The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5)
Will you walk with me for a moment? When does a light shine brightest? Is it not when its surroundings are darkest? The darker the darkness becomes, the brighter the smallest light appears. We can think of several illustrations of this, can’t we? The harder a person works, the sweeter her rest will be. The more a person hungers and thirsts, the more delight he finds in even the smallest morsel of food. The darker the darkness, the brighter the light.
In the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15), God commands his people to set apart the Sabbath Day. The Lord God uses two words (in both Exodus and Deuteronomy) to describe what we are to do the other six days. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” The first word, “labor,” is related to the word “servant” and refers to the effort put into something. The amount of sorrow involved in that effort is not in view. In Genesis 2:15, Adam “worked” the garden before toil and “sweat of the brow” was added to it. Interestingly, in Genesis 3:23, Adam “worked” the ground outside of Eden and after the Fall. The other word, “work,” is used twice in the commandment and can refer to whatever it is you do in a given context. It can be the kind of work an artist does. His art or his craft is his “work.” It can be the business a businessman does. It can be the surfer’s surfing. It is what you do in a given context.
God our Savior sets the Sabbath apart from days of labor and work as a day of rest by the words, “In it you shall not do any work.” However, the contrast is not merely between work and rest. It is a contrast between you and God. By “contrast,” I mean a distinction made for the purpose of shining light on an idea, principle, or teaching. (See Isaiah 55:6-9) In this case, the contrast shows a truly beautiful and glorious thing. You see, six days you are to do all your “labor.” During those six days, you are to do all your “work.” This is the effort of labor you put into a given context. The context here is you. It is all your work. The six days are for you. The context is you. The Sabbath is set apart because it is about the Lord. It is “the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” He is the context of the Sabbath. We rest from us, as it were, and rest in him. Thus the Lord said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
What does this have to do with light and darkness? Notice that the Lord’s Day comes and then there are six days. Then, the Lord’s Day comes, followed by another six days. The Lord’s Day is in the middle of all your toil and all your work. It doesn’t take long to be reminded during those six days that the Fall brought man into an estate of sin and misery. Thirty seconds on social media, watching TV, listening to the radio, the never ending pile of laundry and to-do lists, and the grind you begin Monday morning, all remind us of the darkness in which we live. Perhaps they even remind us of the darkness that comes from within our own hearts. There are six days of “us.” There are six days of “me.” For six days I am faced with my own struggles, sins, failure, wants, desires, and everything else that is about me and mine.
Then there is the light. Then there is the Day of Christ. There is the Lord’s Day, which is the Christian Sabbath. In the middle of hopeless darkness, the light of grace and mercy shines. It is not about me or my works and efforts. It is not about my glory or my desires. It is about the will of God for my salvation, which he has revealed and accomplished in Jesus Christ.
John said, “The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Did you see it? The light shines. It is not a past tense. He shines. He continually. He shines now. He shines forever. The darkness—whether it is our own personal darkness, or that which proceeds from an unbelieving and decaying world—the darkness has never, will never, can never overcome him. Rather, our Christ said, “I have overcome the world.”
Our walk together is at an end for today. I pray you will continue to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7; Ephesians 5:8). Always.
Soli Deo Gloria.