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)

Each winter I eagerly await spring. One of the hallmarks, for me, that spring is coming is that the light of the sun lasts longer into the afternoon. I mourn the passing of summer/fall when it is getting dark by the time I get home after a full day of work. But the coming of spring means there is still daylight left at 5 pm. Soon after that realization comes daylight savings time, and the darker hours are pushed off, and there is still light as the early evening passes. The light during the summer continues each day until the tasks of the day are completed and I am ready for a night’s rest.

“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)

I have spoken before that the realization of the need for Jesus Christ and the Lord God was made known to me at an early age. Just as the dawn of light of cognitive reasoning and understanding came to me, so did the desire for a relationship with the Divine. I craved it and longed for it. Others’ faith stories are different from mine; for everyone who claims Christianity, there was a point in their lives when they knew it was time. It may have been a coming to the “light”, or a desire for “light”; the light may have come at baptism, before or after. One’s faith story & faith journey may be of many twists and turns.

“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)

In the history of the called and chosen people “the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali” was located at the Sea of Galilee. The tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were the first tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel deported by the Assyrians. In other words, their “darkness” came early for them. Imagine living at the site of where your ancestors were taken away. You are there on ancestral ground, but it is still not yours to control. The Jews there were intermingled with Gentiles and foreigners, and the government was controlled by another nation. In Jesus time the government was Roman. The bitterness and lack of hope had a long a history. What Isaiah was promising and promoting then was the same thing that Jesus was promising during his ministry. That fact may make it easier to understand why the Jews of his time put little faith in his message. It had been preached to them for so long the promise had become meaningless. Or that they may have felt it would only come true by toppling the current government, as many of the sects of Judaism had tried to do in the past. But . . . . I am getting ahead of myself and the scope of this passage. Remember this, however, beloved reader; remember that the message of hope was put forth centuries ago. A promise of light was given, but not the timing of the coming of light. Shalom!