The flicker of the nighttime stars has intrigued mankind since the beginning of his time on earth. The nighttime display of lights captures our imagination as we create imaginary connections and shapes from the many twinkling points of light. God tells us that on the third day of creation He set “lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night” (Gen. 1:14a) and also to serve “as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (Gen. 1:14b). Despite the loss of the ancients’ wisdom in the divine story portrayed overhead, many of us sense that a prophetic narrative is being told in the ever-changing cosmic cinema above. Even in this age of massively powerful telescopes and technical scientific instruments, scientists have still not been able to fully understand many of the forces that cause the cosmos to act as it does. Now that we can see immense stellar distances, we are even more enthralled at the scale of the universe, the diversity of objects, the radiance of the many celestial bodies, and the majesty of it all.
God Caused the Light to Shine
The Scriptures tell us that in the midst of absolute darkness God spoke light into existence (Gen. 1:3). God is the source of all light and without Him no light would exist. He is the fullness of light and there is not any darkness whatsoever in Him (1 John 1:5). God’s glory is so brilliant that His Word tells us that he wraps Himself in light like a garment.
Psalm 104:1b and 2a
(1b) O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
(2a) He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
When Moses asked God to see His glory, God told him that he could see His “goodness,” but he could not see God’s face and live. To see God’s face is a Hebrew idiom. To “look upon someone’s face” was to have an intimate relationship with them. It is the same as seeing a person fully, knowing him or her as they really are. The fullness of God’s glory is so immense, so powerful, that it would kill any mortal person who is exposed to it (Exod. 33:18). Moses, merely seeing God’s goodness, was so physically affected that his face glowed so brilliantly that no Israelite could look directly at him without great discomfort (Exod. 34:30-35).
A number of years ago while on a tour of a very deep cave, the tour the guide turned off the lights. This threw the tour into absolute pitch darkness. It was so dark that I felt disoriented, as if I would lose my balance because I lost my visual sense of up and down, and left and right. Not only could I not see my hand, I also had no sense of it despite it being only inches from may face. It was as if the darkness was pressing in on me. This is the type of utter darkness into which God commanded His light to shine, and light has since ruled over all darkness, which flees from its presence. No matter how small the light is, it always dominates any darkness, and there is no amount of darkness that can ever put it out.
God’s Use of Light
Nowadays, our ability to turn lights on and off with the mere flick of a switch causes most of us to take light for granted. There was a time though when, for the most part, the setting of the sun brought most of mankind’s activities to a halt. Working by the light of a torch or the flame of an oil lamp made most work difficult, if not impossible. Light has served to help us see the way and as a beacon signaling for our attention. God also uses light this way. God caught Moses’ attention in the desert of Midian with the light of the fire of a burning bush (Exod. 3:2). He also led the Israelites through the wilderness by the light of a pillar of fire by night. His angels also often appear in a brilliance of light as they did with Daniel, Ezekiel, the shepherds announcing Jesus’ birth, at Jesus’ resurrection, and to the Gentile centurion Cornelius.
His “commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light” (Prov. 6:23). “…he has made his light to shine upon us” (Ps.118:27), and “His word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light for my path” (Ps.119:105). God alone is the source of all true light and without His light all life on earth would cease.
Jesus was the Light of the World
In the beginning God dispelled the darkness when He spoke light into existence. In a similar way, God sent His only begotten son into this blackened world as a light to dispel its darkness.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
Jesus was the light that revealed men’s dark deeds and showed the way back to the Father. He revealed the deceptive work of God’s Adversary, exposed the sin of man, and showed the falsehood of the religious establishment. What an astounding sight it must have been for his three closest disciples to see him transformed on the Mount of transfiguration. Jesus’ face shined with the brightness of the sun and his clothes became “white as light.”
There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
In the few instances when I have looked directly at the full sun, I have been temporarily blinded, instinctively looking away after just a few seconds. Despite our sun being approximately 93,000,000 miles (149,000 kilometers) from earth, its enormous power causes it to be so bright that it is harmful and painful to look at. What an amazing sight to behold as Christ’s face shined on the Mount in front of his disciples. I imagine them groping about in the darkness on their hands and knees, temporarily blinded after seeing him in his glory.
Picture yourself driving down the road and then, instantly you are surrounded by a light so brilliant that you can no longer see the road, or anything else for that matter. There would be a searing pain flashing through your mind followed by images and circles of light and darkness despite your eyes being firmly squeezed shut. Something very similar to that happened to a man named Saul as he headed to Damascus. He had blinding rage against this new sect of Jews, a group that was promoting belief in “some itinerant rabbi” named Jesus. Then, this same Jesus, in a display of the heavenly brilliance of his resurrected glory, appeared to Saul in a light so blinding that it knocked him to the ground (Acts 9:3). Jesus Christ in his present glorified state is a far cry from the pitiful image commonly portrayed in the art of the past centuries. This all-powerful and majestic Christ is who John describes in his heavenly vision recorded in the book of Revelation. Today Christ lives in the fullness of God’s light and is clothed in the majesty of His Father’s light.
Revelation 1:14 and 15
(14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
(15) His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
There was a time at cavalry when the light of the world went out. When Jesus was dying on the cross a great “darkness came over all the land” (Matt. 27:45). But God raised him and His angels, arrayed in light, announced his resurrection.
Matthew 28:2 and 3
(2) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
(3) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
We are the Light of the World
Jesus told his followers, which includes us, that they also were the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). He never said, “Turn on your light,” rather his instruction was to “let” their light shine. For Christ’s followers the question is never “if” we are the light, but are we “letting” our light shine?
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
It is the very nature of light to shine, and our responsibility is to do everything we can to make sure our light is as bright as possible. We must be careful to never block the light, which we do whenever we follow the dark ways of this world. Sin always hinders our light and, to some degree because of our sin nature, we all love darkness more than the light, the evidence of which is our evil deeds.
John 3:19 and 20
(19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(20) Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
It is the nature of sin and evil to conceal and hide, whereas the light always exposes and brings things into the open. We all must make the daily choice to walk in the light or in the darkness. We are constantly coming to an intersection at the crossroads of light and darkness. Choosing to sin always blocks our light, but we must put on the “armor of light.”
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Are You Covering Your Light?
A person once told me he was having a difficult time spreading the Gospel in his community because it was “so dark.” When I questioned him further I discovered that his focus had been on “speaking the Word to people,” and he was very frustrated since no one would listen (I could relate!). Then I asked the question, as much of myself as of him, “Do you think people in your community need Jesus Christ, and how would they respond to him?” The lesson I learned was that I needed to quit focusing so much on “telling” people about Christ and start “being” Jesus to my community.
In order for the light of Christ to shine out of us and to this world we must love as he loved, and touch others the way he would have touched them. We must be for people what he would have us to be. The gift of holy spirit which every Christian has is CHRIST IN US! The only thing that prevents its brilliant luminescence from overwhelming others is the covering we put over it. A bright light always draws our attention, even if it is a bright and sunny day, but the darker the night then even the brighter the light appears. The problem we have of reaching the world is not the darkness but how bright we are shining. We are the only ones that stand in the way of our light’s radiance.
Our lives should be so clearly different from the world that it causes people to pause and take notice. That’s what a bright light does. Unfortunately, far too often we tend to blend into to the shadows lurking around us. I repent of the times that people have a hard time distinguishing me as one of Christ’s followers from the rest of the people of the world. Fear, apathy, intentional sin, and all the other works of darkness cause my light to dim.
Caution! Do Not Let Your Light be Darkness
Jesus warned his followers to be careful that the “light” within them not be “darkness.”
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
His words were emphatic to make sure this did not happen. What the NIV translates as “See to it” other versions translate as “take heed” (KJV), “watch out” (NASB), “be careful” (ESV), and “make sure” (NLT).
Since light and darkness are polar opposites, for a long time I had a real difficulty understanding what Jesus was trying to tell his followers. After all, how can light ever be darkness? I now see that our light is darkness whenever we become so convinced that we are right, but are in fact dead wrong.
Certainly we see some people who are very committed to evil and wrongful behavior. They are convinced that evil is good and good evil. Their “light is darkness.” This is “no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). But we also must “take heed” that our light is not darkness. Our self-centered, ego-centric nature means that we all tend to think our judgments are right, when in fact we can be very wrong. Unfortunately, our flesh, sin nature, perspectives and different experiences all tend to cause us to make false assumptions, which then lead us to draw false conclusions.
Since Jesus warned us to make sure that this does not happen, there must be a way to ensure we are operating from a position of true light and not darkness. In large part, the answer to making sure this does not happen is staying connected to others. We all need to check our judgments against the opinions of others. We also must always stay humble, admitting our own sin and being humble to the possibility that we are wrong. The nature of pride is that it always tends to blind us (Obad. 1:3), blocking our light.
We will always walk in the light when we walk in the truth, both in what we believe and in what we do.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
Live as Children of the Light
Praise God that He has “rescued us from the dominion (exercised power) of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son…” (Col. 1:13).
Ephesians 5:8 and 9
(8) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
When we walk in goodness, righteousness, and truth we live as children of the light and we “Let our light shine.”