Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Story of the Light - Part I: GOD

I mentioned before that I have been working on a lesson to give to the ladies here. I picked the topic of light to go along with our Bottle Lights side-project. The lesson is turning out to be so long that I need to divide it into 3 parts. This one, Part I, I just gave in the ladies class at church here on Saturday (in Spanish, while reading off of the paper):

I want to discuss a concept that is very important in the Bible. The word for it appears in the Bible more than 200 times, spread throughout both the Old and New Testaments. It is applied to both God and to man. We will have it forever in heaven, but it has been around since the beginning.

I am talking about LIGHT.

In many cases, the idea of light serves as a metaphor for a bigger, spiritual idea. I believe that understanding this idea can help us to have a better understanding of our spiritual lives, how God operates and how we are to respond to Him and to others. The concept of light is a very old one, emerging at the very start of the Bible and continuing to the end. What follows here is its story.

God Created the Light

According to Genesis chapter 1, God created light on the very first day. This has always been very interesting to me because the sun, moon, and stars weren’t created until the fourth day, which makes me wonder about the source of that light. Based on what I see in the Bible later, my opinion is that God Himself was the source of the light, and I believe that He is the source of all light even today. I will explain later why this point is so important, but for right now it is enough to know that the light originated with God.

Something we should notice here is that the light wasn’t alone. Even from the beginning, light has gone together with darkness. Genesis 1:4 tells of the light’s separation from the darkness, and the two have been associated with each other—yet completely distinct—ever since. Verse 5 goes even further to identify light with day and darkness with night, and we know that the day will follow the night until the end of time.

When God did create the sun, moon, and stars to govern the day and the night (see verses 14-19), he put into effect laws of nature that we observe today. Everything in the physical universe has to follow these laws. However, God is in total control of these laws and can do with them whatever He pleases. This is also true of the laws about light.

God Controls the Light

God controls the light and the darkness. Various times in the Bible He shows His power through His control of these things. One of the ten plagues in Egypt was the plague of darkness, which is described in Exodus chapter 10, beginning in verse 21. Not only did God bring darkness on the Egyptians, but, according to verse 23, he did it while continuing to give light to the Israelites. Once the Israelites had escaped from Egypt, God used a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire to guide them and to hide them from the Egyptians (see Exodus 13:21 and 14:19-20). In these cases and more, God displayed not only His power but also His care for His people.

One of the most impressive displays of God’s control of light and darkness is told of in Isaiah 38:7-8. As a sign that He would keep His promise to King Hezekiah, God actually made the sun go backwards in the sky, causing the shadow on a set of steps to recede instead of continuing to follow its natural pattern. When you consider how the earth rotates around the sun and around itself to give the appearance of the sun rising and falling, doing something to change this system is an incredibly mighty act. The one who has the power to do this also has the power to save us in our distress. He has dominion over the whole world because He is the one who created it. It makes sense that He is able to control the light because it came from Him anyway.

God IS the Light

In fact, God IS light. Skipping ahead to 1 John 1:5, we read that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” So far we have been speaking of light only in physical terms. However, much of the light spoken of in the Bible is either poetic description or refers to something spiritual. Many, many times God is poetically described as being or looking like a light. Of course, since we don’t see God physically on the earth, we understand that the word light here represents something else:


One of the most evident meanings for light as it applies to God is that of majesty. Psalm 76:4 says, “You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.” We see the same idea in Psalm 104:1-2: “Praise the LORD, my soul. LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty…” The prophet Ezekiel gives us an even clearer picture in verses 26-28 of Ezekiel chapter 1:

“Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.

“This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Wow. Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 that God is “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.”

Truly God is worthy of all of our praise and is to be feared with all respect.


At the same time that God is worthy of our fear, however, He is the one who gives us comfort.

Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” One of the most common fears is the fear of the dark. When it is dark, we can’t see what dangers may be around us, so we tend to feel much better about things when there is light. Really what we fear is the unknown. However, if God knows everything (see Psalm 147:5, Job 28:24, and 1 John 3:20) and if He is the one in whom we put our trust, we don’t have to be afraid of anything else.


Even when we are in unknown situations, God’s light serves to guide us where we need to go. In Isaiah 42:16 we see that God does not leave His people in darkness: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

When we are spiritually blind we are unable to see the truth. We may be confused and not know what to do, or we may be so blind that we don’t even realize that the things we are doing are harmful to us or to others. Although God’s light is always shining, the choice is ours whether to keep our eyes closed and remain in the darkness or to seek God’s light as David does in Psalm 43:3: “Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” When we do let God’s light lead us, we are blessed. As Psalm 89:15 says, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.”


God’s light can make us realize His majesty and it can make us feel safe and secure even in bad situations. But, most importantly, it actually shows us the truth. By it we know how we should live in this world. According to Psalm 19:8, “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 119 is all about the benefits of God’s law. We read in verse 105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path,” and later in verse 130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

God is the one who created the world, and He is the only one who truly understands how it is supposed to work. He created the light—in fact, He IS the light—and when we allow ourselves to see it, the light helps us to understand everything else. God put laws of nature into effect, and that includes laws not only for the physical world but for our mental, emotional, and spiritual existence as well. The things that we do and think and especially the ways that we treat other people do matter. God set up our world to function in certain ways. We know that plants need sunlight and water and to be pruned, just like people need love as well as discipline. As humans study Science, they learn more about the physical world. But, God already told us what we need to know about the spiritual world.


God loved His people enough to give us these laws so that they could have life (see Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light”). He gave specific commands to the Israelites through His servant Moses. However, God didn’t stop there. The sad truth was, even though the Israelites had the law, they were still blind. Due to their broken nature—thanks to Adam and Eve—they were incapable of following all of the rules and were still living in darkness. Fortunately, God had a plan for bringing His light to all people so that everyone would be able to have life.

Tune in next time to read about how Jesus was the light that came in the darkness...



  1. Wow, Becky! This is a great, thorough exploration of the concept of light throughout the Bible. Given my general love for metaphors, I have always been intrigued by the concept of light, especially as "fleshed out" in the writings of John--he LOVES the light!:) I like how you trace the idea from its physical realities to its spiritual dimensions, taking the time to explore all of its different spiritual meanings. You gave me a lot to think about, and I know it blessed the ladies with whom you shared it. I can't wait for parts 2 and 3!

  2. Awesome lesson Becky! Thanks for a lunch break 'lift' : ). Looking forward to the next one & thanks for sharing them!

    Melissa O'Connor