There came a time when the life of Messiah,1 whose life was the light of men, could no longer be found. The last of the overcomers died or were put out of the churches by men like Diotrephes,2 who forcefully suppressed any perceived threat to their solitary authority, or interruptions to their windy monologues (called sermons today). Unlike the sun, which is promised to shine as long as the earth endures,3 the light of revelation from God was only given to the humble, the ones willing to do His will. Such was Peter when he proclaimed that Yahshua was the Messiah, the Son of the living God.4 Such men and women were the only ones with the life of the Son.5
Darkness spread over the land as the last lampstands were taken out of their places,6 when each church could no longer make the confession of 1 John 4:2. This meant, as the King James translation accurately puts it, that fewer and fewer churches could honestly say that the Savior was incarnate in their midst.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.
It was not a doctrinal issue that caused John the apostle to write the letter called "1 John" to the churches. It was a deeper issue regarding the people's rejection of their Savior. He was no longer welcome in their midst. His words were given lip service, but the people's hearts were far from Him. They were drifting further and further from the amazing life the early communities had, which was described at length in Acts 2 and 4. This love in action, made possible by His grace, was the faith, or persuasion,7 that Jude had exhorted them to contend for in his letter.8 He was not speaking of a collection of doctrines about what it meant to believe.
This was just what the Master warned the Ephesians was coming upon them in Revelation 29 if they did not do the deeds they had done at first. Tragically, this warning came just forty years after Paul had admonished the same church to love Messiah with an undying, incorruptible love.10
When the communities ceased to be the very incarnation of Messiah, then the darkness Yahshua predicted in John 9 fell on the earth:
I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:4-5)
Night fell as the church changed her very nature, a change seen intellectually in defining faith not as the persuasion of the Holy Spirit to do the will of the Father, but instead as the acceptance of a set of beliefs. This detachment of belief from the heart only mirrored the detachment of believers' lives from one another. The many sayings of Yahshua and His apostles to love in deed and truth, to abstain from the lusts of the world, to turn their backs on riches, power, and earthly comfort, lost all power to command. The love of Messiah compelled no one to actually obey His words,11 proving that those who claimed to love Him lied -- first to themselves, and then to the world.12
So the darkness Messiah prophesied of in John 9 only deepened and darkened as the spores of this lethal new belief spread from church to church. Eventually, she indulged in cruel ill-treatment of all who questioned or doubted her. This lifeless belief and cruelty spread over all the earth and down many centuries of time. It was the exact opposite of the witness of the Kingdom that Messiah prophesied would one day be seen by the whole world.13 In spite of rivers of words to the contrary, this false gospel had no power to release anyone from his contract with sin and death, which held sway over the whole world as soon as night fell.
Thereafter, the only "light" people could relate to as they read their Bibles longingly, wonderingly, was the light of the sun in the sky, and the fruitfulness of the fields on the earth below, to remind them of the time when another light was shining. The willing hearts of those men, gathered in communities, had been like God's fruitful gardens, bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Yet soon, it was only ancient history, hidden in the past, untouchable in the present.
Still, as the lives of the apostles and first disciples became the stuff of legend, the simple stories and profound parables of the Savior about farming, fishing, baking, and treasures hidden in fields, lived on. Those words continued to fill men with hope. Perhaps the day would come again when that same light would dawn on the earth, breaking the terrible spiritual darkness covering the world after the death of the early church. It had been smothered in a potent mass of spiritual infection and disease, like so much smut feeding on the memory and the very words of that Savior and His apostles, just as the parasitic fungus called smut feeds on corn. Like that dark fungus, the men in their soiled, stained garments -- the black robes of the clergy -- spread an entirely different life from the one found in the true seed of the Word.