Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 5, 2014

a Light has dawned

For some, the new year is welcome and anticipated.  It offers the opportunity for a fresh start, a clean slate, and is embraced with a genuine sense of hope.  But what if you aren’t one of those people?  I’ve had a fair amount of experience with first days of the new year in my lifetime.  One thing I have found to be true is the potential that day holds does not always translate to promise.

In both small and capital “T” truth, a calendar date holds no tangible power over the circumstances of our lives.  We do not wake to the dawn of a new day having had all our troubles erased by the sunrise.  As brilliant and blazing as it is, the sun can only do what God authored it to do.  It was set in the sky by the very voice of God to rule the day (Gen 1:16).  The darkness that it breaks is a celestial one.  It was not given the power to touch and change a human heart or soul.  So what now for the one who awoke on January 1st with the very same darkness that ruled their life on the eve of the new year?

I pause at the end of every question now, although that’s not how I used to be.  I have learned through the lives of others and my own, the value of leaving a question unanswered and perpetually asked.  In my research for this year’s journey through the words of Jesus, I have observed the great value He places on questions and how many times He “answers” one with another.  I have set these thoughts in my mind for the new year … to sit longer with the questions, to be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).  My research also spoke the truth that this was not always Jesus’ pattern.  And I firmly believe the question that ended the previous paragraph commands an answer.

I humbly but boldly offer an answer I found as I sat in my sacred space this past Friday morning.  I was reading what seemed to be a quiet aside to the bold and brilliant events of Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the desert.  Reading in Matthew 4:12 we find Jesus “withdrew,” or took an abrupt turn as He began His ministry journey.  He chose to go and stay in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali (Mat. 4:13).  He did this to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, and it was in the words of that prophesy that my heart swelled with the only Hope that is sufficient in response to my question.

In noticing the footnote to verse 16, I thumbed back to the book of Isaiah to get the full context.  I read verses 1 and 2 of chapter 9, and then thumbed back to the end of chapter 8.  I had to find out what the “Nevertheless” that opened verse 1 referred to.  Here is what I read…

Isaiah 8:20-22 (NIV)
Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

Does that resonate with anyone that may have woken up on January 1st with the very same darkness that ruled their life on the eve of the new year?  No amount of the great light in the sky can penetrate even the surface of that darkness.  But here comes the real power and promise … the words of the opening to Isaiah chapter 9…

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan — The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Were those few verses in Matthew a quiet aside to the bold events of baptism and temptation?  Absolutely not!  No word or act of Jesus ever is.  Why did Jesus choose to go and stay in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali?  … because He was the great Light!  Not the great light in the sky that rules the day … the great Light that was promised by Isaiah, the great Light that came to be with us, to redeem us, to touch and change the human heart and soul.

I pray this shouts hope today, no matter where you find yourself in the first few days of this new year.  Take a few minutes and repeatedly read the closing words of Isaiah 9:2.  Let them wash over you.  Let them fill you with hope.  Let them fill you with peace … His peace.

on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.



  1. When I print your daily emails the print is so small. We are in our 80’s and it is had for us to read.

    • Shirley,

      Thank you very much for letting us know, and I am very sorry for the difficulty. We will discuss some long-term options among the staff, but for this week, I will send you an email soon with the reading schedule in larger print.

      Journey onWord Support Staff

  2. Nevertheless is a comforting word when God stands on one side of It, thanks for sharing that thought.

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