The people living in darkness have seen a great light. – Matthew 4:16 (NIV)
In 1986, Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness shot to the top of the bestseller list and stayed there for nearly three years. Based on Ephesians 6:12, the book addressed spiritual warfare: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (ESV).
In 1995 Left Behind, a novel about end times based on Scripture, was released. Three years later, the first four of what would be a 16-book series held the top four spots on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. By the time the final book of the series was published in 2007, the media looked to authors Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye as end times experts.
I’ve been thinking a lot about darkness and end times lately. And not only because we’re right smack dab in the middle of the darkest part of the year or because the world was to have ended December 21, if all the hype about the Mayan Calendar was to be believed.
While I don’t see the devil behind every tree, I do believe in spiritual warfare and believe it has been increasing. While I leave the future (and the present) in God’s hands and believe only He understands fully the prophecy about the Antichrist, I see an anti-Christ spirit growing at an alarming rate. The world is getting darker and darker.
But the world was a dark place 2,000 years ago when God sent the first Christmas Light. Born during a time when the Jews were subject to (and persecuted by) a tyrannical Roman government, God’s Son was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Mary and Joseph had to take Him and flee to Egypt because a crazy, jealous king ordered hundreds of baby boys murdered to eliminate any competition to his throne. A little over three decades later, after spending three years doing good, He was deserted by those closest to Him, rejected by the nation He came to save, and executed on trumped up charges.
But “in Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it (can never extinguish it)” (John 1:5). Jesus was the first Christmas light, and He still shines today, giving us hope for a better future when He returns:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God . . . God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. . . . There will be no more night . . . for the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 21:1–22:5).
So don't despair when you hear the latest news. Let the Christmas lights remind you of the hope that is yours through faith in the Baby whose birth those lights celebrate.
Let the Christmas lights shine brighter than the darkest news headlines, and remind me of the Light of the World, to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He alone is Lord! Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Isaiah 9:2–7 and Matthew 4:16