See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Hope on the horizon is one of the themes from the Old Testament prophet named Isaiah. His prophecies extended from 739-681 BC to the people of God primarily living in Jerusalem. The judgment of God comes throughout the Book of Isaiah in the form of foreign nations such as Assyria and Babylon overtaking God’s people and eventually leading them into exile.
People that experience exile long for hope to hold on to until they can be rescued and released from their captors. Exile is a place where people desire for someone to save them. When a person wakes up and wonders if today could possibly get any worse than yesterday, that person may be living in exile. Some may say that reading the daily headlines now in the 21st century brings echoes of a type of exile from what life could and should be like. Stories dealing with terrorist attacks, abuse in all forms, corruption in government, epidemics in society from human trafficking to opioid addiction, or power and hedonism leading to oppression and exploitation.
All these dark issues and more that surround our lives each day in the form of news stories can make it feel like a modern-day exile from what God intended and desires our lives to be.
Sometimes the stories are not in the news; rather, they are our own stories that seem to find us wandering in a dark season. Perhaps our stories are dealing with divorce, disease, depression, or debt. Hope arrived some 700 years after Isaiah prophesied this moment, and His name was called Jesus, which means “God saves.” Isaiah, whose name means “the salvation of Yahweh,” had pointed the people living in darkness to hope on the horizon that finally broke through in glorious light seven centuries later that came straight from Yahweh Himself. Interestingly, some 700 years in the future from the birth of Jesus during the time known as the Dark Ages, the origins of one of the oldest Christmas Carols were being sung by monks that would become known later in history as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
While yesterday in exile may have been bad and today may not seem to be much better, we have hope knowing that if not tomorrow, soon, He will come again. The second Advent is closer than we may realize even if we feel like exile has lasted far too long from our vantage point of life. If we feel like we are still in exile, may we join with the monks and the many throughout the ages who have sung the song of advent hope: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel.” (article idea borrowed from a sermon heard last year)