The Shadow of Glory (Part 2)

They brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. (Acts 5:15 KJV)

WE often think of a shadow as a place of darkness, but considering the positive role that shadows often play in the Scriptures (see Shadow of Glory, Part 1), perhaps it will be more fruitful for us to remember that a shadow is a place that is surrounded by light. Identifying shadows with light rather than darkness, we can begin to understand how to cast the shadows of the kingdom of God: We cast a shadow whenever we are surrounded by the light.

In the case of Peter’s shadow, darkness was not only surrounded by the light but was overcome by it as well. The Greek word for “overshadow” here is episkiazo. In every other place where it is found in the Bible, it is related to a powerful, tangible manifestation of the glory of God. No wonder it overcame the darkness of sickness, disease, and even demonic oppression. For as verse 16 notes, “Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

Understanding Darkness

Before we go any further, there is something fundamental we need to understand about darkness, and that is this: Darkness is not the presence of something, it is the absence of something. Darkness is not a thing in itself, it has no real existence on its own. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. That is why you can turn on a light switch, but you can’t turn on a dark switch. You can shine a light in the darkness, but you can’t shine a dark in the lightness. Light is something; darkness is nothing but the absence of light.

This is why it is impossible for darkness to overcome light. Wherever light is present, darkness is no more. Have you ever noticed that when you go home to a dark house and turn on the light, the darkness immediately disappears? Have you ever wondered about where that darkness goes? Does it push outside the doors and windows and pile up with all the other darkness that is already out there, making it even more dark outside? Of course not! When you turn on the light, the darkness is simply gone. It has disappeared and is no more. That’s because light thoroughly overcomes darkness.

Now that we have more understanding about darkness in the physical realm,  let’s consider it in the spiritual realm. We might talk about spiritual darkness as sin, evil, poverty, sickness, death, and so on. Just as physical darkness in not a thing in itself, the same can be said about spiritual darkness. It is not the presence of something, but rather the absence of something.

For example, sin is the absence of righteousness. In both the Old and New Testaments, the word for “sin” basically means “to miss the mark.” In the context of Scripture, sin is missing the mark of the righteousness of God. That is, it is the absence of righteousness. We can follow through with all the elements of spiritual darkness. Evil is simply the lack of good. Poverty is the absence of provision. Sickness is a deficiency of health, and death is the total lack of life.

Understanding Light

Now let’s talk about the light. The first thing we need to understand is that God is light. The Bible says, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God is light and in Him is no lack or deficiency of any kind.

Not only is God Himself light, He is also the source of all light, both in the natural and in the spiritual. James calls Him “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Genesis teaches that, on the very first day of Creation, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3). God is Himself the light of Creation, shining even before the sun, moon and stars were created. He is also the light of the Consummation, the completion of all things. John the Revelator describes the New Jerusalem coming down to earth and says, “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light” (Revelation 22:5).

Light is redemptive. Every time we find “light” mentioned in Scripture, it is bringing forth something good, introducing or restoring what has been lacking. That is why Jesus, whose very name depicts salvation in all its aspects, is described as light. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [overcome] it” (John 1:4-5). John the Baptist gave witness to Jesus, that He was “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:8).

God is light, Jesus is light, and all those who receive the Lord Jesus are called children of light. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

Once we were of the darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. The function of light is to shine and dispel the darkness. That is what happened with Peter. He learned how to have a shadow which shined with the glory of God and dispelled the darkness around him. The power of God became powerfully made known. The result is that people were saved, people were healed, people were set free.

It is like what happened when the woman with the issue of blood came and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. She was healed. She felt the healing power of God come into her body, making her whole. At the same time, Jesus felt the healing power of God flow forth from His body (Luke 8:43-48). Many others received healing in the exact same way. The Gospel of Mark, in language that is reminiscent of Acts 5:15, says, “Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well” (Mark 6:56). Was this not the “overshadowing” of the glory of God?

Think again of Paul in Acts 19: “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12). The power of God came forth in real and substantial ways, restoring health and freedom where it had been lacking. Was this not also an “overshadowing” of God’s glory and goodness dispelling the darkness?

How to have a shadow

Since all those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ are called children of light, it must be possible for us to live in the light, to shine the light in dark places and to reflect the light of God’s glory, even focusing it like a laser in powerful ways. In other words, it is possible for us to overshadow others with the life-changing power of God, to bring salvation, healing, freedom and the peace of God into their lives. Here are four principles by which we can begin.

1. Walk in the light.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

God is light. When we walk in the light as He is in the light, we experience close fellowship with Him, and the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood. You see, the overshadowing glory is the glory of God Himself. It is all about Him. As we walk with Him we will be enveloped in His glory, and we will cast the shadow of His glory everywhere we go.

2. Walk in love.

Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:8-10)

The Bible says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is love, and it is the nature of love to give and serve. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10.45).

When we learn to walk in love toward others — to give and serve and lay down our lives for them — we will experience God and His love in deeper, more intimate ways, and we will be walking in the light of His glory, casting the shadow of His healing love wherever it is needed.

3. Walk in the Word.

The Psalm writer said, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “The entrance of your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). In fact, Psalms 1, 19 and 119 all speak in depth about the Word of God and how walking in obedience to it brings the power and blessing of heaven into our lives.

God’s Word is a light that shines in the darkness, as Peter well understood: “And so we have the prophetic Word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). When we receive the Word of God in faith, and the morning star (Jesus) rises in our hearts, the shadow of His glory begins to release into our lives.

4. Walk in Worship.

The Bible says, “A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out” (Leviticus 6:13). The fire on the altar is the light of worship. It never goes out, but burns day and night, casting its light on all that surrounds.

In the tabernacle of David there were no walls (1 Chronicles 16), so all could behold the Ark of the Covenant and the glory of God’s presence. The fire on the alter, and the praises of God’s people burned continually before the Lord, and the shadow of His glory covered the land and its inhabitants with His blessing.

Worship is speaking forth and declaring the worth-ship, or worthiness of God. We glorify God by showing and proclaiming His goodness. David said, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Ruth Ward Heflin understood this connection between worship and the manifestation of God’s glory, and she offered this counsel: “Praise until the Spirit of Worship comes. Worship until the Glory comes. Then stand in the Glory.”

As we stand in the glory of God, the fire on the altar of our hearts burning brightly with His love, we cannot help but to cast shadows that bring the healing, freedom and peace of God into the lives of others.

© 2004 by Jeff Doles.
All rights reserved.

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“JEFF DOLES is a Christian author, blogger and Bible teacher. His books include The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth: Keys to the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew and Praying With Fire: Change Your World with the Powerful Prayers of the Apostles. He and his wife, Suzanne, are the founders of Walking Barefoot Ministries. Visit their website at”

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