Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”Luke 1:78-79
Zacharias could hardly contain his joy! After 10-months of forced silence, he finally held his long-awaited son, John, in his arms. Now with his lips loosed, and his ears opened, his heart was overwhelmed that his son would be the prophet of the Most High. He prophesied that this birth, and the Christ’s, were the dawning of a new spiritual day. His words were like those of a songbird who sings because he sees the beams of sunlight crest over the horizon.
The light had indeed come into the world. But to appreciate the dawning of the day, we need to understand something of the preceding darkness of the night.
Darkness Precedes the Light
Last summer, my family and I went spelunking (otherwise known as cave exploring). With our headlamps on, we hiked deep into the belly of the cave. Once we reached a large living-room-like space at the end, we turned our headlamps off to experience being in total darkness. The darkness was so intense, I couldn’t tell if my eyes were opened or closed. We dared not move in such darkness for fear of getting lost or falling. The thought occurred to me, “What if all of the batteries in our flashlights died at once?” How frightening it would be to remain in that darkness!
This is the picture of humanity apart from the light of Jesus Christ. We are lost and helpless in utter darkness. Zacharias’ song of praise harkens to the last words spoken from the prophet Malachi, four hundred years before another type of darkness descended on the nation of Israel…the darkness of silence. These were almost the very last words spoken in the Old Testament:
“But to you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”Malachi 4:2
Dayspring From on High has Visited Us
The Old Testament closed with the promise of new light, the Sun of Righteousness, that was coming, and the New Testament opened with it. Both Mary and Zacharias saw the parallels and understood that the Sun of Righteousness and the Dayspring were converging in the birth of Jesus Christ. Darkness was scattering, and the long-awaited Dayspring from on high was about to visit.
How unusual and descriptive this Messianic title of “Dayspring” is! It comes from the Greek word ‘anatole’ and it’s translated as “the east.” It’s the same word used three times to describe the wise men and “his star in the east” (Matthew 2:1,2,9). The star in the east was the light that led them to the Light, the Dayspring himself. But this wasn’t the last we’d see of the light. Even more light was coming!
Some Loved the Darkness
About thirty years later, the Light of the World (John 8:12) began teaching, healing, and raising the dead to life all around Judea. Christ’s message of sinners placing their faith and trust in him, caused darkness to bristle and flee. Not everyone loved the light, and many preferred to stay in the darkness (John 3:18-20).
But his light couldn’t be ignored. Satan tried, by his human agents, to stomp it out at the cross. Three days later, at sunrise the women who had watched the Lord be crucified and buried, came to anoint him with spices, only to learn that another type of sunrise had occurred. This time it was a S-O-N-rise! Death and darkness had been defeated, and the Son of God had risen from the grave.
From the manger to the empty tomb, the Dayspring brought a new covenant. Now the forgiveness of sins would be covered not through the sacrifice of lambs and bulls, but by his sacrifice. Our peace with God was secured by the tender mercies of God.
The First, Future (& Final) Sunrise
Christmas celebrates the advent of the first sunrise. A new day had come, and light indeed visited us in that lowly manger bed. But there is still another sunrise coming. Just as the Old Testament closed with the promise of a future sunrise, the New Testament does too. It’s promised in the very last chapter of the Bible. This future sunrise will be different because every other sunrise has been preceded by darkness, this one brings with it perpetual light.
For Jesus, himself will replace the sun in the new Jerusalem. “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Forever we will be with him, and he himself will be our source of light.
Dear friend, no matter what sort of darkness surrounds your life this Christmas, it is only temporary. There is coming a day when there will never be darkness again. Not only will there be no more nighttime, but no strife, or strained relationships, or gnawing unrest, or unsatisfied desires, or any pricks of an accusing conscience.
Instead, we’ll find the fulfillment of every longing heart completely and wholly satisfied in Jesus. With him comes only light and life, and unending, unbounded joy. For as sure as he came the first time, this is our hope for his next advent. We watch and we wait with anticipation for that Day to spring forth. That Dayspring from on high!
Walk in the Light While We Wait
Until that glorious day, there is only one way of peace. We must follow in the beams of his radiant light. His Word is like a headlamp, whose batteries never die. It casts light onto our path and keeps our feet from slipping (Psalm 119:105, 94:17-18). If we are children of light, we must walk in his light.
The Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Nothing deeper, nothing wider, nothing truer about the mission of Christ’s coming could have been spoken.
He stepped down out of the glorious light of heaven into the darkness of our sinful, fallen world to redeem and to save. When we follow the Light of the World, we won’t walk in darkness, but we will forever have the light of life (John 8:12).
The dawning of this New Day is our gospel-hope, and it’s the hope of every longing heart this Christmas.
Because the Dayspring on high has visited us,
Thank you for following along in this series Every Longing Heart! I pray you and yours have a joyous light-filled Christmas celebrating the Dayspring from on High!