Advent Part Two: Darkness, Death, Light, Life

Advent is the time of year that Christians have traditionally celebrated the two comings of Jesus Christ. Advent means “coming.” So, the church has traditionally set aside this time of year to remember Jesus’ first coming and to look ahead to His second coming.

Last week we did an overview of the Advent Season entitled: “Season of Darkness, Death, Exile, and Longing.” Sin is often pictured as darkness in the Bible. Sin has brought death into the world in a spiritual and physical sense. Sin has caused us to live in exile away from God. This creates a longing in all of mankind, which apart from Jesus we are blinded from seeing and understanding. 

The darkness of sin and the death and exile it brings especially creates longing in God’s people. Our eyes have been opened to see the glory of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have tasted some of sin’s destruction in our own lives and have seen it in the world around us. We long for the day that Jesus will return and make all things new. That will be the day when there is no longer sin, darkness, death, or exile. We will be at home with God forever in the new heavens and the new earth. 

This week we will zoom in on the aspects of darkness and death in the Advent season. 

Let’s go again to the beginning in Genesis 1:1-3:

Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Out of the chaos of darkness God created light. Out of nothing, God created everything. All that He made was good. He brought order out of chaos.

God created man in His image to rule over the creation under His Lordship. Mankind rebelled against God’s rule and became his own authority. Mankind went his own way. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, brought darkness and chaos into the good creation through their rebellion. They brought sin into the world in their rebellion. Sin is darkness. It is often pictured as such in the Bible. 

God is holy. He is set apart as the only God and sinless in every way. He is perfect in His being, and He is said to be light in the Bible.

1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

John goes on to say that walking in darkness (sin) is not fellowship with God who is light: 

1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

The people of Israel were experiencing this darkness in many forms at the time of Jesus’ first coming. The evil of the Roman Empire. The evil of the murderous Herod. The darkness of dead legalism. The darkness of the skeptics. The darkness that blinded the Jewish people of their King’s coming. The faithful like Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:22-38 longed for the light to come and penetrate the darkness.

It takes little observation with a biblical worldview to see that the world is currently walking in darkness, trapped in that darkness. Satan is the god of this world who has blinded the world “from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…”(2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…” (Ephesians 2:2). His kingdom is called the Domain of Darkness (Colossians 1:13). We see the effects of this darkness all around us. The world is trapped in the clutches of the evil one. The world is in darkness, and all who remain trapped in the domain of darkness will tragically be cast into outer darkness in the lake of fire, forever (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30; Revelation 20:14-15).

The sense of darkness in the world and, sadly, in ourselves causes us to long for all things to be made new. Like Simeon and Anna we long for the consolation of Israel to come (Luke 2:25, 38). We and the creation long for the final redemption (Romans 8:23). We long for darkness to be removed, for sin to be destroyed (Revelation 21:1-8).

The darkness of sin has also brought death into the world. In a spiritual sense, each person is born dead in sins and alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 2:1, 4:18). We are tormented with this reality by physical death. There is a day appointed for each person to die, and after death comes the judgement (Hebrews 9:27).

Are we not painfully reminded of the effects of sin every time one of our own dies? Wasn’t our Lord Christ moved with anger and grief at the death of Lazarus? (John 11:33-35). Death is a inescapable reminder that the world is not right; we are not right.

God told our first parents, Adam and Eve, that disobedience would bring death, and it has happened just as God said it would (Genesis 2:16-17). What God said to Adam is true of us all – we are dust and we will return to the dust (Genesis 3:19).

Simeon and Anna waited for the first coming of Jesus. We read their account in Luke 2:22-38. We are told Anna was very old. We are not explicitly told Simeon was old, but one gathers that from his own words about death in Luke 2:29, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart…” They were waiting for God to bring salvation to His people. They were waiting for light to come. They were waiting for life. All around them was darkness and death, and they longed for redemption to come. 

Death was a daily reality for Simeon and Anna, but their salvation and our salvation arrived. After Jesus’ birth, in keeping with the Law, Mary and Joseph brought Him to the Temple to set Him apart to the Lord. The Spirit of God had moved Simeon to come into the Temple. Then Simeon saw the Satisfaction of his longing. You see, Simeon did not just say, “you are letting your servant depart…” When he saw Jesus he said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29).

Simeon went on to say that this child, the Lord Jesus, had been prepared by God “in the presence of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). 

Here is the One who will do away with darkness. The Light has come into the world, and the darkness has not overcome Him (John 1:5). The Lord Jesus, who is God, is the light of the world. All who follow Jesus “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus said, “ I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). The Father, through the work of Jesus Christ, has transferred us from the domain of darkness and carried us away into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13-14). In Jesus we have been set free from the domain of darkness, having been forgiven of our sins through His death and rising again in our place. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Jesus is the eternal life who was with the Father (1 John 1:2). Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3). Jesus has come that we may have abundant life, eternal life (John 10:10). In Jesus is life, which is the light of men (John 1:4). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).

As we reflect in sorrow in this Advent season of the death and darkness in the world and ourselves, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Instead, our grief is a longing for our confidence. We look back to the cross of Jesus Christ, and we rejoice that death has been destroyed in the death of Jesus. We look to the Light of the world and know that we have passed from darkness to light, from death to life. We also look ahead to the time described in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

We look forward to the time when there will be no night. Revelation 21:23-25 says,

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.

Forever we will be with God and the Lamb. Forever we will be free from danger, darkness, and death.

When He comes again, it will be the appearing of His glory (Titus 2:13). In that light darkness will scatter, forever. Sin will be done away. “…death shall be no more” (Revelation 21:4).

It is important as we reflect for me to ask this question: Do you know the Light of the World? Have you been carried out of the Domain of Darkness and brought into the Kingdom of the Son? Can you look back to the cross of Jesus Christ and say, “Yes! My sins are forgiven in His death!” 

Hebrews 9:27-28 says, 

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Can you look ahead with confidence that when He comes, it will be for your salvation and not your judgement? Jesus is coming again, and every person will stand before Him in judgement. Have you been delivered from that judgement?

Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus has said He is coming soon, and we echo the Apostle John: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

This was prepared as a devotional for First Baptist Church of Ticonderoga, NY during Advent 2020.

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