From darkness to light
To the unbelieving world, blindness is only apparent in its physical form. But to us who believe, we know there are two types of blindness – physical and spiritual.
In Aramaic, the term often used for a blind person is actually compromised of two words by way of a rhetorical device known as antiphrasis. This means that one says the exact opposite of what they mean. The Aramaic term is sagi (“much”) nahor (“light”). So, you are able to see that the term refers, somewhat paradoxically, to the unseeing. Talmudic scholars say it refers to someone who is both blind and wise – a person who can supposedly see great spiritual truth even though they are blind. But does this line up with Scripture?
Though we rejoice that many individual Jews have expressed a saving faith in Yeshua, national Israel is currently in a period of blindness. Romans 11:25 explains: For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Of course, this passage is not referring to physical blindness. The Greek word used here refers to a hardness of heart which causes perception to be blunted. The same word is used in Ephesians 4:17-18: This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.
Although technology and medical knowledge sometimes makes it possible to aid those with physical blindness, the issue of spiritual blindness is another matter altogether. Many have tried to reverse their spiritual blindness through their own wisdom and enquiry. In the process, many false religions have been propagated, with New Age standing apart from the crowd as one which specifically aims to “bring love and light”. But, although the Scriptures speak very clearly against false religion, in many ways the Lord reserved His harshest criticism for Israel – the nation which was the direct recipient of His revelation. The consequences are serious – not only for the individual but also for their nation. In Isaiah 56:10 we read: His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Additionally, as Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 15:14: They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. The solution to this blindness, as Jesus recounted to Nicodemus, is to be born again (John 3:3).
Leaving aside the spiritual blindness of national Israel momentarily, it is obvious that the spiritual blindness of Western leaders is becoming a serious problem in this age, particularly when it comes to knowing how to deal with evil. Sadly, this is most evident in the pressure being brought upon Israel to cease its war against Hamas in Gaza and not start a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel’s leaders did not start this war. The nations may be calling for peace but let’s not forget there was peace on 6 October 2023. Hamas broke the peace and they must be destroyed because of the unspeakable evil they perpetrated against the Jewish people. That is the only way to deal with this level of evil. Yet, the USA in particular seems intent on promoting the interests of Iran, believing that the Iranians are able to bring stability to the Middle East. For anybody who believes that, then they are clearly ignorant when it comes to the beliefs of the “Twelvers” of Shiite ideology.
But once again, outside forces are bringing to light the ongoing inward struggle of the Jewish people – physical and spiritual. During the years of the “Final Solution” (1942 to 1945), for those who survived the gas chambers, the isolation of camps and ghettos was intended to bring about social separation which would aid in the control and monitoring of Jews. It was under these horrific circumstances that some Jews, as stated in the written works Years Wherein We Have Seen Evil, “found within themselves the inner strength to examine their situation and to try and find meaning in the events that controlled their very existence.” In the very circumstances which were intended to break them, many Jews struggled for humanity, for culture, for normalcy and for life. It was from this struggle that the principle of “spiritual resistance” was born. In fact, for those who clung to this principle, their entire camp and ghetto life became one of resistance. That is why the State of Israel is such an affront to the world. It is a nation whose determined goal is to resist those who call for its destruction. For the most part this is in the form of armed resistance through repelling attacks launched against it and rooting out terrorism within it. However, we also see a growing movement within Israel where spiritual resistance is also becoming prominent. This has been seen predominantly amongst soldiers and in the Yeshivas (an institution devoted to studying the Torah and rabbinic traditions) where they sing “I believe in the coming of the Messiah”.
In the Parashat Bo, which is the 15th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading, a sobering thought is revealed: darkness is the incubator of hope. In fact, many Jewish scholars argue that we need the darkness no less than the daylight and it is in the darkness of the Exodus that they celebrate the light of redemption and their release from bondage: …the LORD God brought you out of Egypt by night (Deuteronomy 16:1). Since darkness is celebrated as the incubator of hope, how fitting that Nicodemus would meet Jesus “by night” (John 3)!
As the days grow darker, the time of Israel’s spiritual renewal is growing closer. A remnant will be preserved and the long-awaited kingdom will be established as the Prince of Peace returns to Jerusalem to rule and reign. Charles E Jefferson was quoted as saying: “A small man can see when it is growing dark…but he cannot see beyond the darkness. He does not know how to put a sunbeam into his picture. A great man pierces the darkness and sees the glory of a hidden dawn.” Friends, there is a new dawn coming and even though it is growing dark, as that great hymn reminds us: “For the darkness shall turn to dawning and the dawning to noonday bright; and Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth; the kingdom of love and light.”