God of the oppressed – Part 2
Text: Jeremiah 5:26-28
In the first part of this series, we saw how Exodus was transformed from a specific historical Jewish event in the Old Testament to a more generic and realized paradigm or model for political and social transformation. Let us now have a brief reflection on Isaiah 9:2-7. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shinned.” Reddie (2009:p.67), succinctly shows that “this text is one of the most moving and significant in the entire collection of Old Testament writings.” A critical study of this text shows that it comes after a dramatic chapter in which Isaiah, a prophet of the Lord, has foretold the impending invasion of Judah by the Assyrians.
In a time of great darkness, God promised to send a light who would shine on everyone living in the shadow of death. He is both ‘Counselor’ and ‘Mighty God.’ This message of hope was fulfilled in the birth of Christ and the establishment of His eternal kingdom. He came to deliver all people from their slavery to sin. This child who would become their deliverer is the Messiah, Jesus. Matthew quotes these verses in describing Christ’s Ministry (Matt 4:15-16). The territories of Zebulun and Naphtali represent the northern kingdom as a whole. These were also the territories where Jesus grew up and often ministered; this is why they would see “a great light.”
The passage for our reflection (Isaiah 9:2-7) has taken on great importance in the many centuries since it was written. For the numerous communities that have been struggling with oppression and social and political marginalization throughout the ages, this text has a special significance. It speaks of a righteous king who is coming to reign, a king whose reign will be characterized by justice, peace and equality.
Reddie (2009:p.67), in his Black theological reflections shows how “many Black people have experienced slavery, exile, extreme poverty and the continued effects of racism.” He goes on to show that for the oppressed, this sense ‘at the end of time’ God in Christ will extend a new reign of justice and peace can be linked to a evocative dream. “The great African American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, spoke of his own dream for a new world.” Isaiah 9:2-7 speaks to that dream, a dream for a new Nigeria, a new Africa, and indeed a new world in which all are valued and valuable in the sight of God.
Martin Luther King dreamt of a time when Black people in the USA would be judged by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin. Can we as people from one nation be judged by the content of our character and not by ethnicity? What are your dreams for the future? In what ways will your life demonstrate your commitment to making that dream come to fruition?
God saw the condition of the children of Israel and sent a deliverer, Moses to take them out of bondage. The deliverance was marked by signs and wonders – the crossing of the Red Sea. But it is to this same land (Egypt) that the people would yearn to return (Exodus 16:1-4). A little frustration and disappointment should not make us to forget the enormous miracles of God and His testimonies in our lives. A little suffering should not make us to forget that somebody paid the price for our liberty. He sacrificed everything to give us life and life abundantly.
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