory? Would you have the same confidence, could you get to your destination without fear and frustration. What a relief when the light gets turned on and you can see! Your journey now is filled with a light step and a joy in your heart.
Many years ago now my dad rented a field and he and my cousin planted it. I can remember many Saturdays as a family going to that field, weeding and watering it, it was very hard laborious work. And I can assure you none of us liked it. It was hot and dirty work. But I can still remember the excitement the day we harvested all the potatoes. There was an abundance of them! Digging them up was the best part, we were all shouting “Look I think this one is the BIGGEST”. A true change of heart over the previous work.
No one likes being oppressed, the weight of it on our soul feels like it could crush us in an instant. I’ve been there, I’ve felt oppressed on every side, the very life inside you feeling like it has been sucked out. Just a few months ago I went through a short season of oppression, I know the burden it comes with. And when it was lifted, when I was prayed over by a friend it felt like I could walk on air.
Each of these speaks of a joy that comes, a joy that comes after a great distress. There is a stark difference between the weight of the distress and the light of the joy! And these are just earthly joys, Isaiah 9 tells us an even greater joy is coming:
6 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 Counselor, [b] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The Prophetic announcement of Christ is the GREAT JOY! A joy that is of spiritual depth, not earthly. It will be even greater in weight, then those described in the previous verses. But keep this in mind… the JOY still comes after distress. For its when we know of our great loss without Christ, THEN experience Him in all His fullness as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace will we know the true JOY!