Andy Diestelkamp discusses darkness from a pastoral perspective
This summer our congregation studied what we have called “dark Bible figures”. Obscure means “undiscovered or known; uncertain ”or“ not clearly expressed or easily understood ”. It is a relative term.
What is obscure to some may not be to others. To some people, all people in the Bible are obscure, including God Himself.
Darkness is a matter of point of view. For example, just because the sun is obscured by clouds does not mean that it is obscured for everyone. You can drive to the airport on a stormy day and not see the sun at all. Yet when you take flight and rise above the storm, you can clearly see the sun.
Thus, darkness is a bit in the eye of the beholder. In the context of human history, most of us are obscure (that is, we are not famous or well known to many people); but that does not mean that we are obscure to all. Indeed, each of us is quite well known to some.
Here is a sample of some of the obscure people we studied: Melchizedek, Eliezer, Shiphrah, Puah, Bezaleel, Aholiab, Caleb, Ehud, Abigail, Mephibosheth, Jonadab, Jabez, Jehoiada, Jehosheba, Hathach, Baruch, Epaphroditus, etc. If you are a Bible student, you will recognize some of them; but what do you know about them?
Indeed, our summer study has helped us to see that those who are obscure to us are not obscure to God; and thus we are not obscure to God either. Think about it; you are not obscure to God. Scripture affirms that God is the One Who formed each one in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139). As God rhetorically said to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” (23:24).
The author of Hebrews similarly observed, “there is no creature hidden from his sight” (Hebrews 4:13). Jesus said, “Don’t you sell two sparrows for a piece of copper?” And none of them fall to the ground without the will of your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are more precious than many sparrows ”(Matthew 10: 29-31).
The New Testament book of Hebrews lists relatively famous people of faith by name in chapter 11. However, note that the chapter ends with more general descriptions of anonymous people of faith (11: 35-12: 2). We are told that the generally ungodly world was not worthy of those anonymous people of faith whom the world ignored, mocked, or persecuted in some other way.
Therefore, we who are similarly anonymous must run our races with faith and endurance, turning to Jesus. The obscurity in the human annals of history does not at all mean that our time on Earth has been wasted. We can end our races strong and have an everlasting impact for good in relative obscurity.
Those who have been sanctified (washed from sin and sanctified) by Jesus Christ are called saints (eg 1 Corinthians 1: 2). The word holy is not used in the scriptures as an upper class of Christians known to many for extraordinary accomplishments. Most saints are relatively obscure (even to other saints), but the Scriptures assure us that Jesus knows those who are His. The saints are not going to be lost or neglected by God in the mass of mankind. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep ”(John 10:14). The apostle Paul assured Timothy: “The Lord knows those who are his” (2Timothy 2:19).
Popularity is greatly overestimated. We don’t need to be noticed by the world to have meaning and significance in life. Indeed, we will be completely forgotten by the world and even our own descendants; but what matters is that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. So let us be people of faith who have full confidence in God as Creator, Support and Savior. Those written in his book will enter into the glories which God has prepared for his saints (cf. Revelation 21:27), and in this we are to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4: 3,4).
Andy Diestelkamp pastors at the Church of Christ in Pontiac