A CHILD AND DARKNESS
I know a child, during WWII, four or five years old, away from home, living with strangers on a farm, frequently tied up in a sack and shoved into a tiny store room full of rarely-if-ever-used bits and pieces, black as pitch, hours on end. He felt things scurry over and around him—the kind of things that live in the dark. He experienced the dominion of darkness, sobbed a lot, screamed a time or two, begged a lot, wished someone would come and rescue him. He and tens of millions of children like him, suffering the same kind of thing and often so much worse.
There’s terror in the dark. I’m not talking about the friendly cool and calming darkness of night that comes down on us and delivers us from the harsh glare of too much bright light. No, not that; I mean the brooding, whispering, coffin-like thing that surrounds you, constricts your lungs and chokes hope and glory out of you. The kind of darkness that rises up out of the ground or comes up through the bedroom floor and becomes a towering figure that overshadows all else.
There’s loneliness in the dark. I’m not talking about that delicious quietness and seclusion that we enjoy away from the bedlam, the chaos of voices, the shrill shriek of telephones and car horns or the commotion of a classroom. No not that; I mean the deepening sense of abandonment, the feeling that you’re unwanted, the loss of familiar markers that says you’re far from home and the night has fallen.
Israel knew what darkness was. First it was inner darkness. No better than Gentiles, they became darkness when they turned from the light of God and talked with wizards, necromancers, with people who read tarot cards, tealeaves and the innards of dead animals. They listened to ventriloquists who made voices speak out of the ground in graveyards—in this way they consulted the dead to keep themselves alive. Israel knew the dominion of darkness, bound by superstition and lying words, paralysed by fear and the tramp of armies with God coming at the head of them. The foreign nations soon hurried them off into the darkness of exile with hooks in their noses and lips—don’t stumble or fall, a lip or a nose is too precious—and so, away from home they sat shivering in the gloom, wishing someone would come and rescue them. The dominion of darkness! So spoke the prophet Isaiah in 8:19—9:2,6.
The entire human family came under the dominion of darkness. Colossians 1:21; 3:5-9 and Ephesians 5:8-14. The twin letters of Ephesians and Colossians bring that home. "You were dead in your sins" (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:1-3). Read the word dead with a flat, toneless, lifeless sound for that was and is our human state without God, and in our rebellion. We weren’t made glorious, there’s nothing valiant or knightly about our status—we became and are Tolkein Orks and Stephen King walking dead! We wrote and write books that exulted in our moral filth, we took and take swinish pictures of one another and raved and rave about the brilliance of our technique. We weren’t made brighter or more alive with life. In our millions we titter and smirk at lust-filled and lust-driven television programs and paying the silly actors $1million an episode. And the silly actors can hardly believe their good luck and demand even more money to mouth moral garbage while we buy even more of the sponsors’ "stuff".
How enlightened we’ve become, how far from the naïveté of ancient times, we clawed our way out of ignorance into...into...reprobation! Now we deliberately "make" spare developing humans the way we make spare parts for other machines. "That’s right, over there in the corner. In that big silver container marked, ‘Materials to Experiment On’. They’ll stay safe and frozen in there till we need them."
We split the atom "in mankind’s noble pursuit of knowledge" and now we race all over the world threatening one moment and bribing the next to keep others from getting the nuclear weapons we stockpile.
"They will look to the earth, but will see only distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be thrust into thick darkness," said the prophet.
Those of us with the power create the darkness that innocent millions must sit shivering in! Those of us with the power give "good reasons" for the darkness we create and those of us who are not innocent give our immoral support to the programs of the powerful. So here we are, the human family, self-destructive and destrucive of others sitting in the dark, creators and victims, grinning or weeping—but lightless, without a dawn!
And then comes the scandalous word "but" in Isaiah 9:1.
Scandalous, blessed word. And there’s the Ephesians 2 section!
"You were dead! You were dead in sins! Dead in the way you thought, in the way you walked, dead to lovely enterprises, dead to lovely hopes and dreams, dead in what you hungered for and in light of your practices, attitudes and thoughts you were dead by nature."
"But God..." No other word fits—it has to be "but" or there’s no point going on.
And after the word "but" we must have the word "God" for no one else can do anything about all that deadness. No one else would want to do anything about that deadness. Scandalous, blessed word—"but"!
Scandalous, blessed God! Praise his name.
He knows the profound suffering of the multiplied millions!
Think noble thoughts of him! He WILL right all wrongs.
Let the words of Jesus assure you: "If it were not so I would have told you."