Chiaroscuro- “light” and “dark” – is a technique in art that uses contrasting light and shadows. Your eye is drawn to the light because of the presence of shadow. This is the message of the prophet Isaiah – a conversation between the shadows and the light.
- “The people who walked in darkness
- have seen a great light;
- those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
- on them has light shone.”
We’re familiar with many of the more hopeful, messianic passages from Isaiah, such as the one above that we hear read every Christmas. For some of us they bring up memories of evergreen trees, and cookies, and candle flames flickering in the darkness – but despite our nostalgic tendencies, these verses, quoted so frequently in the New Testament, are a part of something much larger than soft candle light. They’re part of 66 chapters in which God – The Holy One of Israel - and his redemptive plan for his people are revealed in a startling contrast of terrifying shadows and brilliant light.
Isaiah is writing to a people who know darkness. They know God’s judgement. God had delivered their descendants from slavery in Egypt and given them the land that he promised, yet they continued to disobey. They had experienced invasion and exile. Their kingdom split and king after king came and went in both the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
Isaiah is writing to a people who also long for light – long for a king, for THE king God had promised. Because while they know judgement, they also know God’s love, his ceaseless care for them, and his faithfulness to his promises. So they sit, they wait, they struggle to hope… they’re not unlike us. The message Isaiah brings to God’s people (and to us!) is one of great hope, of repentance, and of restoration. God is holy, he judges sin. God is gracious and merciful, he always rescues his people in love. And now is no different – a King will come, and not one like all the others that have made their rounds through the kingdoms – but a king who would reign forever and save his people.
Join us Tuesday nights this fall as we study this beautifully complex book together and seek to know our loving, gracious, and merciful God revealed in Jesus Christ.