Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment. — Isaiah 50:10–11
At sundown, July 21, Jews around the world will commemorate Tisha B’Av, a time of mourning that marks the many tragedies that befell the Jewish people throughout history on this particular date. Yet from this time of sorrow comes a ray of hope. This is one of 12 devotions exploring the depths of tragedy, and what we can do to transform darkness into light. To learn more about Tisha B’Av, download a copy of our free Bible Study.
In today’s verses from the book of Isaiah, which are part of the “The Seven Weeks of Consolation” that are traditionally read after Tisha B’Av and before the High Holy Days, the prophet reassured the people that God had neither forsaken nor forgotten them. He affirmed that although the situation looked bleak as they were in exile, everything would turn out right in the end.
Indeed, God would bring them back to Israel and the nation would be restored. In verse 10, Isaiah called on Israel to have faith. He proclaimed, “Who among you fears the LORD . . . Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD, and rely on their God.”
This reminds me of another time in Jewish history. During the time of the Maccabees, the heroes of the Hanukkah story, there were those in Israel who trusted in God and there were those who sided with the Greek oppressors. The second group of Israelites embraced the Greek culture, although it contradicted the Word of God, and considered themselves “enlightened.” They had Greek art, philosophy, mathematics, and science. Who needed God’s Word?
Mattityahu, the head of the Maccabees, issued this cry: “Whoever is for God come to me!” The time had come to make a choice. Times were dark in Israel. Everything seemed to be falling apart. Who would save them? Would it be God? Would they have faith in Him and trust Him to be their light leading them through the darkness? Or would they side with the Greeks, trusting in that which they could see, instead of having faith in He who is hidden?
The reward of those who sided with the Maccabees is that God led them to victory. The few defeated the many; the weak defeated the mighty. As an additional gift, God took the tiny flask of oil that the Maccabees found in the Temple, and while that light should have only lasted one day, it burned for eight nights until new oil was ready.
God was demonstrating that those who let Him be their light will be blessed with everlasting light!
When we go through darkness in our lives, we may be tempted to go against the Word of God. But the prophet continued and wrote that those who made their own torches – their own source of light instead of trusting the light of God – would not succeed.
Let us establish God as our guiding light today. Make these your verses to live by today: “Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light” (Micah 7:8), and “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President