FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
This is a continuation of the Wednesday Word that began last week. We are focusing on the condition of the world prior to the coming of Jesus into the world. The world was in darkness. Not dark skies without sunlight, rather it was spiritual darkness prevalent in the nation of Israel.
For 400 years prior to the birth of Jesus, the word of God had been silent. The last word comes from the Prophet Malachi as he writes that a forerunner would be sent. That prophecy was fulfilled with the arrival of John the Baptist.
We think of Christmas as a season of light, but the prelude to Jesus’ birth is filled with darkness. The Christ child was anticipated for centuries before God announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Savior of the world.
Isaiah wrote about this Child in Isaiah 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
From the 5th century to the coming of Christ, the people were under the oppressive rule of Rome. Caesar Augustus ruled the land. Also, Herod, a descendent of Edom ruled in Jerusalem. The kingdom from the line of David no longer existed.
The nation of Israel was suffering. There were four groups challenging one another for power to lead the people. The Pharisees were in Jerusalem and attempted to shape religious life in Israel according to their traditions. Jesus experienced constant run-ins with these legalistic Jews who tried to lead the people astray.
The Sadducees were in opposition to the Pharisees and adhered strictly to the Mosaic Law. They rejected the possibility of a resurrection and the existence of angels. They also had an influence in the temple and the courts.
The Essenes lived in a commune near Qumran. These were the Scribes who penned and preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls. They lived a very pure life, devoting themselves to God asking Him to overthrow the power in Rome.
Then there were the Zealots. These were a band of brothers who opposed change but sought the overthrow of Rome with violent methods.
The competition among these four sects in Judaism brought about friction and actually increased the oppression forced on them by the rule of Rome. Riots, tension, were common and persistent.
And so, darkness covered the world.
Part three of this article will conclude with God’s entering the darkness to bring Light to dispel the darkness.
Gary K Fair Wednesday Word 08 December 2021