TREASURES OF DARKNESS
Reading: Isaiah 45 verses 1-7
‘This is what the Lord says to his anointed—to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armour; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
For the sake of Jacob my servant—of Israel my chosen—I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honour—though you do not acknowledge me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other—apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster. I, the Lord, do all these things.”
THERE WAS A FULL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN A FEW YEARS AGO?
- It created great interest
- People came from miles around to stand on top of the hill and observe the growing darkness
- As the darkness crept over the land, an eerie feeling also descended
From my house at night, I can see a car’s headlight from, perhaps, ten or fifteen miles
- And after a power cut…how lovely to light a candle flame
LIGHT IS SO IMPORTANT IN LIFE
- And Jesus Christ said that He is the Light…in Him there is no darkness at all… Imagine a time without any darkness
AND YET, PARADOXICALLY, THERE IS A DARKNESS ASSOCIATED WITH GOD
- It’s a darkness that God permits or even brings in our lives
- Experiences that challenge us, frighten us, convict us, alarm us… but provide the soil for spiritual growth
Just as a seed needs to be buried then die before new growth begins…
- So in our lives our dependency upon self must be buried and die before the new life of the Spirit springs out of the ground
IF LIGHT IS FASCINATING to us… SO IS TREASURE!
When we used to visit Grandpa and Grandma in their big old house, the children just loved me to lay a treasure hunt in the back garden
- The prize was usually nothing special…it was the enticement of the hunt that they loved!
THAT’S WHAT ATTRACTS PEOPLE TO GAMBLING
- Even though research shows that many big-money winners end up more unhappy than they were before the win!
I WAS WATCHING A PROGRAMME RECENTLY ABOUT A FAMOUS ACTOR…
- He had everything you could imagine…money, influence, fame, women, possessions, a huge house
- Now he has virtually nothing
- A friend of his said that he had spent his life searching for satisfaction and failing to find it
- He was still searching for life’s REAL treasure
Jesus said that treasure is found in whatever you desire most of all in life
- It may be fame or wealth… or it may be a particular relationship
- Or to be noticed…or admired…or fussed over…or left alone
YOUNGER PEOPLE may desire career advancement or a nice house or marriage or children above anything else
OLDER PEOPLE may desire a comfortable lifestyle or lots of family close to them or regular SAGA holidays or peace & quiet
ALL THESE THINGS HAVE VALUE, of course…
- But Jesus warned that if they mean more to us than He does… we are on a slippery slope to a dissatisfied life and emptiness of heart
- We cannot desire the things of the world and the things of God equally
- Jesus said plainly: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you
MANY PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCE is that when they put God first in their lives, these other things don’t seem so important any more
THE BIBLE IS FULL OF TREASURE
- Treasures seized after battles had been fought and won
- Solomon’s treasure…beyond your wildest dreams
- Treasure in the Temple…and all the gold and precious stones
AND JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF…the priceless treasure
BUT IN THIS PASSAGE FROM ISAIAH WE ARE THINKING ABOUT A DIFFERENT TREASURE…Treasures of darkness
And notice that these are treasures OF darkness …
- Treasures that emerge from times of darkness that we can only appreciate when we are back in the light
HOW CAN WE DISCOVER TREASURES OF DARKNESS?
- How can blessing come from times of agony and despair
- From times of depression and sickness
- From times of uncertainty and anxiety
- From times of bereavement, persecution, family difficulties
- And even from our own foolishness and pride
Where can we find treasure when life is tough, your heart is breaking and the light has grown dim?
- How do we face loneliness and confusion? Perhaps in old age
- Where can we find hope?
- Where can we discover treasures in the midst of sorrow and distress?
IT’S EASY TO WALK IN THE LIGHT WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING
- Not so easy when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death
YET GOD PROMISES US TREASURES OF DARKNESS
There are two types of “treasures of darkness that we can discover…
- Treasures in weakness
- Treasures in bleakness
First, TREASURES IN WEAKNESS
In 2 Corinthians 12: 9, 10b we read:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…For when I (Paul) am weak, then I am strong
- When we are weak, Christ’s power is free to work
- When we think we are standing firm, the Holy Spirit is restricted by our limitations
I once spoke at a church the morning after I had been poorly the previous evening and still felt wobbly… yet God used that service mightily for His glory… far more than I could have imagined possible
SOME OF US WANT TO GET ON WITH THINGS…to show that we are someone…even to demonstrate our commitment to Christ
But the devil is far more fearful when he sees us on our knees than when we are on our feet!
Perhaps our weak bodies or minds prevent us from doing things we long to do:
- We get frustrated by physical frailty
IF THIS IS YOU…find the treasures of darkness in your weakness… and identify with Christ… As we read in 2 Corinthians 13 v 4:
Christ was in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you
WE CAN BE MISLED BY APPEARANCES…
- Sometimes the weakest person physically is the strongest spiritually
- Submission to the will and purpose of God gives us the key to the treasure store
So many great hymns have been written out of tragedy…
- So many people have found fresh resolve to serve Christ in the midst of pain
TREASURES OF WEAKNESS ARE FOUND IN DARK PLACES… as God works through tough situations to extend His kingdom
- Just as Christ lay down His life in weakness…so we lay down our lives for Him
Living well for Jesus is about who we are and not simply what we do
Second, TREASURES OF BLEAKNESS
Physical weakness and infirmity is one things… agony of the mind and heart is something else …when life is bleak and you can’t think straight
- When every day is a grind and there seems no way out
YET TREASURE CAN BE FOUND HERE ALSO…IF WE ALLOW God to use the circumstances for His glor
- When everything else is stripped away…the Lord stands beside us and works within us
- Whatever life throws at us…we have His unmistakable promise: I will never leave you or forsake you
And in Isaiah 54 we read some amazing verses:
For a brief moment I abandoned you…but with deep compassion I will bring you back (v 7)
O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted. I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels and all your walls of precious stones (verses 11-12)
For those experiencing treasures in bleakness, there can be no greater comfort than in these promises.
SOMEONE HAS PENNED THESE LINES…
Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But He made something beautiful out of my life
IF WE WANT TO FIND SOMEONE WHO HAS DISCOVERED TREASURES OF DARKNESS…
- Don’t look for someone who has a comfortable, trouble-free life
- Don’t look for someone who merely goes through the motions of turning up to church each week
LOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN THROUGH THE VALLEY and found the treasures of darkness in a situation of bleakness
- Someone who echoes the words of the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: Your will be done
- That person will have learned the secret of being content in every situation…as the Apostle Paul testified
REMEMBER THE DARKNESS THAT CHRIST ENDURED…
- The darkness of the soul as He cried out to His Father
- The darkness of sin as He bore our sins in His body on the Cross and ‘became sin for us’
- The physical darkness as He was placed in the tomb
LITTLE WONDER that after the crucifixion there was darkness over the land for three hours!
SOMEONE HAS SAID THAT LIFE’S PROBLEMS MAKE US BITTER OR BETTER…
- They refine us or decline us
- They make us or break us
SATAN WILL SPIN YOU THE LINE that life has been unfair
- That it should not happen to someone as nice as you
- That God cannot be a God of love to allow it
- That we have been betrayed by God, who promised that everything works for our good and not our harm (Jeremiah 29 v 11)
BUT WHEN DARKNESS DESCENDS UPON OUR LIVES…
- We must try hard not to ask why but to ask what now
- To see that God is working His purposes out
- To cry to a disbelieving world with Job of old:
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him… Lord, now show us your glory
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR LIVES? (Four things)
(1) We can only discover treasures of darkness when we are in the dark!
On a tour of old mine workings…the guide often puts out the light to show us what real darkness means… Gradually the light returns and we notice detail that we had not seen beforehand
- If you want to see the stars clearly, don’t stay in town…go out into the middle of the dark moor!
(2) God takes us through the deep waters for a purpose
- We often cannot see what the purpose is at the time…but later we do…and may even reach the point where we can thank God for choosing us
(3) We need to prepare for the dark times NOW
- Darkness may descend gradually (like an eclipse) or suddenly (like in Africa)
- A sudden event…a bereavement, a letter, a single telephone call… and your world spins out of control
AS SOMEONE HAS SAID: You can only be confident about tomorrow if you walk with God today
(4) Light always follows the darkness
- The resurrection followed the tomb
- The dawn follows the night
Then, incredibly, darkness can even become precious to us.
- This is not humanly possible… It is only possible by the grace of God and the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit
- Darkness on earth cannot be compared to the eternal darkness reserved for those who reject God’s mercy
- We can waltz through life apart from God…but when death comes we pass into darkness
THE MESSAGE FROM GOD TO ANYONE WHO HAS SHUNNED GOD’S OFFER OF MERCY IS THIS… Don’t die… not yet… the consequences of dying without Christ are too serious
- For those who reject Christ, treasures of darkness turn into terrors of darkness
BUT FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM THE FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST UPON THE CROSS
- The treasures of this life are followed by the treasures of eternity
WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN LIFE…BUT AS WE KEEP OUR EYES ON THE ‘PRICELESS TREASURE’ we can claim the treasures of darkness too