Apart from its literal meaning, darkness often has a figurative meaning in the Bible. Its most common figurative usage is as a symbol for evil. This symbolic usage is natural, for wrongdoers prefer darkness to light. It enables them to carry out their wrongdoing more easily (Neh 6:10; Ps 91:5-6; Isa 29:15; Jer 49:9; Luke 22:53; John 3:19-20; Rom 13:12-13; 1 Thess 5:2,7). The world of humankind, because of sin, is a place of darkness and death. Believers need not fear this darkness, for God has become their light (Ps 23:4; 27:1; Micah 7:8; Eph 5:14).

In fact, when people receive God’s salvation they come, as it were, out of a kingdom of darkness into one of light (Isa 9:2; 42:6-7; Luke 1:76-79; Col 1:13). They must therefore no longer live as if they belonged to the darkness, but live as those who belong to the light (2 Cor 6:14; Eph 5:8-11; see LIGHT). An intervention by God in human affairs may be accompanied by unnatural darkness (Deut 4:11; Matt 27:45-46). This is particularly the case if the intervention is one of judgment (Joel 2:2,31; cf. Rev 16:10-11). Therefore, the Bible may speak symbolically of a day of judgment as a day of darkness (Amos 5:20; Zeph 1:15). In keeping with this symbolism, the Bible depicts the final destiny of unrepentant sinners as a place of terrifying and everlasting darkness (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13).

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