“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)
As Zacharias begins to conclude his prophecy of Christ and then of his son, John the Baptist’s role in the gospel, he introduces Jesus as the “dayspring from on high” come down to visit us. Christ’s first advent was certainly the dawning of a new ray of light for the Jewish community of his day, but in a much more broad sense, Jesus and the light of the good news of the gospel is a light in a dark place for the children of God.
Jesus Christ was born into a first-century Jewish culture that was as dark as ever seen before. They were four hundred years into the “silent years” from the Lord, where God did not send them a prophet after Malachi. They were in spiritual darkness. That vacuum created by a lack of God-ordained prophecy was filled by self-righteous Pharisees who had created their own version of God’s law and imposed their own ideas and practices harshly upon the people. The Pharisees and the Sanhedrin imposed this severe yoke of bondage upon the people of their day by holding them to an unscriptural standard that God never intended for the people to bear. Then, also considering the wickedness of the Romans who ruled over Judea then, it was a time of almost unprecedented spiritual darkness at the time of Jesus’ birth.
However, in the midst of that darkness, a light came on to the scene. As quoted in one of the recent Batman movies, “the night is always darkest before the dawn” and that was the case with the birth of Christ. The “dayspring” literally means “sunrise or dawning”, indicating that after a time of the severe darkness of night, the light of day begins to spring up and quench the darkness that had previously ruled the scene. What a great depiction of the coming of Jesus’ ministry during such a dark time of spiritual night! Jesus came as the literal dawning of a new day, manifesting the light of the gospel kingdom, as the “light of the world” was manifested personally here in time. Notice the origin of this dayspring; the dayspring came down “from on high”. The source of this light is the heavens, from on high, and Jesus came down from the heavens as the dawning of a new sunrise of the gospel for the people of God.
John the Baptist’s role as the forerunner of Christ was prophesied many times in scripture and quite a few times in Malachi. Near those verses speaking of John and Jesus we find: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…” (Mal. 4:2) Jesus is here described as the “Sun of righteousness”. Jesus is certainly the “Son of God”, being the only begotten Son of God his Father. However, Jesus is also the “Sun”, the source of light, heat, and growth. Furthermore, this “Sun” is characterized by righteousness. For those who fear the name of God, we are promised by Malachi that Jesus as that Sun (as that dawning of the dayspring) shall arise (just like the sunrise) in our hearts with healing in his wings. When we properly reverence and fear God, the light of the Sun of righteousness will give light and heat to our cold and dark hearts, and we can feel that healing of God deep into our souls.
Just after Peter finishes describing his firsthand eyewitness testimony of the transfiguration, he tells us of an even more reliable word of prophecy than even his eyewitness testimony: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 Pet. 1:19) The word of God is an even more reliable source than the eyewitness testimony of the apostle himself. That’s pretty impressive! Notice, when we “take heed” to the word of God – to that more sure word of prophecy – then a light will shine in a dark place and we will experience a spiritual sunrise in our hearts. The “day star” (the same Jesus who is the “dayspring from on high” and the “Sun of righteousness”) will arise (you will experience the sunrise and light and heat of Jesus) in your hearts when you take heed to the word of God.
We can experience the light of the dayspring in many ways in our lives, but one of the primary means of getting to see and feel that sunrise in your heart is by reading and studying the more sure word of prophecy, the scriptures. Jesus is the light of the world, and we certainly need to let that light beam out of us. In conjunction with that as well, we also desperately need to feel the light and heat of that sunrise in our hearts, as we are prone to get cold and dark and distant here in this world. Be looking for that dayspring sunrise today.