The book of Malachi contains the last prophecies of God recorded in the Old Testament. The intertestamental period, as the next four centuries are known, was devoid of messages from God to His people. Zacharias—the father of John the Baptist—broke the 400-year silence when he prophesied that “. . . the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78-79).
Zacharias was announcing the birth of Jesus into a spiritually dark world. Here is how Paul described the condition of mankind without Christ: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). The state of unbelievers today is the same as it has always been. Darkness plagues the earth because people live with a sense of frustration and futility as they attempt to please fleshly appetites that are never satisfied.
The light of Jesus Christ lets people see themselves as they really are: sinners in need of a Savior. When His hope is allowed to penetrate the heart, darkness is chased away. Receiving Him as Savior means that sins are forgiven and the death sentence lifted. The Son’s light has a second purpose for the believer. Jesus illuminates the right path for our life so that we need not give in to temptation. Whoever chooses to walk in the light—obeying God’s commands and seeking to live by His principles (Eph. 5:8-10)—cannot walk in darkness.