Divine Understanding

Jesus taught,

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

John 3:19–21

In these words of Jesus we see two opposite words: LIGHT and DARKNESS. As used in John 3:19, the meaning of light is to shine or make manifest and the meaning of darkness is the darkness of error.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Light!

  • John 12:46 – “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.”
  • John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
  • Psalm 27:1 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”
  • John 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:”
  • John 1:4 – “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
  • John 1:5 – “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
  • John 1:9 – “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1, 2).

In these verses the truth which is communicated is that the Lord is the light and also His glory is the light. What is also revealed is the fact that darkness covers the world, therefore the peoples of earth are in gross or thick darkness! But Jesus, who is the Light, will lighten the earth and every person with His glory.

Isaiah prophesied of the mission of Jesus the Messiah, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined … For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:2, 6).

Doctor Luke tells us concerning Jesus, “Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78, 79).

John, the beloved apostle, in another way tells of the mission of Jesus to this earth, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding (pertaining to the mind), that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (I John 5:20).

The Scripture and the Gospel are light also:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 – “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
  • Psalm 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

The Bible also teaches that God’s law is light:

  • Proverbs 6:23 – “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light.”

The truth is light:

  • Psalm 43:3 – “O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles.”
  • Jesus, who is the light, is also the truth (John 14:6). Therefore the light and the truth are one and the same thing.

We then can conclude that the Scriptures, the gospel, the law, and the truth are embodied in Jesus Christ who is THE LIGHT! I John 1:5 states, “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”

Therefore, with reference to Jesus as the light, there is no error, no disregard for truth, no compatibility with error, nor any falsehood in Him! 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15, first part, tells us: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?”

The apostle John tells us, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (I John 1:6). To live in disobedience after professing Christ is to live a lie and this makes us children of the devil.

The devil is the originator of darkness (disobedience or error)

  • John 8:43, 44 – “Why do ye not understand (or know or perceive) my speech? even because ye cannot hear (or understand) My word.
  • “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Darkness in the Bible is associated with evil deeds.

John 3:19, 20 says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness (the original Greek usage taken literally or figuratively means ‘darkness of error’) rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

What is it that keeps people, especially those who are exposed to light, from appreciating the light or walking in the light? The experience of Moses and his call to deliver the Hebrews demonstrate the nature of the problem.

We read in Acts 7:22–24: “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian.”

Here we see recorded for our benefit the experience of Moses and his association with his fellow Hebrews in Egypt. We see that even the mighty man Moses, having arrived at full manhood and being a man of power in every way was an utter failure without God. No divine work can be done without God. Stephen tells the story at length in order to follow it with the glorious story of what Moses accomplished for Israel when God was with him.

The priestly cast of the Egyptians was famed for its knowledge of science, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, and constituted the nobility about Pharaoh. In all their wisdom, was Moses educated! And this magnificent education and training was not wasted; they produced a man who was powerful in words and deeds, mightily equipped for leadership; similar to that spoken about Jesus.

Moses, too, felt this urge to leadership. He was now reaching the age of forty, or full maturity. With the thought in his own heart, as Stephen carefully states, he proceeded to understand for himself, with his own eyes, “his brethren, the sons of Israel,” to what he might do for them.

Here the act of Moses is entirely beneficent, for he intends to look upon “his brethren,” his own blood and kin, the sons of Israel, the heirs of God’s covenant. Although he was reared and grew to manhood in the pagan court, Moses had not become an Egyptian in heart and soul. These enslaved Israelites were his real brethren. He was one of them, not merely by nationality, but spiritually. Moses had not lost his faith. He shared Israel’s hope and Israel’s spirit. The fact that they were nothing but slaves did not alienate him from them.

How had he escaped all the idolatry in the midst of which he had been reared? How had the faith of Israel been put into his heart and been preserved there?

In the book Patriarchs and Prophets, page 245, we are told: “Angels instructed Moses also that Jehovah had chosen him to break the bondage of His people. He, supposing that they were to obtain their freedom by force of arms, expected to lead the Hebrew host against the armies of Egypt, and having this in view, he guarded his affections, lest in his attachment to his foster mother or to Pharaoh he would not be free to do the will of God.”

On one occasion Moses decided to visit the Israelites to see them in their oppression as slaves. He saw an Israelite being wronged by an Egyptian in some shameful way, a task master lashing the defenseless slave. Not only did Moses come to the Israelite’s defense, but he also exacted vengeance for the oppressed by fatally smiting the Egyptian.

Luke 18:7 reveals the path that Christians should take when dealing with wrong done to them. “And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?”

We at once see the love and loyalty of Moses to his brethren, but also note that his tremendous power and energy are badly misdirected. He is by no means as yet ready for the great task of which he is dreaming, for he acted without following God’s direction. Why was all of this so? Moses was lacking divine understanding and he was about to face another frightening reality!

We read in Acts 7:25, “For he supposed his brethren would have understood (to put together, e.g., mentally; to comprehend) how that God by His hand would deliver them: but they understood not.”

Moses believed that his brethren would understand that God through His hand was giving salvation to them. The astonishing thing is that Moses already felt himself to be the deliverer of his people, an instrument of God. He even supposed that his brethren understood this, and that, when the one he had rescued would tell about the mighty Moses who delivered him, they would all look up to him. But he was sadly mistaken; his people understood nothing of the sort.

Moses’ expectation was quite reasonable, for indeed God had chosen him to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage. Moses’ understanding concerning the method of deliverance was totally incorrect, but even more grave is the fact that God’s people failed to understand that God had not forgotten them and was about to show His favor toward them by way of delivering them from Egyptian bondage.

God’s people too often do not understand. They are spiritually blind and therefore are unready for God’s way of life. Why? Because of spiritual darkness, an acceptance and appreciation of error above light or truth!

The problem that both Moses, as well as the Hebrews, had was their failure to understand God’s way!

Here is the dictionary definition of understanding:

  • Webster – to get to perceive the meaning of; know or grasp what is meant by; to know thoroughly; grasp or perceive clearly and fully the nature, character, functioning, etc.; to have a sympathetic rapport with.
  • Oxford – to perceive the meaning of words, a person, a language, etc.; to perceive the significance or explanation or cause of. Be sympathetically aware of the character or nature of; to know how to deal with.

Accordingly, these dictionary meanings specifically address the area of cognition, which focuses on the acquisition of knowledge and a correct interpretation of that information.

Evidently, the Hebrews, because of their status, were not at that cognitive level that enabled them to process knowledge correctly. Moses, by virtue of his training, was at a higher cognitive level. Yet both Moses and the Hebrews were lacking in divine understanding, for God’s definition of understanding transcends the comprehension of ideas!

In John chapter 7:14–17 are recorded these words: “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this Man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know (or “understand”) of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.”

Divine Understanding Defined:

  • “Disobedience has closed the door to a vast amount of knowledge that might have been gained from the Scriptures. Understanding means obedience to God’s commandments. The Scriptures are not to be adapted to meet the prejudice and jealousy of men. They can be understood only by those who are humbly seeking for a knowledge of the truth that they may obey it.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 112.

  • “Those who walk in obedience will know what truth is … . In order to know the truth, we must be willing to obey. Those whose affections are placed on the world are not willing to give up their plans for the plans of Christ. They walk in darkness, not knowing whither they go.” Our High Calling, 16.

Dr. Oswald Chambers in his book, My Utmost For His Highest puts it this way: “The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience.

“If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey. No man ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test over it. We disobey and then wonder why we don’t improve spiritually.”

“All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you will obey, a flash of light comes. The only way you can get to know is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away.”

“Whoever will prayerfully study the Bible, desiring to know the truth, that he may obey it, will receive divine enlightenment. He will understand the Scriptures.” The Desire of Ages, 459.


They have no desire to know the truth that they may render loving obedience to Jesus!

Job says in his book, chapter 28:28: “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”

David also tells us in Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.” In Psalm 119:100 David also states, “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.”

Moses’ counsel to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:5, 6: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

The prophet’s appeal to the house of Jacob is very applicable to us today, “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).

“If we do not choose to give ourselves fully to God then we are in darkness.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 92.

Jesus appeals to us in these words: “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:35, 36, first part).

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.