A Definition of Darkness

Hebrew uses what are called chiastic structures as a form of poetry. A chiastic structure is when two statements are made, each one being slightly different that one another (or opposites), and thus bringing greater definition to one another. It might be sentences, or it could be words or phrases. For example, we read in Psalm 97 that “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.” In this statement, we see the comparison of the heavens proclaiming and the people seeing. Therefore, the righteousness of God is also being compared with God’s glory. Psalm 1 ends with the verse, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Notice in this verse the comparison of the righteous and the wicked – opposites. The righteous are protected, for the Lord watches over their way. But the wicked perish.

In Genesis 1:2, we find a chiastic structure. “Darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.” The Spirit is being cross-compared with the darkness. Because the word for “deep” and the word for “waters” are being likened to one another, the word for darkness and the word for Spirit are being likened to one another. That is not to say they are synonymous. The author is saying something about God. His Spirit has some sort of a positive relation to darkness. This quick hint that is very subtle gives us a bit of a tip off. Why did God not completely purge heaven and earth of the darkness? We find various Scriptures that might help us to understand. In Exodus 20, Moses draw’s near to the “thick darkness” where God was. 2 Samuel 22:12 states that God made thick darkness, dark waters, and thick clouds His pavilion. The Lord speaks to Solomon in 1 Kings 8:12 and says that He will dwell in the thick darkness. Psalm 97:2 says that clouds and thick darkness surround God.

God seems to be found in the thick darkness. So why would God keep the darkness at the beginning? Is it possible that God created humanity pure, but even that purity and innocence cold not protect Adam from the glory and the light that God is? At the end of the Bible, we find that the people of the city of God are in the midst of the light of God, but there are a people outside of that city that are being ruled over. Is it possible that even with purity we cannot see God and live? Does it take something more substantial than purity? What I’m getting at is that maybe it was a mercy of God to allow the darkness to continue for a season. Adam needed to take of the fruit of the tree of life before he could see God and live. The life that the tree of life offered was the only thing that could cause Adam to see God face-to-face and live.

If this were true, then God would need to clothe Himself in darkness. He would need to cover Himself as mercy so He could walk with Adam in the Garden. There would come a day when God could dwell with mankind and not need to disguise himself or cover His majesty. The Scripture shows this to be heaven. If we desire to know why God would not just make us so that we could behold Him, then we lack understanding of His essential character. It is and always has been the pattern of God (even from Genesis 1) to bring forth from a lesser glory into the greater glory. This is why resurrection is so crucial to the Christian faith. It is not about the first state of something that we should pay attention to. We ought to pay attention to the details of how God chooses. He chooses the weak and foolish to confound the wise. He takes the thing in darkness and chaos and starts bringing light and order into it. This is the pattern set up from the beginning – who are we to challenge God?

Adam was made from the dust of the earth. He was made pure – undefiled. Corruption was brought into Him from deception. The very darkness that was intended for Adam’s good was thus used as a power to destroy the relationship between God and man. This point is pivotal. Adam was created undefiled, but that purity and innocence was not enough to see God. Adam needed something else – something greater than innocence and human righteousness – to see God as He is. He needed incorruptibility.

The reason I belabor this point is because Adam was not intended from the beginning to remain in that condition. God made Adam pure. That is true. But God intended that Adam would be more than pure. God intended Adam to experience the fullness of His self. We can know that because we can read the end of the Bible to see humanity and God coexisting together. We can see the ultimate intention that there would be no darkness. It isn’t necessary any longer. People can behold the Lord as He is.

So when we look at Adam, we should not see him as something that we should go back to being. Rather, we ought to view him as corruptible. He was corrupted. But there is a glory that God is bringing into humanity that would make them incorruptible. Where darkness at one point had opportunity to defile mankind and bring sin, there is coming the time where darkness has no power and sin is nonexistent. We have not attained to that glory, but just because we have not attained to it now does not mean it was not intended by God at the beginning, nor that we should not strive toward such an end.

Adam’s first state, even though it is pure, is not what we should behold as ultimate. It is the penultimate. God created the world in darkness, chaos, and shapelessness so that He could reform it into something that looks utterly different. Likewise, God created Adam first pure, then peaceable. Though Adam’s first nature was pure and undefiled, it was not the ultimate glory that God was going to bring to humanity. God was going to remake humanity to greater degrees of His likeness.

But if I understand anything from Scripture it is that God intends to work with humanity. It is very possible that God had intentions to work with His creation in driving back and expelling the darkness. The ultimate intention was for all of His creation to work together – led by humanity as co-rulers with God – to expel the creation of darkness. But still, there needed to be something to happen to that humanity. It is not that Adam was fallen. It is that no created thing can behold God and survive. The whole of creation would need to be made into something more glorious. And that doesn’t happen because God simply remakes it. That only comes about by a certain kind of cleansing.

The whole of Scripture (and especially eschatology) seems to speak of this climax where a final tribulation breaks forth and darkness is given full reign to rule. In this time of calamity, the saints are purged like never before. Even with the darkness having full sway, God somehow is able to use that darkness to bring about purity and righteousness in the creation that would cause all things to be new. It is after the 1000-year reign of Christ, the war of Gog and Magog, and the judgment seat that we find the new heaven and new earth. These are not things that seem to be somewhere else.

The new heaven and new earth seem to indicate more of a cleansing of this heaven and earth. Darkness has passed away. The sea (which represents chaos) has passed away. Because it has passed away, the whole of creation is not the same as it was before. That in its self is a total change. All of creation wars against the darkness in the final tribulation. The Book of Revelation seems to indicate this. The sun scorches people, the moon turns red, the stars collaborate together to strike the earth, there are earthquakes and hailstones the size of cars, at one point it seems like a super volcano erupts, and even the people are crying out to the rocks to protect them.

The end of the age is concluded by a massive onslaught of creation and the righteous – working hand-in-hand together – to expel the darkness and cleanse the world from evil. If this is how it ends, then it was God’s intention from the beginning. The violence and wickedness might or might not have been what God intended. That isn’t the point of discussion. However darkness would choose to react is outside the question. We cannot know such things.

What is the point is God’s apocalyptic expectation. We should be transformed by the renewing of our mind (which is to say, beholding more and more the revelation of God as He in fact is). That transformation drives us to then push back the darkness, and the creation itself is affected alongside of us. As we are given greater revelations of Christ, we are given greater revelations of God Himself. As we are given greater revelations of the Godhead, we are brought into a place where darkness no longer can remain and influence and deceive us. We are made new, and that newness cannot be corrupted. This is why Romans 7:17 says that when I sin, it is no longer I that sin, but sin that dwells in me. The “I” there is actually a statement of who I am in God – incorruptible. The sin that takes place is not me, but instead the darkness that has remained. But the darkness is being pushed out.

As darkness continues to be pushed out and away, the ramifications ripple out through the cosmos to affecting even the inanimate creation itself. We push back the darkness in a way that does not eradicate the darkness, but paradoxically sacrifices self over to it. We allow darkness to overtake us. We take up our cross and die to self, so that we might be raised by the glory of God. It is that glory that actually causes the darkness to be exterminated. It is in the final moment, when God sends down fire from heaven and casts Satan into the lake of fire, that darkness is finally and ultimately defeated. The process to get there is our aim and hope of explaining in this book.

Now, to conclude and define darkness more specifically, we see that God allowed the darkness because the darkness hides. It covers. God used the darkness to mask Himself, or to cloak Himself, so that He could fellowship with this creation. The darkness is known by the fact that it hides, and veiling is not necessarily wicked. To hide something is not necessarily wicked. It is when we hide or use darkness to cover as a means of manipulation or to keep ourselves from finding freedom. When we use the darkness to keep hidden from the light, then we are now performing that which is evil. The evil thing does not occur simply because we don’t share everything. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. That in itself would dictate that there is a time for us to hide behind darkness. In defining darkness as the thing that hides or covers something, we can see why God would distinguish between light and dark, and why God would set up rulers over the darkness. God does want to have revelation. He does want to have fellowship with humanity. Therefore, He has established that there would be light and that the darkness cannot have full sway.

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