Tuesday, January 24, 2017

From Darkness to Light

The theme of darkness and light is present in scripture from the first chapter of B’reshit (Genesis) to the last chapter of Revelation.  Based on how that theme is presented, and on our own life experiences, we have come to understand that, in our lives and in our walk with YHVH Elohim, we progress FROM darkness TO light.  Even the concept of going from being lost to being found holds within it the idea of darkness and light:  once we were lost (in darkness; blind, hidden, and vulnerable), but now we are found (in the light, we can see and be seen).

Just a few illustrations:

B’reshit (Genesis) 1:2-3, “The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.  Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” 

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 9:2, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; upon those living in the land that lies in the shadow of death, light has dawned.”

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 60:1-3, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of Adonai has risen over you.  For although darkness covers the earth and thick darkness the peoples; on you Adonai will rise; over you will be seen his glory.  Nations will go toward your light and kings toward your shining splendor.”

1 Kefa (Peter) 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, the King’s cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess!  Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Romans 13:12, “The night is almost over, the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light.”

Revelation 22:5, “Night will no longer exist, so they will need neither the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because Adonai, God, will shine upon them.  And they will reign as kings forever and ever.”

In all of these verses (and many others) the clear progression is FROM darkness TO light, until ultimately, when we are with YHVH forever (depicted in Revelation), there is ONLY light; no more night forever.  Darkness is the condition from which YHVH rescues/delivers us.  Living and walking “in the light” is the benchmark and the goal, which we can see demonstrated to us in nature every day.

As I mentioned in the previous entry, the traditional Jewish understanding of the twenty-four hour cycle of day and night begins at sunset (technically, when three stars are visible in the sky); i.e., when it is well and truly DARK outside.  This is based on how the days are described in B’reshit.  “…there was evening and there was morning, one day.”  The measure of the day seems to begin when darkness arrives.

I will concede there is some debate about this interpretation, but this way of seeing it has endured for several millennia, so… pretty convincing, I’d say.  For Jews, the evening prayer, maariv, is actually the first prayer of the day (although, of course, you will usually see it referred to as the third prayer, after morning and afternoon, because, hey, the world’s interpretation of the daily cycle is prevalent). 

One of the reasons I am willing to accept this extraordinary perspective, besides the fact that Israelites/Jews have seen it this way for thousands of years, is that I believe, when we think about it, it is an utterly natural way to see it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have not personally managed to put this interpretation into true daily practice; but I am working on it!  A lifetime of being out of step – and being surrounded by a world that insists on keeping it that way – makes it seriously difficult to behave differently.

Each day begins when the darkness arrives (again).  How can this be a natural way to view this?  Because it is a daily reminder that we move FROM darkness TO light.  Our starting point is darkness.  THEN we come to the light.  We are drawn out of darkness into light.  That is what YHVH’s instructions (Torah) tells us repeatedly.  That makes this perspective a command, actually.  How eloquent is that?

Let’s face it.  Our accepted standard is that each day ‘begins’ at midnight.  Do we really operate that way?  I’d venture to guess that most of us feel like our day “begins” when we get out of bed in the morning.  For most of us, that is usually five to nine hours after the ‘calendar day’ began at midnight.  Or maybe we feel like the day begins when the sun comes up.  It might even be that some of us don’t feel like our day begins until we are “at work” or until we have had our first cup of coffee or when we receive that first phone call or greet the first customer.  See?  We spend most of our time “in the light” wonderingIn truth, we are out of synch.

I believe we are actually kind of confused about when the day begins.  I know this is essentially a subliminal phenomenon.  We go through our days, doing what we do, not consciously concerned about “when” the day started, so to speak.  Nevertheless, I am convinced (admittedly, I am speaking from my own experience, so this is ‘anecdotal’) that we could attribute at least some of our social fatigue (which, from what I can tell, nearly all of us have to one degree or another) to the idea that we are operating outside the rhythm of YHVH’s kingdom, even in our daily existence.

I am honestly not quite sure how to incorporate the idea of “day begins after the sun sets” into our daily patterns of life.  But I think if we can figure that out, it will help us begin to see kingdom truths more clearly.  So, please stand by.  I am working on it.  At the very least, I am starting with trying to remember to take a moment every day after the sun sets to acknowledge the beginning of a new day.

Let’s see where that leads.

Meanwhile, we can learn to sing The Bedtime Sh’ma” on our way to sleep each night.


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