LIKE A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
A number of years ago I was privileged to be in Jerusalem to join Youth Directors from various States in the USA, as well as from Europe, for tours and fellowship. On New Year’s Eve, after a day of touring and visiting historic sites, we all met at the hotel for a watch-night service to bring in the New Year. I was so humbled in being asked to address this august body of youth leaders and church officials right before midnight. In preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime event, the Holy Spirit inspired me to read Isaiah 5:30 as my text. Since we were in Israel, I chose to read from the New Jerusalem Bible Translation. “Only look at the country: darkness and distress, and the light turned to darkness by the clouds.”
By tradition, the Hebrew text illustrates the idea of seamen on a ship out at sea looking toward the coastline trying to spot a lighthouse to guide them to shore and safety, only to have the fog and darkness obscure their view, so they end up getting lost. Isaiah was making the spiritual point of the importance of direction from God’s Word. The Holy Spirit helped me develop a message on the need for spiritual guidance, especially for people who have drifted away from what they believe and need a light to find their way back to the solid ground of truth.
This convocation occurred during a period in our history when a major magazine published an issue with the words, “God is Dead” on the cover; it was a time when the clear lines between right and wrong were blurred by the proposition of “Situation Ethics”; and a book titled “Secular City” proposed giving up the sacred vision of life beyond and accepting the secular reality of life here and now. The Holy Spirit inspired me to point out the three “R’s” available as options in providing that needed light to those who were drifting away. They are Revolution, Reformation, and Revival. When choosing the flash of Revolution, it requires tearing everything down and starting all over again, while with flame of Reformation long held beliefs are taken and corrected to make them more authentic, whereas with the fire of Revival beliefs that always worked before as a powerful source of light are reinvigorated by God’s Spirit and roar back to life full of fire and vigor.
In that same line of thought, I pointed to Ezekiel 37:3-6 where God spoke to the prophet in a valley full of dry bones and asked him if he thought those bones could ever live again. When Ezekiel confessed that only God knew the answer, the LORD told him to say these words to those bones, “Dry bones, hear the Word of the LORD!” If you do that, God told him, I will breathe and they will come to life. We know that God’s breath is likened to His Spirit. Therefore, His Spirit will come when the Word of God is preached and Revival will result. So Ezekiel followed God’s instructions, accepting His promise that if he did so the LORD would react by saying to those dry bones, “I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”
Little did I know that many years later God’s people would be facing an even greater dilemma, both in society and in their churches. But I am persuaded that the words spoken by God to Isaiah and Ezekiel thousands of years in the past, and the word that he gave me some 45 years ago are just as relevant to us today as they were back then. This experience has enforced and strengthened what I always believed: that God’s Word never grows old; it never becomes irrelevant; immaterial; unrelated; inappropriate; extraneous; unconnected; inapt; unimportant; unsuitable; insignificant or trivial, but it always serves as God’s light for people in a world which grows ever darker and foggier with deception, falsehoods, and insincerity every day.
The flash of Revolution requires finding new sources of illumination to guide the people to a different place; the flame of Reformation seeks to add insight for darkened minds to see the light and find the haven in the darkness; but the fire of Revival is fueled by the oil of the Holy Spirit that never runs dry, and provides a steady glow for people to see and guide them into the harbor of God’s blessed assurance, where they can anchor their souls until the day of resurrection. – Dr. Robert R. Seyda