The Light of the World

A great prophecy fulfilled

Isaiah had predicted it seven centuries in advance: “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:1-2).

Shortly before Isaiah penned this, God had indeed “treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt” by allowing them to be taken into Assyrian captivity because of their stubborn refusal to honor their covenant with God.

But Isaiah announces a great day was coming for this same region: “He shall make it glorious . . . . the light will shine on them.”

If you compare an Old Testament map showing the tribal territories with a map of Israel in the first century A.D., it’s obvious that the land of Zebulun and Naphtali corresponds to Galilee, as Isaiah explains.

According to Matthew’s Gospel (4:13-16), Jesus’ ministry in Galilee is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The darkness Dispeller

In His preaching and healing Jesus was the “great light” of whom Isaiah spoke, the Light which dispelled the gloom of this land which had once so deservedly felt God’s contempt.

But of course, Jesus’ light is too great to be confined to Galilee. “I am the Light of the world,” He said, “he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

“In Him was life,” John writes, “and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5; see vv. 6-9; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Where there was gloom, glory! Where there was darkness, Light!

Both then and now.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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