The People Walking in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light - A Guiding Light

Sermon Summary 

This is the final message in this series concerning the great light that the Messiah Jesus Christ would bring into the world. Isaiah prophesied about the coming Christ and this series has looked at some of those prophesies and related them to their New Testament fulfillment as well as to what it means to us today. Jesus is still the light of the world and as such He is a guiding light to those who will follow that light. Just as the wise men sought the truth of Jesus and were led by the light of the star to find Jesus, those who still seek to find Jesus will be shone the way.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Discuss some of the ways in which Jesus has been a guiding light in your life!

2. Many cultures in the Old Testament times worshipped idols. These idols took the shape and form of many different things. Some were wooden statutes, others were stone, and others worshipped their kings. The wise men seemed intrigued with a religion that claimed to worship a living God and they had found an obscure reference in Hebrew prophecy to a star that would point to one who would be born King of Israel. These Magi had obviously read other passages that indicated this king would be divine and worthy of worship. We know this because they came prepared to worship with special gifts. The Jewish leaders had read the same Scriptures but missed Jesus. Discuss some of the reasons they couldn't, or wouldn't see the light Jesus came to shine in the world. 

 

Matthew 23:1-7 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the lawand the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a]wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

3. Even the Lord's prayer tells us that God wants us to know His will for us here on earth. Jesus wants to be a guiding light so we can discover God's plan and path for each of us. Isaiah quotes God as saying the following: Isa 42:16 "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." What are some of the ways in which you have been able to see God's will for your life and how has He shone the light on your path? The following passage should help you with this discussion...

Col 1:9  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Col 1:10  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Col 1:11  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
Col 1:12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Col 1:13  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
Col 1:14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

 

Full Sermon Notes

A Guiding Light

"Oh Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation, Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word. Give to our Father glory in the Highest"
You know one of the things I get excited about is that we don't have to be in heaven to hear God's Holy Word! He has given us a written revelation of His word and then Jesus came to be the living revelation of His word. Let's pray and then I have an exciting message to share with you today! Pray!!!

In fact, even the Lord's Prayer tells us we can know God's will here on earth.

Mat 6:9  "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Mat 6:10  your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

How on earth can we know the will of God in heaven? Jesus, God's One and Only Son, was born on that first Christmas so that He could bring God's light into our world. That light was many things, but it was and is today a guiding light. A light that will show us God's will because it reveals to us God's Word. It's like Jesus was the Word and He was also the light that shines so we can see the Word! I want to remind you of the passage of Scripture that has been the foundation of this Christmas series...

Isa 9:2  The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

When you are in darkness you need a light to show you the way. I was super excited to find a powerful light on sale for half price at our neighbor's place, sportsman's warehouse! I bought it for our staff Christmas party's take away game. It was one of those times where you hope you get your own gift! I was next to last and my gift bag was still under the tree, so I got it! I was so excited. Check it out! (Larry shines his new light around) Now when the dogs are barking I can see what they are barking at! And if I need to find something at night I now have a light to help me and if I need to walk somewhere in the dark I have a light to guide me. When it comes to our spiritual lives, we need a light, we need the light of Jesus! The light that He would bring into the world was spoken of over 700 years before He was born. Let's look at our text for today from the book of Isaiah. Just so you'll know, I'm going to include a couple of verses from last weeks text. So let's begin in verse 5 of Isaiah 42...

Isa 42:5  This is what God the LORD says-- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
Isa 42:6  "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
Isa 42:7  to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

God was talking to the Servant of The Lord! Just remember that God wanted the people of Israel to serve Him and take His message of love to the world, but they failed to do this as a nation, but from the nation of Israel came the Messiah who would be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, free captives from prison, and release us from our dungeons of darkness! Isaiah continues quoting God...

Isa 42:8  "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.

God was calling the Gentiles to come out of their pagan and dark worship of idols. He was offering a guiding light for them to see the truth! Then God speaks of how He alone has the ability to see things before they even happen and that He is a God who can make all things new and that this message was for the whole earth...

Isa 42:9  See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you."
Isa 42:10  Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.
Isa 42:11  Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops.

Sela is a place name that means "rock" in Hebrew. It was identified with several cities but can also simply mean rocky wilderness. So God is telling the people from the land of stones to sing for joy for the salvation that was coming! That salvation had a two fold meaning for the Hebrew people. They were in Babylonian captivity but God was going to save them. But this passage also has a future meaning of the spiritual salvation and release from spiritual darkness God would bring to His people through His Suffering Servant Jesus!
Check this out...

Isa 42:12  Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands.
Isa 42:13  The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.
Isa 42:14  "For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.
Isa 42:15  I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools.

Most scholars believe God is talking about how He will defeat the enemies of His people. I don't know about you, but when I think of my spiritual enemy, Satan, I'm grateful that God is going to defeat him and cause his resources against me to dry up! Amen! Then God says this...

Isa 42:16  I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known! I can still remember how blind I was without Jesus but I thought I knew everything. However, when I finally realized that I didn't know everything and cried out to the Lord, He led this blind boy in ways I had never known! He guided me down unfamiliar paths I had never been down, but now I'm so glad He has led me down paths He wanted me to walk! He said He would turn darkness into light before them and make rough places smooth! Notice God never said we would not encounter some rough places in our lives, but with His wisdom, His strength, and His guiding light we make it through and God smooths out the rough places. God then makes it a promise…"These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." This passage excites me as I think about Jesus coming into the world to be my Savior, my Lord, my good shepherd, my friend, and my guiding light! He will not forsake me! And when I think back to the events surrounding Jesus' coming to this earth it amazes me how this Old Testament passage applies so beautifully. Check this out...

Mat 2:1  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
Mat 2:2  and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
Mat 2:3  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Mat 2:4  When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
Mat 2:5  "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
Mat 2:6  "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"

Wait a minute!! Who just quoted the Old Testament concerning the promised Messiah? The chief priest and teachers of the law! Wow! They knew, how did they miss Jesus? How did they not see? When King Herod heard there were Magi seeking a new born king, he called out to the very religious leaders he typically ignored and dismissed as irrelevant. And then those very leaders point to one of the very prophecies concerning Jesus! How amazing is that? Very!!

Mat 2:7  Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
Mat 2:8  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
Mat 2:9  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
Mat 2:10  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

I think it's fair to say the star was a guiding light for the wise men!!!

Mat 2:11  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Mat 2:12  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

A little background...
The wise men were not Jewish. The magi may have been from Babylon, Persia, or the Arabian desert. Magi were variously considered priest of other religions, astrologers, sages, or magicians.  They were teachers of religion and science and had particular interest in astrology and medicine. There is nothing to suggest that these magi were kings and Matthew doesn’t give the number of wise men. It was because of their diverse knowledge, they were considered wise men. There is another reason, however, I would call them wise! These wise men weren’t just trying to attain knowledge when they read, they were looking for truth. Their motivation was truth! Even though they were not Jewish, it was not unusual for a magi to be well versed in other religions. They were expected to know allot about a lot of things. After all, they served as consultants for the kings. These guys had not just read the Scripture, they had studied it. They genuinely wanted to know the truth! How else would they find the one very obscure reference to a star in Scripture...

Num 24:15  Then he uttered his oracle: "The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,
Num 24:16  the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:
Num 24:17  "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.

Why do I think the wise men had read this? First of all, remember, they knew about a lot of religions, but something about a religion that claimed to follow the living God, not idols, statues, or man made images, was appealing to them. And you want to know something really amazing? They were seeking with anticipation. How do I know? This is exciting!! They anticipated finding the Messiah because they brought gifts with them! They came prepared to worship! They were motivated to seek the truth! They anticipated God would reward their search for truth, so they prepared in advance to worship the True King, the Living God! And the gifts the wise men brought even shine a guiding light to anyone who is truly seeking spiritual truth. The gifts were specific and prophetic. It seems the wise men knew just the right gifts to bring!

Gold - A Gift of Value! Precious metal. Valuable. Used to fashion crowns for Kings.

A Prophetic Gift

Rev 14:14  I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.

Incense - Frankincense - A Symbolic Gift. An ingredient used in making the perfume for the most holy place in the tabernacle.

2 Cor 2:14  But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

Myrrh - A Useful gift! An aromatic resin used as an ingredient in anointing oil, applied as perfume, placed in clothes to deodorize, and used to embalm bodies.

John 19:38  Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away.
John 19:39  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
John 19:40  Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior,  wrapped in cloths when He was placed in the manger at His birth and again at His burial in the tomb!
Okay, Pastor Larry let's just say I accept that this Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the World. How would He  bring the guiding light into my life? Paul states the answer to that question beautifully in Colossians 1:9...

Col 1:9  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Col 1:10  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Col 1:11  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
Col 1:12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Col 1:13  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
Col 1:14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Let's pray!