DayBreaks for 12/26/14 – We Can Barely Endure Candle Light
From the DayBreaks archive, 2004:
The great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, once did something that was very dangerous and foolish. As an experiment, he started at the image of the reflected sun in a mirror. The rays, as you might imagine, burned his retinas and he suffered temporary blindness as a result of the experiment. Even after hiding for 3 days behind closed shutters, the bright spot still wouldn’t fade from his vision. “I used all means to divert my imagination from the sun but if I thought upon him I presently saw his picture though I was in the dark.” He was lucky that he wasn’t blinded for life.
But, as Philip Yancey notes in Disappointment With God, There is a parable in Isaac Newton’s experiment, and it helps illustrate what the Israelites ultimately learned from the wilderness wanderings. They had attempted to live with the Lord of the Universe visibly present in their midst; but, in the end, out of all the thousands who had so gladly fled Egypt, only two survived God’s Presence. If you can barely endure candlelight, how can you gaze at the sun?
The prophet well described our dilemma so long ago in Isaiah 33:14a (NIV) –“The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? How many times have we each longed for some special manifestation of God’s Presence? Or even just that we could “feel” His Presence in those dark and lonely hours? I think that every human being has had those feelings at some time or another, no matter how godly the woman or man. Yet, we are all sinners in Zion and we may do well to learn from Israel. I doubt that we could stand the Presence of God in all His glorious brightness. As Yancey suggests, Is it possible that we should be grateful for God’s hiddenness, rather than disappointed?
The next time you are disappointed that God’s Presence seems to be in hiding, remember Isaiah’s words, His greatness and our utter frailty. Perhaps the verse in Isaiah gives us the best explanation of why it was necessary for Jesus to become human to live among us – we couldn’t have withstood the brightness of the unveiled presence of God Almighty!
PRAYER: For your mercies we thank you, for a glimpse of you in glory, we long…and for now, we thank you for your veiled Presence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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