Light in the Darkness: A Story of Human History

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As December gives way to January and the nights become longer, a new year looms. The specter of war, economic stagnation, and a new political cycle portend hardship and difficulty disconsonant with the supposed season of joy. Words of joy and cheer are uttered from hearts filled with “Bah humbug.” As God’s people gather to celebrate the glorious incarnation of our sovereign Lord, we are looking for joy, peace, hope, and more. We are looking for light in the midst of personal and civic darkness, and we need the reminder that the darkness has not and will not overcome the light. Creation begins with light (Gen. 1:3), and light is an essential ingredient in the history of the cosmos. In fact, all of human history can be explained through the lens of light and darkness, and in the midst of our very real darkness, what we need is a fresh glimpse of the light. Lean in and see.

In the beginning, God spoke the heavens and the earth into existence. At the center of God’s creative masterpiece, he fashioned human beings—male and female—in his image and likeness. God planted them in a glorious garden sanctuary where they were to extend the dominion of God over the whole earth (Gen. 1:28). Perfect peace—the rest of God—pervaded the glorious visage as Adam and Eve had everything they could ever want or need (Gen. 2:8). All that was required was obedience to the good commands of God (Gen. 2:15–17).

In spite of God’s gracious provision, temptation came upon Eve through the lips of a serpent, and Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority, God’s goodness, and God’s loving fellowship (Gen. 3:1–7). The penalty for such transgression was death, and God passed judgment on the man and woman and cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14–19). Darkness came upon the world as humanity plunged into slavery to sin and death. Work became toil, and the excitement of birth and new life was tinged with pain and suffering. To this very day, all of our hardships are connected to the fall of our forefather Adam as humanity continues in his footsteps, walking as inheritors and participants in his rebellion—extending the dominion of darkness rather than the dominion of God (Rom. 5:18).

From the midst of this sin-cursed gloom, a glorious note of promise rang out, reverberating through the chorus of human history. The serpent’s temptation would not be the final word, for God promised that through the seed of the woman a redeemer would come. God would provide a man to crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). The light would shine out of the darkness, and the darkness would never overcome it (John 1:5).

As human history rolled on, the curse rolled on and darkness pervaded. Humanity gave way to barbarism (Gen. 6:11), which brought God’s judgment through the waters of the flood. Seeking to usurp God’s throne, humanity was cast into lingual chaos (Gen. 11:1–9). Over and over, humanity—filled with violence and degeneracy—has raged against the God who created them (Ps. 2:1–3). They have hated one another, walking in self-deceived darkness (1 John 2:11). But as the curse rolled on, the promise continued to resound. God provided his people with men in the line of the promise: Noah (Genesis 6), Abraham (Genesis 12), and David (2 Samuel 7). As God’s people marched on mingled throughout the nations (Ezek. 36:19), the promise prevailed over the curse, and hope prevailed over darkness because God’s people knew that God would surely accomplish his word (Isa. 55:11).

After 400 years of silence, that word finally came. It was not simply a word; rather, He was the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son incarnate. In the beginning, before all ages, he was with God, and he was God (John 1:1). Through him, all things were created (John 1:3); through him, Adam and Eve were fashioned; through him, the curse was delivered; and through him, the promise would be fulfilled. The Word had become flesh—assumed a true human nature—so that he might take the curse upon himself in order to destroy the reign of sin and death. In this way, he would crush the head of the serpent (Gal. 3:13–14; 1 John 3:8). The one who was light in himself (1 John 1:5) had entered the darkness of human history.

The light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it! Jesus Christ took the curse of the law upon himself, and he shouldered it straight into the jaws of God’s wrath. When all seemed lost, the true light shone from the tomb, and Christ walked forth as the victorious redeemer overcoming the darkness of sin and death (1 Cor. 15:20–22). And now, for all who are in Christ, that light “has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). All creation awaited the coming of the true light, and that light has finally dawned in the advent of the King of Creation, who is working to restore all things for his glory.

Those who are in Christ have been called out of the darkness into the glorious light of Christ (1 Pet. 2:9), and we have confidence that the light of the gospel will stand against the kingdom of darkness (Eph. 6:12) and every onslaught of hell (Matt. 16:18). Jesus Christ, the true light, will be a light for his people safeguarding them through this present darkness until they reach that celestial city where “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5). Our hope, our joy, our peace are bound up with the one who is called faithful and true (Rev. 19:11); the One who blazed forth in the darkness and has overcome the darkness for us and for our salvation. In Christ, we are light; in Christ, we have victory; in Christ, we have true hope for the New Year.

As we gaze at the horizon of our timeline and strain to discern what may be over the next peak, let us lift our gaze above the horizon to the One who sovereignly orders that timeline. And let us be reminded that he came in the form of a servant in order that he might die in our place to accomplish our redemption from the rule of sin and the wrath of God. Human history, since the fall, has been shrouded in the darkness of human sin, and all that causes hopelessness and despair is a result of the same. So let us be reminded that our God is light, and that his eternal plan is the accomplishment of redemption to the glorification of the name of Christ as we are ushered into the culmination of all things and bathed in the glorious light of his presence forevermore. God’s plans and purposes have not changed, and they cannot be thwarted. Christmas is a reminder of God’s omnipotent power in accomplishing his purposes in his own way and in his own time. Let us take hope that the true light will never be overcome by the dark. Let us find peace and rest in the accomplishment of our redemption from the kingdom of darkness and deliverance into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). And let us have joy in this New Year because Jesus Christ is Lord over all.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author

  • Alex Tibbott

    Alex Tibbott is a Ph.D Candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Alex and his wife Sara reside in Louisville, KY and are members of Faith Community Church in Prospect, KY.

Alex Tibbott

Alex Tibbott

Alex Tibbott is a Ph.D Candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Alex and his wife Sara reside in Louisville, KY and are members of Faith Community Church in Prospect, KY.