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Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:11 – 12, NRSV).
It is a comfort to us that even the apostles felt they were living in darkness. They, too, experienced the almost impenetrable night of humankind, a global darkness almost impossible for light to pierce.
It is human sinfulness that creates this darkness – our stupidity, our ignorance of God. Into this darkness, light breaks in. God speaks into this darkness, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). And the light arrives! It is Jesus who shines; his words and his light illumine our hearts whenever we hear the gospel authentically proclaimed.
In this sense, one might say, the darkness serves a purpose, too. Its presence has led to many words of faith, courage, and hope for the world, words which shine forth and pierced the dark for all who come to believe in Jesus Christ. From the Bible comes this Word, the Word of God, full of hope, power, and trust.
If, in our time, life seems especially dark and it seems that only the works of darkness count for anything, let that be our wake-up call. We take our stand within God's kingdom; we will be on watch and throw off our drowsiness and sleep, because the night is far gone, the day is near (Rom. 13:12).
Let us rouse from our apathy. Let us no longer love the deeds of darkness. Let us no longer go along with the works of the world and people who pursue false goals and do everything in their own strength. That is what is meant by Paul’s call to “wake from sleep” and “put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:11 – 2).
What Is the Armor of Light?
The armor of light is made up of a variety of weapons. For me, the most effective weapon of light consists of saying in my heart and mind: “The will of God must and will be done (Matt. 5:10) – no matter how much people may storm and rage. In the end, God's will shall be done among our enemies as well as among ourselves.” We have to accept God's will, whatever he chooses. We cannot try to guide events; we cannot even see the way ahead and we know nothing of the future. We can be certain of one thing only: God's will alone must and will be done.
This certainty is the best armor for our personal lives. However needy and afflicted we are, we can say, “God's will for me must and will be done.” If I am sick, miserable, poor and in need – God’s will for me must and will be done. What a powerful weapon this is! The armor of light is not only defensive; it is a weapon aimed at the enemy head-on. The enemy is our poverty, our misery, and our afflictions.
Yet God's ultimate will is that that day may come; that light will come into people's hearts for the final victory of the good, in Jesus Christ the Savior. He shall bring in the new day for all humankind. That, too, is a powerful weapon.
With such armor we can stand firm at all times. Do not be disheartened, do not be saddened. Take courage! Night is indeed upon us, but soon it will be past. Despite the present darkness, our eyes are directed to the future of Jesus Christ. We can look forward to God's goodness for the whole world. We can spread the news that God's name is holy, that his kingdom is coming and his will shall be done on earth, as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
In this World, not the Afterlife
All this will come to pass on earth, on earth! We do not merely wait, hoping for what eternity may bring. The coming of Jesus Christ gives us the courage to proclaim: “Here on earth your mourning will come to an end (Matt. 5:4). Here on earth all sin will be overcome (1 Pet. 4:8). On earth God's righteousness will be revealed, to his honor (Isa. 40:5). Here on earth he will bestow on you his blessings and his power. On earth you will be joyful. On earth you will praise him. On earth the works of your God will be revealed to you.”
Let us stand firm and courageous. Let us not be too troubled by the many sad reports that come our way. We will stand firmly with our weapons of light. The enemy is active all over the world, active in the sin of the world. We are tempted to accuse people, but in fact it is the power of darkness and Satan that defiles the creation (Acts 26:18).
And when so much around us seems to be in the grip of an evil power, we can say, “Jeer as you will, mock and laugh at us, Satan! We can tell you to your face, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord! He is coming, and you will be put to shame! You have had plenty of time to display your works of darkness to lead humankind astray. But now everything bad in human nature, all weakness and sin, will be brought to the light.’”
At the height of the conflict we will combat the outrages of Satan with the weapons of light. Jesus, the light of the world, has drawn near and will touch us even before the day comes. The Morning Star, which proclaims the dawning of God's day will rise in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19). We will stand firm and true to the end (Matt. 10:22). The evil of the times we live in will serve to help bring in God’s goodness. Jesus is here!
In this series, we read Scripture together with Blumhardt (1842 – 1919), a little-known but massively influential theologian who inspired Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Moltmann. Readings follow the Revised Common Lectionary. Sign up for next week’s reading with the Plough Weekly.
For more Blumhardt Bible Studies, visit our Bible Studies page.
From Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt: Gottes Reich kommt!: 1907 – 1917,, (Zurich: Rotapfel Verlag, 1925), no. 53, trans. Jörg Barth and Renate Barth, © 2013 The Plough Publishing House.