“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” The “us” in that verse from Isaiah 9:6 literally refers to the people of Israel, whose relief from their enemies was going to come in the form of a Kingly figure yet to come. That prophecy would ultimately be fulfilled in the Advent of the Messiah.

But the “us” in that text also has a narrower definition. Sure, everyone wants to have a piece of Christmas but God was tailoring his message to a more specific group of people. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. ” (Isaiah 9:2).

The geographical location pointed to by this statement is the northern part of Israel. This region had been devastated by the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 B.C. During the time of Jesus, the Jewish leaders looked at this “Zip Code” with nothing but disdain (See John 1:46; 7:52). But God through Isaiah is now promising a new kind of dawning for them.

But there is more to the “us” than what meets the eye. “Galilee of the Gentiles,” contrary to the standard view (that it refers to the Sea of Galilee) could more likely refer to the regions “beyond the Sea,” namely the Mediterranean Sea. One scholar translates Isaiah 9:1 partially as “… and afterward did more grievously afflict them by the way of the sea opposite Jordan, in the region of the Nations.”

Surprise, surprise: After the death and resurrection of Christ, many early Christian Jews migrated to the regions of Europe and Asia Minor (the westernmost protrusion of Europe, making up most of Turkey today). Paul preached in both of these regions and may have reached as far West as Spain.

In other words, the “us” now represents a group beyond the confines of Palestine, going West to the places where the light of the Messiah had yet to shine. So the “us” now is you and me. We are/were “the people walking in darkness.” No surprise here: God always intended for that light to be a global missionary light.

God was always planning for the entire world to be reached by the light of the Messiah. But it is significant that the announcement was first made to people living in distress. God wanted to hurry to deliver good news to those who needed to hear it the most. He avoided the powerful centers where people lived without a care in the world. He did not go to the opinion makers first (Sorry, CNN, this will not be a CNN exclusive). God didn’t blast a golden trumpet and He didn’t hire servants to throw rose petals on the path of the good-news-bearing herald.

God went to the people walking in darkness. Those who had been humiliated the most. The ones whose lives were hanging by a thread. The ones whose eyes were red from the wear of constant crying and voices were silenced from the crying that went unanswered. Like the despised shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem, these people had reasons to believe no one cared about them. God went first to the ones who would have no illusions that they could ever repay Him.

But when that light appeared and the dawn of the Messiah commenced the rejoicing that broke out was insane. Amazing story of redemption but it pales in comparison to the time when the dawn of Messiah broke through to my life. Because I too was walking in darkness. I was in distress. I had no hope and could only see the “dead end” sign ahead. But when that light appeared it not only shocked me, it warmed my heart. And after many years, that light still illuminates my path and I have never been as much in love with the Messiah as I am today.

And I hope you will join us this Sunday as we speak about the light of Christ from Isaiah 9.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA