Tag Archives: darkness

Unreasonable Expectations

Meditations on the Psalms

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” (Psalm 4:6 ESV)

We are faced with a paradox. In this Psalm, Jesus now speaks in the second person, telling us one aspect of the thinking of those who rebel against Him. People who dishonor God, who love to hear themselves talk, speaking vain words and lies, want God to listen to them and give them their desires. Built into the thinking of their hearts is the false idea God exists to serve them, not they Him. They believe they control God by offering sacrifices. In the space-time history of creation and the earth, people look to any who could offer them refuge and benefit from the constant presence of the danger they face because of sin.

Those same peoples who rage against God, the kings and leaders who conspire against Him, demand He bless them. They wonder why God has abandoned them and not given them that which is good, or pleasant and becoming, making them happy and glad, rich and secure in their welfare, given prosperity. They want Him to lift up the light of His face, to shine about them and on them, revealing the wonder of His countenance, blessing them and giving them all they desire. They are self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish individuals who care nothing for God, but still want Him to give them all they want and need and then leave them alone.

Light is a major theme throughout Scripture, beginning with Genesis. Before there was anything other than chunks of matter, God spoke and said “Let there be light,” and there was light” (Genesis 1:3 ESV). Light is the opposite of darkness, or the absence of light. Light is necessary for growth and health, for learning and understanding, for safety and security. Light exposes while darkness hides. Spiritually, God’s light exposes the darkness of sin while revealing His holiness. When many ask God to give them happiness without imposing Himself upon them, what they are asking is for God to bless them and let them live happily in their unrighteous behaviors. They want all the blessings of God without the presence of God.

When told by His disciples the religious leaders wanted to stone Him, therefore it was not a good idea to return to Jerusalem, even to heal a sick friend, Jesus responded with a metaphor of light. “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11:9-10 ESV). There is no reason to fear anyone while living in the absolute will of God.

After raising Lazarus, Jesus told His disciples He would die, being lifted up, a righteous sacrifice for them. He had already called Himself the “light of the world” (John 9:5 ESV). Now He tells them to live and act according to the knowledge and wisdom given by God.“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12:35-36 ESV). They will be assaulted by darkness, by sin and sinful behavior. Yet, Jesus promises they will be transformed by light, the intimate knowledge of God, becoming light themselves.

Just before the Passover, the time of His sacrifice, Jesus declared the practical application of faith in Him. Either people believe in Him or not. Those who believe in Him walk in the light, while those who reject Him continue walking in darkness

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50 ESV)

God is not going to bless anyone because of their unreasonable expectations of Him. No one can demand He do anything, for He is not controlled by any created being. His righteous light reveals the unrighteousness of rebellion. We should expect wrath. In Christ, He has given grace, mercy and salvation.

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I Cried Aloud

Meditations on the Psalms

I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:4 ESV)

Trust is an emotional response to a promise given by One fully capable of delivering upon that promise. In a world filled with people corrupted by sin, only God is trustworthy. It is to the only trustworthy God Jesus cries out, fully expecting an eternal, righteous, good and true answer.

To cryis to call out, to utter a loud sound, to proclaim, summon and invite. Thus, He cries out to God because He is surrounded by those who are trying to murder Him. All His adversaries consider Him incapable of ruling them and refuse to obey His commands. Instead, they conspire to kill Him, removing Him from authority over them, so they might rule themselves. His cry is for help from the One who has given Him dominion and ownership over the world and all it contains.

He who cries out expects an answer, knowing God hears and responds. Jesus is the only righteous One who lives, the blessed Man (Psalm 1:1). He acts and speaks with God’s full authority, being King over His kingdom. Jesus is God in the flesh and knows God will respond. God does answer, and His answer is eternal, fixed and finished.

Yet, the circumstances under which Jesus cries out to God look hopeless, final, showing a conclusion which seems to defeat the purposes of God. Even in the darkness, God is in control, working all things out according to His purpose and for His glory.

Jesus is on the cross, reviled and mocked by everyone. Then, darkness covers the face of the world as it appears God turns His back on His Son.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:45-46 ESV; see Mark 15:34).

Jesus hangs helplessly on the cross, appearing to all as forsaken by God. Upon His bleeding, hyperextended shoulders, with arms stretched out, the weight of His body borne on the nails in his arms and feet, God places the sentence of death due to all because all people sinned.

Jesus became the propitiation for sin. “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2 ESV). Paul uses the same word. “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”(Romans 3:22-25 ESV). The word translated propitiationin the New Testament means mercy seatin the Hebrew Scriptures (see Exodus 25:17-22, Hebrews 9:5). It was upon the mercy seat, the covering of the Ark of the Covenant, the priest poured out blood once a year to atone for the sins of the people. The blood poured out would cover the broken Law, the Ten Commandments, from God’s sight. Jesus, the Mercy Seat, poured out His own blood for the sins of the people. His blood covers those who are His. For those who are God’s, He no longer sees their sin but the blood of His Son.

Jesus knew why God turned His back on Him. There was no other way to bring sinful, rebellious people back into His eternal presence other than someone fulfilling His demand for justice. Because of sin, someone had to die both a physical and a spiritual death, as demanded by God in the Garden.

God answers Jesus from eternity, His dwelling place. When Jesus died He “cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit”(Matthew 27:50 ESV; see Mark 15:37). Luke tells us His cry. “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last”(Luke 23:46 ESV). He intimately knew God, trusting Him to fulfill the purpose for which He was sent into the world. Jesus died, knowing death could not keep Him.

Jesus told His disciple beforehand all that would happen, including His death and resurrection. Nothing happened which was not ordained and decreed by God from eternity. Nothing can hinder the will of God.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.(Hebrews 5:7 ESV)

We cannot ignore the anguish and suffering Jesus endured, both physically and emotionally, while in this world. His crucifixion and death is His passion, a Latin word, passionem, which means a short period of suffering and enduring. Jesus endured intense suffering. During His ministry, His suffering was emotional. During His passion, His suffering was physical, compounded by the emotional. He suffered for us. God answered His prayer given for us.

Enmity

Studies in Genesis 3

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)

Does God create hatred and loathing? Is hatred part of His eternal character?

When God stated that He placed enmity between the woman and the Deceiver, or the serpent, He is speaking about a level of hatred that moves beyond simple displeasure. This hatred and loathing is the deepest and longest lasting antagonism coupled with a desire to destroy and annihilate. The woman wants the Deceiver destroyed. The Deceiver want anything and everything God has done corrupted, unusable and taken away from HimimH.

There is an eternal difference between the “hatred” of God and that of His creatures who have rebelled against Him. God’s hatred is against sin. Scripture is replete with instances of God declaring His hatred and loathing for sin and for those who refuse to repent, who actively and purposefully rebel against Him, and who promote sin in others.

If a man does not repent,
God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies. (Psalm 7:12-14 ESV)

In the Gospels Jesus condemns the Jewish leaders by saying they are related to the Deceiver, telling them their father is the Devil. It, the Deceiver or the Devil, slanders man to God and God to man. It, the Devil, is both a murderer and a liar. Those to whom Jesus is speaking do the exact things done by the Deceiver.

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 ESV)

God is not the author of sin. He did not decide to corrupt the heavens and the earth He created. Nor, was His objective that Man rebel against Him when He created Man in His image. Yet, He did foresee from the beginning the reality of sin in His creation. There was darkness on the first day of creation (see Genesis 1:1-5) and then God created light, and separated the darkness from the light. From the beginning, God separates darkness from light whether in the spiritual realm or the physical. If I am correct in my thinking that God created the physical realm with representative characteristics of the spiritual then from the beginning God’s plan and decree was to swallow darkness with light.

When God declared enmity, hatred and loathing between the woman and the Deceiver, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Deceiver, He announced the outcome of the conflict between those who love and those who hate Him. God is completely and ultimately in control.

Light Overcomes Darkness

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-19 ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7 ESV)

Where there is darkness God gives light. There is a spiritual element to light and darkness as well as a physical element. God does nothing arbitrarily but thoughtfully, with ramifications which cross physical boundaries into the spiritual, eternal realms. Man, whom He created for eternity, is embedded with the eternal light of God. But darkness corrupted Man. Darkness cannot corrupt light.

Where there is darkness He brings light. On the fourth day of creation God filled the heavens with lights. He made the Sun to “rule the day” and the Moon and stars to “rule the night.” He separated day from night but did not allow complete darkness to rule the night. Night was dark but there was always some light. At times the light reflected by the Moon would be strong or dim. When the Moon was hidden by the earth there were the stars. Until God rolls up the heavens, bringing an end to the universe, stars will shine. Only when eyes are hidden from the light will there be no light to see.

A brief look at history will show God working according to the principle of light and darkness, and of separation. God separated out a people from the rest of the population, not because they were special but because through them would come His Son. Yet, He gave these people His laws, both civil and criminal, and rules for living. He made them different than from the rest of the people of the world. Giving them His law made them a light to the world. His law was the light and the people were the instrument used to shine the light. No matter how hard they tried to suppress God’s light, to exclude any not “chosen” according to their traditions, God used His light in them to bring many people to Himself.

Through the nation of Israel came His Son, God’s absolute light to a world enveloped in darkness. God’s chosen are not the nation through which Christ came but those who are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, chosen by God. Jesus is not simply a vessel or instrument of light but the actual, spiritual light to physical people corrupted by sin, filled with darkness. His righteous light overcomes the spiritual darkness of sin.

Finally, God set His Church in the world, scattered throughout as many points of light. Each person filled with the Spirit of God is not only the vessel but a source of light.

God separated people from Himself because of the darkness of sin. Yet, His purpose since the fall is to draw people toward Himself. He came and dwelt with the nation of Israel, shining His light through them to a world enveloped in darkness. He sent His Son, completely God and completely Man as God originally intended in Adam, as the absolute source of light, both physical and spiritual. When Jesus ascended, God sent His Spirit indwelling those who are His while they continued living in a world covered in darkness. Throughout history God has provided light, even a dim light, to a world darkened by sin. Until the end of time, which will come, God shines light in darkness. Ultimate separation from God is absolute darkness while absolute inclusion with God in eternity is refulgent light.

Day Separated From Night

Studies in Genesis 1

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:5 ESV)

Day and Night. Why do these two words cause so much questioning and so many arguments among Christians? Especially when it comes to the timing of God’s creation during the first six days? God created darkness and called the darkness Night. God formed light, said “let there be light” and called the light Day. From the context of Genesis chapter 1 Day is a period of time of light. Night is a period of time of darkness. Since God is not constrained by time, existing outside of the space-time universe, the period of time is determined by Him, not by us.

Day and Night are used in literal and figurative senses. Day can mean a literal 24 hour period but Night never means 24 hours. Day can mean the time from sunrise to sunset and Night the time from sunset to sunrise, splitting the total 24 hours into segments. Day can also mean a period of time of a particular occurrence, such as “the Day of the Lord” (see Isaiah 13:6, 9; Amos 5:18, 20; Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5) or an indefinite time of prosperity or trouble.

Day also has figurative meanings. A Day’s work is a period of time of labor. Yet, “work while it is day” (John 9:4 ESV) suggests labor during a period of time of enlightenment. Genesis 2:4 is the beginning verse of the second description of Creation. “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4 ESV). God calls the time He spent creating “in the day that the LORD God made” the whole time of creation. So, Day can be from human perspective a set time or an indefinite time. Since God has determined all things He knows exactly how long each Day, or period of time, lasts. We do not necessarily know.

Night is a period of time of darkness, either literally or figuratively.  Darkness is not just an absence of physical light but also and absence of knowledge and understanding which brings despair and chaos. Night is also the end of the opportunity to work or to gain knowledge, understanding and insight. Night is a time of sin, where the works of darkness reign and where a person will spiritually stumble.

Night is for those who rebel against God while Day describes a time when those who obey and follow Him receive His promises.

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (see Psalms 90:2-4). The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:4-10 ESV)

 

Light and Darkness

Studies in Genesis 1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (Gen 1:1-4 ESV)

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, there was darkness. From the words used in Genesis 1:1-4, creation was chaotic and dark. His first act after creating the heavens and the earth, while there was darkness, was to command the presence of light. From creating light He gave order to what was chaotic. Why would God not create with order?

We will use Scripture to understand what God is saying and implying in the first few chapters of Genesis. However, we will try to interpret the rest of Scripture based upon our understanding of Genesis, not Genesis based upon other Scripture. God uses words in Genesis to define what He has created. Thus, we are constrained to understand how the words are used in Genesis to understand how they are used in the rest of Scripture.

There are three words in Genesis 1:1-4 used also in Isaiah. They are “light,” “darkness” and “create,” which is used twice in this verse.  “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV). “Darkness” is literally without light and figuratively means misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. “Light” literally means illumination or the source of light or illumination. “Light” may also mean to learn, to know intellectually, to come to an understanding. “Create” is a verb and means to make. God created ex nihilo, out of nothing, all that is in the physical universe. He then formed from the stuff created all physical things.

I believe God set up creation in such a way as to help those created in His image to understand Him and the spiritual realm. He is not created but did create heaven or the spiritual world. Some of what we see in physical creation is a type, copy or illustration of a spiritual reality. We need to take care to not manufacture illustrations where there is none. Darkness and light have spiritual meaning as well as physical meaning

John tells us Jesus, the Word, created all there is in both the physical universe and in heaven, the spiritual realm. Only God, Himself, is uncreated.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Joh 1:1-5 ESV)

Darkness is not just a lack of light but a lack of order and understanding, that which is not conducive to life and growth. Light is not just illumination but knowledge and wisdom, intricate and defined order, that which encourages life. From the beginning of creation God worked according to a principle of love for and complete involvement in His creation throughout time and space, especially for those created in His image.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:13-17 ESV)

 

Separation

Studies in Genesis 1

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31 ESV)

We, in the Western world, think of evening as the end of the day and morning as the beginning. Yet, the Hebrew nation considered a day beginning at evening and ending the next evening. Passover, the Sabbath, special days, every day begins at dusk, or evening and concludes at the same time the following evening. Our question is not what meaning we place on the words “evening and morning” but how God uses the words during creation.

God uses this phrase six times in the first chapter of Genesis, almost as an exclamation for each successive day. Let us note He does not use the phrase in Genesis 2 for the end of the seventh day, the day of rest. He does not use this phrase anywhere else in Scripture with one possible exception. “The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now” (Daniel 8:26 ESV). This is a description of Daniel’s first vision of prophecy after his dreams and life illustrate his intimacy with God to an ungodly people.  This phrase speaks to what comes after Daniel in time. God worked in the past in creation, knowing the future because He knows all things.

What does God mean when He states six times “and there was evening and there was morning”? Perhaps, because He begins creation in chaos and darkness and ends the first day with the creation of light, He begins His “day” at dusk and ends His “day” with light. We know the word “evening” means dusk, or twilight, which implies some light before dark, which He calls “Night.”  We know “morning” is the beginning of a time of light, which He calls “Day.”  So we can state with some assurance that His “day,” evening and morning, are a period of time separating darkness and light.

During each “day” God creates specific things, building each new thing upon that which He previously created. During each period of time He calls a “day” He separates. Darkness from light. Water from water. Dry land from the seas. Day from night. Creatures of the seas from creatures of the air. Man from animals.

Evening is the end of a time of light while morning is the beginning of another time of light. In between evening and morning is a time of darkness called “night.”  Each of the periods of time God calls “day” ends with a period of time God calls “night” separating darkness from light and one period of time of creation from another.