Generally speaking, darkness does not have many positive connotations in Scripture. A thick and heavy darkness was one of the plagues that the Lord sent upon Egypt in order to convince the pharaoh to free the children of Israel (Ex 10:21– 29). Darkness is the condition in which the poor and fatherless live (Ps. 82:3–5). It can also indicate the hiddenness of God; Moses alone could enter into the thick darkness at Sinai to speak with the Lord (Ex. 20:21). Moreover, darkness in some places is a metaphor for wickedness, which is how John uses the image when he describes God as a being of light in whom there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).
Since darkness is often, though not always, used in a negative sense in the Bible, it is unsurprising to find that the final vanquishing of the darkness of night is a hope that perpetually reappears in the Word of God. In fact, one of the great promises regarding what would happen after Israel’s return from exile was that the darkness would be banished forever as the children of the Lord dwelled in His presence, the presence of pure, undefiled light. We see this promise in today’s passage, wherein the prophet Isaiah says the sun and moon will no longer be needed because God Himself will be a light for the people (Isa. 60:19–20). Despite the Creator calling the regular intervals of light and darkness controlled by these heavenly bodies good (Gen. 1:3–5, 14–19), the better goal to which the sun and the moon point is the Son of light, who will end all darkness and thus allow His creatures never to stumble again in the night.
Light is often a metaphor for God’s moral purity (1 John 1:5), and only holy people can endure this light. After Israel’s return from exile, a cleansing of all those who entrust themselves to the Lord was to take place so that they could enjoy His everlasting light. In Christ, this cleansing has been accomplished, and now we await the consummation of His kingdom for the banishment of all darkness. John Calvin writes that there is a “still greater blessing, which the children of God alone enjoy, namely, the heavenly Light, which ungodly men hate, and therefore cannot receive; for although they enjoy the sun and other blessings, yet their happiness cannot be firm and enduring; because, being void of taste, they do not relish that which was of the greatest importance, that they have God for their Father.”
One of the greatest blessings we have to look forward to in Christ is the ability to dwell in a new heaven and earth with Him as our light. On that day, we will no longer stumble but will see clearly and love wholly His will for us. Having been set apart through His blood, we are even now beginning to walk, however imperfectly, in this light as we love God and neighbor, especially our neighbors with whom we gather to worship the Almighty.