Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights when we glorify the God of Light who has brought light into the world through His son, the Messiah. However, the opposite of light is darkness and distress. You may not know this but it was God who created darkness, agony and sorrow (Is 45:7). Therefore, darkness is what I encourage you to consider.
An unfortunate Christian theology about the automatic forgiveness of sins led to this question that was recently asked in a web blog. “What is left for God to judge if all of our sins have been taken away?” Even more startling, I heard a comment recently that “as long as we believe we can do as we damn well please.” The theology of the rapture has encouraged this harmful thinking by declaring that all Christian believers will be raptured before the Great Tribulation and before God’s judgment that will follow. Furthermore, if all believers are saved as Christian theology promotes (rightly so, I believe, as a promise of something future, but how and when is not well understood) then some have concluded that the only purpose for the coming judgment is rewards, or failure to receive rewards (which I suggest is incorrect).
Both the Old and New Testaments explain that all of God’s people must be judged by God at the time of the future judgment. I will cite a verse from the NT first since many Christians think that judgment will only be for unbelievers. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). Now listen to a verse from the OT. “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity” (Prov 21:15). The Hebrew word translated “iniquity” is אָוֶן (aven), which means those who bring about distress, harm, sorrow or trouble. That is what sin does, so God’s judgement will bring terror to sinners whose lives promote these consequences.
The question becomes, “Who is righteous?” The answer certainly excludes many Christian believers. As you know, I have concluded from my study of Scripture that the “righteous” will be the remnant. Contemplate this psalm, which is in a chiastic construction. Then consider the questions that follow.
A1 Depart from evil and do good so you will abide forever.
B1 For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones.
B2 They are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
A2 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. Ps. 37:27-29
1. In A1, who will abide forever?
2. Considering the two parallel A-lines, who will abide forever and inherit the land?
3. In B1, who are the righteous who are called godly ones?
You will be able to answer these questions, but there is one point that needs clarification. If you search the Scriptures you will find that “cut off” in B2 does not mean eternal death but “separation” from both God and God’s people.
“Separation” is the key word if you want to understand the concept of “darkness” as it applies to the coming judgment, that is, God’s selection of who will be judged and how. Although God created both light and darkness, He “separated the light from the darkness” (Gen 1:4). Therefore, since God is light, when we are in darkness we are separated from God. Don’t deceive yourselves. We are in darkness whenever we sin, and we are only separated from darkness when we are walking in righteousness.
Now listen to a commonly misunderstood verse in the Gospel of Matthew. These are words of encouragement directed by Yeshua to a Roman centurion, who was a pagan Gentile with faith in Yeshua. Take special note of the conjunction “but” that creates a contrast, and the following phrase “sons of the kingdom”.
“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;
“But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 8:11-12
“Sons of the kingdom” are children of God, and many of these children will be cast out into outer darkness, which symbolizes separation from God. Cast out of what? I suggest they will be cast out of the coming Millennial Kingdom, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth metaphorically represents their agony at not being included.
The purpose of my encouraging you to reflect on darkness during the Festival of Lights is so you will consider any darkness in your life that is separating you from God. At the same time I urge you to consider the purpose of walking in the light of God, which will not only bring blessings to you now as well as the future but will also glorify God (capital letters are citations from the Hebrew Scriptures).
You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Pet. 2:9
Walking in God’s marvelous light is not guaranteed, but takes a firm commitment to grow in righteous living. Yes, you have been called out of darkness to His marvelous light, but to what extent are you answering the call?