Post Tenebras Lux
Post Tenebras Lux is a Latin phrase which when translated into English essentially reads “light after darkness”, or more formally, “after darkness, light”. The most direct usage of the phrase in Scripture appears in the Latin Vulgate version of Job 17:12 as “After darkness, I hope for light”. For John Calvin, the phrase summarized what the Protestant Reformation was all about, eventually becoming its official motto. Why these words? Because after years of attempted suppression and distortion of the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God providentially and powerfully brought about its unveiling
and resurgence through the events of the Reformation.
There is perhaps no more vivid motif woven throughout the storyline of the Bible as that of light invading darkness. From Genesis, to the Psalms, to the Prophets, we are confronted with this imagery (Genesis 1:4; Psalm 18:28, 139:12; Job 26:10, Proverbs 4:18). The Prophet Isaiah foretells of and describes the Messiah’s impending mission of rescue for His covenant people, those who walked in darkness, as a foray of light (Isaiah 9:2). The New Testament picks up with the imagery - both the Gospels and the epistles are permeated with the contrast between darkness and light (Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79; John 8:12, 9:5; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus Christ is described, both the Old Testament and the New, as the Light that has come into the world. Where darkness represents mankind’s rebellion, sin and separation from God (John 3:19-21; Proverbs 4:19); light represents mankind’s restoration to God in and through Jesus (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Matthew 5:14; Isaiah 60:1-3).
As followers of Jesus celebrate and reflect upon the 503rd anniversary of the Reformation,, a pandemic continues to spread across the globe. In the U.S., a contentious and polarizing election is upon us. We are perhaps tempted to view the darkness that marks our present season as unique. We need only look to the Scriptures and the history of the Church to see that it is not. The darkness of our day is common to humankind - it entered our world through our rebellion against God. It cannot be repelled by any human innovation, system, or ideal. Politics cannot rescue us from the darkness surrounding us. Modern medicine, the incredible gift of grace that it is, cannot beat back the darkness that continues to encroach upon us. Only Christ, the Light of the world, possesses the power to defeat the darkness of sin and death now and forever.
Praise God the Light has come into our darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5).