And God said, Let there be Light: and there was Light. And God saw the Light, that it was good: and God divided the Light from the darkness. And God called the Light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Gen 1:3-5 (KJV)
The first 3 verses of Scripture, as compared to II Corinthians 4:6, are themselves the subject of an entirely separate study, for in the first Acts of Creation Jehovah establishes His template for His work of redemption in the human heart. However, that particular parallel is not the subject of this study. In this analysis, we concern ourselves with the concept of “Evening, then morning.”
A counter-intuitive reversal
The 5th verse of Genesis contains the first mention of the word “morning” in the Holy Scriptures. However, as early as this word appears, its particular mention is preceded by mention of “evening.” I never realized it until I saw it in a video sent me by a friend, but in Creation, and indeed throughout the first chapter of the Scriptures, God chronicled the days as starting from evening and then proceeding to morning. Now, we should pay attention to that. From the beginning of Time on earth, the human experience has been, is, and forever will be about a journey, not from Light to darkness, but from darkness to Light, from death to Resurrection, from sickness to Healing, and ultimately from sin to everlasting Redemption. This journey is what Jehovah primarily concerns Himself with in His dealings with us, His creatures. He alludes to it, as we have seen, in the first three verses of Scripture. If it is possible to think of God as being passionate, then He is passionate about this. Frankly, by the Third Chapter of Genesis, the entire Plan of Redemption has been set out on God’s great canvas.
Likewise, in our primitive dealings with Jehovah as His frail creatures, we must remember this to be the case: that He is primarily concerned about our transition from the evenings of our lives, to our mornings. I do not mean this in a shallow, financial, materialistic way. I mean this primarily as it concerns our souls, and secondarily our health: we come to Him in our nights, and He makes them our mornings; we come to Him in our darknesses, and He floods them with His Light; we come to Him in our moral and our physical sicknesses, and He inundates us with His Healing.
The order of our approach to God
As human beings, who are deeply conscious of our sin, there is a natural desire to want to get clean, and then face God. This is futile. It is futile because it is a morning-then-evening approach. The darkness in our lives necessary precedes the Light, for we are all “shapen in iniquity” (Psalms 51:5). We are personally, intrinsically incapable of the cleansing needed to stand before God. A short while spent merely observing God in His temple in Heaven caused Isaiah, a God-called Prophet, to cry out “Woe is me!” (The exclamation mark is Scriptural, by the way.) What we are forever trying to do in attempting a morning-then-evening approach is impossible, for it is part of our very constitution as humans, part of the very fabric of our nature and makeup, that we are sinful. We are as dirty as mud. And we are as able to free ourselves of our sinful nature by our own agency as we are able to wash the dirt out of a pile of mud. Where you have the mud, there you have the dirt. You throw the dirt away, the mud goes with it. You say: “I’ll let the dirt settle at the bottom.” You walk away, and come back, and somehow the mud has settled with it. You could wait on that mud 50 years and nothing would change. Why? The mud, you see, is dirty. The dirt is in the mud. If you could get the dirt out, it wouldn’t be mud any more. But it is mud, so it is dirty! It can’t be anything else but dirty, because it’s mud. And so it is with us and sin. We are human, and so we are sinful.
Now, the desire to be right and pure and holy is not wrong. It is God-given, and it is what drives us to seek. It is in our methods that we often falter. The first steps in coming to God cannot be puny, frantic attempts at self-cleansing; no. It was God Who spoke the first Light into the pre-existing darkness, and it is God Who must speak the Light into the darknesses of our own lives.
It was while yet in the pig-pen that the prodigal said: “I will arise, and go to my Father.” Darkness. He arrived at his Father’s house with the stench of the swine upon him, and still clad in his filthy, pigherder’s clothes. Darkness. Finally he stood in the august Presence of his Father, with all the tell-tale signs and smells of what he had been doing and the life that he had been living glaringly apparent. Darkness. For “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” But it was his confession of his sins – an agreement with his Father’s assessment of him – that caused his Father to say: “Bring the best robe.” Light. Evening, thus, preceded morning in this instance as well. We need to realize that we are as incapable of clothing ourselves with holiness as that penniless pigherd was of buying a new robe. We are about as worthy of a clean new robe as he was, too. As long as we think this robe is something we have to get before even starting the journey towards our Father, or even standing in His Presence, so long shall we discover by frustrated experience that “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)
In like fashion, the publican in the Temple (as contrasted with the Pharisee) shows us that we need not be afraid that our current state is unpalatable to God. In the first, God knows it already (I feel the need to stress again the pressing, present need for present agreement with God about present status). And in the second, to pretend our state is different from what both He and we really know it to be is to be dishonest. Both men went to church. Both men prayed in the same Temple. Both men prayed to the same God. Both men’s prayers were heard. But one was in darkness, and knew himself to be so, whilst the other stood in pretended light:
And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [with God’s approval / absolved from guilt / declared righteous] rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Luke 18:9-14 (KJV)
Righteousness and cleansing is something freely given by God when we come to Him, shorn of pretence, insensate of any pretensions to righteousness, and with a certain effective helplessness (not equal with a lack of faith) about our ability to cleanse ourselves. We must agree with His assessment of our lives as shown in His Word. We must make an end of struggling to appear presentable before Him. We must lastly submit to His own intervention. The rest – speaking Light into darkness – is God’s business. After which we shall stand where Paul stood, when he said:
For God, Who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Cor 4:6 (KJV)
God’s attitude about all this
We have seen, above, that Jehovah has concerned Himself with the translation of mere, mortal, ordinary men and women from darkness to Light as per Colossians 1:13 & I Peter 2:9 (to the consternation of men of God in times past per Job 7:17 & Psalms 8:4). You ask: “Is this really for me? How can God want This for me, after all I’ve been to Him and all I’ve done…? I have been too bad and too wicked and too insensate to His call for far too long for me to matter to God.”
Or maybe mentally, you’re looking around and saying: “Surely this was meant for folks like Paul, or Peter and them. But This kind of Thing just doesn’t happen any more.”
Or perhaps you have a bit more faith and can say: “This is meant for Pastor so-and-so in church, Pastors need This kind of Thing. Or so-and-so in that other church, they’re far more deserving than I am. How can I really be the one that all This was meant for?”
Or maybe you’re saying: “Is it God’s will? How can I know God wants it for me? Does God want me to have that that kind of access to His glorious salvation? Is God still interested? “
The Scripture below describes what God’s attitude is to us, and He has never changed it from the day He spoke it to this minute when you are reading it. It is as He Himself stated in His commission to Paul. When God sent Paul to preach the Gospel, these were His aims:
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to Light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.
Acts 26:16-18 (KJV)
There are no exceptions in that Commission. He wants it for you. Do you want it, for Him?