January 22, 2011


3rd Sunday - A
Matthew 4: 12-23

God's Time

The words of Isaiah quoted by Matthew in this Gospel passage was given over 700 years before Jesus came to Capernaum.

"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen."

In 733 BC, Assyria conquered Israel. Zebulun and Naphtali were "the northernmost" areas of the country that were first overrun by the Assyrian armies. [1]

It was shortly after this defeat that Isaiah gave the prophecy. It seemed to be intended first as a promise of deliverance from foreign occupation and a better future for Israel.

In Isaiah's mind, that was probably the only meaning.

Matthew, however, gives a deeper understanding of the prophecy. Jesus Christ is the true fulfillment of the prophecy. He came to enlighten not just the children of Israel, but also all the nations.

It takes over 700 years for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

God does not take anything lightly; especially when it comes to our salvation.

[1] Joseph Jensen, O.S.B., "Isaiah 1 - 39" in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990; p. 236.

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