SHADES AND SHADOWS
Anglican Morning Devotion, 3 March 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalms 23:1-6; all scripture quoted is from the king James Version)
Shadows are sometimes alluded to as shades, or spirits. Perhaps the reason is that shadows represent a presence but a presence that no one can see. You see, a shadow is not something you can see. It is just a patch of darkness or partially blocked light. So some refer to ghosts as shades or shadows.
Shadows have been viewed with superstitious contempt in some cultures. For example, the renowned Hindu, turned Christian minister, Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), once discarded his meal when the shadow of a Christian fell across it – as if the shadow actually had the power to pollute. He later became the greatest early Christian missionary in the Himalaya and Punjab area of northern India. On visiting Europe, Singh became disenchanted with the modernism of the Church and its attachment to materialism (even at that early day).
But shadows are most often referred to in God’s Word as a place of defense and security. The 23rd Psalm is an exception to this since it describes the “shadow of death’ as only a perceived danger but not a real one. The Shadow of Death is only a time of reduced light as we walk the valleys of this world. It is a temporary absence of the full Light of the World as we walk in the long night of the soul by the reduced light of the night luminaries.
In the arid climate of the Middle East, shadows are sometimes hard to find to protect against the hot sun of day. The cold nights on the high deserts of the region are quickly turned to a furnace of almost intolerable heat at noonday. Men search for the shelter of a shade in vain in a land of sparse vegetation and almost devoid of trees other than the oasis palm tree. Jonah learned a hard lesson when he tried to escape the presence of the Lord. The Lord found Jonah on the waves of the sea, and Jonah found God in the belly of the whale at the greatest depth of the sea. Later, when the people of Nineveh repented in sackcloth and ashes, Jonah was unhappy. “So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. 6And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. 7But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. 8And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah. (Jonah 4:5-8)
The sinner, like the snail, finds it impossible to abide the hot sun of the judgment of God. But God has provided a shadow from His judgment for His elect. We are either in bondage to sin and Egypt, or servants of the Most High God. “But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. 16And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” (Isaiah 51:15-16)
The elect are sheltered beneath the wings of their Maker. Having been redeemed from the wages of sin, we abide in the shadow of His wings. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” (Psalms 91:1-6)
Do not be a Jonah and disdain the sun but embrace the shadow.