David Beckley, who spoke on Wednesday’s Florida College Lecture program, wrote in the lecture book, “Africa is known as the “Dark Continent,” and for a very good reason.” David ought to know he’s spent the past twelve years preaching in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“The ignorance and fear of the spirits, nyanga (witch doctor) curses, ancestor worship, multiple wives and muti killings (killing for body parts to give supposed special powers) are just a few characteristics of the darkness that exists there,” writes David.
He further observes that “Even though ‘missionaries’ have some success in exposing this darkness, men and women remain in the clutches of deep-seeded traditions and mindless religions.”
Jesus was born into a world a moral darkness. While there was “Greek enlightenment, there was also superstition, ignorance, idolatry, and Jewish traditionalism. He came as “the Light of the World. The Bible says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (Jn 1:4-5)
Ultimately “the darkness” rejected “the Light” and delivered Him to be crucified as a common criminal. It is fitting that while the Son of God hung on the cross the sun ceased to shine.
Dr. Luke records, “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; (Lk. 23:44-45). For three hours, from noon to 3pm, the land was engulfed in darkness.
The darkness was mysterious! Unexplainable! Terrifying! Imagine the conversations that occurred.
“It’s a solar eclipse,” cried a Roman solider.
“No,” said the Centurion. “The moon is full. There can’t be a solar eclipse when we have a full moon.”
“Maybe a storm is coming,” another soldier wondered. “Yes,” said another, “Maybe a dust storm.” But there was no storm. No dust in the air. Only darkness. Darkness when the day should have been the brightest.
The darkness was God sent. “It was,” as Warren Wiersbe put it, “as though all nature was sympathizing with the Creator as He suffered and died.” Darkness covered the land of Egypt prior to the first Passover for three days. (Ex 10:21). Appropriately, God sent the darkness for three hours while Christ, our Passover Lamb, was sacrificed.
Of course, throughout scripture, darkness is associated with judgment. Jesus was judged guilty, yet he was innocent. The darkness reminds me of my guilt. My sin. My shame. But how Jesus took my place as God allowed Him to be slaughtered for my transgressions.
The darkness also speaks to the darkness of the dastardly deed done to the sinless Son of God. The darkness of sin. The darkness of evil hearts. The darkness of hate. Envy. And pride. Those sins sent Jesus to the cross. Yes, it was a dark Friday in history. But what folks didn’t know and couldn’t foresee was the light of Sunday!
As the daylight broke forth and sun came shining across that tomb, the Son arose! “The Light of the World” was alive! Darkness was defeated! The Devil was crippled. And death was overcome!
It’s easy for us to become fearful of our “Friday’s” darkness. Confused. Terrified. The world is engulfed in the darkness of sin, not just “The Dark Continent.” Evil is acclaimed as enlightenment. Perversion is praised. Lust is glorified. Greed is called good. Pleasure is preferred over sacrifice. Truth is twisted. Justice is denied. And shame has been replaced by an unblushing, brazen, in your face affront to sobriety, morality and godliness.
And worse yet, too often we find ourselves either indifferent, accepting or engaging in the darkness of day.
The “Light” lives! Shines! And beckons us to a better day! He calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He has the power over darkness and the devil. We can receive redemption. Find forgiveness. Enjoy enlightenment. And see the light of our resurrection morning!
Don’t despair! It may be Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman