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From Darkness to Light

Anyone who has spent time deep inside an underground cave knows pitch- black darkness. Even the hand in front of your face is invisible. Yet despite the seeming power of the dark, a single ray of light can dispel the darkness immediately.

Our reading for today uses a similar picture of light vanquishing darkness as an image of God’s victory over sin. Micah’s prophecy had promised God’s judgment. Because of the people’s sin, they had “fallen” and “sit in darkness” (v. 8); they “bear the Lord’s wrath” (v. 9). Yet there was also hope: “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (v. 8). The image is repeated: “He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness” (v. 9). Our sin is like darkness, oppressive and seemingly all-powerful. But God’s righteousness is like a beam of light. No darkness can withstand it.

The end of the chapter shifts to God’s character and the effects of His darkness-diffusing light. He “pardons sin and forgives the transgression” (v. 18); He delights in mercy and com- passion. His love and faithfulness “will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (v. 19). There is no God like our God, who shines into our darkness and brings us into the light of love and forgiveness.

Micah’s words about light dispelling the darkness of sin are ultimately fulfilled in the person of Jesus, who Himself said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Our sin, like darkness, can feel like an oppressive and unconquerable weight of misery. But the promised light has come. Jesus alone can shine in our hearts and vanquish the darkness of sin.

Apply the Word

Today is Christmas, the celebration of the true Light who has come into our dark world! As you worship, exchange gifts, and gather with family, keep a candle lit throughout the day as a reminder of Christ the “light of the world.” Each time you see it, pause to give thanks that the darkness of sin has been vanquished by His love and grace.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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