God’s Light Bearers

“The LORD is my light and my salvation”
—Psalm 27:1

DARKNESS IS USED IN the Bible as a symbol of separation from God and of a lack of knowledge concerning him and his purposes toward mankind. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all,” the Apostle John wrote. (I John 1:5) Those who know God as he reveals himself through his Word, and who are endeavoring to do his will, are scripturally represented as walking “in the light.” All others are said to be walking “in darkness.”—I John 1:6,7


This symbolic darkness settled down upon mankind as a result of sin, our first parents being the original sinners. They chose to disobey God’s law, and by so doing brought death upon themselves and upon all their progeny. Paul wrote, “As by one man’s disobedience many [that is, the whole human race] were made sinners.” (Rom. 5:19) This means that ‘darkness’ has covered the earth since the days of Eden. Indeed, it is referred to by the Prophet David as a nighttime experience concerning which he wrote, “weeping may endure for a night,” and then added the reassuring promise, “joy cometh in the morning.”—Ps. 30:5

During this long and dreary night, when, for the most part, the people have been without God and without hope, he has had his witnesses in the earth, who, either by God’s hand upon them or by their own faithful testimony concerning him, have been as lights in a dark place. At no time have these witnesses convinced any considerable number of people of the truth pertaining to God, but they frequently have served as guides to those who have sought after God in an earnest endeavor to find and serve him.—Acts 17:27


Going back to the time of the Flood, we find that Noah was a witness for Jehovah, the Creator. The Apostle Peter informs us that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” (II Pet. 2:5) He did not reform the world of his day, but he was a light in that world because he bore witness concerning God and the purpose of God in connection with the coming Flood. Noah’s stand for God and for righteousness was vindicated by the coming of the Deluge.

During all those centuries prior to the First Advent of Jesus, God demonstrated his keeping power in the lives of his witnesses in a miraculous manner, and this tended to increase the effectiveness of their testimony. Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord promised, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,” and this was literally true in connection with all his faithful witnesses during those ancient times.—Isa. 54:17

The enemies of Joseph sold him as a slave into Egypt, but through the wonderful providences of God he became the ruler of Egypt and the savior of his people. How wonderfully this demonstrated the power and the glory of Joseph’s God! There is no record that Joseph ever preached a long sermon about God. His life of faith, and the occasional ‘word in season’ by which he made known his faith, were more eloquent than any discoursing he could have done, especially since God openly vindicated his faith and rewarded his faithfulness.


Later, when a pharaoh came to power in Egypt ‘who knew not Joseph,’ the Israelites, then living in the land and greatly increased in number, were made slaves. In the providence of the Lord, Moses was raised up to deliver them. The name and glory of God were at stake as Moses and Aaron appeared before the king to demand the release of the Israelites.

Moses was powerless to accomplish the Lord’s design for his people, but he stood loyally on the side of the Lord, and in the name of the Lord demanded deliverance for the Israelites. We know the result. Plague after plague fell upon the Egyptians, and finally the death of their firstborn. Then the king demanded that the Hebrew children leave the country, which they did.

Pharaoh changed his mind, however, and sent his army to recapture the Israelites. Again the Lord intervened, opening up a passageway through the Red Sea for his people, and allowing the waters to close in on Egypt’s army as they tried to follow. Then was heard that majestic song of deliverance, “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation.”—Exod. 15:1,2


This brilliant testimony of God’s ability to fight for and deliver his people did not impress the Israelites sufficiently to enable then to put their full trust in him to go forward and possess the promised land. They rejected the report of the two faithful spies, Caleb and Joshua, and voted against trying to drive the Canaanites out of the land. Because of this, God allowed them to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

Even so, he miraculously cared for them. He provided manna from heaven, and water gushed out from a rock to refresh them. He provided them with a Tabernacle as a center of worship. During all that time, as Moses reminded the Israelites, “Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.” (Deut. 8:4) Moses knew that it was the Lord who cared for his people during their wilderness journey, but he feared lest they forget, and reminded them that it was Jehovah “who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint.”—Deut. 8:15

It was the Lord who did these things for Israel. Through his dealings with them despite their own lack of faith, they were being used as his witnesses. This continued to be true under the leadership of Joshua. By another miracle, he enabled them to cross over the river Jordan and possess the promised land.


Immediately upon entering Canaan the Israelites were confronted with the fortified and walled city of Jericho. No progress could be made in possessing the land until this city was conquered but they were incapable of doing this in their own wisdom and by their own strength. And then it was as “Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand.” Joshua challenged this ‘man,’ asking, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”—Josh. 5:13-15

The man with the drawn sword identified himself as the “captain of the host of the Lord”—the Lord’s angelic hosts. As a messenger of the Lord this ‘man’ outlined to Joshua the strategy to be employed in capturing Jericho. Joshua followed these instructions, and the walls of the city crumbled before them—“So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.”—Josh. 6:27

Another outstanding victory which brought glory to the Lord was Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites by his little band of three hundred. Again it was the Lord who gained the victory. When Gideon’s three hundred, carrying out the instructions of their leader, broke the earthen vessels letting the light of their torches shine out in the darkness, and blew their trumpets and shouted, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon,” “the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host [of Midianites]: and the host fled.”—Judg. 7:20-22


God also manifested his glory in a very outstanding manner through the Prophet Elijah. Through the influence of Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, Israel had been led into the idolatrous worship of Baal. By the Lord’s direction Elijah arranged for a test to be made on Mt. Carmel that it might be demonstrated whether or not Jehovah or Baal was the true and living God. It was agreed that the one who would cause fire to come down from heaven and consume a sacrifice offered to him would be the true God.

There was a tremendous gathering on and around Mt. Carmel that day. Elijah insisted that the priests of Baal give their demonstration first, which they did, but they had no results. All day they agonized and cried unto Baal, but Baal did not respond. Elijah taunted them saying, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.”—I Kings 18:27

The priests of Baal continued their agonizing cries to their god until the time of the “evening sacrifice.” (vs. 29) Then Elijah invited the people to draw near to watch the test he would make. He prepared an altar and placed a sacrifice upon it. Then, in order to demonstrate that no trickery was being practiced, he dug a trench around the altar and filled it with water, drenching the altar and the sacrifice with water. Then Elijah prayed:

Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”—I Kings 18:36,37

In response to this eloquent prayer asking that God vindicate his own name before his people, fire came down “and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.”—I Kings 18:38,39


During the reign of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in a campaign of aggression, demanded that Jerusalem be surrendered to him. He sent a messenger to Hezekiah asking for his surrender, but the demand was not granted. The messenger was sent again, with the following message:

“Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?”—II Kings 19:10-13

This was a direct challenge to the ability of Israel’s God to thwart the design of Sennacherib to capture and enslave Jerusalem. Upon the advice of the Prophet Isaiah, King Hezekiah prayed earnestly to Jehovah, saying:

“O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; … Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”—II Kings 19:15-19

The Lord replied to this prayer through the Prophet Isaiah, assuring the prophet and the king that he would indeed defend Jerusalem, “for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” And he did. We read, “It came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.”—II Kings 19:34-36


God’s chosen people were not faithful to him, and he allowed them to be taken captive to Babylon. Among them, however, were a faithful few whom, as individuals, he used as his witnesses during the period of their captivity. Notable among these were Daniel and his three young friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The “prince of the eunuchs,” under whom they first served, changed their names to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.—Dan.1:6,7

Daniel first came into prominence before the king when, by the Lord’s help, he was able to recall Nebuchadnezzar’s dream for him and interpret its meaning, after the “magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans,” had failed in their attempt to do so. (Dan. 2:2) This was a most effective witness for Jehovah, causing the king to acknowledge to Daniel, “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets.”—Dan. 2:47

Daniel was then made ruler over the entire province of Babylon, “and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.” (vs. 48) Daniel, in turn, remembered his three young friends, and requested that they be appointed his assistants. This request was granted.

But Nebuchadnezzar soon forgot what he had confessed concerning Jehovah being the ‘God of gods, and a Lord of kings.’ He wanted to be recognized as supreme ruler, and his gods worshiped in the realm, so he had a great image erected symbolizing his authority as civil ruler, and his right to demand that the people worship his gods. He commanded that all officials of the realm, at a given signal, bow down and worship this image. Those who refused to obey were to be cast into a fiery furnace. Apparently Daniel, because he “sat in the gate of the king,” was exempt from this command.—Dan. 2:49

His three friends, however, were not. Enemies, jealous of the position to which these Hebrews had been appointed, reported that they had not obeyed the king’s command to fall down before his golden image. In a rage Nebuchadnezzar summoned the three Hebrews before him, demanding to know if the report were true. They assured him that it was. Then he indicated his willingness to give them another chance, but made it plain that if they still defied his edict they would surely be cast into the fiery furnace. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, saying:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us … out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”—Dan. 3:16-18


We remember the outcome. The three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace—a furnace in which the fire was burning so furiously that the king’s servants who hurled them into it inhaled the flames and died. But the three Hebrews were protected by Divine power.

The king, then probably a little uncertain as to whether or not he had acted wisely, peered into the fiery furnace after the flames subsided somewhat, and discovered not only were the three Hebrews alive, but there was a fourth person with them, “like the Son of God.” (Dan. 3:25) Only the cords which bound them had been burned, and as a result of this, the king saw them walking about in the fire. Then he called them forth from the flames, and said:

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”—Dan. 3:28,29

We might go on recalling these thrilling incidents in which the Lord glorified himself in the eyes, not only of Israel, but frequently of the surrounding nations. These observed the wonderful manner in which he fought for his people and delivered his faithful servants. These three Hebrews were witnesses of Israel’s God, not so much because they explained his glorious characteristics to the people, but because he manifested his favor to them on account of their unwavering faithfulness to him.


The Lord himself sums up this viewpoint for us very clearly and beautifully, saying:

“Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters [as in the passage of the Red Sea], I will be with thee; and through the rivers [as in the crossing of Jordan], they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore, ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.”—Isa. 43:1-3,11,12

In the intervening verses of this revealing chapter the Lord indicates that his future dealings with his people Israel would also witness to his glory. Verses six and seven read; “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

This is a reference to the regathering of scattered Israel as it is being accomplished at the present time. There are many prophecies which show that this would take place at the end of the present age. We will quote one of these for confirmation:

“Behold, the days come saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them.”—Jer. 16:14-16

The fact that the natural seed of Abraham are now going back to the promised land in unbelief, motivated, not by their love for God but by their desire for security, does not disprove the beginning of the fulfilment of these wonderful prophecies. It should be noted that their present exodus from the nations is likened to their exodus from Egypt. At that time the motive was to escape from slavery, and it was because of their lack of faith and their rebellion against their God that they were allowed to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

That we should expect to see them go to Palestine in unbelief is clearly indicated by the prophecy of Ezekiel 20:33-37, which reads:

“As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: and I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. … And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.”


Several important facts appear in this prophecy of Israel’s return to the promised land. One is that God rules over them in his ‘fury’ in order to accomplish it. This language does not describe the voluntary returning of a people motivated by love for their God. They are first brought into ‘the wilderness of the people.’ This expression indicates that for a time the returned exiles would be in the same confusion and unbelief as the world around them. God pleads with them ‘face to face.’ He would not need to plead with them if they were wholeheartedly for him and had accepted Jesus as their Redeemer.

After they are caused to pass under Jehovah’s ‘rod’ of punishment they are finally brought ‘into the bond of the covenant.’ This shows that when they are first restored to Palestine they are not in covenant relationship with God. Jeremiah 31:31-34 informs us that the time is coming when the Lord will make “a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” But this will not be until they have been brought ‘under the rod’ of discipline, and after their eyes have been opened to behold the glory of the Lord.

The prophecy of Ezekiel, in chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine, gives us a clue as to when this will take place. Evidently Israel is to become much more firmly established and prosperous in the promised land than at present, sufficiently so to attract aggressor hordes from the north and other quarters to mount an attack against them. It will be in this attack that God will again fight for his people as he did in the days of old.

The prophecy states that Jehovah will plead against the leader of Israel’s enemies “with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”—Ezek. 38:22


The result of this will be the opening of the eyes of the nations to the glory of God. And not only so, but Ezekiel 39:7 declares, “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.”

Thus, as God brought glory to his name by the wonderful manner in which he dealt with Israel in the past, it will yet be so again. In this way they will continue to be his witnesses, not because they are diligent in making known the virtues of his character, but because, as in the past, he will protect and deliver then, and will forgive their transgressions. Along this line the Lord further declares to Israel:

“Thou hast brought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”—Isa. 43:24,25

The Apostle Paul enlarges upon this thought when, in forecasting the return of Israel to covenant relationship with God after ‘the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,’ he says:

“So all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”—Rom. 11:26-33

So, after many centuries of patient waiting, during which the Lord has chastised Israel in their exile among the nations, he will bring them back to himself, and enter into covenant relationship with them. Paul informs us that this will also mean “life from the dead.” (vs. 15) Yes, all Israel, the living and the dead, will again be used by the Lord as a means of revealing his glory to them and to all the nations. So again they are to be his witnesses, even though, as the Lord explains, one of their contributions to this end was their sins, calling for the exercise of his mercy and love.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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