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Treasures of Darkness

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The Treasures of Darkness

“I will give you the TREASURES OF DARKNESS”

Isaiah 45 v 3

45 “This is what the Lord says to his anointed,

to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of

to subdue nations before him

and to strip kings of their armour,

to open doors before him

so that gates will not be shut:

2 I will go before you

and will level the mountains;  a

I will break down gates of bronze

and cut through bars of iron.

3 I will give you the treasures of darkness,

riches stored in secret places,

so that you may know that I am the Lord,

the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

4 For the sake of Jacob my servant,

of Israel my chosen,

I summon you by name

and bestow on you a title of honour,

though you do not acknowledge me.

5 I am the Lord, and there is no other;

apart from me there is no God.



These words are remarkable because they are addressed to Cyrus a foreign king – and as His anointed – the human agency through whom Jerusalem would be rebuilt. But I am struck by the force of the phrase used in our text rather than by the context:

The treasures of darkness

It is a phrase full of meaning, and especially to those who feel themselves to be in darkness just now.

God has treasures hidden in the darkness that others cannot see :

Riches stored in secret places” as the parallelism puts it.

A treasure to be found by those whose pathway is dark, who can say with David in Psalm 18

28 You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning;

my God turns my darkness into light.

It is worth observing that – in the natural and the scientific world it is true that there are some treasures that are only revealed in darkness:

    The treasures of distant galaxies

    The secrets of the planets

    The hidden detail of the night sky

    The detail of a photographic film or plate

    The shimmering wonder of radioactive ore like pitchblende

    The glistening evidence of the cloud chamber where flashes of light indicate subatomic particles

    The secret wonders of deep caves and oceans

    The fluorescence of living things

    The incredible chemical luminescence of denizens of the deep sea

When I was a child I spent ages trying to create luminous paint. The idea of being able to glow in the dark fascinated me.

For every marvel revealed by the bright light of day there are a multitude more that can only be seen in darkness.

But our hearts recoil from going into the dark. It is a place of fears and doubts and shadows, a place for knowing the guidance of His “kindly light”.

God says to Cyrus (and I personally doubt he appreciated it himself)

“I will give you the TREASURES OF DARKNESS”

Isaiah says it again, and the New Testament echoes it:

 

4 Since ancient times no-one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.        ISAIAH 64 4

9 However, as it is written:

“No eye has seen,

no ear has heard,

no mind has conceived

what God has prepared for those who love him —

10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.                 1 Corinthians 2 v 9

In considering this beautiful promise I would like to set out four ways in which the Word of God demonstrates this truth:

   The Darkness of Creation             Gen 1 vv 2 & 3

   The Darkness of revelation           Ex 20 v 21 & 2 Pe 1 v 19

   The Darkness of Repentance       Jonah 1 17 - 3 3   Lk15

   The Darkness Transformed          2 Cor 4 6

1.  The darkness of Creation        Gen 1 vv 2 and 3

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth wasa formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

There is a priceless treasure here – the creation, the work of God.

God working powerfully in the dark

    the beginning of a new thing

    the sphere of the Spirit’s brooding

    the place of His command and His GOOD work

I believe that – in the dark moments of our life God chooses often to

    do something NEW

    to brood over us by His Spirit

    to say “Let there be light!”

The next one is paradoxical:

2.  The darkness of Revelation      Exodus 19 and 20

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountaina trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.a

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Under such awesome circumstances was the Law given.

Psalm 18 again:

11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—

the dark rain clouds of the sky.

12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,

with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

13 The Lord thundered from heaven;

the voice of the Most High resounded. (a)

14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies,

great bolts of lightning and routed them.

15 The valleys of the sea were exposed

and the foundations of the earth laid bare

at your rebuke, O Lord,

at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

 

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

O tell of His might, O Sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space!
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

                                                                                                                                           2 Peter 1 v 19

3.  The darkness of Repentance     Jonah 1 17~

2 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,

and he answered me.

From the depths of the gravea I called for help,

and you listened to my cry.

3 You hurled me into the deep,

into the very heart of the seas,

and the currents swirled about me;

all your waves and breakers

swept over me.

4 I said, ‘I have been banished

from your sight;

yet I will look again

towards your holy temple.’

5 The engulfing waters threatened me,a

the deep surrounded me;

seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

the earth beneath barred me in for ever.

But you brought my life up from the pit,

O Lord my God.

7 “When my life was ebbing away,

I remembered you, Lord,

and my prayer rose to you,

to your holy temple.

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols

forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,

Jonah discovered the treasures of darkness too – darkness associated with disobedience, with forgiveness and with deliverance and repentance.

It was like the Prodigal a pig sty in which to come to one’s self.

But still a place where – in the darkness God’s light was seen.

4.  The darkness that is Transformed     2 Cor 4 v 6

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”a made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

(7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.)

I have to say this is one of my favourite verses (v6)

Its final statement echoes the highest and greatest TREASURE OF DARKNESS

“in the face of Christ”

It is Jesus, the Light of the world who transforms the deepest darkness – whether it be the darkness of sorrow

                                Or pain

                                Or distress

Paul has spoken earlier in this letter of the revelation to Moses, and here especially he refers to that of creation

“God who said “let light shine …”

but he brings it all to focus in

THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF CHRIST

God says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness”

And in the darkness sends His only Son to Bethlehem – by night

And in the darkness of His age He says  “I am the light of the world”

And in the darkness that shrouded His cross He finished His great work

And in the darkness of that Easter morning HE AROSE!

It is a truth of history – but also of PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

“He makes His light shine in our hearts!

Is there darkness in your heart?

Here, in Jesus, is the Treasure of darkness

    coming upon His disciples in the night on the lake

    Illuminating the mind and heart

    Releasing Peter from Prison and enabling Paul and Silas to sing.

Do you remember that chorus:

All the darkness of the night is passed away

There is morning in my heart … ?[1]

 

The New Testament statement of the promise to Cyrus here in 2 Cor has two points of focus:

    In the face of Christ

    In jars of clay      -      ie in US


Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation,
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation,
And find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
"E'en let the unknown morrow
Bring with it what it may."

"It can bring with it nothing,
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing
Will clothe His people too:
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed;
And He who feeds the ravens
Will give His children bread."

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there,
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

                                  William Cowper

 

 


----

[1] It is morning, it is morning in my heart!

Jesus made the gloomy shadows all depart.
Songs of gladness now I sing,
For since Jesus is my King,
It is morning, it is morning in my heart!

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