Saturday, August 3, 2013


Moon Light, Jamestown, NC

Have you ever had the experience of standing in a subterranean cave or a photographic dark room and someone turns out the artificial lights? After the tiny muscles in the colored iris of your eyes respond by dilating the pupil as wide as possible to admit any possible stray light beams, you find that your surroundings are completely pitch black. Although your brain is throwing all the switches available to it, you still cannot perceive a thing and it’s as “dark as the inside of a black cat”! You’re no longer even capable of seeing yourself. We’ve all awakened in the middle of the night at some point and our eyes have been able to adjust to a smattering of light rays that enable us to slowly acclimate to the room around us.

The phenomenon of total darkness is unnerving and even fearful if it persists for long. Timothy Keller tells about a 1914 team of British explorers in “Jesus the King” whose ship was trapped in the Antarctica ice. There’s no sunlight for two months during the polar winter and beyond the challenges of starvation and frigid temperatures, the worst thing that the men faced was the darkness. They became totally isolated and disorientated. Keller notes, “Spiritual darkness comes when we turn away from God as our true light and make something else the center of our life”. Whenever we focus too much on anything of this world, we inevitably end in disappointment.

A state of total darkness in the Bible is a certain sign of God’s judgment. The prophet Isaiah notes in 13:10 that on the day of the Lord “The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light”. The book of Exodus records that total darkness was over the Egyptian people during that first Passover when the final plague prompted the pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage. The disciple Mark observed that as Jesus was dying on the cross, total darkness descended on the land from noon to three in the afternoon. Keller writes that this was no natural phenomenon, but “This was a supernatural darkness…So when this darkness fell, we know that God was acting in judgment…Jesus the Maker of the World was being unmade. Why? Jesus was experiencing our judgment day”. Death became a shadow on that day and all humankind gained access to the Light of Life as the temple curtain separating our creator from mankind was symbolically torn from top to bottom. It’s written that the new earth will have no need of a shining sun or reflective moon, as the light of God’s presence will dwell there eternally.

It’s been said that we only have to look to the cross to understand the depth of God’s love for His creation. And perhaps we only have to briefly endure the experience of being surrounded by pitch blackness to understand the isolation of spending eternity apart from the light of His presence.

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