Faith Piercing the Darkness

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Psalm 112:4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: [he is] gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

We are living in a time of gross darkness. What is this darkness? It is when we indulge our natural, sinful nature, which we all suffer under to some degree. As we indulge and exercise it, it creates darkness. We see the darkness very heavy around the world because people function according to their natural man. In the darkness we are able to see the light, just as the people who were dwelling in darkness at the time of the first advent saw a great light, and that great light was Jesus – the beautiful character of Jesus that shone in such contrast to the human dilemma that existed even in His time.

Prevailing Darkness

As we now look at the subject for our experience, there is another revelation of the darkness that prevails around us, of something that we sometimes don’t even realise has affected us, and which we have taken for normal. We are naturally affected by the circumstances of today. Sister White was shown these events which we today can clearly identify:

I was shown the inhabitants of the earth in the utmost confusion. War, bloodshed, privation, want, famine, and pestilence were abroad in the land. As these things surrounded God’s people, they began to press together, and to cast aside their little difficulties. Self-dignity no longer controlled them; deep humility took its place. Suffering, perplexity, and privation caused reason to resume its throne, and the passionate and unreasonable man became sane, and acted with discretion and wisdom. {1T 268.1} 

My attention was then called from the scene. There seemed to be a little time of peace. Once more the inhabitants of the earth were presented before me; and again everything was in the utmost confusion. Strife, war, and bloodshed, with famine and pestilence, raged everywhere. Other nations were engaged in this war and confusion. War caused famine. Want and bloodshed caused pestilence. And then men’s hearts failed them for fear, “and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” {1T 268.2}

None of us are ignorant as to what this is talking about. War, bloodshed, with all its associated situations, then a little time of peace, then war and bloodshed again, and after that men’s hearts failing them for fear of those things which are coming on the earth. The First World War finished in 1918, and in 1939 the Second World War commenced. Only 20 years passed between the two – a little time of peace. Associated with this was pestilence. The pestilence that especially affected the people post-war was polio. Even now polio is taking root again in Syria, where they have all the war. Polio is starting there again. Besides that kind of pestilence privation creates many other diseases as well.

The darkness that takes place in consequence of the First and Second World Wars, is something that we here now have all grown up in consequence of, and to us it seems normal, yet it is utter darkness. The description of our time is well chronicled in Isaiah 59, where the consequence of war with all its associated sufferings on a world-scale is given. People are looking for peace, and they are trying to have thrusts for peace by raising an army for peace. Doesn’t that make no sense at all? Peace efforts by raising an army?

Isaiah 59:8 The way of peace they know not; and [there is] no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. 9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, [but] we walk in darkness. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if [we had] no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; [we are] in desolate places as dead [men]. 11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but [there is] none; for salvation, [but] it is far off from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions [are] with us; and [as for] our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he [that] departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw [it], and it displeased him that [there was] no judgment.

Isn’t this a description of the circumstances of today? All these words of Isaiah 59 and Testimonies vol. 1 p. 268 are encompassed in those words:

Very great troubles are coming upon the world, and the powers of Satan are stirring with intensity the powers from beneath to work suffering, disaster, and ruin. His work is to create all the misery upon human beings that is possible. The earth is the scene of his action, {TMK 284.2}

Here is the misery that was launched out by Satan during the First and Second World Wars. This dreadful consequence of First and Second World War periods has thrown the whole world into such disarray that that which is today termed as PTS – Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome – has affected the whole society. It has affected me in my home; and as I look around, I see it in every family. No matter how bold a face they like to keep, behind there is the effect of war upon their lives.

My father came back from Russian prison camp, and he suffered from PTS, because he himself had a father who in the First World War was affected by that. His father was an alcoholic, and was violent, and my father’s family was in a disrupted state, nervously affected. As for my mother’s side, four of her brothers were lost in war. The terrible effect upon the emotional life gave scars which I grew with thinking it was normal.

With the escalating wars that we live in today, the national instability, the consequential beliefs that have altered, the faith that people used to have has been altered by the cruelty of the nations, and people who have believed in God have finally given up on God, because if the God of the Bible has permitted this to happen, what sort of a God is He? Therefore people have many different religions today that have splintered out from the original. People are confused; they are in darkness over faith. As for the families: marriage and family break-ups – it’s everywhere. Darkness. Gross darkness. Thickening darkness. People are roaring like bears. Their souls are roaring; they are mourning over the disrupted circumstances where nothing is secure anymore. Their own transgressions, their own mistakes that they have made under pressure, are all a guilt-trip that takes them even more into darkness. Then to find judgment in this madness is so impossible; the way of peace is not known. Judgment is turned away backward – how can the judges judge correctly today? It’s just blackness out there. Truth is fallen in the streets – of course, because the truth that was once held is no longer held; it’s fallen in the streets with all the corruption around us. People don’t even know what truth is anymore. There is a gross darkness.

For many of the young people today, suicide is rampant because they don’t see any purpose for life, with all the madness around them. Is there any hope? Is there any light that can pierce this madness around us, that we have grown up in? Is there hope for anyone?

Light to the Upright

Psalm 112:4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: [he is] gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

God, in the midst of this, can still be found to be compassionate, gracious and righteous. To whom? To the upright. Unto the upright, in this madness, there may arise light in the darkness. It doesn’t make sense, does it? But God who can bring light out of darkness, can bring that to the upright; and the upright can pierce through the darkness. What is the key here? Why can light arise in the darkness unto the upright? Why to them? Why not to the others? What will the upright do in this darkness? What quality do they possess to deal with this thickening darkness that prevails, where everything is a dead-end road, where everything is dark and gets blacker and blacker?

Proverbs 4:11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.

What should you do?

Proverbs 4:13 Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life. 14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil [men]. 15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

This is the instruction to the people who will listen. What is written afterwards?

Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked [is] as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

In this world of darkness the path of the wicked is that darkness which we have delved upon. But to the just light ariseth in the darkness. The upright are just. What is it that the just have so that their light can shine in darkness and get brighter and brighter, instead of falling deeper into the darkness around them? What is it that the just have that they can live in this darkness? This is the question, Can you live in the oppressive darkness and be happy? If you are just you will.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

To the upright, those whose soul is not lifted up, to the just, light ariseth in the darkness because they live by their faith. Here is a practical answer to dealing with the darkness. In this darkness the just live by their faith. Let us see how practical this faith really is. There are many ceremonial, religious people around us, and to be ceremoniously religious is of no avail.

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Circumcision is a ceremonial activity. And together with many other ceremonies circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision. People can have ceremonial religion and yet still be in the darkness. But what avails in this dark world? Faith which works by love.

Faith Piercing the Darkness

A faith which works by love is a faith that can pierce the darkness because it will do something:

Let us not look at the hellish work of the powers of darkness until hope and courage shall fail. Jesus lives, and we must let our faith pierce the blackness . . . and rest in the light, rejoice in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. {TMK 284.3}

Can you see the darkness around you and be happy? Can you be happy in the darkness? “Rest in the light, rejoice in the light of the Sun of Righteousness.” In the darkness our faith is to be functioning. How does it function? It works by love – and this is talking about the love of God, because faith is a gift that comes from God, and it works by the love of God. If we will be just, then as we occupy our mind with the thoughts of God, we will close the windows of the soul earthward, away from the darkness, and we will open them heavenward.

Let us not look at the hellish work of the powers of darkness until hope and courage shall fail – Do you naturally do that? Do you naturally look at the darkness around you until it gets the better of you? Have you done that sometimes? The hellish work of Satan, as we are dwelling in it, is such that I can look at all the miserable things that have been happening to my father, and to my mother, and I heard them telling stories from the war, and when they talked of the war issues where God was in their life, it was encouraging, but then when they would talk of other things and I permitted my mind to go down the path of the horrible things that they were experiencing, it was darkness. Then I saw, as I looked at the darkness, as I looked at my father’s responses in the family with his PTS, as I looked at my circumstances, I became reactive. I despised my father, forgetting that he was suffering PTS – Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome. He was suffering not only from the stress of the war, but from the stress of his own father who committed suicide. And as my father received the inheritance of the genetic makeup of his father and mother, and passed it on to me, and I then looked at all the darkness, I could not be happy. But I thank God for Jesus, upon whom I looked, and He could lift my heart and make me buoyant in the midst of the darkness.

It is not easy to live a joyful, buoyant life in today’s circumstances if we look at the darkness! What does your mind do? What do you permit your mind to be occupied with? If you look at the darkness it will take you down. Therefore, let us not look at the hellish work of the powers of darkness until hope and courage shall fail. I have heard it being expressed, where the language was, by looking at themselves and at the negatives, “What hope have I got? I’m never going to change. I’m going to be like this. I haven’t got a hope of salvation.” Why are we saying that? Because we are looking at the hellish work of the devil, that is surrounding us. We can’t help but see it; but what are we to do in the darkness?

…let us rejoice, let us be glad. Let us not look at the hellish work of the powers of darkness until hope and courage shall fail. Jesus lives, and we must let our faith pierce the blackness . . . and rest in the light, rejoice in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. {TMK 284.3}

Even there in my experience, I had to battle through the false suggestions of Jesus Christ and His righteousness, the false doctrines that Jesus was not altogether sinful flesh like us. I had to realise that, He did come into my sinful flesh, and He did experience the darkness that I am suffering under! He experienced the guilt and all the ugly scenes around Him, but He broke through the darkness. There He was at the cross, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? The darkness was so oppressive; but what did He do? His faith pierced through the darkness. He remembered what God was like, and although the darkness was there so heavy and He felt condemned by His Father, He trusted the Father’s mercy, and He broke through the darkness. As He broke through that, and cried out, It is finished! there was a light that was all around Him. This is my Jesus, and through having His faith the light can pierce through the darkness. It is for us to explore, to gaze upon, and to look at.

Jesus lives to make intercession for us. While the blackness and darkness are closing about the world, our lives are only secure as they are hid with Christ in God. Precious Saviour! In Him alone are our hopes of eternal life to be centered. We will then talk faith, talk hope, talk courage, and diffuse light on every side. “Ye are,” saith Christ, “the light of the world. A city . . . set on an hill. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may . . . glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). {TMK 284.4}

We are to pierce the darkness.

Faith must pierce the darkest cloud. Simple, earnest trust in God will glorify His name, and in that trust you may be all light in the Lord. Praise the Lord. Praise Him, and glorify God for His matchless love. {TMK 284.4}

Faith that works by loveHis matchless love. These words call for action of mind and deliberation of those who are upright. We are called upon to not look and explore the darkness and let it continue to thicken in our mind until it blots out all hope. We are to gaze upon Jesus in the darkness. There is Jesus, meeting the darkness, and we can meet it ourselves, we know it’s around us, we can see it, we can listen to what is going on around us, and yet not be in the darkness; because as we listen, as we look, as we notice what is happening, we do not function according to the seeing of the eyes, or the hearing of the ears. Inside of us there is a light that penetrates everything we hear and see. There is something there in Jesus that the just will practice – faith that works by love.

There is an example of faith in action which is given in the books of 2 Chronicles. Here is this very dark experience, the Moabites and Ammonites were coming to destroy and conquer Judah, and Jehoshaphat the king was trying to help his people. Look at what he says as they have to meet this darkness:

2 Chronicles 20:20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

They had nothing good to look at, but Jehoshaphat pierced through the darkness, and he said, Believe in the Lord your God! believe His prophets! These words are for us now in today’s darkness. What is prophecy? What happens if you believe the prophecy and study it carefully? What do we begin to see in the darkness? We see Jesus and Gabriel, we see God at work. Believe the prophets. What will prophecy do if we take heed to it? This is the action of faith, to believe the prophets.

2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

In the darkness the face of Jesus in the dark heart begins to lighten the heart. What does the just person do? He lives by faith. He believes the prophets; He believes God; He believes Jesus. We have read Habakkuk 2:4 already, but look at the context of this scripture:

Habakkuk 2:2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make [it] plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 3 For the vision [is] yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

It is to do with the vision. It is to do with the vision that seems to tarry. Right through Daniel 11 you can see the vision. It looks like nothing is happening, it gets darker and darker; into the papacy, it gets darker and darker; then to the First and Second World War, darker still; and it gets darks into the very terrible scene of the Islamic world today. It’s all there; but look at the vision, believe the prophecy. What does it say? It will surely come, it will not tarry, and if you are not lifted up, you will see the light in the darkness.

It is a faith that believes the prophets; a faith that believes in our Lord in practical reality, in perfect trust for everything that is illuminated to it; a faith that occupies its mind with the thought that God is working in the darkness. As you realise what God is like and that He is working in the darkness, the light comes in the darkness. You see, you can understand it, and it begins to thrill your soul! You can’t help but be happy, because you are not looking at the darkness. You are looking at the light in the darkness. What is the light? Jesus, Gabriel, working together. It thrills your soul! That is what faith is to do. Faith is to work.

The Lord hears and answers prayer. He lays upon us no burden greater than we can bear in his strength and by his grace. In every time of need he is a present help. O that we might have faith to ask him for strength according to our great need. Faith is the hand by which we grasp the hand of the mighty Helper. God’s promises are sure. Why should we not take him at his word? {GH, December 10, 1902 par. 4}

What is faith? Faith is something that you must exercise. It is a hand that gets hold of the hand of God. But there is no physical hand there; it is what you do with your mind. It is what you do with your heart. Inside of our heart we will decide not to look at the darkness until we have no hope, but to look at God behind the darkness. As the hymns goes, Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. The surrounding providence around us might be black as cold darkness, but yet the face is light behind. This is what faith reaches out for, and it pierces the darkness and looks at the light. This is an exercise that you and I must put into action. Our hand of faith must grasp this in the darkness. But we have all the practicalities of understanding as we look at what it means to believe the prophets and believe His word. We must take Him at His word.

Taking God at His Word

That is a very important exercise of mind.

The Holy Ghost is the author of the Scriptures and of the Spirit of Prophecy. These are not to be twisted and turned to mean what man may want them to mean, to carry out man’s ideas and sentiments, to carry forward man’s schemes at all hazards. {2MR 189.2}

What do people do today with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy? We are to take God at His word. What does that mean? We are not to twist it and turn its meaning to what may be pleasant to us; because if we do that we will create darkness, because then we are not interpreting God from His interpretation but from ours, and that is darkness.

The priests and rulers had been deceived, as Satan meant them to be, into believing that Christ came out of Galilee. Some who knew that he was born in Bethlehem, kept silent, that the falsehood might not be robbed of its power (MS 33, 1911). {5BC 1136.5}

People will twist the truth according to what they want it to be. They knew that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem, but they kept silent, that the falsehood might not be robbed of its power. This is what people do with the Scriptures. Therefore we are to guard closely to take God at His word, and the light will be there. Christ being born in Bethlehem, that was light to the people who believed it.

During this time of discouraging darkness in which we are living today, and which is besetting every one of us, I pray the Lord will give us memory of this contemplation, so that the moment that the darkness wells up in our mind, the moment that things you are looking at grab you by the throat and want to stifle your light and joy, you will pierce it by the practice of what we have been reading here. Let your spiritual hand take hold of God. Look up out of the darkness to the One whom you know is literally behind the darkness, orchestrating it. This is the faith that Jesus exercised in the darkness, at the cross; it was horribly dark, but He exercised His faith and He broke the darkness. What are we to do? We are to exercise our faith. Whose faith is it to be? The announcement of Revelation 14:12 is very timely for us in practice:

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints:

Patience in the darkness, to wait for it to take its course;

Revelation 14:12 …here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

A faith that works by love, a faith that remembers the love of God and pierces the darkness, and pursues a trust in God, a faith that takes hold of the hand of God and walks buoyantly in the darkness.

Jesus lives to make intercession for us. While the blackness and darkness are closing about the world, {TMK 284.4}

Is that what is happening? Absolutely. Wherever you look, it is closing in. You can see people who haven’t got hope around us. Some of these people are those whom we are associated with. We can see our loved ones, our children, are going downhill in the darkness.

While the blackness and darkness are closing about the world, our lives are only secure as they are hid with Christ in God. Precious Saviour! In Him alone are our hopes of eternal life to be centered. We will then talk faith, talk hope, talk courage, and diffuse light on every side. {TMK 284.4}

If I talk negatively, am I talking courage? If I talk about the negatives around me, am I talking faith, am I talking hope? Not at all. If I talk of anything around me, let it be the talk of how Jesus conquered that darkness.

Faith must pierce the darkest cloud. Simple, earnest trust in God will glorify His name, and in that trust you may be all light in the Lord. Praise the Lord. Praise Him, and glorify God for His matchless love. {TMK 284.4}

Amen.

Posted on January 26, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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