Light at Home
When the children of Israel were in Goshen and judgment was falling on the land of Egypt, it is recorded that “there was a thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt” while “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Exod. 10: 22, 23). These things are written for our instruction (see Rom. 15: 4) and can be spiritually applied. Thus the Christian household, like the house of the Israelite in Goshen, has a quality that distinguishes it from the household of an unbeliever: it is a house is marked by light. Now by light I do not mean doctrinal light, all–important as that is, but the outshining of practical Christianity, as with the household of “[the] elect lady” whose children walked “in truth” (2 John v4). This light has nothing to do with the earthly light of natural fairness, kindness and amiability. Certainly we should be thankful to God for having given to man a conscience and natural affections, but this is not heavenly light in a Christian sense. All that is divine, is also truly moral, but not everything that is moral is divine. The sun is a light, but not every light is sunlight. Thus there are heavenly lights, and there are earthly lights. The household of an unconverted family, illuminated with the most pleasant natural amiability, contains only earthly light. It cannot keep out the darkness of Satan’s kingdom. Nor has anyone ever been brought to a saving knowledge of God by such natural family–respectability. Indeed, on the contrary, many precious souls have been led into the swamps by it, for Satan easily transforms himself into an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11: 14), and has no difficulty in shining with the halo of natural respectability and amiability in families headed by infidels or heretics. Such light may be lurid, but it is also delusive, for it bears no relation to the pure light of heaven that marks the true Christian household. Earthly light does not keep out the darkness, but only increases and serves it. The Egyptians had no doubt plenty of lamps and candles in their houses, but that did not exclude the darkness. They were poor lights that only served to draw attention to the darkness. It is the same with the light of natural respectability, kindness amiability, human religion and “false–named knowledge” (1 Tim. 6: 20). Such light only makes the Christian, on entering such a house, realise all the more painfully the spiritual darkness and the absence of divine light. Oh how he longs that the “God who spoke that out of darkness light should shine” would shine in their hearts “for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in [the] face of [Jesus] Christ” (2 Cor. 4: 6)!
So much for the house of an unbeliever. How sad if a believer’s house is not filled with all the brilliance of divine light as it should be! It will always be there of course, but perhaps hardly discernible, hidden “under the couch” (Mark 4: 21). Who can tell the number of precious souls that have been stumbled away from the light of the Gospel by inconsistencies in the families and households of professing Christians! Is there anything more tragic than Lot’s earnest pleading with his sons–in–law being “as if he jested” (Gen. 19: 14)? The contrast with Abraham is striking: “For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Jehovah” (Gen. 18: 19).
How is it then that our domestic life often falls so sadly short of being the expression and reflector of heaven? Is it not because we have so little entered in a real way into the realisation of our heavenly position and its relationships? Let me illustrate: the pendulum of a clock is suspended from a pivot above it without which it would not move below. Now the pivot is within the clock and invisible, but it is the starting–point for the visible movement of the pendulum below. If anything is wrong up there (from lack of oil or through rust) then the pendulum stops, or moves irregularly below. That is why in Ephesians and Colossians the Holy Spirit takes pains to set before the soul the truth of our settled heavenly relationship and position, and then having done that, the practical walk as becomes such a relationship—personally, in marriage, in families and in business. Nor is it the mere assurance, by faith, of our heavenly relationships, but the daily realisation of them in the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to be reflected in our earthly relationships. In the same measure, for instance, as Christian parents fail to “see what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called [the] children of God” (1 John 3: 1) so they will fail to manifest and reflect this love towards their own children in the flesh. And so it is with the other relationships: in the same degree as we are at home in our blessings up there, so we shall fill our place in our respective relationships down here. If, for example, I do not behave as I should as the head of my family, then it only goes to show that I am not holding the Head above. We little think how often the manner of our behaviour at home betrays how little we are at home above, and how loosely we hold that blessed Head at the right hand of God. May we, dear brethren, take these matters to heart! There is very little point in exulting in the doctrinal portion of Ephesians, if there is not a corresponding reflection practically in our household relationships!