The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light

The prophecies of the Lord's Advent can be stirring. Here's a much-loved one from Isaiah:

"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 shined." (Isaiah 9:2)

"The people who walk in darkness" symbolize people who have faith -- they are walking -- but it's a dim faith, without much knowledge of the genuine truths in the Word. And yet, they are receptive -- when the Lord is born, they welcome the Christian teachings when they hear them; they see a great light. See Arcana Coelestia 597.

The above words of Isaiah brought hope to people of Israel prior to the Lord’s birth on earth. The “great light” that would shine refers to a renewed sight of the Lord’s love and wisdom after a time of darkness.

These words can bring hope to us, too, in times of spiritual darkness and conflict. A new light can dawn in our minds—the start of spiritual renewal—and in the end, the Lord can be born in our hearts as a spirit of goodwill.

At Christmas, there's a special opportunity for this, as people all over the world are celebrating the Lord's birth. And... who doesn't need spiritual renewal?

The Bible

Isaiah 9:2

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Isaiah 9:1    Full Chapter    Isaiah 9:3 →

2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 9

Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 519, 897, 1259, 1416, 3195, 3384, 3863, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 413, 483, 796, 954

Sacred Scripture 86, 111

True Christian Religion 251, 270

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 97, 331, 439, 447, 526, 662

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 60

Scriptural Confirmations 2

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Judges 5:30

Psalms 4:8

Luke 2:10

Word/Phrase Explanations

The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

Nov. 4, 1879: Thomas Edison filed a patent for a long-burning light bulb. Nov. 5, 1879: The light bulb was universally accepted as the symbol...

Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

'The shadow is good' of the oak, poplar and elm means complacence.

Shadow of death
'The shadow of death' has respect to the states of people in hell, who are in the falsities of evil.

'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Christmas Prophecies
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Christ the King
As you celebrate Easter this year, you can remember the Lord’s suffering, but more importantly, we can rejoice in the success of the Lord’s mission while He lived on earth. He brought the heavens into order and conquered the hells. He provided for people’s freedom to choose a life of heaven, and He showed how He is indeed our Heavenly King. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 5, for ages 10-11.
Religion Lesson | Ages 10 - 11

 Do Not Be Afraid
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 His Name Is Wonderful
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 His Name Shall Be Called
Make a picture of the Lord, think about the names mentioned in Isaiah 9, and write the names around the picture.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 His Name Will Be Called: The Development of the Lord in Our Lives
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 I Am the Light of the World
This sermon explores light and darkness, focusing on how the prophecy in Isaiah (9:2) can help us understand the nature of God, what He longs to do, and the kind of life to which He leads us.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Light in the Darkness
Children will enjoy using special materials to picture the bright, beautiful light that the Lord brought into the world when He was born on earth.
Project | Ages up to 10

 Memory Verse: Glory of the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Prophecies of the Advent
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Names of the Lord
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Prophecies of the Messiah
One of the most important events in the history of human beings is the birth of the Lord on earth as an infant. By the time the Lord was actually born, the truths of the Word had been lost or perverted. But there had been prophets who told people that the Lord was going to come on earth and gave them hope. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 6, for ages 11-12.
Religion Lesson | Ages 11 - 12

 Quotes: Prophecies of the Advent
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Lord Is the Hero of War
Color picture of the Commander of the Lord's army appearing to Joshua.
Picture | All Ages

 The Prince of Peace
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Unto Us a Child Is Born
The prophecy "Unto Us a Child Is Born" printed in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 Why the Lord Has Different Names
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Why the Lord Was Born on Earth
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14