Light and Dark– Genesis 15
As I have read this chapter I get the idea that this may be more than one day! But I will start in verse 12 with the phrase “as the sun was setting”. So, it was not dark yet! Abram fell into a sleep, a deep sleep. The next phrase and/or idea is associated with God several times “thick and dreadful darkness”. (NIV) Not only is it at night but God adds darkness. Verse 17 continues with physical darkness and another light the “firepot and torch” they are a symbol of God’s presence. All of this ceremony was the making of the covenant between God and Abram. This indicates a deeper relationship between the two parties.
Three– We have a heifer, a goat, and a ram each three years old. Yes, there were two birds also. These are most of the animals that would make up the sacrifices under the Law.
End and Start – Enoch and Noah were the last two men that we are told God communicated/fellowshipped with. So, God started a new era in His dealings with man and ended a period of silence. Other thought could be He ended His search for a people to make His own and started a journey with Abram.
FURTHER THOUGHT– Use a concordance or Bible Gateway and find the references of darkness associated with God.
Light and Dark– Exodus 10
Dark and light here are part of the plagues before Passover. In Wonders that Plagued Egypt and Reflections on Judgement I cover some of the plagues but there is so much to learn and see. In studying this time, I noticed that Moses was directed to confront Pharaoh early in the morning. This darkness was special – it could be felt! Ra, their sun god, had bowed before the God of Israel. (I have been in dark places that set your nerves on edge, but I have never felt darkness.) When Moses started asking for physical possessions I am sure Egypt was ready to give them anything to get rid of the People.
Three– It stayed dark for three days. These three days speak to the time Jesus was in the grave. I hope that I am not squeezing this to fit my ideas, but you need to think before these days fit into the tomb. Israel was in the light, Egypt was in darkness. Jesus was in His glorified body walking through hell getting the keys back, the disciples were in the “dark” about what really happened to Jesus!
End and Start – There are several things that are happening here, so there are multiple endings and starts. I see this as God ending His “playing nice” with Pharaoh. I think the people of Egypt had had enough and wanted the People gone. What started was God’s direct attack on Pharaoh and his son. Ra was the sun god and major deity for Egypt, and the pharaoh was his son and physical form on earth. It is also the second time (? – the plague of gnats 8: 16) that God did not tell Moses to go to Pharaoh to warn him of what was coming. Pharaoh had to call for Moses, then he was warned of the last plague. (Khepri was the gnat god and the god of creation, moving the sun, and rebirth.) Slavery was ending and freedom about to begin. Worshipping Egypt ended and worshipping Jehovah was beginning.
FURTHER THOUGHT– What gods do you need to leave in the dark so you can live, better, in the light of Jesus.
Light and Dark – A Pattern to Explore
A pattern that has become plain in studying light and dark is that God starts with dark and moves to light. Another ingredient present in many of my examples is “three”, three of something makes up part of the story. I have taken this as a reminder of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (A note to myself and the reader – It is Jesus that is important, not the pattern.) Also, these vignettes may mark the “end and start” of something.
The most enduring of the examples is “day”. By God’s timekeeping day starts at dark and ends with the light of the afternoon. (See Time)
Genesis 1 and John 1
In the beginning there was dark and God spoke for light to appear. I listed John 1 because it puts Jesus in the Genesis 1 story with the Father and the Holy Spirit. (See Light and Dark #2) Please, for a moment put aside your thoughts on Creation and join the Father on this remarkable stage.
Three– The Trinity is above a blank, water-covered, darkened world. The Spirit, the breath of God, is waiting to trouble the waters. The Father turns to Jesus, “Become the Light of the world.” The Spirit exhales as Jesus radiates a blinding brilliance. Darkness, spiritual and physical, bow and retreat from the glory. This picture shares things with Day of Pentecost – the wind and flames appearing (light).
End and Start– Genesis 1 marks the start of our age. What had ended, we are not told, but there was a dark water-covered world.
FURTHER THOUGHT – Write your “dark to light” experience. It may be your testimony.
Okay, I do tend to label things characters that are not breathing (Light and Dark) but if you look past a small group of mud houses there is much to warrant Bethlehem’s inclusion as a character and not just a setting. Go past the town to see Judah- the land and family. Judah as a tribe is singled out by Jacob to be the ruler of his brothers in Genesis 49: 8-12. Moses continues that thought in Deuteronomy 33: 7. (The inheritance of the tribe of Simeon is completely inside that of Judah.) The first mention of Bethlehem is connected to the burial of Rachel after the birth of Benjamin – Genesis 35 + 48.
Bethlehem is mentioned in twelve Old Testament books and three in the New Testament. It is used 52 times in the NIV – 44 and 8. It is part of three stories in Judges – Chapters 12, 17, 19. It is central in the story of Ruth and thus becomes the birthplace of King David.
The prophet Micah (5: 2) delivers the message that ties Bethlehem to Christmas and that verse is used in Matthew 2 by the priest to direct the Wise Men. That chapter is very prophetic, take some time and read it. Micah did write this word of hope during a trouble time in Israel.
The song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is a real Gospel praise song if you will read all four of its verses. The link below was a good site – history, quizzes, other carols.
I would like to treat Bethlehem, now as Joseph/the Tribe of Judah. (Please bear with this strange study method.) If we compare and contrast Joseph with Bethlehem and Judah/Israel/religion there are several things worth noting.
- Judah had lost its prophetic position as ruler. (True, King Jesus was coming, but Herod had questionable Jewish heritage; Rome was in charge; the Chief Priest may have been controlling things outside the Temple). Zerubbabel (governor in Haggai and Zechariah), a type and ancestor of Jesus, may have been the last powerful governor in Judah.
- Bethlehem had no room except a stable, Joseph was going to put Mary away, Jerusalem was troubled when they found out about Jesus. Jesus was not a welcomed!
- An angel had to appear to Joseph to change his mind, angels appeared to shepherds to change the mind of Bethlehem to welcome the Family. Jerusalem, not sure it ever changed its mind.
Other thoughts about the Christmas story:
- We honor Mary because she was blessed and God did great things for her (Luke 1: 48, 49). But I wonder who God picked first – Joseph or Mary? Father God tends to start with the man and then add the women to complete the work. Even though the women may be introduced first in the story and is the central character who is considered first? Okay to answer my own question – it seems the couples are paired to complement each other. Ruth is a role model but Boaz was the only one in the family willing to marry her! Mary was the willing vessel but Joseph was needed to care and protect her and Jesus.
- Considering travel and Mary’s condition after childbirth the circumcision of Jesus probably occurred at Bethlehem. Then on the way back to Nazareth, they went to Jerusalem for the dedication of Jesus at the end of the forty days. (The rule here is in Exodus 13, Numbers 8 and 18, the time was set in Leviticus 12: 8.) The other possibility is they stayed in Bethlehem for two years but that means Joseph still had a house and business in Nazareth.
- When Herod searched for the baby Jesus I would have no doubt that Bethlehem would have given up the Family once they learned who the soldiers were looking for. The shepherds and the possibility of the thirty to forty-day stay would have been mentioned to try and save their sons. It would also make sense that the “records” were searched and the death squad went to Nazareth. Herod was not just mean but crazy and jealous for his power.
- Jeremiah 31 does not mention Bethlehem weeping for the children. He prophesied Ramah and Rachel (yes, she was buried near there) which could extend the murders well past Bethlehem. Rachel’s family was Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. She was also the “loved” wife which could bring another level into this thought.
- I know that Joseph taking the Family to Egypt was necessary. So, I am glad he was not like Simon Peter in his early days. With all of the hype from the shepherds they could have started a revolution. That would not have been good for the Prince of Peace!
FURTHER THOUGHT – Compare Joseph (in Matthew and Luke) to Joseph in Genesis.
https://www.carols.org.uk/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.htm a nice website covering Christmas carols
The Light, this year has been on my mind – the Star and the Light.
The Star– There is no end of ideas about the Star of Bethlehem. I have given one this year in the post Light and Dark. Well, here is another thought. I can get wrapped up in the time frame that Herod used when he killed the Innocents of Bethlehem, two years. Since Herod was just mean he may have cushioned that number to make sure the Magi were not lying.
We use Christmas Day for when the Star/Light appeared. What if we have the Star appearing when Mary was told she would bear the Son (That was the actual birth.)! I like to think that it was Gabriel standing guard over the Child. If you are hung-up on time that would add nine months to the “great light” shining over the land of Galilee and those living in the “shadow of death”. This helps the travel time of the Wise Men since we do not know where they started from.
The Light– JESUS, noh darkness no shadow, wants you to be part of the light. He surrounds you, envelops you so there is no shadow or darkness. I tend to think of light as having a point source, like the sun or a candle. But if we are “found in Christ” why can’t we be completely enveloped in Light? No part of us would make or cast a shadow. The darkness that covered Egypt could be felt, it makes you wonder if light can be felt? If darkness can cause fear and uncertainity, light surely would be the opposite and bring perfect peace!