The book of Isaiah begins with God’s people in rebellion and they need to learn to seek good (Isaiah 1:2-6, 16-23). Israel is in spiritual darkness and needs to submit to God and walk in His “light” (Isaiah 2:5). This interplay between light and darkness makes a significant contribution to the message of the book.
The theme of “light and darkness” is evident in Isaiah’s initial call to be a prophet. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed” (Isaiah 6:8-10). The rubric of “blind and see” contributes to “light and darkness” theme for spiritual understanding or lack of understanding (Isaiah 6:10; 29:9, 18; 35:5; 42:7, 16, 18, 19; 43:8; 56:10; 59:10).
The pairing of “light and darkness” occurs in eight places in the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:30 They will growl over it on that day, like the growling of the sea. And if one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined
Isaiah 42:16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them
Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things
Isaiah 50:10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God
Isaiah 58:10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday
Isaiah 59:9 Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom