"Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you" Isaiah 60:1-2.
Darkness is often equated with evil, but is that really the case? I don't think God always views it that way. Why? God is the one responsible creating darkness (Genesis ). He made night and day and called His handiwork good. In subsequent verses, darkness gets top billing - "and there was evening and there was morning."
Night and darkness bring a necessary respite from the sun's heat, providing an environment for rest and sleep. Experience a total blackout and watch life's pace slow dramatically. If living in total darkness is really so terrible shouldn't we see scores of blind people freaking out?
A look at the tabernacle reveals God's willingness to dwell in darkness. The Holy of Holies contained no artificial light sources. The only light was God Himself. According to 1 Kings 8:12 God chooses to dwell in thick darkness.
Symbolizing depravity, sermons/teachings on Isaiah 60:1-2 often paint darkness as something terrible, but is it? Used twice in these two verses, the meanings of the word darkness differ.
"...darkness covers the earth..." The word here is choshak which means dark. This word described the plague that fell on and immobilized
and was a direct show of superior power over their sun god.
"...thick darkness is over the peoples..." This word is araphel and means gloom in the context of a lowering of the sky or a dark cloud. In Exodus the physical cloud that Moses entered to meet with God was araphel.
Is it possible that the light in verse one is the glory of God contained in His thick dark cloud (araphel) that hangs over the earth? Could the choshak indicate a removal of any and all distractions meant to keep people from seeing God's light and glory? If so, darkness is a good thing.
I'm not minimizing or discounting the difficult times that will come. The bible is clear, there will be wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes. You don't need to prophet to know this, just read the book.
I think Isaiah is portraying a marvelous interaction between God and man which will bring His light and clarity during trying times. Rather than avoiding that darkness, it will be the right place to go.
How about you? How do you feel about darkness and the night? If afraid, what do you think is the root of your fear? How would things differ if God surrounded you with choshak and eliminated anything that would hinder you from seeing and focusing on Him? Is darkness really always bad or evil?