A Study of Light
We take light for granted. However, light is essential for life itself and the well being of man. Regarding the origin of light we read, "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night " (Gen. 1: 3-5). The scriptures sometime simply refer to natural light (Acts 20: 8). However, many times light is used spiritually or metaphorically. "Light" is used for wisdom and understanding, openness, and that that reveals (Dan. 5: 14; Matt. 10: 27; Eph. 5: 13). On occasion, both the literal and spiritual use of light is used in the same verse of scripture (2 Cor. 4: 6). God is said to be pure light, having no darkness at all (I Jn. 1: 5). To further define and expand "light," please consider these comments by W. E. Vine:
"Apart from natural phenomena, light is used in Scripture of (a) the glory of God's dwelling-place, 1 Tim. 6:16; (b) the nature of God, 1 John 1:5; (c) the impartiality of God, Jas. 1:17; (d) the favor of God, Ps. 4:6; of the King, Prov. 16:15; of an influential man, Job 29:24; (e) God, as the illuminator of His people, Isa. 60:19,20; (f) the Lord Jesus as the illuminator of men, John 1:4,5,9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35,36,46; Acts 13:47; (g) the illuminating power of the Scriptures, Ps. 119:105; and of the judgments and commandments of God, Isa. 51:4; Prov. 6:23, cp. Ps. 43:3; (h) the guidance of God, Job 29:3; Ps. 112:4; Isa. 58:10; and, ironically, of the guidance of man, Rom. 2:19; (i) salvation, 1 Pet. 2:9; (j) righteousness, Rom. 13:12; 2 Cor. 11:14,15; 1 John 2:9,10; (k) witness for God, Matt. 5:14,16; John 5:35; (l) prosperity and general well-being, Esth. 8:16; Job 18:18; Isa. 58:8-10. [From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 159,160.]" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.)
Beloved, we are in a age in which truth and light are not considered. All today seems to be shades of gray and mixed darkness and light. Hence, the need of our study.
The Lord is light. We need to appreciate the fact that God is light. "The Lord is my light and my salvation," declared David, "Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. 27: 1). As seen, God created natural light and is responsible for spiritual light (Gen. 1; Jas. 1: 17). Not only is God pure light, but he is also the source of constant and unwavering light (I Jn. 1: 5; Jas. 1: 17). Therefore, there is no need for man to grope about in darkness and despair.
Jesus is the light of the world. Matthew records many fulfillments of prophecy regarding Jesus. When Jesus came and dwelt in Capernaum, Matthew mentioned the prophecy made by Isaiah: "The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness say great light; and to them which sat in the religion and shadow of death light is sprung up" (Matt. 4: 12-16, see Isa. 9: 1, 2). Jesus plainly said, "I am the light of the world " (Jn. 8: 12). One purpose of light is to illuminate and make clear the way. Hear Jesus, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Ibid.).
Christians themselves are to radiate light. "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid," taught Jesus (Matt. 5: 14, see 15 and 16). Christians have turned from darkness to light and are to shine as lights in the world (Acts 26: 18; Phili. 2: 15). Paul said that the Thessalonians were, "children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (I Thes. 5: 5). Please notice how light and darkness are used antithetically or as opposites. Light stands for all that is good and true and darkness conversely stands for all that is evil and erroneous.
The word of God is the light source. The world is in a state of darkness, spiritually speaking, not knowing the truth and what is ultimately good (Jn. 3: 16-21). How, then, can man learn of the light and turn from darkness? To this end, please consider the words of the Psalmist:
"I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps. 119: 102-105).
God's word is the light source that illuminates our path, making it clear and discernable so we can walk down it. As a result of the light providing properties of God's word, the writer said he "hated every false way." The word reveals error and sin and must, therefore, be used as the standard in such matters (2 Jn. 9-11; Jn. 12: 48). (To read more about the Bible being God's light source, click on "The Bible, the Source of Light.")
Light and darkness are incompatible. God is ultimately good and sinless; hence, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (I Jn. 1: 5). Those who walk in darkness, do not have the light, Isaiah said (Isa. 50: 10). Paul raised the following germane question: " what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6: 14). In keeping with man's concept of light being simply shades of gray, we hear man saying, "Regarding all matters, there is only a mixture of right and wrong and truth and error." Man considers this amalgamated state of truth and error to be ideal and pleasing to God. However, truth and righteousness cannot abide where there is error and sin (2 Cor. 6: 14-18).
Some men prefer darkness to light. Isaiah wrote thus of some in his day, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Who unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight" (Isa. 5: 20, 21). Notice the deliberate intent to replace light with darkness. Isaiah went on to mention those who did not speak the truth "because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8: 20). Jesus described certain individuals and provided insight as to their lifestyle. Hear him:
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (Jn. 3: 19-21).
Consequences of not having the light. Job of old described some who had no light when he wrote, "They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man" (Job 12: 25). After a similar fashion, Jesus said, "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him" (Jn. 11: 10). Alas, many are stumbling in the world today without God and his light imparting word! Please consider the inspired teaching of the apostle John regarding the necessity of spiritual light and conformity to the same:
"3: That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4: And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5: This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6: If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I Jn. 1).
In conclusion, we need to heed the admonition of Isaiah, "O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Isa. 2: 5). Let us sincerely attempt to please God and conform to his light imparting word in all things (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). We need to also remember that while darkness is powerful and appeals to many, light is more powerful and excels darkness. "Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness," wrote Solomon (Eccl. 2: 5).