The Biblical Perspective of Darkness and Sin
Pr. P. T. Thomas
How Adam communicated with God may be a point of debate. Some may argue that a non-toxical telepathic exchange of ideas took place between them. Some others may propose that Adam communicated with God as a new-born babe communicates with its mother. But the Biblical account does not vouch such views. Even after man sinned and fell away. God talked to Adam and Adam answered God. The Bible speaks of God calling out to Adam and Adam responding (Genesis 3:9,10) of course. This is audible communication using language.
God’s words reached man’s ears as sound waves and he answered God from hiding using audible words. So we can be sure that language is an innate faculty man is endowed with even from creation. As sin had its ill-effects on man’s faculties, his language skill too would have degenerated over the years. The curse of Babel made things worse resulting in various languages and language groups. The first division among mankind was on the basis of language. Rivalry and fightings follows divisions. Naturally, the languages of the winner gets prominence. This accounts for the evolution of languages, leaving crude languages, developing languages, developed languages and so on.
When it comes to the questions of written language, human efforts and invention played an important part. Pictorial language was the first from. A picture of the sun rising behind the hills conveyed the idea of morning. But pictorial language could not cope up with abstract ideas. In order to overcome this limitation, man started writing symbols and images. Light became a universal image of righteousness and goodness. On the other hand, darkness universally represents sin and evil. Even though human language has developed very much over the centuries, images continue to be used as a convenient tool for communicating abstract ideas. The Holy Spirit speaks to man through the scriptures using anointed servants and in human language. So symbols and images play a major role in Biblical language.
Darkness and Sin
The first scriptural reference in darkness is found in Genesis 1:2. In the beginning, the earth was created together with heaven, in its pristine elegance and beauty. Lucifer, a peculiarly decked and dandified archangel of God was given the privilege of using the earth as his station. It pleased God to create him as the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. He was endowed with many positions and privileges. Puffed up by the privileges he enjoyed, Lucifer felt himself too important to remain a subordinate, loyal to God. He aspired to be an equal with God or even above God. This was the first discord or rebellion in the created universe. So God counted Lucifer unworthy and cast him off from heaven and the original earth. The earth too had to bear the brunt of the rebellion of its inhabitant. It lost its pristine beauty and was cast away from the precincts of heaven. The, whole planet got engulfed in a deluge and thick pall of darkness wrapped it up covering even the depth of the deluge. This thick mantle of pitch darkness stands as the first image of sin and rebellion against God. All through the Scriptures, darkness is depicted as the primary image of the ill-effects of sin.
Sin and its Effects
A close look at the Biblical presentation of darkness will show that it represents the ill-effects of sin, rather than sin itself. The darkness that engulfed the original earth was not sin itself, but it was rather the effect of sin. So in its symbolic value too darkness stands for the ill-effects of sin. This calls for more explanations.
God is the supreme sovereign. The Bible presents God as a responsible sovereign. Not all His creations are endowed with moral discernment. Animals are guided by inborn instincts. But man has a moral code of right and wrong, comely and uncomely, engrained on his soul. And man is endowed with a free will too. This makes man responsible for his thoughts and actions. The same is true of angels too. That is why Lucifer was held guilty for his rebellious desire. One without free will and discernment of right and wrong cannot be held guilty for his enemies. So, every thought, deed or word of man works a response in the heart of God–approval or disapproval, pleasure or displeasure, delight or wrath. God does care for us so much as to express His response to our activities. It is expressed in such a way that man is able to perceive His reaction. When Lucifer made the first rebellious move in God’s realm God responded by casting him off from his assigned post. The seriousness of God’s displeasure was manifested by discarding (at least temporarily) the very planet of his abode and wrapping it up in pitch darkness. So this darkness stands for the ill-effects of sin and manifests God’s wrath towards the rebellion of His responsible creations.
God Dwells in Darkness
Darkness symbolizes God’s response to man’s sin rather than sin itself and is further proved in that the Lord Himself dwells in darkness. On the day of the ‘great assembly’ at Sinai, the Lord chose to remain in thick darkness (Exodus 20:21; Deut. 5:22; 9:10). The darkness that marked the presence of God typifies the wall of separation between the holy God and sinful man. That the sinful man is unworthy and unable to commune with the Holy God is symbolically conveyed by the appearance of darkness that separated the presence of God and the mixed multitude that had come out of Egypt (Ex. 12:38).
Darkness versus Light
God is described as ‘the Father of Light’ (James 1:17) Jesus Christ is the ‘Light of the World’ (John 9:5). The Holy Spirit is the ‘Angel of Light’ (2 Cor. 11:14) God lives in unapproachable light (I Tim 6:16). So darkness is just contrary to God’s nature. It is the absence of light that covers darkness. Because of our sins and transgressions, God hides His face from us and we live in darkness (Isa. 59:2). Darkness typifies the loss of divine favour and fellowship. Anything alien to God’s divine nature is symbolized by darkness. Man was created in God’s own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26,27). By his rebellion and disobedience man lost his godly nature. The sinner lost the glory of God. Mankind got debased as a brood of darkness. Now we are called out from darkness into the marvelous glory of God (I Pet. 2:9).
Darkness and Ignorance
He who walks in darkness does not know where he is heading to. This is the plight of the world today. Man just lives without knowing what he lives for or where he is moving to. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers and they do not see the truth of the gospel. (2 Cor.4:4). Even those who claim to know God think of God as one who is there to meet their needs and desires. They do not realize and acknowledge that they are indebted to God for their very existence. They do not even care to know what God desires of them. Worldliness, greed and selfishness blind them as with a thick mantle of darkness. They are ignorant of their own pitiable plight. They walk in darkness as they do not enjoy the fellowship of the light of the world, even Jesus Christ. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those who do not have this wisdom are yet to learn the a-b-c-‘s of true wisdom. They may be great scholars in worldly matters but are ignorant and grope in darkness.
Fruitless Deeds of Darkness
Anything that an upright person would choose to hide from others can roughly be called the deeds of darkness. Such deeds are not done under the watchful eyes of others. No one would indulge in them when he is aware of the presence of others. So a believer who is conscious of the all-pervading eyes of the all-knowing God dares not to commit them. He who is away from God and is oblivious of the all-perceiving eyes of God revels in the deeds of darkness. Here again darkness typifies the estrangement from God.
Darkness and Judgement
Darkness represents the wrath of God towards sin and all that it effects in the lives of the sinners. The rebellion of Lucifer brought it over the deep. Thick, unusual darkness covered the land of Egypt for three days as God’s wrath raged against the cruel oppressors of His people. God judged the Egyptians for the injustice and cruelty they meted out to the people of Israel. When the sin of mankind was judged in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, unnatural darkness covered the land for three hours (Matthew 27:45).
The Outer Darkness (Mat. 25:30)
The outer darkness is the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is eternal punishment in hell. Being eternally shut out from the glorious presence of God is the most pitiable and horrible experience in hell. It is the other place of darkness, alienation and eternal death (2 Thes.1:9; Rev. 20:14). On the contrary, the saints of God are chosen to share in the inheritance in light (Colo.1:12). The greatest blessing of heaven is enjoying the glorious presence of God. The glorious hope of the saints of God is not just inheriting the mansions of heaven, but gaining Christ (Phili.3:9). Jesus Christ is exalted above the heaven and the glorious fellowship with Him is far more desirable than the whole heaven taken together (Heb.7:26) Eternal death is eternal separation in the outer darkens. Earlier we were darkness; now we are light in the Lord (Eph.5:8). So let us walk in the light of life hating darkness and its deeds. Divine judgement awaits those who love darkness, rather than the light (John 3:19).