Monday, March 3, 2014

And Then There Was Light

I don't know what complete darkness is.  Living this side of Edison's first step towards illuminating a whole world where light is a simple flick of a switch away, I simply don't have a good grasp on living in physical darkness.

Even without Edison, though, I still can't conceive of a darkness where there is no lightOnce the sun dances to another side of the globe, the dark of night is broken not only by the moon overhead but also by several billion pinpoints of light from distant stars.  And even when those tiny lights are extinguished by storm clouds, still, the horizon has a faint glow from the capitol city located thirty miles away.

Despite my inability to fully comprehend the idea, the prophet Isaiah describes such an utter and complete darkness when referring to the wrath of God..

Over the course of the first five chapters of Isaiah, the prophet presents God's case against Israel, outlining the people's sin against a holy God and warning of the judgment to come. By the end of this introductory passage, God's wrath has built to a point where His hand can be withheld no longer. 

As such, the very last verse of Chapter 5 ends with an image of God's wrath as rolling storm clouds that are not far off in the distance but that are already directly overhead so that no light is left to be seen: "If one looks to the land, behold, there is darkness and distress; Even the light is darkened by its clouds." (Is. 5:30).

This is an image of complete darkness, where the light of God's glory is made invisible by the darkness of His wrath. As John MacArthur states, "wrath eliminates light." (p. 765).

It is not, however, the light of God's glory that is eliminated by the wrath of holy judgment but the light of hope that is completely absent.  Such a complete lack of hope--so that not even one ray of light can be seen--speaks of how inescapable God's judgment of sin is.  It also speaks to the holiness of God and to the complete justice of God's judging sin.

Though speaking directly to Israel, this utter darkness is, likewise, a perfect image of mankind in general's sinful state without Jesus as its salvation.  Without Him, there is no light, no hope. All is complete darkness, the darkness of God's wrath as He has passed perfect judgment on each and every one of us for sin

I don't think it is any coincidence that the very next chapter presents Isaiah's vision of God enthroned.  How better to compare the depth of darkness to the blinding light of God's glory than to juxtapose the two side by side--Chapter 5 ending with utter despair in darkness because of sin and Chapter 6 opening with the utter perfection of God's glory?

Yes, I understand that in terms of time, the vision of Isaiah's calling occurred before the first five chapters.  However, I also understand that in God's providence, He had this chapter fall after the first five chapters and after presenting a picture of such darkness caused by the people's lost state in their sin.

After viewing this image of God's glory enthroned, the darkness just becomes that much darker.

Once we understand the utter hopelessness of our estate as subjects of God's wrath, a few chapters later, God introduces hope, saying, "The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them" (9:2).

Notice God doesn't say the people "may see a great light."  No.  He says they "will see a great light."  Just as there is wrath and hopelessness in escaping judgment, so there is, too, a light of hope coming.  What God has purposed will come to pass.

The total darkness of our lost state WILL BE suddenly transformed by a blinding light--Jesus: "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6).

Jesus would later tell the Pharisees, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" (Jn. 8:12).

He was, and remains, man's only hope for reconciliation with God. 

Late in Isaiah, the prophet writes of a day yet to come when there will be a new Zion and Jesus its king:
"Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.
Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising" (Is. 60:2-3).

Just imagine.  If we cannot conceive of complete darkness, then we also cannot conceive of the brilliance of complete light.  

Yet, one day, that brilliant light will return to this earth, shining as a beacon of hope for those who love Him.

No comments:

Post a Comment