One consistent theme that God has woven throughout Scripture is the appearance and existence of darkness and light. From the very beginning, Genesis 1:2-4 shows us that there was “darkness over the surface of the deep” and on the first day of creation, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” On the fourth day in the creation account, God introduced the sun, the moon, the stars, and all of this was to separate day from night, darkness from light (Genesis 1:14-18). And at the very end, Revelation describes the “Holy City, the new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2) as one that “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (21:23). Again, John maintains this in the following chapter, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (22:5). At some point, if I’m really bored, it’d be interesting to count how many verses in the Bible use light and darkness as analogies or otherwise. Until then, let’s assume God has chosen to use these two words thousands of times.
The one verse that stands out for me is 1 John 1:5, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” A simple statement of truth, but profound when played out in the context of the whole of Holy Scripture. Where there was darkness over the surface of the deep, there was the Spirit of God hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2). Light was His first creation within the heavens and the earth, and this light was good and separate from the darkness (Genesis 1:3-4). God made light in a way that we could see it, even though we cannot see Him Who is light. He gave man the sun to shine during the day, the moon and the stars to brighten the night, and in all of this, He provided us with the ability to see with the help of this light. In a way, this could be seen as a precursor to what, or Who, was, and is to come when we read verses such as John 1:8-9, “He himself (referring to John the Baptist) was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” As in nearly all of the Old Testament, we can see the foretelling of the coming of Jesus Christ to most of it and, for the remainder of the New Testament, the foretelling again of His second coming.
Most children, and some adults, are inherently afraid of the dark. However, if even a tiny ray of light is placed in their view, somehow the fear is lessened. Why is there a fear of darkness, but not of light? Why is there a sense of safety for us during daylight hours, even if we’re strolling through the seedy streets of our towns? Somehow, God has placed in us the deepest desire to seek the light. This is true for us all, whether followers of Christ or not. Humanity needs light. God is that light. He allowed us to have even the minuscule light of the stars on a moonless night, so unless we’re covered by our own creations of buildings, we have access to light. And within those man made structures, we’ve always had fire or electricity to give us light. If we’re to think about it, any time we have been in a surrounding that is completely dark, fear overcomes until we can reach some source of light.
Just what, though, is it that we’re afraid of in the dark? For some, the nighttime is their friend. Most acts of debauchery and evil are committed during the night, when there is a cover of darkness. But, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). Paul implies in Romans 13:13 that in the daytime, we behave decently, but nighttime behavior can consist of orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, and jealousy. Obviously, these all can occur during the day, but generally, the deeds of darkness are more comfortably committed during the night. It’s as though those who partake in them have, themselves, a false sense of safety from being exposed to what is light. For those who God has claimed as His, our consciences call us to the light, even when we’re dabbling, or downright dancing, in the dark. We can ignore those calls for a time, but eventually, He will get our attention and we’ll crave His light, no longer being drawn to the darkness. Grace defined.
For those of us walking through the proverbial dark tunnels that are simply part of this side of eternal life, we can always see the light at the end of them. Whether it appears to be dim now, we have the guarantee that He will brighten it as we are drawn closer to Him (James 4:8), who has defined Himself as light. “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering” (Hebrews 10:32); keep walking the tunnel, as dark as it is, knowing that “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:29). This may not completely ease the fear of darkness that we have, but maturing in our faith and dependence on Him as our source for light will prove itself over time.