Rejoicing for Those Who Walk in the Light
“Come and let us walk in the light of Jehovah.”—ISAIAH 2:5.
1, 2. (a) How important is light? (b) Why is the warning that darkness would cover the earth so grave?
JEHOVAH is the Source of light. The Bible calls him “the Giver of the sun for light by day, the statutes of the moon and the stars for light by night.” (Jeremiah 31:35; Psalm 8:3) He is the One who created our sun, which is, in effect, an enormous nuclear furnace releasing into space vast quantities of energy, some in the form of light and heat. The very small percentage of that energy that reaches us as sunlight sustains life on this earth. Without sunlight, we could not exist. Earth would be a lifeless planet.
2 With that in mind, we can understand the gravity of a situation described by the prophet Isaiah. He said: “Look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups.” (Isaiah 60:2) Of course, this does not refer to darkness in a physical sense. Isaiah did not mean that some day the sun, moon, and stars would cease to shine. (Psalm 89:36, 37; 136:7-9) Rather, he was talking of spiritual darkness. But spiritual darkness is death dealing. In the long run, we cannot live without spiritual light any more than we can live without physical light.—Luke 1:79.
3. In view of Isaiah’s words, what should Christians do?
3 In view of this, it is of serious concern to note that Isaiah’s words, although fulfilled on ancient Judah, are having a greater fulfillment today. Yes, in our time the world is shrouded in spiritual darkness. In such a dangerous situation, spiritual light is of the utmost importance. That is why Christians do well to heed Jesus’ exhortation: “Let your light shine before men.” (Matthew 5:16) Faithful Christians can lighten the darkness for meek ones, thus giving them the opportunity to gain life.—John 8:12.
Dark Times in Israel
4. When were Isaiah’s prophetic words first fulfilled, but what situation already existed in his own day?
4 Isaiah’s words about darkness covering the earth were first fulfilled when Judah lay desolate and her people were in exile in Babylon. However, even before that, in Isaiah’s own day, much of the nation was already shrouded in spiritual darkness, a fact that moved him to urge his fellow countrymen: “O men of the house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of Jehovah”!—Isaiah 2:5; 5:20.
5, 6. What factors contributed to the darkness in Isaiah’s day?
5 Isaiah prophesied in Judah “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” (Isaiah 1:1) It was a turbulent time of political unrest, religious hypocrisy, judicial corruption, and oppression of the poor. Even during the reigns of faithful kings, such as Jotham, altars of false gods could be seen on many hilltops. Under the unfaithful kings, the situation was worse. Wicked King Ahaz, for example, went so far as to offer up his offspring in a ritual sacrifice to the god Molech. That was darkness indeed!—2 Kings 15:32-34; 16:2-4.
6 The international situation was also gloomy. Moab, Edom, and Philistia stood menacingly at Judah’s borders. The northern kingdom of Israel, although related by blood, was an avowed enemy. Farther north, Syria threatened Judah’s peace. Even more dangerous was cruel Assyria, ever on the lookout for opportunities to expand its power. During the period of Isaiah’s prophesying, Assyria took the nation of Israel completely off the map and almost destroyed Judah. At one time every fortified city in Judah except Jerusalem was in Assyrian hands.—Isaiah 1:7, 8; 36:1.
7. What path did Israel and Judah choose, and how did Jehovah respond?
7 God’s covenant people suffered such disasters because Israel and Judah were disloyal to him. Like those mentioned in the book of Proverbs, they were “leaving the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness.” (Proverbs 2:13) Yet, while Jehovah was angry with his people, he did not completely abandon them. Instead, he raised up Isaiah and other prophets to provide spiritual light for any in the nation who still sought to serve Jehovah faithfully. The light provided through these prophets was precious indeed. It was life-giving.
Times of Darkness Today
8, 9. What factors contribute to the world’s darkness today?
8 The situation in Isaiah’s day was very similar to conditions today. In our time, human leaders have turned their backs on Jehovah and his enthroned King, Jesus Christ. (Psalm 2:2, 3) The religious leaders of Christendom have deceived their flocks. Such leaders claim to serve God, but in truth most of them promote the gods of this world—nationalism, militarism, wealth, and prominent individuals—to say nothing of teaching pagan doctrines.
9 In one place after another, Christendom’s religions have been involved in wars and civil strife that feature ethnic cleansing and other horrors. Furthermore, rather than taking a stand for Bible-based morality, many churches are either winking at or actively supporting immoral practices like fornication and homosexuality. As a result of such a rejection of Bible standards, Christendom’s flocks are like those men spoken of by the ancient psalmist: “They have not known, and they do not understand; in darkness they keep walking about.” (Psalm 82:5) Truly, Christendom, like ancient Judah, is in deep darkness.—Revelation 8:12.
10. How does light shine in the darkness today, and how do meek ones benefit?
10 Amid such darkness, Jehovah is causing light to shine for the sake of meek ones. For this, he is using his anointed servants on earth, “the faithful and discreet slave,” and these are “shining as illuminators in the world.” (Matthew 24:45; Philippians 2:15) That slave class, supported by millions of “other sheep” companions, reflects spiritual light based on God’s Word, the Bible. (John 10:16) In this bedarkened world, such light gives meek ones hope, assists them to have a relationship with God, and helps them to avoid spiritual pitfalls. It is precious, life-giving.
“I Laud Your Name”
11. What information did Jehovah make available in Isaiah’s day?
11 In the dark days during which Isaiah lived and in the even darker days thereafter when the Babylonians carried Jehovah’s nation off into captivity, what kind of guidance did Jehovah supply? Besides supplying moral guidance, he clearly outlined in advance how he would fulfill his purposes with regard to his people. Consider, for example, the wonderful prophecies contained in Isaiah chapters 25 to 27. The words in these chapters indicate how Jehovah handled matters back then and how he does so today.
12. What heartfelt expression does Isaiah make?
12 First, Isaiah declares: “O Jehovah, you are my God. I exalt you, I laud your name.” What a heartfelt expression of praise! But what moved the prophet to utter such a prayer? A major factor is revealed in the second half of the verse, where we read: “For you [Jehovah] have done wonderful things, counsels from early times, in faithfulness, in trustworthiness.”—Isaiah 25:1.
13. (a) What knowledge strengthened Isaiah’s appreciation for Jehovah? (b) How can we learn from Isaiah’s example?
13 By Isaiah’s day, Jehovah had done many wonderful things for Israel, and these had been recorded in writing. Isaiah was evidently familiar with these writings. He knew, for example, that Jehovah brought his people out of slavery in Egypt and saved them from the wrath of Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea. He knew that Jehovah led his people through the wilderness and brought them into the Promised Land. (Psalm 136:1, 10-26) Such historical accounts showed that Jehovah God is faithful and trustworthy. His “counsels”—all the things he purposes—come true. Divinely provided accurate knowledge strengthened Isaiah to keep on walking in the light. Thus, he was a fine example for us. If we carefully study God’s written Word and apply it in our lives, we too will remain in the light.—Psalm 119:105; 2 Corinthians 4:6.
A City Is Destroyed
14. What is prophesied about a city, and likely, what city was it?
14 An example of God’s counsel is found at Isaiah 25:2, where we read: “You have made a city a pile of stones, a fortified town a crumbling ruin, a dwelling tower of strangers to be no city, which will not be rebuilt even to time indefinite.” What is this city? Isaiah was likely speaking prophetically of Babylon. Indeed, the time did come when Babylon became a mere pile of stones.
15. What “great city” exists today, and what will happen to it?
15 Does the city mentioned by Isaiah have a counterpart today? Yes. The book of Revelation speaks of “the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18) That great city is “Babylon the Great,” the worldwide empire of false religion. (Revelation 17:5) Today, the principal part of Babylon the Great is Christendom, whose clergy take the lead in opposing the Kingdom-preaching work of Jehovah’s people. (Matthew 24:14) Like ancient Babylon, however, Babylon the Great will soon be destroyed, never to rise again.
16, 17. How have enemies of Jehovah glorified him in ancient and in modern times?
16 What else does Isaiah prophesy about the “fortified town”? Addressing Jehovah, Isaiah says: “Those who are a strong people will glorify you; the town of the tyrannical nations, they will fear you.” (Isaiah 25:3) How would this hostile city, “the town of the tyrannical nations,” glorify Jehovah? Well, remember what happened to Babylon’s mightiest king, Nebuchadnezzar. After a sobering experience demonstrating his own weakness, he was forced to confess the greatness of Jehovah and His almighty power. (Daniel 4:34, 35) When Jehovah exercises his power, even his enemies are forced to acknowledge, albeit reluctantly, his powerful works.
17 Was Babylon the Great ever forced to acknowledge Jehovah’s powerful works? Yes. During the first world war, Jehovah’s anointed servants preached under tribulation. In 1918 they went into spiritual captivity when leading officers of the Watch Tower Society were imprisoned. The organized preaching work virtually ceased. Then, in 1919, Jehovah restored them and reinvigorated them with his spirit, whereupon they set out to fulfill the commission to preach the good news in all the inhabited earth. (Mark 13:10) All of this was prophesied in the book of Revelation, as was the effect upon their opponents. These “became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Revelation 11:3, 7, 11-13) Not that they all were converted, but they were forced to recognize the powerful work of Jehovah on this occasion, just as Isaiah had foretold.
“A Stronghold to the Lowly One”
18, 19. (a) Why have opponents failed to break the integrity of Jehovah’s people? (b) How will “the melody itself of the tyrannical ones” be suppressed?
18 Turning now to Jehovah’s kindly dealings with those who walk in the light, Isaiah says to Jehovah: “You have become a stronghold to the lowly one, a stronghold to the poor one in the distress that he has, a refuge from the rainstorm, a shade from the heat, when the blast of the tyrannical ones is like a rainstorm against a wall. Like the heat in a waterless country, the noise of strangers you subdue, the heat with the shadow of a cloud. The melody itself of the tyrannical ones becomes suppressed.”—Isaiah 25:4, 5.
19 Since 1919, tyrants have tried everything to break the integrity of true worshipers, but they have failed. Why? Because Jehovah is the stronghold and the refuge of his people. He provides cool shade from the burning heat of persecution and stands like a sturdy wall against the rainstorm of opposition. We who walk in God’s light confidently look forward to the time when ‘the melody of the tyrannical ones will be suppressed.’ Yes, we eagerly await the day when Jehovah’s enemies will be gone.
20, 21. What banquet does Jehovah provide, and what will that banquet include in the new world?
20 Jehovah does more than protect his servants. He provides for them as their loving Father. After liberating his people from Babylon the Great in 1919, he set before them a victory banquet, an abundant supply of spiritual food. This was foretold at Isaiah 25:6, where we read: “Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.” How blessed we are to share in that feast! (Matthew 4:4) “The table of Jehovah” is truly laden down with good things to eat. (1 Corinthians 10:21) Through “the faithful and discreet slave,” we are given everything we could ever need in a spiritual sense.
21 And there is more to this divinely provided banquet. The spiritual feast that we now enjoy reminds us of the abundance of physical food that will be available in God’s promised new world. Then, the “banquet of well-oiled dishes” will include physical food in abundance. No one will need to be hungry in a physical or a spiritual sense. What a relief that will be for those dear faithful ones who now suffer because of the foretold “food shortages” that are part of “the sign” of Jesus’ presence! (Matthew 24:3, 7) For them, the words of the psalmist are comforting indeed. He said: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:16.
22, 23. (a) What “woven work,” or “envelopment,” will be removed, and how? (b) How will ‘the reproach of Jehovah’s people’ be removed?
22 Listen now to an even more wonderful promise. Comparing sin and death to a “woven work,” or an “envelopment,” Isaiah says: “In this mountain [Jehovah] will certainly swallow up the face of the envelopment that is enveloping over all the peoples, and the woven work that is interwoven upon all the nations.” (Isaiah 25:7) Just think! Sin and death, which have weighed on mankind like a suffocating blanket, will be no more. How we long for the day when the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice are fully applied to obedient and faithful humankind!—Revelation 21:3, 4.
23 Pointing to that glorious time, the inspired prophet assures us: “[God] will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces. And the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for Jehovah himself has spoken it.” (Isaiah 25:8) No one will die from natural causes or weep because of losing a loved one. What a blessed change! Furthermore, nowhere on earth will there be heard the reproach and lying propaganda that God and his servants have so long endured. Why not? Because Jehovah will remove their source—the father of the lie, Satan the Devil, along with all of Satan’s seed.—John 8:44.
24. How do those who walk in the light respond to Jehovah’s powerful works in their behalf?
24 Upon contemplating such manifestations of Jehovah’s power, those who walk in the light are moved to exclaim: “Look! This is our God. We have hoped in him, and he will save us. This is Jehovah. We have hoped in him. Let us be joyful and rejoice in the salvation by him.” (Isaiah 25:9) Soon, righteous mankind will have every reason to rejoice. The darkness will be completely dispelled, and faithful ones will be bathed in Jehovah’s light for all eternity. Could any hope be more glorious? No, indeed!
Can You Explain?
• Why is it vital today to walk in the light?
• Why did Isaiah laud Jehovah’s name?
• Why will enemies never break the integrity of God’s people?
• What rich blessings await those who walk in the light?
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Inhabitants of Judah sacrificed children to Molech
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Knowledge of Jehovah’s mighty acts moved Isaiah to laud Jehovah’s name
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The righteous will be bathed in Jehovah’s light forever