I remember being on a summer vacation with our family some years ago when we toured Cave Onondaga in central Missouri. It was chilly inside as it is a constant 57 degrees inside the cave. As we went deeper into the cave, the guide had all of us turn off our flashlights. The cave was now pitch black, you couldn't see your hand if you held it right in front of your face. We could hear the noise of bat's wings as they circled overhead, they didn't need the light to navigate. In the darkness we were afraid to take a step for fear of stumbling as we could see nothing. Finally one small flashlight was turned on and it lit up the whole dark cavern. The light dispelled the darkness.
Our message today is entitled "Darkness to Light. In the Bible, the concept of darkness is an image of a society or person far from God. Spiritual darkness characterizes a person or culture that engages in willful sin. In America today, the spiritual darkness is getting darker. The Good News is that Jesus came to bring His light into the world to dispel the darkness. All that darkness in the cave I spoke of earlier couldn't quench the light of one small flashlight. Yet the light of that small flashlight dispelled all the darkness in that cavern.
John 8:12 (ESV) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
The world is and has always been a dark place, characterized by sin. Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world. His light shines into the darkness. Those who follow and believe in Him will be delivered from walking in the darkness and have Jesus' light within them, the light of life.
Philippians 2:15 (ESV) ? be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
As Jesus forgives and delivers us from sin and the resultant darkness, we are God's innocent children. We live in the midst of a crooked, twisted and dark generation. But we shine as lights in the darkness, showing the truth and love of Christ to those around us.
Today, we're going to continue our study of the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied 700 years before the time of Jesus. He prophesies of the coming Messiah Jesus, who would bring light into a dark world. And we're going to learn how we can overcome the darkness around us with God's light shining within our own lives.
The root cause of spiritual darkness is sin. God is light and sin in a person's life causes them to be in darkness. It's as if sin acts like a cloud, preventing the sunlight of God to shine.
In actuality ...
Isaiah 59:2 (ESV) but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
The prophet Isaiah is directly prophesying to his fellow Jews in Judah. Their sins or iniquities have caused a separation in relationship between the people and God. Another way of looking at this separation is that sin has caused God to hide his face from them. The end result is that when the people would pray to God, He would not hear and therefore not answer their prayers. When God does not hear or answer a person's prayers, that is a serious problem.
Not only was the prophet writing to the people of his time, but through the Holy Spirit, his writings speak to us today. The truth of sin separating a person from God is just as true today as when it was first written. Not only does sin separate a person from God, but ...
Isaiah 59:9-10 (ESV) Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
When people are in sin, God does not answer their prayers for justice. When people are in sin, they are by definition not walking in righteousness. Isaiah in these verses is writing as though the sinful people of Judah were speaking. In a sense, he is identifying with them, even though as a person Isaiah was not involved in Judah's sins. The people knew that something was wrong, they knew that their lives were filled with gloom, but they didn't know how to escape.
Not only were they separated from God, but they were stumbling in the darkness, as blind people would stumble in the daylight. In fact, they were like dead men, separated from the life of God. And unable to live the joyful life God created them to live. Sin always causes spiritual darkness.
Why does sin cause spiritual darkness and separate a person from God? God is holy, He is totally separate from sin and evil. Those who continue in sin cannot come into God's presence or have a relationship with Him. Now, today, people who have never believed in Jesus, people who are unbelievers, are also in a state of spiritual darkness. As we go on with the message, we'll see how they can come into God's light.
However, sin can also bring spiritual darkness into a believer's life. How can that happen? Whenever a believer sins, it immediately affects their relationship with God. While is does not immediately sever the relationship, the relationship is hindered, there is a degree of separation from God. Have you ever noticed that when you sin, you may not have the same desire to pray or be around God's people? If a believer continues in knowing sin, the separation from God and darkness in their life will increase. They also will start to stumble and make bad decisions in their lives. So, how can a person deal with the sin that causes spiritual darkness?
You and I can't fight our way out of the darkness. It's only with God's help, with God's light, that darkness can be dispelled. To be more exact, we need the help of a Redeemer.
Isaiah 59:19-20 (ESV) So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. ?And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares the LORD.
Even though things were dark and gloomy for the sinful, rebellious people of Judah, the prophet Isaiah looked far into the distant future, some 700 years away. Isaiah saw a time when people once again would fear the Lord from the west to the east. God would visit this planet like a rushing stream that cannot be withstood. And the last verse, verse 20, is the key. God would send a Redeemer, the Redeemer would come to those who turn away from their transgression or sin.
Isaiah was looking ahead to Jesus coming as a Redeemer. What does a Redeemer do? A Redeemer would purchase a slave by paying the price to his master. The slave would no longer serve his old master, but would now be free to serve His Redeemer. The master to which every person is enslaved to is Satan. Jesus paid the price for our sin, so that we might be set free to serve Him as our new master. He made it possible to be redeemed.
Isaiah 60:1-2 (ESV) Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
Isaiah continues to prophesy about what God would do in the distant future from his vantage point. The image is of the thick darkness covering the earth because of its sin. But the glory of the Lord would rise and break through the darkness. Just as the beams of sunlight breakthrough dark clouds to illuminate the earth. These prophesies began to be fulfilled with the coming of Jesus into the world.
The light of Jesus shown when He walked this earth, fully God and fully man. After Jesus rose from the dead, His light continued to shine in and through the lives of those who believe in and followed Him. This supernatural light shines through the life of a believer by the Holy Spirit. God's light dispels darkness.
So, if a person is an unbeliever, they have not turned from their sin, they are living in darkness, what must they do? They must turn away from their sin, ask Jesus to forgive them and commit their lives to following Him as their Lord. If a person is a believer, but they?ve been engaged in known sin for some time, darkness will be part of their lives and they will know it.
In order for God's light to dispel the darkness in your life, you must confess your sin to God, ask for forgiveness and seek God's help to follow Him more closely. The light of God's presence in any person's life is only a prayer away. God will hear the prayer of every repentant sinner and bring His forgiveness and light. God's best for us is to not go back in forth from darkness to light and back into darkness. That's not a path to a productive and joyful life. We must learn to ...
In other words, God wants us to stay and live in His light. To stay far away from darkness and the sin associated with it. The darkness of sin causes wounds and damage to our lives, but ...
Isaiah 60:15 (ESV) Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.
The prophet continues with God's promises to His people who have turned from the darkness, been forgiven and have chosen to live in God's light. When they were in darkness, they were forsaken and hated by others, their lives were miserable. God promises to make them majestic to make them a joy, not just for this life, but for eternity. You see, eternity with God is a place of brilliant light with no trace of darkness. That's really what heaven is all about.
Isaiah 60:18 (ESV) Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
What goes on in the darkness? At night and in spiritual darkness, there is violence, devastation and destruction. As God's light comes and restores our lives, He protects us. God puts around us walls of protection, here called Salvation and Praise. He has saved us from the darkness, so our lives are lived in the light to praise Him. The restoration of our lives through God's light begins in this life and is completed in eternity. As we began this message, will end with the point that ...
Isaiah 60:19-20 (ESV) The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
The prophet Isaiah now turns his gaze into the far reaches of eternity, when Jesus returns again to this planet. He looks to the new heavens and the new earth in which all sin and evil has been removed. There shall not longer be a sun, nor a moon. In fact, there will no longer be any night or darkness at all. The Lord, which is Jesus, shall be an everlasting light in an eternal day. The days of mourning shall be gone and the joy of the Lord will shine in every child of God's life forever and ever.
So, I want to live in Jesus' light each and every day. I want to walk in His light and I'm sure that you do as well. We are to live as children of light, with nothing to hide. How can we do that? As we daily spend time with Jesus in prayer and reading His Word, the light of His Word and Spirit can reveal to us any areas of darkness or sin in our lives. As we quickly confess our sins and turn away from them, we can continue to walk in the light. As we walk in the light, our lives will shine into the darkness of the world and the people around us.
There will be two reactions of the people around us, as we let Jesus' light shine through us. The first reaction is that some people will be repelled. They will either simply avoid us or they may try to attack or persecute us in one way or another. When we face these types of reaction, we will be tempted to hide our light, so we do not repel or offend anyone. But Jesus warned us not to hide our light, but let it shine. We will have the same reactions to the light as Jesus did. When you are persecuted for letting your light shine, Jesus told us to rejoice, you are doing something right.
The second reaction to letting your light shine is that other people will be attracted to the light. They will want to know how they can escape the darkness and gloom of their lives and come into the light and joy that you have. And God will help you explain the truth of Jesus' light to them.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied in a dark time, that would turn even darker in his lifetime. Yet, he looked ahead through the Holy Spirit to a time when the light of the Redeemer would break into our world through Jesus. Isaiah looked further ahead to our time, when the light of Jesus is spreading all around the world, even as the darkness gets darker. And Isaiah looked to eternity when all darkness is banished forever and we live in Jesus' everlasting light for eternity.
God desires for each of us to deal with any darkness in our lives, so we can live in His light and let that light shine to all those around us.