Matthew 4:12-17; Isaiah 9:1-4
was a typical news night: stories of national political corruption; wars abroad;
local murders, rapes, and thefts. Four hundred years, same old news, when suddenly
a prophet appeared with a late breaking report: “The kingdom of Heaven is
at hand” (Matt. 4:17).
put that news flash in context and underscore its significance, Matthew explains
(read 4:12-16). The passage in Isaiah continues (read Isa. 9:3-4).
400 years of bad news from men and no news from God, finally some good news. So,
what was the good news? Not was. IS!
good news is light has dawned! (Matt. 4:15-16; Isa. 9:1-2)
hundred years before Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, dark shadows engulfed
the northern frontier of Israel. Assyria raged, and the heart of the Jewish nation
trembled. The folks up in Galilee were on the frontlines. Parents with worried
hearts tucked their children in bed at night fearful for their bleak little futures.
Living in that dark night, Isaiah could foresee the dawn of a better day, a day
that Matthew realized had finally come at the appearance of God’s Son.
you’ve been in the darkest of nights, you don’t fully appreciate the
dawn. Unless you’ve been out in the middle of woods so thick you can barely
see the stars, you don’t know how frightening every snap of a twig can be
and how much you long for sunrise. You don’t fully appreciate the dawn unless
you’ve sat up all night with a sick child, walked through the dark valley
of death, or experienced the blackness of depression. But many of you do know
what all of that is like because you’re in the night time now. Good news!
Jesus has come, and the light has dawned!
good news is harvest has come! (Isa. 9:3)
backbreaking days trying to eke out a living were all too familiar to the Galileans.
Who knew if they would be around long enough to enjoy the fruits of their labor?
Assyria practiced a “scorched earth policy.” If the Assyrians came,
nothing would be left behind.
so it was. Galilee, along with the rest of the nation, was eventually devastated.
Isaiah could foresee, though, that the nation would be restored. Then the people
would rejoice like those who bring in the harvest.
psalmist sang, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall
doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (126:6).
The apostle urged, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Jesus came the first time, He brought peace for the beleagured soul (Matt. 11:28).
When He comes again, His reward will be with Him. As surely as Galilee bloomed
again after Assyria swept through, we, too, will realize the fruits of our labor.
good news is the battle is won! (Isa. 9:3)
the victor belongs the spoils.” Assyria was the victor in 722 B.C., but in
time the vanquished would turn the tables and retake the spoils. What Assyria
took from Israel, Babylon took from Assyria. What Babylon took from Assyria and
Israel, Persia took from Babylon. What Persia took from Babylon, King Cyrus restored
is a constant battle. Time steals away a little more of our pre-cious resources
and lives every day, until, in the end, death wins out. The epitaph on our tombstones
would be the end of our stories, except that Jesus came and vanquished death.
He turned the tomb into a tunnel that leads from this battlefield into a glorious
land of plenty. Even now He sits on His throne and gives gifts to His children
good news is the yoke is shattered! (Isa. 9:4)
before Isaiah’s time, Galilee had lived under the heel of a cruel oppressor.
In response to the cries of His people, God raised up Gideon to deliver them from
the Midianites. The Lord would do it again one day, placing the Assyrians in the
dustbin of history.
the earth moans and groans for redemption (Rom. 8:22-23). Souls under Heaven’s
altar cry for vengeance upon their persecutors (Rev. 6:9-10), and soon the skies
will split open at the revelation of God’s Son!
was Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled? Already and not yet. Already the Son has
come. Soon He will come again. The Kingdom He preached is already among us and
within us, and will soon fill the earth and eternity. That’s why Isaiah spoke
of these things in past tense. They are so sure to happen, that it is as if they
already have. In God’s eyes, they are an accomplished feat. That is Good
brief provided by: Greg Hollifield, Chaplain with Youth for Christ and instructor
at Crichton College in Memphis, TN