My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
This week, a friend sent me a news article that was from December 28th, 2019.
It was titled, “20 things to look forward to in the upcoming year, 2020!”
Let me share some of them with you:
#1 on the list: The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo!
That was fun!
They recommended foreign cities you could travel to in summer of 2020, like Dubai!
They also listed a bunch of movies that never came out, concerts that got cancelled, and monuments that never opened
And our own personal lives have been filled with the unexpected as well.
I never dreamed that we’d have to do our church groundbreaking without you…and you’d have to watch online at home
I never imagined a scenario that we’d have to cancel our huge Easter Egg Hunt Outreach…
I mean, we’ve done it in the freezing cold…in a foot of snow!
And I never pictured, Christmas 2020 like this either.
I always knew it was kind of an outside chance that our building would be done by Christmas (which it’s not)…
So I knew we might not quite be in the building, but I never imagined we’d be homeless for a month or two.
It’s an odd thing, as a church, to be homeless on Christmas, but then again, maybe it’s not.
Mary & Joseph couldn’t easily find a home for Jesus on that first Christmas either.
There were no relatives to take them in…
No room in the inn…
And the Savior of the World had to be born in a dark stable.
As 2020 has been a hard year, many have begun to call this a dark winter, or even “the dark year.”
And so I think it’s fitting today that we look at a prophecy about Jesus that speaks of his coming, into the darkness.
It’s a prophecy, a Godly & true prediction, that comes from the prophet Isaiah, about 700 years or so before Jesus was born.
In that time, the northern tribes of Israel (God’s people in the Old Testament), were facing a grave threat from the nation of Assyria, which was threatening to conquer them.
And in Isaiah chapter 8, the Prophet Isaiah talks about how God’s people are looking to all sorts of wrong things for help.
Mediums, their own wisdom, you name it.
They’re looking to everything but God
And the Prophet Isaiah tells them that if they look to other things, then this will happen:
(Isaiah 8:21-22) – NIV
21 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. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
I love verse 22.
It says that they will look toward the earth…
They will look for answers from the people of the earth, from the culture, from the wise…
And what will they see…only distress, and darkness, and fearful gloom
There will be no solutions, and where there seem to be answers, they won’t make much sense
This hard year, to me, has only reinforced that Jesus is the only Answer for our difficulties.
In Iceland, where people are really struggling with isolation, the government and forestry service there has carved out paths into the forests and recommended that people spend at least 5 minutes a day hugging a tree.
I’m not making this up.
Feel free to google it.
Here’s the direct quote from the government official of Iceland:
"It's good to close your eyes while hugging a tree. I press my cheek against it and feel the warmth and currents flowing from the tree into me... it starts in your toes, runs up your legs and through your body into your brain. You get such a good relaxing feeling and are then ready for a new day and new challenges.”
Go ahead, try it out, I bet you’ll find that Isaiah the prophet is right… “We look to the earth, and we find…nothing.”
I read another article that also talked about how people are struggling again with isolation, so they are trying to invent robot companions for people at a faster rate.
We’re really prone to thinking that the things of the earth or that technology will solve all of our problems…bring light to our darkness.
But they can’t.
A computer, a TV, a tree will offer you no answers, no love, no forgiveness.
The darkness will continue
A PROMISE OF LIGHT
And yet Isaiah promises that the darkness won’t always be so.
It’s going to be rough for the people he’s talking to in the Bible.
They will be conquered by Assyria.
But eventually, something will happen.
Let’s read into chapter 9 now
(Isaiah 9:1-2) – NIV
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—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
These northern people who have suffered so much will one day be honored by God.
The region of Galilee will be blessed.
Galilee was sort of nowheresville in Israel.
It was tucked way up north, far away from the bustling life of Jerusalem.
In fact, in John chapter 1 (in the NT), when Nathaniel first hears about the purported Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth (which was a small town in Galilee).
He says, “Nazareth?!? Can ANYTHING good come from there?”
This is not only nowheresville, but this is the land that disobeyed God and was captured by Assyrians and shipped off to Assyria.
He’s thinking, “How could God bring something that great out of a land that has been SO dark?
And yet, this if often how God works.
He loves to prove his power through extremes.
Isaiah says, “on those living in the land of DEEP darkness, a light has dawned.”
And the people will see it.
Because where you do you most notice a light?
Do you even notice if someone turns on a flashlight in a bright, sunny room?
But if they turn on a flashlight in the pitch black…you can’t help but notice.
And it’s in the “land of deep darkness” that Jesus, the Savior will come to.
And in the darkness…a land struck greatly by hurt, sickness, spiritual deadness, and more, Jesus is a shining light.
And in no time, thousands are following Him around.
A light has dawned.
A few verses later, in Isaiah chapter 9, the prophet says this (and remember, this is HUNDREDS of years BEFORE Jesus is born…The Bible is amazing!)
(Isaiah 9:6-7) – NIV
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.
7 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.
This is the child that was born on Christmas Day…2,000 years ago.
In a manger, in that little town of Bethlehem
And he wasn’t just born to give us warm feelings and cute nativity scenes for Christmas
That same chapter of Christmas prophecy, tells us He was born to be a light in the darkness.
A hope when you have none.
Do you remember…2.5 years ago, when those 12 boys from in Thailand went to explore a cave in a nearby mountain?
The rains had been really heavy that week, and they (and their soccer coach), went farther into the cave than they should have.
Eventually, a few kilometers into the cave, through all sorts of twists and turns, they got stuck in a cavern where the water was filling up behind them…blocking their pathway back out.
And suddenly, they were trapped in.
All they could do was wait and hope someone figured out where they were…deep within the mountain.
They had fresh water to drink, but otherwise, they were trapped in the dark.
And they waited…one day, two days, three days…four days.
A few days in, the story became international news…
And professional cave divers from all over the world pitched in to help.
The whole world was trying to figure out how to find them, and if they did, how to rescue them through the cave channels which were now filled with water.
And on day 9…as the 12 boys and their coach sat in the darkness…with all hope fading…they saw a light coming up through the water.
And can you imagine the feeling, after being trapped in that dark cave for 9 days, and you’ve lost all hope…you think you’re going to die…
Seeing the light on the diving suit of a rescuer…swimming up through the waters?
Can you imagine what that light would mean?
Your heart would leap into the air.
I mean, you would leap into the air…just at the sight of a light rising in the water, and coming out of it.
A light in the darkness is hope in the darkness.
It’s the hope of rescue
And all 13 members of the group were eventually rescued.
That’s what the Bible is talking about.
No matter how dark this year may have felt for you…Jesus is the light in the darkness.
God sent Him to this earth, 2,000 years ago on Christmas day to bring light to this world.
Follow the light.
Only Jesus can pull you out of the darkness you’re in.
THE main story of Christmas, and the story of the Bible is that He came to earth on Christmas with a mission to rescue you.
That light you’re seeing now, that you’re feeling in your heart, is that someone cares enough to rescue you.
In the story with the Thai boys, there was even a diver who perished in his attempt to rescue them.
He died trying to save them.
And he gave his life, because those boys were worth saving.
And Jesus has done the same.
He gave his life for you on the cross, because you are worth saving
The Bible says that He loved YOU so much that even after seeing all of your sins, He died on the cross in your place…taking the punishment for your sins.
And if you would believe in Him, He will save you from your sins…and you will be “not guilty” in God’s eyes because His Son will have paid for your sins
And if you believe in Jesus, He will come into your life.
You can have a personal relationship with Jesus!
How amazing is that?
Jesus is the light you’re looking for.
I read this week, and maybe you’ve seen this with your own eyes, that 2020 has been “an unprecedented year” in the purchasing of Christmas lights.
Some stores even completely ran out of them.
Even people who never usually decorate their home, have been putting up lights.
2020 has more clearly revealed some of the darkness that has always been on earth.
But to combat that darkness, we’re trying to manufacture light.
Just as we try and manufacture human contact through trees or technology.
But as hard as we try, we can not manufacture light
You can not bring light into the darkness that you feel in your hearts any more than those trapped Thai boys could light their dark cave or get themselves out of it.
We need a Savior.
The light of the World.
And you can let that light in, right now…today.
All it takes is admitting that you are a sinner, that you are not perfect.
Telling Jesus you believe He died for you
And then…ask Him to save you and come into your life.
If you do that, He will save you…and bring the Light.
If you need to do that…
I want you, sometime before you go to bed tonight, to kneel down somewhere, and ask Him into your life.
Your words don’t have to be perfect, He knows your heart.
And even if His light is just a glow to you now, I promise that it will be as bright as can be if you let him in.
Jesus came on Christmas…to bring the light…let Him in.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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