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Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled By Jesus Christ

Chapter Nine

Christ the Light

Prophecy - Isaiah 9:2
Fulfillment - Matthew 4:15-16

The Bible says, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Although God is not pleased to reveal the fulness of His will and purposes, He has revealed a great deal to us. Among the many revelations of God’s Word is the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2 and its application to Jesus Christ as it was fulfilled and recorded in Matthew 4:15-16.

According to the Gospels, Jesus grew up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23 and Luke 4:16). Matthew tells us that when He left Nazareth He went to Capernaum, which was near the Sea of Galilee in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet,...” (Matthew 4:13). Matthew then introduced the prophecy which was written by Isaiah. An interesting fact about that prophecy is that it was not only about a Person, but also a region of the country as well. Therefore, it is important for us to give consideration to this region before we move on to understand how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. Hopefully, we will see the connection made between the land and the Man. When we realize the land was in spiritual darkness at that time; we can see the importance of Christ, the light Who shined there.

As we study these parallel passages, it will be obvious that there are differences in the spelling of names. There are many words that are spelled different in the Old and New Testaments. After all, the New Testament is translated from the Greek and the Old Testament from the Hebrew. Therefore, Esaias is Isaiah and Zabulon and Nephthalim are Zebulun and Naphtali. While the spelling changed, the truth of God’s Word remains unchanged. Those places were called “Galilee of the Gentiles” in Matthew 4:15 and comprised a very small but densely populated area. It was only about fifteen miles from top to bottom and about twenty-five miles across. A wide variety of people occupied the land because of its location. Great roads passed through Galilee and because of the Sea of Galilee, there were resort areas such as Capernaum. Thus, the prophecy of Isaiah revealed that Christ, the light, would shine upon the Gentiles there.

The area was identified as a Gentile region for a number of reasons. First, this area was assigned to the Tribe of Asher at the division of the land of Canaan, the promised land. It is interesting to note that they never did expel the Gentile inhabitants from the land (Judges 1:31-32). Thus, there was ample opportunity for the mixing of Jews and Gentiles over time. Second, from the eighth to the second century B.C. it was largely in Gentile hands. In 104 B.C. it was conquered by Aristobulus for the Jews and the people were circumcised to make them Jews, whether they liked it or not. Third, the land was surrounded by Gentiles, who had often invaded and conquered them. In those conquests many changes occurred which made it attractive to Gentiles. No wonder Matthew referred to it as “Galilee of the Gentiles.”

In this region of such strong Gentile influence was a city called Capernaum, located on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. It was a chief commercial and social center for the area. Roman taxes were gathered there so a garrison of soldiers was assigned to the region. Apparently, a strong Jewish synagogue was located at Capernaum as excavations have revealed a two story ruin some sixty by eighty feet in size. Even though there was a Jewish influence, the teachings of the Old Testament and Gentile paganism had no doubt become mingled.

The fact that Jesus often visited Capernaum is very important because when He was there, the “great light” (Matthew 4:16) of Jesus was shining upon this area of Gentile darkness. Keep in mind that near there, Jesus had calmed the stormy sea (Matthew 8:23-27). It was also at Capernaum that Christ healed a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12) and healed the servant of a Gentile centurion who possessed great faith (Matthew 8:5-13).

If you look at a map of the ancient travels of our Lord, you will see that He often went out to different areas, but would soon return to the city of Capernaum. Therefore, Jesus was often in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim (Galilee of the Gentiles). His light shined there again and again. In the midst of the “darkness” and “death” mentioned in Matthew 4:16, Jesus shined. Those Gentiles once sat in spiritual darkness for the light of Divine truth had not been revealed to them when it was given to the Jews. In Gentile ignorance, they did not see and know the existence and power of the true and living God. Paganism was the religion of most of the Gentiles and that canopy of darkness blocked their view. Until God came to them and us, we were all blinded by spiritual darkness.

In the “darkness” was the “shadow of death.” It is interesting that David, the ancient Psalmist of Israel, mentioned “the shadow of death.” He said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4). Death by sin has cast its dark shadow upon all of us. The Bible tells us from the beginning death has been the consequence of sin. God said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). In the New Testament we read, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Through these Biblical teachings, we are brought to realize that Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation (Acts 4:12).

Recognizing that the region was engulfed in this spiritual darkness and death, it is all the more glorious to think that Jesus walked so often in the midst of those Gentiles. Matthew is telling us that God planned it that way; it was not by chance that Jesus often went to Capernaum. God had revealed through His prophet Isaiah some 700 or more years earlier that Jesus would do so. Light was sent into their darkness and life replaced sin’s death. Isaiah was speaking of Gentiles when he said, “...upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). Today, as God’s redeemed among the Gentiles, we can gladly attest to that marvelous truth.

It is no wonder that Jesus is called the Light of the world. He reminded us of Isaiah’s prophecy when He said, “...I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Apostle John also set forth the idea of Jesus as light in the beginning of the Gospel of John. He wrote, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4-5). Jesus shined and darkness was driven away, for it had no power against Him. Just as it was in the creation, darkness was dispelled by the light. Genesis 1:3 tells us, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Paul reminded us that by God’s sovereign power over darkness, our lives were changed saying, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Thank God that the light of Christ has shined upon us Gentiles. His transforming grace has changed us to the extent that we will never be the same as we were. May Christ, the Light of the world, be blessed and praised forever more!

As we contemplate His deserved praise, let us reflect on a few more practical thoughts. When the Old Testament closed, Malachi prophesied of the “Sun of righteousness” Who would arise with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2). The “Sun” of righteousness was the “Son” of God, and He imputed His righteousness to us (Romans 4:6) and all God’s elect chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Because He shined upon us, now we are lights too. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The sun and moon were the two great lights God created in the beginning (Genesis 1:16). They represented two kinds of light, radiant (sun) and reflective (moon). Radiant light is source light which emerges from within but reflective light has no light within. It simply reflects light from a source outside itself. The sun has light and thus shines upon the earth, but the moon simply reflects the light of the sun. Even so, Jesus is the source Light and as He shines into the sin-darkened hearts of men and women throughout the world, we simply reflect His light as we shine on others. Therefore, it is to His glory that our lives have been changed from darkness to light and in heaven He shall ever be our light. Revelation 21:23 tells us, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

It is indeed wonderful to contemplate these glorious truths set forth in the ancient prophecy of Isaiah 9:2. Throughout the ages men have tried to extinguish the light of God. They even nailed Jesus to the cross but they could not conquer His light by their darkness. They continue to use every medium and means to keep His light from shining in this dark world of sin; yet His light continues to shine and will shine until at last all God’s elect are gathered home with Him.

Isaiah prophesied that our Saviour, Jesus Christ, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), would come to Gentiles. He laid down His life to redeem His elect children, both Jew and Gentile. As it was written, so He came; fulfilling God’s promises given in the Old Testament. The New Testament gives us vivid details of His birth, life, death on the cross and resurrection. Thus, today, we can rejoice in the light and saving grace of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. May we let our light shine, so that we praise Christ in our daily walk of faith.

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This page last updated on November 1, 2015