Friday, January 26, 2018

"Light In the Darkness"

"Light In the Darkness"

    A reading of the Old Testament prophets presents Israel, Judah, and the pagan nations of the world under God's judgment.  Amos illustrates the sad saga of unbelief, disobedience, compromise, and darkness.

    "Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities" (Amos 3:1-2).
    "Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked, but I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem" (Amos 2:4-5).
    "Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime, but I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet" (Amos 2:1-2).

    Such was life under the Law of Moses, or as with the pagans, life apart from God's law altogether.  No hope ever existed for God's chosen earthly people the Jews to fulfill His moral standard to the degree they constituted themselves as righteousness.   Certainly the unbelieving nations of the world could never have made themselves acceptable to the Lord.  We therefore read the prophets to see the Lord Jesus Christ by implication (and occasionally, a prophetic mention).  We remember the New Testament proclamation that the Savior alone can provide "a better hope" for acceptance with God, and a subsequent hope for a life lived to His glory (Hebrews 7:19).  Amos and his fellow Old Testament heralds provide a dark backdrop in which "the Light of the world" shines most brightly and gloriously (John 9:5).  Indeed, imagine reading the writings of the prophets without access to the New Testament revelation of the Lord and His apostles.  Glimpses of hope would occasionally dance before our eyes.  Mostly, however, the darkness of Divine judgment against broken or ignored law portray a humanity helpless and hopeless due to the mastery of sin in the heart.  Indeed, the pronouncement once uttered to Judah spoke to the entirety of humanity apart from Christ: "Ye have all transgressed against Me" (Jeremiah 2:29).  Or as Paul wrote, "There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Romans 3:10-12).

    The Old prepares us for the New.  The darkness contrasts with the Light.  The "first Adam" of unbelief and disobedience bows before the "last Adam" of perfect faith and faithfulness.  The prophets illuminate our need for the Prince of life.  Lost human beings reveal the desperation that necessitated the living Lord Jesus Christ as the better hope, the only hope, of escape from Divine judgment and entrance into Divine favor.  We think of such things when reading the prophets who tell us of the sad plight of humanity untethered and adrift from its Maker and Lord.  However, we think even more of the Prince, the Christ of hope, rescue, and life who came "to bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18).  He accomplishes such redemption in all who believe, and even as we make our sad way through the darkness portrayed by Amos and his fellow prophets, a Light shines.  Or, as a New Testament prophet of hope declared…

"The light shineth in darkness."
(John 1:5)
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
(Romans 8:3-4)

Weekly Memory Verse
   See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16)

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