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GOD ALLOWS US TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THE LIGHT AND THE DARKNESS

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE
HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

3 JANUARY 1993

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 41:37-39
Exodus 1:8-9
        10:21-23
Proverbs 4:18-19
Luke 23:44-45
John 1:9-11
        12:35-36

God does indeed allow us to choose between the light and the darkness.

Or, we could say that God allows us to choose between good and evil.

The writer of Proverbs 4:18-19 sums it up this way:

18. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

19. The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.

If we choose to accept the light of God, if we choose to accept the way of God and His truth in our lives, our beginnings with God may appear only as the faint light of dawn.

We have only enough light to see where our next few steps can take us safely. The other things are still hidden from our vision and understanding.

Now, if we give up at this point and say to ourselves, "I will wait until the full light of day," it will never come; and what little light we have will fade back into the darkness.

But if we step out in the dim light of dawn, we find that the truth of God our Father, the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the work and love of Jesus Christ becomes more and more real to us, just as the dim light of dawn brightens into the full light of day.

God has given us a choice.

We cannot sit back and do nothing, for to do nothing is the same as choosing the darkness.

And in the darkness, we can easily lose our way and begin to stumble over various things that are hidden from our sight.

The greatest of the things that the people of darkness stumble over is the witness of Jesus Christ.

This is what we read as our preparation verse for this morning, from John 1:9.

9. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

This is as the light of dawn.

But now let's look at John 1:10-11.

10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

11. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

Every one of these people of Israel and every one of us, as well as everyone else in the world, has been shown the true light of the dawning of Jesus Christ.

But most people have rejected it, or have not been willing to walk in His light, even though they could see, however dim it was in the beginning.

Listen to what Jesus tells us in John 12:35-36.

35. Jesus therefore said to them, "For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.

36. "While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light."

These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.

We, just as the disciples of Jesus' day, are to learn to walk in the light of the Lord, even when He is not physically present.

God has given us the power to do His will on our own.

Everything we need in order to do a good job has already been provided, and we have also been given many examples.

Just because Jesus has hidden Himself physically from us now, doesn't give us the privilege to go back to walking in the darkness of our own sins and the ways of the world; we are to continue to walk in the light.

If we know something causes pain to our fellow human beings or the others animals, we are not to do it, no matter what others may do.

In fact, we are to step out boldly in doing what is right and in love and compassion, so that the forces of darkness do not catch up with us; for once we enter the darkness again, it becomes harder and harder to find our way back to the light.

This happened with the Egyptians.

Joseph went to Egypt as a slave, but also as a servant of the Lord.

Even when he was in prison, he still walked and lived in the light.

When Pharaoh saw this light in Joseph, listen to what he said: (Genesis 41:37-39)

37. Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants.

38. Then Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?"

39. So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.

In the midst of the darkness that was in Egypt, Joseph shone forth as a beacon of the light of the Lord; and for a time, the nation lived partially in the light.

But there came a day when the darkness caught up to them again.

Note what we are told in Exodus 1:8-9.

8. Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

9. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier then we."

The land of Egypt prospered because of the presence of God's chosen people; but the Egyptians began to fear, and fear comes from the absence of God's love, which came about as the darkness caught up to them.

Even today, this same fear 'card' is being played by many politicians to try to scare people into voting for them.

So the Egyptians began to abuse the Israelites, which is against God's will, the same as the abuse of any person or animal today is against Godís will.

And things got worse and worse, until finally God showed His power.

Let's look at one thing the Lord did to attract their attention, as recorded in Exodus 10:21-23.

21. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt."

22. So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.

23. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Previously, the Egyptians had both physical and spiritual light, and though they had lost their spiritual light, they still thought they were in the light because they had the physical illumination.

Then, to let them know what real darkness is like, God also took away their physical light, hoping that they would come back to the real light.

Yet, at the same time, the Israelites had light as a witness to them, so that they would not leave the spiritual light, as the Egyptians had done.

The same thing happened in Israel when Jesus was crucified.

Note what we are told in Luke 23:44-45.

44. And it was now about the sixth hour [12:00 noon], and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour [3:00 PM],

45. the sun being obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

Most of the leaders tried to kill the Prince of Light, hoping that the light would disappear; but instead, in the midst of the physical darkness, a greater light began to shine forth.

Now every repentant person could approach the throne of grace directly.

No longer did they need the high priest to go behind the veil for them once a year.

Now they could approach Him directly.

Our Communion service this morning is a reminder of this.

Let's leave behind whatever darkness we have been living in.

That's right; just walk away from it.

Walk into the marvelous light.

Let our hearts be softened.

Let's allow ourselves to be filled with love and compassion.

Let's commit ourselves to live in this love and compassion, so that the world around us will also see the light.

Amen.

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