On one of the family vacations to the Black Hills when I was 8 years old, we paid our money to join a group of tourists entering a deep-shaft gold mine. We used flashlights to look at gold-laden ore, examining star-like twinkles in the hard rock walls. At some point our guide led us to a box where we could pick up one small rock embedded with those twinkles to take home. Apparently the gold in those rocks was not as valuable as the money we paid to enter the mine. As we proceeded deeper down into the shaft, we felt the temperature getting warmer. The path was lined with electric lights, so we were safe, but we all held small flashlights as well. At the nadir, the lowest point in our tour, we all stopped, and the guide asked us to turn off our flashlights. He told us to grab the hand of our neighbor, and then he asked permission to turn off the electric lights. We were warned that for most of us, we were going to experience something brand new. Did we want to go through with it? Of course, we all did. When he turned out the lights, it was indeed an experience I had yet to imagine. For a few moments, which seemed like many minutes, we were in the complete, total absence of light. It was not only a darkness that my eyes had never experienced, but I seemed to be able to actually feel the darkness. It was good that I held the hand of my sister and one of my parents.
If you close your eyes this evening as tightly as you can, your eyelids are thin enough to let in some light. Outside on any night the sky is peppered with stars – if not the moon and two or three bright planets. And on the darkest night of the year, covered by clouds but no rain, there is still lots of light. In fact on the cloudy night in any city, the sky is brighter than on the clear night, because the clouds reflect lights from across town. Of course, inside our homes there are dozens of little lights – on the stove, radios, clocks, and so forth.
But have you ever imagined what life would be without any light whatsoever? Have you and your childhood friend ever tied on blind-folds and pretended to be blind? When was the last time you humbly thanked the Lord for your ability to see? Actually, some blind people have the ability to discern some degree of light; there are levels of blindness. But you and I have a great gift in the ability to see God’s creation and to easily read His Word.
Truly “the light is sweet and a pleasant thing” to the eyes of man, as says Solomon. But there is a day coming for many when they shall be cast into outer darkness. Verse 8 – “if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness…”
This is a thanksgiving outline of sorts this evening. And it is only barely an outline. I will let you fill in the details.
NATURAL light is sweet in itself.
And I take the term “sweet” in this case to speak of something fine and beautiful. “More to be desired are (the words of God) than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” I listen to classical music for a little while almost every day. I find some music to be rousing – stirring, some is descriptive – painting a picture, and some is impressively technical – demanding. But there are some pieces of music which I can only describe as “sweet.” Maybe that would not be the word you would use, but it is my word. For me it usually comes at the conclusion of the piece when the violin, trumpet or cello softens, slows and usually rises in pitch until it lifts my soul out of me. Sometimes I have to stop what I am doing, lifting a hand or two in an almost worshipful pose. Like music and some words, light can be wonderfully sweet and flawlessly beautiful. Admittedly, sometimes it is so bright and harsh that it hurts our eyes to see it. But the light at sunset or dawn filtering through some hazy clouds, and moving through a host of autumn colors is beautiful – it can be sweet.
I was reading one of Spurgeon’s sermons on the rainbow which emerged following the Noahic flood. The preacher was describing the bow as best he could. Then he stopped, saying that he’d never seen a great painting of a rainbow. The way that light is defracted by the passing rain is immeasurably beautiful and impossible to duplicate. How many times when I have seen a rainbow have I grabbed my old cheap camera and snapped a picture only to be disappointed? It is as if nothing on earth can duplicate the beauty or the sweetness of something which God has created.
Of course light is perfectly adapted by God to meet our human needs. It fits the requirements of the eye, and in fact the whole body benefits by it. There are afternoons when I’ve spent 6 hours inside my study on the dark, north side of the house, and felt the need of a jolt of highly caffinated coffee. But instead of brewing up a cup, because I know it might affect my sleep later that night, I have put on my shoes and taken a quick walk around the block in the bright sun. I can’t explain it – I don’t know it’s the ultraviolet light, or the activated vitamin D, or the heat, but the sunshine sometimes rejuvenates or invigorates me.
And then there are those Seattle-like days when the light of the sun is blocked by heavy, rain-filled clouds. Have you ever noticed internal gloominess that attends the external gloom? There is a different attitude in people when we’ve gone for days without direct sunshine.
And there is another thing about light – it encourages. Have you noticed that even though we may sometimes be afraid of things we see… we are ten times more afraid of things we cannot see for one reason or another? Some of the scariest movies, involve a bad guy stalking a person who is blind. We need to learn to thank the Lord for that first item of the Lord’s creation.
Then too, we should be thankful for the artificial lights that He has permitted man to develop.
How many hours a day do we augment our lives with all kinds of lights? Could you safely drive home tonight without the lights on your car? And if we didn’t have incandescent, florescent, halogen and other lights, what would it do to industry? Even on sunny days, could you shop for groceries if it wasn’t for man’s God-given ability to light those big buildings? Factories would have close, or all their work would have be carried outside contingent on the weather. How much of our Bible reading is done under a lamp early in the morning or late at night? What about our church service this evening? And there ist the flashlight that is essential to find the breaker box when all the lights are out at home? And there is the hospital, with the critical patients depending on the ability of the doctor to tend his wounds day or night.
Close your eyes and visualize a world without artificial light – another of God’s great gifts.
Then there is intellectual light, which is just as real as these others.
There is kind of material in our minds and souls like certain kinds of paint which can reach out and grab light rays that pass by. Then when the lights are off and the room is semi-dark, it releases that light for the night to enjoy. Years ago Judy bought a package of star and moon-shaped stickers that store and later release light. We put them on some of the walls and ceilings in our bedrooms and in the hall way. They were kind of fun.
How is it that the mind is able to remember things? Is it like that light capturing paint of paper? Or is it like the computer with ten trillion switches in the brain, and when they are either on or off, together they encode a message? Can those ten trillion switches then mingle their facts, weigh them out and enable us to think? I don’t know how the system works, but I thank the Lord that my system still works just a little.. It is a gift from the Lord, and I give Him the praise for whatever mental light I have left.
AND the Lord has shed light in my soul enabling me to see and grasp the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah cried out: “Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: But the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
Mankind has been permitted light enough to see inside the cell and even the chromosome. We have eyes and light enough to pierce the night sky to a distance of millions of light years. We can see into the blackest depths of the seas where no sunshine can reach. The artist has his sight and light. The poet has his, and so does the writer of imaginary fiction. All of these are gifts from God, whether or not we use them for His glory.
But these don’t compare with the light of the Scripture.
The commandment is a lamp and the law is light. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” By it we see our true character – the one we’d never be able to recognize without God’s help. And with that light, we even see the glory of the Lord and His grace. Jehovah is not only high and holy, but gracious and lovely, but we would never recognize those things without His gracious light.
Truly the light of the Word of God is sweet and shows to us the most pleasant of things. We were that people in darkness until light shone down on us above the brightness of the noonday sun. First, it blinded us on our Damascus journey, but then cured us, like a spiritual laser knife. Eventually we found that it gave us wonderful direction for making the rest of our journey a joy to travel. There is the light of the promise of God to go along with the light of His direction. And there is a spotlight shining brighter than a halogen high beam, right into the throne room of the Lord. We have a hope that endureth forever.
But more important yet, is the spiritual light that is as great as the word of God itself.
The same Divine Spirit who inspired the holy men of God for the penning of the scriptures, resides in the heart of every believer. Oh, He doesn’t give us visions and revelations superceding the previously inspired word. But it is He who brings the Word of God alive in our dull hearts, minds and eyes.
And when the heart is sad or broken or worried and fearful because of unbelief, the light of the Holy Spirit is there. He sends it into the corner where we thought we heard the growl of the wicked one, and shows to us that we have nothing to fear.
Then finally, there is an eternal light for the children of God.
The hope of the saint of God is emphatically called, “The inheritance of the saints in light.” We are triumphantly told that there shall be no night in the place where we will spend eternity. And there shall be no need of the sun and moon, for the light of the Christ shall illuminate our eternity. Truly the light is sweet.
But if a man live many years and die without the Saviour,
all the light he has enjoyed shall be eternally dimmed.
As Solomon says, “all that cometh to that man is vanity.” Why is it that sinners hate Christ? It is because “men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” And the Lord Jesus is the light of the world. In this we have the explanation why the world despises the Word of God — it shines a light on its wicked soul. And the despising itself enhances their guilt and will one day aggravate their eternal darkness.
Christian, thank the Lord for the light that you have received. Some of you have been brought to Christ Jesus out of some intensely dark places. Out of demonic cults and churches which centuries ago put out what little light they had. We have been brought to the Lord out of swamps and cesspools of sin where little real light ever shined. Be thankful for the light that the Lord has shined upon you.
And have pity on the man who is still in darkness. Remember that you – each of us – have been ordained to be candles, set on a hill. Our church has been commissioned to be a light house to warn seafaring man of danger. We have been ordained to reflect the light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One day as a woman was crossing a street at London station, an old man stopped her. “Excuse me, Ma’am, but I want to thank you.” “Thank me? What for?” “Yes,m, I used to be a ticket collector, and whenever you went by, you always gave ma a cheerful smile and a ‘good morning.’” “I knew that smile must come from inside somewhere, then one morning I saw a Bible in your hand.” “So I bought one, and through it I found the Lord Jesus.” “Thank you, for your smile.”
Brethren, it is our commission to send the light. We can carry out our responsibilities in several ways. Whatever your gift, use it faithfully for the glory of the Lord.