It’s amazing how scary a bedroom looks in the darkness. As a child I would often wake and look around the room in the middle of the night, sure that the various shapes were moving, and/or represented something malevolent or dangerous. Then, as the first rays of light broke through the cracks in my curtains, suddenly those terrifying shapes turned out to be a chest of drawers or a pile of clothes on the floor!
It’s not only children who feel like this, of course – who knows how many of you resonate with what I’ve just described! But this scene, which must be repeated in millions of bedrooms around the world every night, illustrates how perfectly darkness can feel like a form of imprisonment. We cower under the covers, trying to get back to sleep again. But, ultimately, it is the light that frees us.
Today’s passage is one of the great prophecies of God’s rescue for a broken nation. A new servant would come, filled with Spirit of God (v1), who would re-establish justice (v4), rescue God’s people, renew the covenant, but more than that, who would also reach out to the world (v6). The way this last promise is described is significant: this rescuer would be a ‘a light for the Gentiles’ (i.e. non-Jews) too.
What does that light look like? Verse 7 paints a beautiful picture: ‘to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.’
This darkness was more than just the temporary terror of night: it was the settled gloom of a world that is not as it should be: lacking hope, joy or peace.
And into this situation, God promises: light is coming! And this light will bring freedom.
Our current situation may not feel so far from the scene described in Isaiah 42. So these words are a particular comfort today. We worship a God who comes to bring the light, and all that that means – hope, joy, peace, purpose. The darkness does not win in the end, there is release for those who dwell in the light.
Today, pray for God’s light to fill you again, and to shine into your situation. Pray to feel a deeper freedom which is not bound by the current restrictions. And know that God is gentle – he does not break our bruised reeds (v3). May we put our hope in this God again today.