Light Your Own Light
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 50:10-11
We are in the threshold of a totally new year with great opportunities and potential. There is a saying in the stock market of the world. It says that the first few days of the new year in January set the tone for the entire year. So how the stock market perform in the first few days or week of the year set the trend for the entire year. Likewise, how we approach the first few days of New Year set our success or failure for the New Year. If I were to ask a show of hands how many of you wants a fruitful New Year? I guess practically all hands will be up. When we wish someone a New Year, it is always a Happy, Prosperous, Healthy, and Successful and blessed New Year. The two verses we have read just now gives us the guidelines on how to live. It can be called the principle of life.
Let’s study these two verses.
Let’s read Isaiah 50:10 first, ‘Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyed the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.’ The phrase, ‘The voice of His servant’ found in Isaiah 50:10 is most likely describing the voice of Christ.
This servant is most likely Christ. It is telling us to hear the voice of Christ. This passage of Scripture is directed towards those who truly fear God, obey the voice of Christ. How do we know the voice of Christ? By having a daily relationship with Christ, in prayer and the study of the Word of God. He is actually a sincere servant of God. He obeys the voice of Christ. How do I know, Isaiah 50:10 says ‘Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?’ Yet he is walking in darkness. This darkness is not the result of sin. This darkness is bringing him or her misery, and he lives in a disconsolate (unhappy, unsatisfied, sad) and calamitous (dreadful) condition.
It means a sincere servant of God may for a long time be without eternal happiness. Those who have professed to be people of God, and seem to be dealt severely with, are apt to complain, as if God had been hard with them. He is not really happy with what is happening to him. Isn’t it so true for many of us? We are children of God. Yet we are unhappy with life.
I feel that this is applicable especially to the church of our times. I like what Bible commentator Jameison said about this: “God never had a son who was not sometimes in the dark, for Christ himself cried, `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Job also felt that God had forsaken him. Jeremiah felt that God had lied to him. Jeremiah said that I was deceived. Maybe some of you here have been serving God and you felt deceived because God did not live up to His promise.
They love God and yet they are in darkness. Well a godly man’s way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and light. A wicked man’s way may be bright, but his end shall be utter darkness.” This child of God is afraid of incurring God’s displeasure and yet he is in darkness. Job says ‘I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet, yet trouble came.’ Job meant that he was trying to live correctly, afraid of incurring the displeasure of God and yet he is in darkness. Luther once wrote that if you want to interpret the Bible accurately, and you want to do a good job of interpreting the Bible—there are three rules to good exegesis. The first two items won’t surprise you; the third one might. Luther’s three rules for interpreting the Bible accurately are: pray, meditate, and suffer. Of course suffering is darkness. Surely Luther did not believe that suffering was something unusual. Nor did he think that adversity was merely a weapon that Satan uses to drag Christians down. Luther’s position here was thoroughly biblical: God uses affliction to mature and prosper Christians.
He has no light, no comfort. In the back of the mind is this thought that maybe God has permanently cut him off or cast him off. He is actually broken by this darkness. If you are in that situation, then Isaiah 50:11 is describing you. What is likely to be an effectual cure in this sad case? If you are in this condition, God is asking you to trust Him. God is asking you to fix your faith and hope in the mercy, and faithfulness of the LORD. God is asking you to trust whatever He has declared to you in His word. God is even asking you to continue in your interest in God. That means God is asking you to continue to serve Him. God is asking you to stay upon the promises of the covenant. God is even asking you to encourage yourself and build your hopes on these promises. And these people that are in this kind of darkness has a special grace. This grace appears most in believers when in darkness.
Then there is another group of people. Let’s read them in Isaiah 50:11, ‘Behold all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow. I would call them the self-absorbed people. God is warning them not to trust in themselves. These second group of people believes in their own merit and self-sufficiency. Their own merit and self-sufficiency are their light and heat to them.
It is very daunting for these people. Because their own light and heat are as sparks, short-lived, and soon gone. Sparks are not a steady light, but blazing sparks extinguished in a moment. I call these sparks mentioned in verse 11, the Sparks of man. Have you seen a transformer giving up a blazing spark, and the sound is loud but the next moment there is no more power? It is totally dead.
Another translation puts it as lighting their own light. It is like a match stick. When you strike the box, there is a big spark and then fire, but it lasts for only a short while. Isn’t this so true of practically everybody in this planet earth, except a very small minority. The children of this world seem to warm themselves through their own light and heat. They walk with pride and pleasure in the light of their own. They make their own light. They make the world their comfort. They have their own type of righteousness and they put their confidence in their own light and heat.
God is warning them not to trust in themselves. Because they will certainly meet with bitterness in the end. The phrase, ‘that kindle a fire,’ refers to all the plans which people form with reference to their own salvation (they plan their own salvation, they plan their own life); all which they rely upon to guide them through the darkness of this world. It may include, therefore, all the schemes of human devices, of false religion, of paganism, of infidelity, deism, and self-righteousness; all dependence on good works, charities ties. All these are false lights which people rekindle, in order to guide themselves when they resolve to cast off God, to renounce his revelation, and to resist his spirit.
A godly man’s way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and everlasting light. A wicked man’s way may be pleasant, but his end and abode for ever will be utter darkness. Isaiah 50:11 says ‘Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.’ God is announcing that let the servant of God hear Christ’s voice, and despite his pitiful plight. trust in Jehovah. And those who kindle their own light shall become victims of their own fire and by his doom he shall lie in the place of flame (Gehenna).
The idea probably is, that all human devices for salvation bear the same resemblance to the true plan proposed by God, which a momentary spark in the dark does to the clear shining of a bright light like that of the sun. If this is the sense, it is a most graphic and striking description of the nature of all the schemes by which the sinner hopes to save himself. This is a very important life principle. When life is darkened by confusion, lean on the guiding light of God and not on the light of self-reliance which delivers burns for comfort and anguish for ease. Times of confusion descend upon God-fearers and self-absorbed alike. Those who critically understand the divine guidance of Jesus Christ are exhorted to secure their feelings and thoughts to His revelation. The self-sufficient suffer when they eventually exhaust the extent of their resources.
The phrase, ‘this shall ye have’ means as the result of this, you shall lie down in sorrow. Herder renders this: One movement of my hand upon you, And ye shall lie down in sorrow. How simple and yet how sublime an expression is this! The Messiah but lifts his hand and all your lights are quenched. Immediately you lie down sad and dejected, in darkness and sorrow. The idea is, that they would receive their doom from God’s hand, and that it would be as easy for him as is the uplifting or waving of the hand, to quench all their lights, and consign them to grief. They seem to flatter themselves for a while with pleasing expectations and some appearance of success, shall in the end turn to the confusion. These people live without the principle of faith, repentance, or a holy life, they are bold in their professed confidence. Those who trust in the Sparks of man will have the flame of God.
preached by Pas. Tohnee Lim on January 15, 2012
@ EFC Iloilo