Give them a few moments, and our eyes will adjust to a dark room. Bruised shins and stubbed toes will tell us that we’ve missed a few things, but by and large, we can get by.
But what about our heart? Do we yearn for spiritual light or are we comfortable with shadows?
The prophet Isaiah spoke out against benighted immorality, idolatry, and injustice. He warned everyone: Babylon, the Philistines, Moab, Damascus, Cush (Ethiopia) and Egypt, Babylon again, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, Tyre; even the whole earth.
No one escapes.
Can we endure such scrutiny? And in view of God’s judgment, what hope do we have for a blessed future?
I suspect these questions played in the minds of the Edomites. Wicked nations facing retribution surrounded them. The gloom of sin and punishment squeezed them from all sides.
Yet were all Edomites guilty? Did everyone deserve chastisement? How much of the darkness was a direct consequence of their decisions? How much spilled over from the discipline of their neighbors?
In the dark, we can’t see borders. It’s hard to determine who’s at fault and when light will finally penetrate the obscurity.
Some of the Edomites traveled from their home near Mount Seir (south of the Dead Sea) to ask Isaiah. The prophet would know.
“A prophecy against Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir, ‘Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?’ 12The watchman replies, ‘Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again.’” – Isaiah 21:11-12
Isaiah altered the pronunciation of “Edom” to “Dumah” which means “silence” in Hebrew.
Was the prophet telling these pilgrims to shut up, that they had no right to inquire? I don’t think so, because he did answer them.
Consider their question: “Watchman, what is left of the night?” It sounds like they’re wondering what time it is. But they didn’t want a clock; rather, they were suffering the effects of spiritual darkness. When will daylight dawn? When can we see the light? How long must we endure the dusk?
Isaiah replied that morning is coming indeed, but he tempered this with the portent of another night.
As did Jesus.
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” – John 9:4-5
The presence of God through Jesus Christ is the light people need. When He’s with you, you have light. If He’s not with you, there’s only darkness.
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5
Do we want the light God offers? It’s easy to agree, but the light exposes what we’d prefer to keep hidden.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:19-21
Wearied by the oppression of darkness, the Edomites sought relief. They wanted the dawn to wipe out their dark past and lead to a bright future.
You may wonder whether the new year will contain light and joy or darkness and struggle. Which will it be?
We can set goals of what we’d like to achieve, but we live in a world hostile to our growth and development. We cannot afford to ignore that.
But we needn’t suffer in silence. Even if God is correcting us, we can cry aloud to Him. Isaiah heard the Edomites; the Lord will listen to us!
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.” – Psalm 18:6
It’s one thing for God to hear us; another for us to hear Him. Sometimes the answer delays. When that happens, we should keep asking. Isaiah encouraged the Edomites to return; Jesus tells His disciples not to quit.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
2018 will have its ups and downs; but we can stay steady in the Lord. Even if we’re surrounded by darkness, we know that God’s light abides with us.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5-7
Have a happy new year in Christ!