Archives for posts with tag: light

Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.” (Isaiah 50:11, ESV)

The Lord [through the pen of Isaiah] lays out two options at the end of Isaiah 50 for us to walk by.  We can trust in the name of the Lord (vs. 10) or we can do what our verse says and light our own lamp and walk by our own light.  The sure outcome if we light our own way is that we will lie down in torment. We will get exactly what we deserve.

We know from Proverbs that God calls us to move forward by trusting in him even when it doesn’t make sense to us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, ESV)

Trusting in the Lord leads to the comfort of straight paths, walking by our own light leads only to sorrow. You would think that this would be an easy decision for us, by our inclination is to lean to our own understanding and not trust in the Lord.

 

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This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5, ESV)

Thus begins the first great division of the book of 1 John with the message: God is light.  This message must have had particular resonance in a world lit only by fire in the form of torches and oil lamps.  When darkness came over the land at night, it really took over as an almost heavy oppressive presence.  The contrast between light and darkness must have been sharp and obvious.

In God there is no darkness at all and if we are walking in darkness we will not meet God there.  What does John consider darkness in a metaphorical sense?  In the following verses we learn that darkness is lying, not practicing the truth, sinning, deception, lack of truth, and the lack of Jesus’ word in us.  All of these actions are incompatible with God and God’s nature.

God is light then means that he is the opposite of all those things.  He does not lie, he practices the truth, and he does not sin nor deceive.

John calls his readers to walk in the light because God is light and it is impossible to walk in darkness and have fellowship with God.

This is a simple message, but quite convicting when we shine the light on our own lives.  Who among us can claim to be free from all of those characteristics of the metaphorical darkness?  John, practical man that he is, understands this and so he has a remedy:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

God, light of all lights, can cleanse us when we indulge our propensity to dabble in the darkness.

You are the source of all life, and because of your light we see the light.” (Psalm 36:9, GNB)

Written by David, servant of Yahweh, to Yahweh himself.

David understands that life comes from Yahweh.  We didn’t come about from the impersonal plus time plus chance, nor did we come from outside the solar system, descendants of aliens from afar.  God is the source and originator of all life, not some life, not mankind only, but of all life that we see.

From this fact proceeds David’s amazing follow on comment: because of your light we see the light.  Notice that we do not have the light within ourselves.  Yahweh is the source of light, even as he is the source of everything else in the universe.  If we did not have light from God, we would not be able to see at all because we cannot create, nor can we control the properties of light.  However, since God illumined the world through light, we are able to see light.

I presume that David here means not only physical light, but also metaphysical light, or light as knowledge of the world and of nature that surrounds us and operates according to certain natural laws [where did natural law come from?  From the same person who created the universe in which they operate]. Spurgeon comments here:

The Lord alone can give natural, intellectual, and spiritual life; he alone can make life bright and lustrous. In spiritual things the knowledge of God sheds a light on all other subjects. We need no candle to see the sun, we see it by its own radiance, and then see everything else by the same lustre.

To sum this verse up, we owe not only our existence, but our ability to look at and understand the world around us all to our Lord.  Without his creative power and will we would neither exist, nor be able to comprehend our world, and worst of all we would be unable to worship the One who is the highest being and greatest good in the universe…and beyond.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18, ESV)

When I was in the Marines we had to learn to do night land navigation.  To pass the final exam they took us out on a moonless night and dropped us off at the edge of some thick woods.  Our objective was to navigate a line through those woods to one box, then navigate a different direction to another box, and finally navigate a third direction to our final point.  Off we stumbled in the darkness, not knowing what lay ahead, whether it be a clear path or a rough thicket.  We stumbled and tripped over tree roots, banged into tree branches and were scraped by thorns.  One of our guys even stumbled and hit his head and got knocked out!  At the end of the night, they sent us all back into the woods to find our one missing man.  He was discovered when someone tripped over his body in the dark!  We discovered that night that it is impossible to follow a direct line in the darkness.

Solomon has just been describing the life of the wicked, of those who reject wisdom and go about life according to their own desires, who do not walk before the Lord in righteousness, but in wickedness and evil.  “They cannot sleep unless they have done wrong” and they “eat the bread of wickedness.”  In short, they are doing night land navigation and it doesn’t work very well.

Then this beautiful contrast:“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18, ESV)

The path that those who follow God are on is one that may begin in darkness, we may stumble around at first, but as we go the promise of God is that it will become more and more clear as the dawn arises until we are walking in full daylight, easily following the path which lays ahead of us.

I am thankful that God doesn’t have us doing night land navigation.  The path of righteousness is difficult enough for us when we can see the way that we are to go in the bright light of day.  God knows this.  Indeed, it’s exactly why he gave us light to follow.

In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;” (Revelation 21:25, NASB95)

John describes New Jerusalem here and makes an aside comment that “there will be no night there.”  There is no sun either, but in New Jerusalem the sun will not be necessary because:

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:23, NASB95)

Darkness in the Scriptures, and especially in the writing of John, is associated with bad things, with evil, with the domain of Satan.  Some examples:

  • For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:7–8, NASB95)
  • The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.”” (Matthew 4:16, NASB95)
  • The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5, NASB95)
  • Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” (John 8:12, NASB95)
  • “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”” (Luke 22:53, NASB95)

We could go on, but you get the point.  Light = good, positive, Christ; Darkness = all that is opposite of light. Those who came to arrest Christ had “the power of darkness.”

New Jerusalem when history truly is ended and God has summed up all things in Christ will have no darkness because there is no place for darkness around God. God is light and in him is no darkness at all, writes John elsewhere (1 John 1.5). New Jerusalem is the place where God dwells, what place then for darkness?

For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:7–8, NASB95)

“When God calls a man,” writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “he bids him come and die.” Paul’s version of Bonhoeffer’s statement is located here in Romans 14.  In the midst of talking about our freedom in the Lord, Paul reminds us that we do not own ourselves–much as we may like to think so.  When we come to faith, when we follow Christ, we are the Lord’s whether we live or whether we die.

Rick Warren starts off his book The Purpose Driven Life by writing, “It’s not about you.”  This is a sentiment with which Paul would certainly have agreed.  In essence that is exactly what Paul is saying here.  “Look,” he explains.  “We belong to the Lord, and that truth ought to permeate our thinking about life and our [lack of fear] about death.”  God owns us.  This life is about God and his program and not about us and our comfort or lack of comfort, or length of life, or relative wealthiness, or reputation, or [insert anything here].

We serve at the behest of our Master.  He is free to use us as he wills.  John Milton truly understood this:

When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Are you standing and waiting, dear reader, if you belong to God you are serving.  This is the blessed truth of following Christ.

Ps 43-3David [we presume] understands the things that will lead him to God’s “holy mountain,” the place in which God dwells:

  1. Light – The word used here seems to be a metaphor for understanding, knowledge, and perhaps even direction.  Without light we can only stumble around and lose our way because we are creatures of light.  David depends upon the Lord to show him the way to his holy dwelling, to that place at which David will enjoy warm, continuous fellowship with his God.  In essence David says, “I am helpless, lead me to yourself.”
  2. Truth – The essential content of the message of God’s nature, indeed God’s essential nature itself.  The word can also mean faithfulness, so it can be thought of as “truth/faithfulness.”  In the same way that David is helpless without light, he is helpless without truth/faithfulness.  He depends upon God’s character as much as he depends upon God’s sustaining direction.  Both are necessary to join God in fellowship, and that is the supreme goal of David’s life.  He understood that nothing else mattered in comparison.

May our God lead us by light and truth/faithfulness into ever deeper relationship with Himself.