F. A. Hughes.
This world's night is rapidly drawing near; moral darkness abounds on every hand. Intensely is it found in places where light has once shone. A canon of the Anglican Church recently said, "The body of Christ did not rise from the grave . . were they practising rocketry on the Mount of Olives?" Not content with this awful pronouncement he added later that the address to Thyatira in Revelation 3 was "blasphemous nonsense." "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness . . we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (2 Thessalonians 1:4, 5). Our hearts go out in profound thankfulness to the "Father . . who hath delivered us from the power of darkness" having "made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1). Physically darkness may be negative — the absence of light; but in spiritual matters it has a kingdom (Revelation 16:10); there are its "rulers" (Ephesians 6:12) and it has "power" (Luke 22:53; Colossians 1:13).
How infinitely precious the possession, in faith, of the day-dawn and the bright morning star in our hearts! Already called "out of darkness into His marvellous light," we gladly show forth the praises of the blessed God, and await the moment when Christ our Lord will come, as the Morning Star, and receive us to Himself ere the day of glory itself is manifested.
Was not this day in the thoughts of God from the beginning? Darkness, doubtless through angelic sin, had entered His creation, and as moving with feeling over the scene, He commands "Let there be light." This was creatorial power — the prerogative of God Himself; but it also says "God saw the light, that it was good" — the first moral pronouncement of Scripture! "And God divided the light from the darkness."
As the Holy Spirit of God illumines our minds our hearts are thrilled by the beauty and accuracy of Scripture. God, forming man for His own pleasure, knew that the first man — Adam — would fail and so plunge the whole race into the darkness of sin and guilt. Placing the man in circumstances replete with every delight which His beneficent heart would bestow, yet knowing how quickly he would succumb to Satan's approach, God planted "a garden eastward in Eden." Darkness and despair would eventuate through the evil machinations of Satan, and would persist through successive generations — but God indicates the coming in of another day — a day in which the activities of "the woman's Seed" should dispel the darkness and bring in eternal light. Thus the "morning" was ever in view — "the evening" moving on towards "the morning." The enemy of God's people may present himself "morning and evening" for full forty days — but his Conqueror can speak of "the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds." Dagon may hold sway in the darkness of Ichabod, but "early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face . . before the ark of the LORD."
The glory of the coming day has shone in measure in the hearts of saints throughout every age — "One Anna, a prophetess" (who had known the dark shadow of death) "served God . . night and day"; Paul, seeing the dark shadow of apostasy athwart the testimony, could "warn every one night and day"; the tribulation of ten days is lighted up with the shining "crown of life." Yes — beloved, the day is at hand! In the construction of their religious edifices (cathedrals and the like) men have imitated the position, but true priestly instincts will ever hold the sunrising in their affections (Numbers 3:38).
Truly the light of another day was in the heart of the blessed Lord as He "endured the cross." Joy indeed was set before Him. Night — a Christless night — was falling upon Jerusalem, the "light of the world" had been refused, but He could speak to the repentant thief of "to-day" in Paradise. "It is yet dark" when Mary came to the sepulchre — no ray of light in the world for her; but soon the bright light of a realm which she had never envisaged in her brightest moments shone into her heart — "My Father, and your Father; . . My God, and your God." How sweet to her heart were those words of "the Chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar" — the "hind of the morning." He who had gone into the darkness of abandonment with the light of an eternal day in His soul, would flood her erstwhile bereft heart with its glorious rays. Does not the blessed Spirit of God enlarge upon the glory of this resurrection day and all that follows in its train — "He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Saying, I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee."
Before the "day of God" — eternity itself — is brought in, there will be a wonderful time of blessing (depicted in Revelation 21:9 et seq) one feature of which is "there shall be no night there." Here again we find the beauty of the prophetic word — Ezekiel speaks of a "morning lamb" only. The "lamb, and the meat offering" (chapter 46). No need then for an evening lamb!
"The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance" was shot towards the east (2 Kings 13). Lack of faith might mark the king, but the prophet of the LORD would say, "Open the window eastward." May this be our outlook beloved brethren! Let us be exercised that the spirit of such exhortation may pervade our meetings. Oh! that the coming of our Lord might engage us more, in conversation and in expectancy. Peter, who had seen the glory of "His majesty" on the mount, suggests that by our "holy conversation and godliness" we may actually hasten "the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3:11, 12).
The whole armour of God is available to us, enabling us to stand victoriously "against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6). As thus equipped, and as being even already "light in the Lord," may we seek grace to "walk as children of light," having "no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5).
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light" (Romans 13:12. "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2). The light which will illumine the day of Christ, shining from "the bride, the Lamb's wife . . the holy city, Jerusalem" is of the same quality as that which should mark us now in the day of testimony. How great the privilege! how great the challenge!
There is th'unsullied way
Which His own hand hath dressed,
My feet press on where brightest day
Shines forth on all the rest.
But who that glorious blaze
Of living light shall tell
Where all His brightness God displays,
And the Lamb's glories dwell?
God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts for ever share
The unveiled mystery.