Monday, December 14, 2015

Dividing Darkness from the Light!

Dividing Darkness from the Light!

There are great spiritual truths found in the first five verses of the book of Genesis.  One of these great truths is that very early in God’s revelation of His will we find Him dividing between light and darkness.  Even though sin had not yet entered into God’s creation, God established a principle of separation – light is always divided from the darkness.  Darkness is the absence of light. 

“1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

Throughout the Bible, darkness portrays ignorance of God.  Secondly, darkness portrays the lives of those who are willfully ignorant of God and His will.  Those content to live in this dark ignorance of God will then often willfully walk without regard for God’s will.  Yet, God’s loving mercy continues to extend His offer of redemption and enlightenment to all generations. 

Light in the Bible portrays knowledge of God and His will.  Humanity’s fall into sin was accompanied by a loss of being able to know God apart from His revelation of Himself through His creation and through believers telling others of God’s will.  Moses is the first recorded individual to have been given the light of Word of God in written form.  The emphasis of the light of revelation in the written Word of God that is first revealed in the Bible account of creation is the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God. 

Secondly, after the fall, the light of the revelation of God is the loving, longsuffering of God in the implementation of a plan of redemption that existed prior to Adam’s fall into sin and spiritual darkness (Revelation 13:8 and Genesis 3:15).  Adam became responsible for communicating God’s plan of redemption by grace through faith in the Promised One of Genesis 3:15 to his descendants. 

The darkness of willful rejection began to engulf humanity very early in Adam’s firstborn son named Cain.  The central point of the text is that Abel’s worship was pure in that he approached God solely on the basis of a substitute sacrifice.  Cain willfully rejected the purity of worship coming to God on the basis of human merit.  Abe’s worship is light.  Cain is absolute darkness manifesting itself in the premeditated murder of Abel.  Cain willfully rejected the light of redemption in the promised Substitute in Genesis 3:15.  Cain is the personification of what Jesus said in John 3:16-22 regarding condemnation and men loving darkness. 

“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:16-21).

The longsuffering of God was certainly evident in the history of Israel as God patiently chastised them as they continually pursued the hedonistic and pornographic darkness of the lifestyles of the heathen nations around them.  In most cases, they chose darkness over light because they loved the darkness (typical of all worldliness; I John 2:15).  It is to this issue that Isaiah speaks in Isaiah 8:16-22

“16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness” (Isaiah 8:16-22).

          Many people suffer under the false notion that somehow the world would be so much better if Jesus had not been crucified.  The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ necessary to a sinner’s redemption is the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that leads sinners out of the darkness of condemnation into the light of the eternal New Creation “in Christ Jesus.”  Perhaps that is why so many professing Christians are so enamored with the baby Jesus in the manger.  The manger scene is intended to depict the humility to which God was willing to stoop to become the Saviour of “whosoever will.”  He could never become our Saviour if He was not born sinless.  He could never become our Saviour if did not die vicariously for our sins.  The majority of the Old Testament prophecies regarding the birth of Messiah involve details of His death.  He was born to die on Calvary. 
Out of the darkness of God’s pending captivity judgment upon the backslidden nation of Israel comes the glorious light of God’s promise of the birth of Messiah.  Within this backslidden, chosen people of God there was a remnant of “disciples” (Isaiah 8:16).  The word “disciples” in Isaiah 8:16 is from the Hebrew word limmuwd (lim-mood’) referring to a group of people who were instructed in the things of God.  The purpose of discipleship is not to merely know the Bible.  The purpose of discipleship is to create living translations of God’s truth – “doers of the Word” (James 1:22).  To be merely a knower of the Word, or “hearers only,” is a form of self-deception. 

“1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali {the area of Galilee around the sea of Galilee; the first area to be captured by Assyria and the first to hear the Gospel through Jesus}, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 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. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:1-7).

The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Moody Press) says the word disciples “has the idea of training as well as educating.”  The idea is that through education (enlightenment), these people became servants of the Lord.  They would use their tongues to proclaim God’s Word regardless of what it might cost them personally.  Their ears were opened, ready to hear God’s message.  The promise of Messiah, as the ultimate suffering Servant, is always at the forefront of the mind of the “learned” or the “disciple.”  Isaiah 50:4-6 speaks specifically to Jesus as the Messiah.  Being His servant is proclaiming the message of salvation by grace through faith. 

“4 The Lord GOD hath given me {Jesus} the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. 5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:4-6).
Obviously, the “learned,” the true doers of the Word “disciples” of the Lord, were not ignorant of the fact that the “light” of the Messiah would come as a suffering servant.  There can be no true Christianity without servanthood.  Every person who truly understands the term Christian, first given to believers at Antioch, understands the depth of surrender and dedication to the mission of Christ that ensues from that term.  In John 11:8-10, Jesus spoke to the issue of fearing death and thereby avoiding the missional purpose of redemption

“8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.  10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him” (John 11:8-10).

Isaiah spoke of the suffering Servant more than any other prophet of God.  The “disciples” of the Lord who lived at the time of Isaiah were fully instructed regarding the coming of Messiah as the suffering Servant of Jehovah.  This is the model for all true believers – SERVANTHOOD. 

“1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he {the Messiah} shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12).
Isaiah was not the first to reveal the suffering Servant of Jehovah.  David also wrote of Him in Psalm 22 two-hundred years earlier.

“1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. 9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. 11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:1-18).

The prophetic message of the suffering Servant of Jehovah looks forward in time to the first advent of Messiah in Jesus Christ.  Both the first and second advents of Jesus Christ happen in times of history when the people of God are living in the greatest darkness.  The darkness in the world is not due to the wickedness of the world, but the wickedness, apathy, and carelessness of professing believers. 
In the first advent, the Cross of Jesus Christ was a place where this darkness was the most evident.  Jesus came to those people who had been looking for His coming for thousands of years and they rejected Him and murdered Him. 

“11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:11-14).

Jesus came to these people who had almost memorized the Law of God, but yet the darkness still overwhelmed their souls because the truths of God’s Word never got beyond their dead externalism to bring light and life into them.  Out of the darkness that encompassed the Crucifixion, we hear the thundering voice of Jesus probably using the last few ounces of strength left in His body:

“45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:45-46)?

We wonder at these words.  Why would Jesus ask such a question as this?  Surely He must have known why God had forsaken Him?  Oh friends, this question is not for Him.  It was a reminder to Israel of David’s words in Psalm 22.  It was a reminder to Israel of the holiness of God for that was the Psalmist’s answer to the question in Psalm 22.

“1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:1-3).

Why does God not hear the cries and pleas of the forsaken?  He does not hear because God is holy and because the forsaken are the forsaken because of sin, because of apathy, because of worldliness, and because of carelessness.  The world is in darkness because all these things exist in the lives of professing believers.  God has already heard and answered the plea of the forsaken. 

“1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

“27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:27-28).

The Cross of Jesus Christ was both a place of utter, stifling darkness and glorious, blinding light.  For those lost in the darkness of sin and ignorance, the darkness must have been overwhelming.  To the “disciples” of Jesus who understood the many Scripture references to the suffering Servant of Jehovah, the light of that truth must have shown so brightly that they could do nothing more but to stand in awe as they looked upon their dying Saviour. 

“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 . . .6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:2 & 6). 

Like the remnant of Israel at Christ’s first advent, we may be a people who walk in the darkness of a God hating, truth rejecting world, but we do not have to be a part of that darkness.  We can be contributors to the light rather than contributors to the darkness if we will cast off our apathy, worldliness, and carelessness and give our lives to be servants of YAHWEH.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 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).

If your life is filled with the darkness of despair and hopelessness, perhaps your need is “the life” that is “light of men.”  You can have that “life” by simple faith in Jesus Christ.  Turn away from your worldly pursuits and selfish motives in life.  Come to the Light.  It is shining in the darkness for you to find your way home. 

The Light of the world is Jesus!

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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