“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:130)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27:1)
Light is one of the most prevalent themes throughout the entire bible, a thread that starts man’s journey on the physical earth and closes out the story in Revelation.
In the first few verses of Genesis, the very first thing God (the Word, Jesus Christ) does in recreating the earth is to bring physical light.
“The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:2-4).
Then, in the last few verses of the bible, John explains that after God has set up His kingdom and recreated a spiritual heaven and earth, that “they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light” (Rev. 22:5). The physical celestial lights that God created for man in the current kosmos—sun, moon, and stars—are no longer necessary because we will have the Light with us and God’s glory will be all that is needed to see.
During His ministry, Jesus told His disciples (and us, by extension), “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14, 16). We’ve each probably read that verse a couple hundred times in our lives, and typically what I’ve heard said is that it’s about how we’re meant to live righteous lives and be examples of God’s way. And that’s true.
But a message I heard at the Feast last year got me to thinking about the analogy a little differently, including various aspects of being a light—basically, what does that really mean and require of us? After digging in somewhat, there are a few insights about light that helped me in seeing even deeper meaning to that verse in Matthew. They’re not earthshattering revelations, but rather reminders that should enhance our understanding of the type of light we are meant to be.
I know, that feels like a “duh” statement.
So maybe another way of putting it is that it reveals.
The Hebrew word that’s used in that very first Genesis verse referenced above (ore, H216) means illumination, bright, or clear. In Jesus’s command in Matthew 5, the Greek word used (phos, G5457) also means to shine or make manifest (a.k.a. clear, plain, apparent). Both imply an enlightening or uncovering of something that was there but hadn’t previously been seen or understood.