“Light” is often used in Scriptures to represent all that is bright, radiant and pure. As we have seen in our article last week, light is also a symbol of God’s favour and blessing. On the other hand, our secret sins are “set in the light of thy countenance” (Ps 90: 8). No one can escape the close scrutiny of God’s all-seeing eye. The apostle Paul had this attribute of God’s omniscience in mind when he wrote to the Corinthians: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Cor 4: 5).
o Christ – “the Light of the world”
The Lord Jesus Christ referred to Himself as “the Light of the world”. Our Saviour promised that all who follow Him “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn 8: 12). Those who believe in Christ are characterised as “children of light” (Jn 12: 36) for “whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (Jn 12: 46).
In Matthew 4: 16, Jesus applied this prophecy of Isaiah to Himself: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
“The inhabitants of Galilee, who … continued in spiritual darkness, in ignorance, blindness, error, and infidelity, ‘saw great light’; Christ Himself, Who came as a light into the world; he conversed with them, preached unto them, and opened the eyes of their understandings to behold his glory, and to know him, and salvation by him. … the same persons who sit in darkness, sit also in the region of death; for such are dead in trespasses and sins: where there is no spiritual light, there is no spiritual life, and such are in danger of the second death; but the happiness of these people was, that to them ‘light is sprung up’, like the rising sun, and this without their asking or seeking for: Christ, the sun of righteousness, arose upon them … with healing in his wings; and cured them of their darkness and deadness, turned them from darkness to light, and caused them to pass from death to life” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).
In his song of praise, the aged Simeon, who had been waiting for the coming Messiah, referred to Christ as “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Lk 2: 32).
o Light in the New Testament
In the New Testament, light is often used figuratively. Expressed in a moral and spiritual sense, light is commonly used to describe the spiritual illumination that believers receive when they come to know the Lord (Matt 4: 16; Lk 2: 32; Acts 13: 47; 26: 18). Such is the radiance and beauty that emanate from those who practise their faith and live in obedience to God’s Word.
Light is an attribute of holiness. The godly conduct of Christians is aptly symbolised by light. Believers are characterised as walking in the light “as he (God) is in the light” (I Jn 1: 7). God is light, and He desires that His children live pure and holy lives by the light revealed to us in His holy Word (I Pet 1: 15-16). Before our conversion, we lived to please ourselves. But now we walk as “children of light”: “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph 5: 8).
One who is upright welcomes the light. He is not fearful of being under God’s scrutiny because his life is right before Him. On the other hand, one who loves evil, hates the light: “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (Jn 3: 20).
Paul applied the phrases, “children of light” and “children of the day” – to the Thessalonian believers – to reflect their vigilance and sobriety as they waited for the Lord’s coming.
The association of God with light is a recurrent theme in the New Testament. We see this affirmation in the epistles. The apostle James spoke of God as “the Father of lights” (Jas 1: 17). John described God as “light” in Whom is “no darkness at all” (I Jn 1: 5). In Heaven, God’s glory and presence is the everlasting light of the redeemed in heaven – “for the Lord God giveth them light” (Rev 22: 5; 21: 23-25).
It is significant that, at the birth of Christ, a glorious light accompanied the appearance of the angels to the shepherds (Lk 2: 9), and a bright star guided the wise men to the house where they found the young child “that is born King of the Jews” (Matt 2: 2; 9-10).
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul associated light with the life-transforming power of the Gospel: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor 4: 6).
The above text best summarises the various meanings of light as found in the Bible. “Here is the link between creation and the new creation, between the Old Testament and New Testament, between the physical reality and the spiritual symbol of light” (Dictionary of Bible Imagery). (… to be continued)