A Dark Darkness & the Brighter Light of Christ
“And you, child [John the Baptist], will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:76-79
Burt Newman pointed out last Sunday the powerful salvation that Christ brought into the world as prophesied by Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79. What makes the salvation great? How dark is the darkness? How bright is the the light?
A Darkness That is Darker
From the Old Testament to Jesus’ day, there was a shadow greater than the physical hardship Israel endured. Yes, Israel had been oppressed by foreign powers for nearly 800 years, but the oppression they were under was merely the fruit of a deeper issue in the hearts of God’s people (see 2 Kings 17:6-23).
“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria…And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.” – 2 Kings 17:6-8
The deeper issue than the darkness of foreign oppression was darkness in the heart man that lived in opposition to God. Israel, as God’s own people, was the greatest test-case of man’s inability to obey and follow God despite God’s relentless pursuit of His people.
“Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.” – 2 Kings 17:13-14
How dark is the darkness inside man? Dark enough to result in 800 years of punishment. So dark that the only payment adequate to remove the darkness is the cost of ones own life (see Romans 6:23). The price then becomes unbearable, for you will lose everything if you truly pay to God what you owe for your rebellion against Him. Yes, we are all like Israel, serving our little gods of money and pleasure and self, opposed to our Creator. We are immersed in the darkness, for all are sinners (see Romans 3:23).
A Light That Shines Brighter
“The salvation that would come is not what we expect. It’s much better than we expect. And it’s much more invasive and much more powerful than we expect.” – Burt Newman
The very darkness of sin that caused nearly a millennium of pain and hardship is obliterated in the power salvation light of Christ.
“[Jesus will] …give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”” – Luke 1:79
“In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5
The salvation of God is because of His tender mercy on us (Luke 1:78). The salvation that Christ brings makes final peace between God and the sinner who looks to Christ as Savior—the Christ who steps in on behalf of the sinner and takes on their payment of death (Luke 1:79).
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6
There is great darkness, but the light of the good news of Christ shines brighter. Run to the light!