I have written a long article ready for publication titled ‘The Dark Night of our Nation’s Soul’ which was drawn from Isaiah 59. However, the Holy Spirit has arrested me and directed me to rethink when and if I should publish it. My aim was to focus on the light of Revival as the only viable solution to our nation’s woes. This conviction has not changed, but there is another way I can express it other than bemoaning the darkness. For instance, the next chapter in Isaiah is, of course, chapter 60 and this starts with the gloriously well-known passage:
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 60:1-2 ESV
What is very noticeable about this statement by Isaiah is that the first verse is in the present tense while the rest of the passage is in the future tense. Your light has come… glory has risen upon you… darkness shall cover… glory will be seen.
Chapter 59 presents Israel as living in deep moral and material darkness yet in his next breath the prophet tells them that God’s light has already risen upon them. They are like a man standing in the deepest darkness who is unaware that behind him a light is already shining. He cannot see the light because it is behind him and the shadows before him are very dark. This was Israel’s condition, and it is our current condition.
Before us and around us we see and sense darkness, but perhaps we need to turn around in order to see the light.
The Light Behind Us
In our church service this Sunday, we sang a song with the chorus lines. ‘And all my life you have been faithful. And all my life you have been so, so good…’ As I sang these words, I was praying silently, “It is true Lord. You have been so good and faithful to me. Thank you Jesus”. Of course, there have been hard parts in my personal history with all the pain, confusion, and sadness that is a part of life. However, when I think back, I can see that God’s goodness, grace and mercy has always shone brightly. (I wrote my personal testimony HERE if you would like to read it) The problem is that sometimes, like these present days, our eyes get blinded by the darkness and cannot see the light behind us. This of course is an illusion, because darkness is just the perceived absence of light and cannot blind us. However, we can’t see too well in the darkness unless we turn around and catch the glimmers of light reflecting off our past realities and our current circumstances.
The Light Around Us
The light of the Lord is a spiritual and not a physical light. It shines from a dimension beyond the perception of the six normal senses. This spiritual light enters our worlds through many windows such as the scriptures, the inner spirit, and fellow disciples of Jesus.
The COVID-19 lockdown has been a brutal thing in so many ways and has isolated each of us in into our own small corners. Do you remember that children’s song from Sunday-school days about our small corners? ‘Jesus bids us shine, with a clear, pure light. Like a little candle burning in the night. In this world of darkness, so we must shine, you in your small corner, and I in mine’. Well, to benefit by the light that we each bear, we need to connect, and this is one of the reasons that the gatherings of the church are so important. If I had not been at the church service on Sunday I would not have sung of God’s faithful goodness towards me, I would not have heard others testifying to this, and I would most likely not have seen the light around me.
The Light Before Us
There are two ways in which the light is before us, past and a future tense. Isaiah probably had no idea that he was not only encouraging Israel, but also prophesying the coming of the Messiah. Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John wrote that ‘in him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.‘ (John 1:4-5) Jesus is the light of the world, both 2000 years ago when he walked on Earth, and now. Every person who is born again of the Spirit is a light bearer and a member of what Paul described as the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1:12); we are fellow sons and daughters of the Light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
In another sense, the light is still before us on the timeline of the ages. In Revelation 21:23 John uses the analogy of a city to describe Heaven, and writes that it ‘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’. However, the same book of Revelation hints strongly at a foretaste of the light of heaven in a last and greatest spiritual revival.
However, we only have to read the bible and consider church history to see that God sends the light of revival in the darkest times. Our present time is very dark – (and not just from load-shedding) both in South Africa and the world at large, and so should we not expect God to send revival?
In the yet to be published article I referred to earlier, I gave revival as the only truly foreseeable positive scenario for the future of South Africa. However, we cannot generate true revival no matter how much we declare it, structure for it, or pretend that it is already here. Revival is a sovereign act of God, preceded only by prayer. A few years ago I wrote a series on Revival and you can read it by following the links listed HERE or you can purchase the book in its entirety it from Amazon HERE. I urge you to do this because our need for revival is critical and urgent and we need to be asking God to send it ASAP!
Light Upon Light Upon Light
So, within our current darkness, we have past, present, and future light. We have the light of Jesus who was and is the very light of the world; we have the light of our remembrance of the light of the Lord in our own lives; we have the light of fellow light-bearers all around us, and we have the great light of future revival and ultimate heaven. This is why Paul can write:
‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.
This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper,
Rise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”‘