BACK in the days of Isaiah, more than 800 years before the birth of Christ, the world looked dark, and bleak and hopeless. The nation of Israel had turned their back on God and God had turned His back on them. God was bringing a nation from the north to sweep down upon them like a flood tide and they wash over them in dealing with their sin. It was going to be a time of darkness. A time of hopelessness.
But just a few verses later, God said there would be a time of hope and light—hope and light brought by the birth of a child. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Yes, the people of Israel have walked in darkness. Yes, the people of Israel have been living in the land of the shadow of death. But there will be hope. Prophet Isaiah tells them why in verse 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, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus the Messiah was promised to be the source of light and hope.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we also remember many people facing fears and dangers, seeing that the future is bleak, dark and hopeless on the face of financial troubles, personal concerns, family problems, and challenging situations. We are reminded to look up to God as our source of light and hope. As we gather in homes and in our communities, let us take time to strengthen each other in prayer, reading God’s word and lighting up each other’s heart through encouraging words and messages of hope.
Similarly as a nation, as we daily face the threats of terrorism, conflicts, political uncertainties, various calamities and economic problems, may this Christmas season lead us back to see the light and put our hope in God. Let us all come to God who said, “ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Bishop Noel E. Pantoja is the National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.