December 22, 2016
“Dayspring From On High”
Fr. Gary W. Thurman
Before the coming of Christ, Isaiah cried out and said, “You people, who walk in darkness, will see a great light. Those of you who live in a dark land, the light will shine on you.” We don’t like darkness; it is not a good thing. Darkness is symbolic of gloom, fear, and ultimately death. We do everything we can to fight the darkness.
I was thinking this morning, “What if I came and started to share and had Dcn. Ben turn off all the light?” As I started looking at it, it is impossible because we have a nice back door and a lot of light would pour thru from there. The Christmas lights are on different circuits, and they would stay on. The candles on the altar would stay lit. We do everything we can to make sure that it is really not dark because we understand that darkness is our enemy. Light is our friend. Darkness is inconvenient because we can’t see what we are doing. When it is dark, you can’t see what your enemy is doing. The enemy could be doing all sorts of things against you, and you don’t know, and this is one of the disadvantages of darkness.
For centuries, for the millennium, the people cried out, “Come, dayspring. Conquer the darkness. Dispel the gloomy clouds of night. Dispel the darkness. Come, dayspring from on high.” This is the only Antiphon that is taken from the New Testament passage from the song of Zechariah, the song he sang after his son, John the Baptist, was born. In the song, he talks a little bit about his son and then started talking about the One for whom John will prepare the way. In so doing, he quotes the passage from Isaiah, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” Then, he talks about the Son whom his son is going to prepare the way for, “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.” Zechariah says that when the dayspring comes, it will visit us with tender mercy. The dayspring comes to bless God’s people. It comes to help God’s people.
What is the dayspring? It is a term that we don’t hear very much. In the newer translations of the Bible, they don’t say dayspring, but sunrise or dawn. This is really what a dayspring is – it is the turning of the day. It is the coming forth of a new day. What the people were crying for when they said, “Lord, bring a dayspring from on high,” was really, “Bring us a new day; a deliverance from the darkness; a deliverance from the gloom; a deliverance from death itself.” Dayspring is a beginning of a new day; it is something that happens early.
Scriptures tell us that good things happen early in the day. In the story of Joshua, early in the morning, the people rose up, and early in the morning, the wall of Jericho fell. In Gideon, early in the morning the soldiers woke up and attacked the Midianites. The Resurrection itself says that early in the morning, on the first day of the week, the Lord arose. Good things happen early, at sunrise. Good things happen at dawn. Good things happen at dayspring.
Another passage that can be referred to in this dawning of this new day is in Hosea 6:1-3, “Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.” The Lord is tearing us and wounding us – this is darkness and it is something we don’t want to be a part of. We say, “Lord, deliver us.” God promises: “He will heal you, He will bandage you. He will revive you after two days; He will raise you up on the third day, that you may live before Him.” We are no longer in death; no longer in darkness, but in light. Verse 3, “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.” How do we make Him known? “His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, light spring rain watering the earth.”
When Hosea talks about the dawn being certain as the dawn, it is making sure that the dawn will come. Darkness is there, but it is certain that the dawn will follow. God’s coming forth is like the dawn, and Hosea uses the same word that Micah uses in another Messianic scripture when he says, “You, Bethlehem, out of you will come forth a ruler, a shepherd to rule My people Israel.” Hosea and Micah are talking about the same One, the Messiah, because they were contemporaries. They ministered at the same place and at the same time. They knew each other’s works. They knew each other’s prophecies. They were both using the same thing. Hosea says, “I will use the same word that Micah used to talk about the Messiah.” They were both talking about something that the Psalmist prophesied long before.
In Psalm 19, it talks about the sun going forth like a bridegroom. Christ is the Bridegroom and the sun in this Psalm is a symbol of Christ. “As He goes forth from one end of the heavens to the other, He brings forth a new dawn.” This is like what Jesus said in the gospel reading. “When I come again, it is like lightning from one end of the earth to the other.” It is referring back to Psalm 19, to Hosea and even to Micah. It is that coming forth from one end of the heavens, from the east to the west. This is the coming of Christ; this is the coming of the dawn; the coming of the Messiah; the coming of the new day.
Why does Zechariah in the old version of the Bible say dayspring? The word spring is important. When we think of spring, we think of something that happens fast. When we spring into action, we do something quickly. Dayspring is something that happens fast. When we see the dawn, it takes a long time. In much of the world, the daytime takes a long time to come forth. First, we see a little bit of glow in the eastern sky. Then, the total darkness slides back and the glow gets a little bit bigger. It takes a long time. Then, we may see the very tip of the sun come over the horizon, which is not very bright. Then, slowly, it rises until it takes a few minutes for the entire dawn to happen.
There is a Scottish missionary named George Mackay who has spent his whole life as a missionary in Palestine. One of his last acts was to write a book about life in Palestine. It was called Bible Manners and Customs. He described a sunrise in Palestine. He said, “In Palestine, the sun doesn’t take a long time to rise. It is almost instantaneous. One minute it is dark, the next minute you see a little light and before you know it, you see the shadows dispelling before your eyes. You see the shadows running away as the sun comes up over the horizon. In seconds, it goes from dark to light.” This is why they used the word dayspring. Prophetically, in the middle of the darkness, in the middle of the gloom, it won’t take a long time for the Lord to bring forth His light. The dayspring is a spring into deliverance; a spring into the dispelling of darkness; a spring into the light of God. This is the coming of Christ 2000 years ago and the coming of Christ in our lives.
Speaking of dawn and darkness, in our culture, the day begins at midnight. At midnight, one day ends and the next day begins. This is pretty much all over the world; but this isn’t the way it was in the culture of the Bible. The day began at evening. When we say evening, we don’t mean when it is already dark. Evening then meant to be around three o’clock, the time when the sun just began to go down. This is when they had their evening sacrifice. It wasn’t at six or eight or nine, but it was about three o’clock, which we would call afternoon. It is still light, but it is just beginning to get dark.
In other words, the day ends when it is still light and the new day begins when it is still light. Shortly after the day begins, it gets dark for how many hours and then, in the middle of what we call the day, the sun comes up, the dayspring, and it is light for the rest of the time. In other words, the day doesn’t begin in darkness, and the day does not end in darkness.
This is telling us that if we are walking in darkness now, if we feel like our life is full of darkness and gloom, this is not the beginning and this is not certainly not the end. The dayspring will rise in our hearts and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh will see it together. The darkness is not the end, the beginning of anything, and it certainly not the end of anything. The darkness will not last because the dawn is certain, as Hosea says. It is certain as the coming of Christ and the coming of Christ is as certain as the dawn. The last thing that will happen will not be darkness, but dawn.
In Revelation 21, there will come a time when there will be no more night. There will be no more day. There will be no more sun and moon. What there will be is light, not darkness. Darkness will be banished; darkness will be abolished. Revelation 22 also says that all these things will be gone and there will never be night in the kingdom of God because no day ever starts with darkness, no day ever ends with darkness. It always begins with the light. Darkness may come on our way in our journey, but in the end there will be light because the dawn, the dayspring is certain. We will be surprised at how fast it happens, and this is the reason it is called dayspring, not dawn.
The prophet said that the dayspring will arise. Zechariah said that dayspring will come to us to put an end to the shadow of death. This is what the people were crying for so many years, centuries and millennium, “Bring us that dayspring, that immediate coming, that immediate abolishing of death.” This is just what Jesus did as Hosea said that on the third day, He brought us out of darkness.
God’s work is a dayspring; it is a quick work. It will be a fast work, an unusual work. It won’t take a long time. This is how God can work in our lives sometimes. This is the way light is. Light doesn’t take a long time. When you turn the switch, it doesn’t slowly come on; it is there.
This is the hope of Israel. This is what they were crying for, asking the Lord for, “Bring us that dayspring,” and this is what the Lord did when He brought us the Lord Jesus Christ, the event which we celebrate a couple of evenings from now.
The song says, “Rejoice! Rejoice, O Israel!” Rejoice, O Cathedral of the King! We may feel like we have been in darkness a long time, but it is time for the dayspring – not the gradual evolving and slowly getting better, but the dayspring. God does a quick work when He does it! This is the hope that we have; this is the hope that we walk in. The whole brief experience in our salvation is that dayspring to rise us in our hearts and to shine forth in our lives.