Manufactured Light

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), July 25

“Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no imageslight? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—this you shall have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment” (Is. 50:10-11).

During the days of Isaiah’s ministry, Judah experiences darkness because they live independently of God. Instead of turning to God, they turn to idolatry to manufacture feelings of spirituality. Instead of listening to the Word, they act on their feelings and in unbelief. Instead of waiting patiently on God, they act hastily to get what they want. Isaiah warns of two types of darkness in Isaiah 50:10-11:

  1. The darkness experienced by those who refuse to repent of their sin. Theirs is a dark world where idolatry forms the illusion of light.
  2. The darkness experienced by those whom the Lord seeks to wean from trusting in their emotions, to walking with God by faith. Isaiah writes to comfort those who are presently trusting God. The text speaks to those who “fear the LORD, who obey the voice of His Servant.” These believers who love God and His Word still face the darkness of hard times as their contemporaries abandon God in search of other things. This darkness is a darkness of direction, not of disobedience; a darkness of solitariness, not of sin. How are they to respond to this darkness?

The way of feelings: feelings invite believers to try to help God out—as Sarai did when she offered Hagar to Abram—by kindling their own fire, by manufacturing their own activity. Feelings produce all kinds of “justifiable” and religious activity. People seek light in this darkness, and the light of feelings and “doing something” produces immediate sparks, providing a feeling of direction a sense of light and heat. The consequences of this fire, however, are ultimately deception and “torment” (v. 11).

God’s way—the way of faith: faith that trusts in the last Word God has given. Such faith walks into the darkness, trusting that God will guide in His time and is present even when it “feels” as if He is absent. When God’s people “trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon His God” (v. 10), they may feel nothing, but they honor God and receive eventual guidance and peace as they wait on Him.
Those who have walked with God and experienced His intimacy and presence have also felt stranded and abandoned by Him. Darkness requires faith—and faith is Word-based and character-based (God’s good character).

Faith is driven by what knowing what God has said and staying dependent on Him until He fulfills what He has promised. People without an accurate view of God and an understanding of His ways either despair completely or try to manufacture His presence. They are sight- and feelings-dependent.

Isaiah’s warning reveals several important truths about the sometimes dark walk:

  • Not all darkness is sin-based.
  • Darkness offers God’s people an opportunity to develop or mature their faith muscle.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible teaching (Is. 48:12-22; 49-51; 52:1-12):

What analogies does Isaiah use to describe God’s love for His people?
What role was the Servant to have in the life of Israel?