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Light was the first thing God created after the heavens and the earth (Gen 1: 3). Light is representative of goodness and truth. While darkness is the universal symbol of sin and death, light is the symbol of life and holiness.

Light is an attribute of God. He is said to be robed with light (Ps 104: 2). The origin of light is rooted in the purpose and nature of God Who is not only the Author of light, but is Light itself: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I Jn 1: 5). Because of His holiness and moral perfection, God is portrayed as “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (I Tim 6: 16).

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the preacher describes light as “sweet” and “pleasant”: “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Eccl 11: 7).

John Gill puts it aptly: “…this light is sweet and pleasant, not to a blind and carnal man, who despises it, and reckons it foolishness, but to those who are enlightened by the Spirit of God; and to these it is very delightful, even to all their senses; it is sweet to their taste, a joyful sound to their ears, and beautiful to their sight are the feet of them that bring its good tidings. The light of grace, which appears in first conversion, and comes from God suddenly, which at first is small, but increases, is exceeding pleasant, strikes the soul with delight and wonder; it is marvellous light, I Pet 2: 9; and so is the light of joy and gladness to believers, when it arises to them after a time of darkness, or the light of God’s countenance, Ps 4: 6; and such will be the light of the latter day glory, and more especially the light of the heavenly state.”

o Light in the Old Testament

Light is a multi-sided concept in the Old Testament. Quite frequently, the term refers to literal light as well as a means of communicating spiritual truths. The Old Testament often uses the absence of light to reflect the sad portion of the wicked. They “grope in the dark without light” (Job 12: 25). Bildad, one of Job’s friends, saw the wicked “driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world” (Job 18: 18).

In the ninth plague, the Lord afflicted Egypt with thick darkness while “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Ex 10: 23). In the wilderness, the Lord led His people by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night (Ex 14: 20). The pillar gave light to God’s people but darkness to the Egyptian armies who were pursuing them (Ex 14: 20). In later days, Israel remembered God’s presence and protection in the pillar of fire that was always there to lead them the right way (Neh 9: 19; Ps 78: 14; 105: 39).

“How easily can God make the same thing an instrument of destruction or salvation, as seems best to his godly wisdom! He alone can work by all agents, and produce any kind of effect even by the same instrument; for all things serve the purposes of His will” (Adam Clarke).

Light symbolises the favour and blessing of the Lord. In his days of deep affliction, Job recalled the days of divine favour and guidance – “when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness” (Job 29: 3). Those who walk in “the light of thy countenance” are blessed (Ps 89: 15). There is a negative side to this same expression. In Psalm 90: 8, the psalmist reminds us that secret sins are set “in the light of thy countenance”. None can escape the close scrutiny of God’s all-seeing eye.

When the Lord delivered the Jews from Haman’s wicked plan of genocide, they “had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour” (Est 8: 16). The prophet Daniel was commended as one in whom is found “that light and understanding and excellent wisdom”.

God’s Word is a torch or lamp in a dark night (Ps 119: 105); it lights up our path and prevents us from stumbling over obstacles, or falling down precipices, or wandering off into paths which would lead into danger, or would turn us away from the path to life.
(… to be continued)

- Pastor