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B'resheet/Genesis 1:4 And G-d saw that the light was good and He separated between the light and between the darkness.
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Nahum Sarna points out that "separation, or rather, differentiation, is the second modality of creation." After creating light, G-d separates it from the darkness. Other references to creation report G-d creating light and darkness as discrete entities: "I form light and create darkness" (Isaiah 45:7, ESV); and even having their own places or territories: "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?" (Job 38:19-20, ESV). Based on the Sages' comment that "The Merciful One summoned the light and appointed it for duty by day, and He summoned the darkness and appointed it for duty by night" (b. Pesachim 2a),Rashi comments: "G-d saw that it was good: and it is not proper for the light and the darkness to be functioning in a jumble, so He assigned separate times of activity." Speculating on how this might have been accomplished, Ibn Ezra says that G-d separated them "by calling them different names", while Maimonides explains, "by giving them different natures and forms". Rashi even goes as far as to suggest that "the light was too good to be used by the wicked, so was stored up for the righteous in the time to come" and cites "Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the L-RD binds up the brokenness of His people, and heals the wounds inflicted by His blow" (Isaiah 30:26, ESV) as proof.
Are we right to see such a distinction between light and darkness? Aren't they merely a matter of degree - the presence or absence of light? While that may be so at a physical level, the Bible uses the metaphor of light and darkness to portray the contrast between good and evil. The Essene community described an apocalyptic war between the "sons of light" and the "sons of darkness" in the War Scroll, one of the documents in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The War Scroll visualises a forty-year battle between the faithful Jews (The Sons of Light) and everyone else - unfaithful Jews and the Gentiles - (The Sons of Darkness). The battle is seen in both physical and spiritual terms; while the battle will be physical warfare, the principals behind the armies are clearly seen as G-d and the devil. "The Rule of War on the unleashing of the attack of the sons of light against the company of the sons of darkness, the army of Belial ... This shall be a time of salvation for the people of G-d, an age of dominion for all the members of His company, and of the everlasting destruction for all the company of Belial" (1QM1).
Rav Sha'ul sees believers as having come out of darkness into light, "For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the L-rd, you are light" (Ephesians 5:8, CJB), and urges us live in the right way: "for you are all people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We don't belong to the night or to darkness, so let's not be asleep, like the rest are; on the contrary, let us stay alert and sober. People who sleep, sleep at night; and people who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us stay sober, putting on trust and love as a breastplate and the hope of being delivered as a helmet" (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8, CJB). This is not just a behavioural issue, although that is an important part of the picture; this is about who we are and the foundation that our lives are built upon. Who we are should determine what we do and the way we do it. This is also a reflection of the times that we live in: "The night is almost over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light. Let us live properly, as people do in the daytime - not partying and getting drunk, not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses, not quarrelling and being jealous" (Romans 13:12, CJB). We are called to change our behaviour and be distinct from the way that we were before we became believers and from the way that non-believers still are. The books that we read, the music we listen to, the films that we watch; all these are to be examined in the light of the Holy Spirit and surrendered to the rule of Messiah. It is so fundamental that John makes it a specific measure of our salvation and relationship with G-d: "If we claim to have fellowship with him while we are walking in the darkness, we are lying and not living out the truth. But if we are walking in the light, as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of his Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:6-7, CJB). Turned the other way round, if we are still doing what we did before we were believers, if we are still indistinguishable from the non-believing world, then we are still in darkness, the blood of Yeshua has not covered us and we must question if we have relationship with G-d.
For this season, G-d, in His grace, because He wants everyone to have the opportunity of coming to know Him, continues to provide an level playing field, ensuring that the physical world remains capable of supporting life - "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45, NASB) - and being a witness to Him: "He did not leave Himself without evidence of His nature; because He does good things, giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons, filling you with food and your hearts with happiness!" (Acts 14:17, CJB). All mankind benefits from G-d's goodness, whether they know Him or not, but His provision is a constant reminder that He exists and is seeking relationship with man.
On the other hand, this will not always be the case. G-d has determined a time when He will judge the earth and all its inhabitants, when every person that has ever lived will have to give an account for their lives before Him. Those who have a faith relationship with G-d in Messiah Yeshua are guaranteed a place in the world to come, but will have their lives tested: "But each one's work will be shown for what it is; the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire - the fire will test the quality of each one's work. If the work someone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward; if it is burned up, he will have to bear the loss: he will still escape with his life, but it will be like escaping through a fire" (1 Corinthians 3:13-15, CJB). Those who do not have such a relationship are "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without G-d in the world" (Ephesians 2:12, ESV); they have no place in the world to come and will be lost for eternity.
We therefore have a critical part to play in G-d's plans to reach everyone with the good news because we - G-d's people in this generation - are what the world has to see; we are the light, we are the witness. It is our behaviour, our standards, our conduct by which G-d is seen and judged in our day. And time has nearly run out. "Yeshua said to [the people], 'The light will be with you only a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, or the dark will overtake you; he who walks in the dark doesn't know where he's going'" (John 12:35, CJB). To the disciples He added, "As long as it is day, we must keep doing the work of the One who sent me; the night is coming, when no one can work" (John 9:4, CJB). It is so important to grasp this fact: as believers, we are the light, those who do not know G-d are the darkness and, just as at creation G-d separated between the light and the darkness, so He is about to make the same separation between those who do and do not know Him. If we are not separate now, not so distinct that those who see us can clearly see that our lives are radically different, then we will have failed in our mission - G-d's mission - to the world. There can be no compromise. Are you, or are you not, sold out for G-d?
1. - Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Allen Lane 1997, 0-7139-9131-3, page 163
Further Study: Isaiah 2:5; John 11:9-10; 1 John 1:5
Application: Why not look around yourself, at your possessions, habits and hobbies and see if you are living a life that is completely in the light. We still have the time to make adjustments, to purge those things that make us darkness, but the time is running out: "Seek the L-RD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6, NASB).
© Jonathan Allen, 2010
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