How Bright The Light?
“The people that walked in darkness (Israel) have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2) According to Matthew, this prophecy was fulfilled when Yeashua began to preach. (Matthew 4:16-17)
The darkness was that of pagan tradition mixed with religious zeal, the blackness of evil desires and the shadows of greed and lust. It was the darkness of the cruel tyranny of state power and the blindness of a populace that was controlled by bloody sports, free bread and national pride.
When the people looked to their religious leaders they saw the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the corrupted teachings of the rabbis. When they looked to civil officials they saw men corrupted by personal ambition. They were at the lowest depths of despair. The darkness of evil was everywhere, as Job had said of his contemporaries, “They met with darkness in the daytime.” (Job 5:14) Morale was at its lowest ebb and all spiritual light had gone out. Much the same as in the United States today.
Into this mix of religious confusion, pagan tradition and patriotic devotion to nationalism and power, Yeashua appeared as the light of the world.
However, the light did not burst upon the scene with dazzling brightness that drew everyone’s attention. The prophet had described Yeashua as “a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) A Roman centurion would enter a community with shouts, the clatter of horses and the flash of steel helmets, swords and chariots. But of the light-giver it was predicated, “a bruised reed he shall not break.” (Isaiah 42:2-) Nor was the light focused on the high and the mighty, the palace or the people of fame.
The light was not that which was perceived by the eye, ut that which penetrated the mind. The light was in the message Yeashua brought, the truth that He revealed. As the sun lights of the physical universe, the Son of God lights up the spiritual life of His Israel people, so that Yeashua could say, “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12; 9:5) The purpose of the light was to enlighten, to give man a knowledge of God, of His purpose, and how man might fulfill that purpose.
The message revealed by the light was revolutionary to the extreme, the very opposite of what the philosophers and religious teachers had held for generations. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12)
Who ever heard of such wild statements, so contrary to normal experience? Foolish ravings of a fanatic? So it may seem to a world that is blinded by its own idols. But Yeashua said, “men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.” (John 3:19) Men make a deliberate choice, but because of the corruption of the heart, the natural choice is darkness and a resistance to the light.
Truth is that which is real. The light reveals reality about Yahweh and His purpose, about man and his destiny. The darkness is the opposite of reality, including religious ideas invented by men, beliefs upon which they stake their lives, although none of them are true. Still the press, the arts, the schools, all choose the darkness; theories of evolution, religious traditions with pagan origin, ambition for worldly glory, goals of wealth and pleasure, gain at the expense of another’s loss, and the approval of things Yahweh forbids under the label of “tolerance.” Therefore, TRUTH IS UNWELCOME TO EVIL. “Everyone that does evil hates the light, and comes not to the light, lest his works should be reproved.” (John 3:20) Consider how our government uses every means possible to keep the populace from knowing all the facts of official activities.
Yeashua revealed that “a man’s life consists not in the abundance of thins that he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) He said that life is more than things and that to lose life for His sake is to gain it, that when one makes Yahweh’s kingdom and righteousness his first priority, all the essential things will be provided. He revealed that our real wealth is that which cannot be taken away from us again our will, such as faith, hope, and love. He taught that death is like sleep, and that those who place their lives and trust in Him will one day be resurrected from death to Live in joy forever. He also warned that those who reject Yahweh’s purpose will be put to death forever.
When one comes to this realization, a light comes on in his mind and that changes him forever, and makes it possible for him to be at peace in the midst of the world’s turmoil. So Yeashua said of all who would be His followers, “you are the light of the world...even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16) He was telling us, “You are to live y the truth I have given and make this truth known to others. You are to act before them as I have demonstrated in my life. They will not glorify you for what you do, ut will learn to glorify Yahweh our Father.”
Paul wrote that we are to e obedient, so that in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation we might be “seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” (Philippines 2:12-15) We live in just such a generation today; but it fails to see the clear and shining light of Yeashua’s example reflected in His true followers. In the very season that is designated as a celebration of the Light, the followers of Yeashua toss His teachings aside to join the trends of the “perverse generation.”
What the light (the teachings of Yeashua) reveals is that in these days there is not a lot of difference between the lives of Christians and the non-Christians. It reveals our sins, our greed, our covetousness, our grasping for the security of the temporal world. It reveals our failure to humble ourselves, our failure to fully trust Yahweh rather than rely upon our own ingenuity and power.
The Y2K computer problem has prompted many leaders to encourage Christians to arm themselves and be prepared to kill anyone who would try to steal their beans and rice. The advise of Yeashua is that if someone takes away your coat, let him have your cloak also. To first century Christians it was written, “you took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.” (Hebrews 10:34) This is not to say that one is not to protect himself or his family from the enemy, because Yeashua said that one who does not provide, or protect his family was worse than an unbeliever.
Yeashua taught us to have no fear of men, but to trust Yahweh our Father. He made no preparation nor provision to protect Himself, but considered it a privilege to suffer for the sake of the truth and to fulfill the Word of Yahweh. But He did ask them if they had a sword and when He found that they had one, He told them that was enough. For Yeashua knew that Yahweh did not need very many men with swords if the need arose. Many today are more concerned with protecting themselves than they are with being lights to give others the opportunity to see the difference between the children of light and the children of darkness.
When will the statement of Paul again be true, that Christians “may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life?” (Philippines 2:15-16)
To e a Christian is to be a follower of Yeashua, to walk in the light, that is, in the commandments He gave, and thus be a light to the world. Yeashua lived in perfect obedience to His Father in a depraved society and under a hostile government. His enemies did not just ignore the light, they sought to put it out.