A very popular depiction and description of the New Jerusalem, the final fulfillment of Christ’s second coming, and the eternal state of God’s Heaven for all believers is the banishment of all darkness. Everything will be shining and bright all the time. Revelation 22:5 says: “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” Revelation 21 gives a detailed description of the city as being made up of pure gold, crystal, and precious jewels. It sounds breath-takingly beautiful and bright beyond belief!
Conversely, Hell is often described as perpetual darkness with a lake of fire and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
I am glad that I know Christ as my Saviour and the Son of God. By His grace I am assured of a place in Heaven for eternity. But, if I’m allowed to quibble, I’m not sure how I feel about perpetual brightness.
I like the night.
The night sky can be beautiful! I love the waxing and waning of the moon each month and the different stars and planets I see as the Earth makes its annual trip around the sun. I don’t know what my view of the planets and stars will be from Heaven, but I imagine it will be infinitely more magnificent as I have eternity to gaze at the never-ending universe. Like so much about Heaven, it’s unfathomable!
And, certainly, nighttime can feel dangerous and scary. When I have found myself driving in an unfamiliar place late at night, I have felt vulnerable at best, and downright frightened when I thought I might be lost.
Well, yes – lost. That’s a potent word. If we’re lost in the Biblical sense, we are doomed. Unsaved. But, lost doesn’t have to mean we have no hope. In Matthew’s gospel he recounts the parable Jesus told about the lost sheep (chapter 18). The shepherd has 100 sheep – a large flock. When one goes missing, the shepherd could probably have been forgiven for not taking too much trouble to look for the missing one. After all, it meant penning up the remaining 99 and trekking off into the woods or the hillside, where there were wolves or other predators, to look for the missing sheep that was most probably already dead.
Yet, the good shepherd goes in search of the lost sheep. He risks his own safety to find and save the sheep that blindly wandered away from the flock or willfully pursued a seemingly more attractive place to graze.
So, unwittingly or willfully leaving the safely of the proscribed path can be a dangerous deviation. I know because I have done that more than once in my 60+ years on this earth.
But . . .
I truly believe that I can follow God’s light and still appreciate the beauty of the darkness. In the very first chapter of the Bible, God created both day and night. He set the stars in the sky, including the star that is the center of our tiny solar system. He set our planet on an axis and caused it to rotate so that every living being on our spinning rock experiences light and darkness over and over.
How can I reconcile God’s original creation that included nighttime and His Word that says in eternity there will be no darkness?
I believe we can take God’s Word as written while understanding that He speaks in metaphors. Jesus taught in parables, not to confuse people, but because the common man could relate to the examples He used to express divine concepts. “No more darkness” doesn’t mean we will no longer get to experience the beauty of the nighttime sky. It doesn’t mean we can’t be awed by the vastness of the universe that’s revealed when our side of the planet is turned away from the sun. We won’t lose the significance of lighting a single candle to bring a glow to our personal space in God’s vast domain.
The difference is – in the everlasting life, the Holy City, the New Jerusalem – these tangible things won’t be our safety net. We won’t have to rely on them as our guide. We will be safe to appreciate the darkness. We will have forever to explore the universe. We can discover God’s creativity in the depths of the ocean, the densest forests, the most complex of caverns. Without being afraid.
Hundreds of years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote (chapter 60, verse 19) “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”
I so look forward to being able to walk in the comfort of the night with God’s glory as my path.