Light: ore (Feminine Noun) (Strong’s 216)
Sounds like: owr
Tonight we light the last candle for Chanukkah so it is fitting that the word we dive into today is Light. The battle between “good” and “evil” has been so closely associated with “light” and “dark” that it has become ingrained in our minds as the ultimate moral metaphor. It is certainly one of the most, if not the most, common metaphors in the Bible. I could spend pages and pages writing all the times light shows up in Scripture (122 times in the Old Testament alone)… which makes writing this posting all the more challenging. We’re going to have to hit the highlights (pardon the pun).
Light shows up very early in the Torah, just a few sentences after the beginning:
And God said, “Let there be light [owr],” and there was light [owr]. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
On the fourth day God forms the light into a greater light to rule the day (sun) and a lesser light to rule the night (moon), as well as stars. And God announces that they are to “serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years” (Genesis 1:14).
The lights in the sky give light to the earth… and these “sky lights” also mark days and years, and act as signs for sacred times. So it’s not surprising that a star acts as a light sign in the story of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1-11).
John chapter 1 parallels Genesis chapter 1. It speaks of the Messiah that has come to dwell among the people:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Messiah is the life that illuminates humankind. He shines in the darkness, and as much as darkness tries, he cannot be conquered!
Light and Darkness
This concept of Good Light and Evil Darkness permeates the scriptures. There are clear paths in the Bible… the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked:
But the way of the righteous ones is like the shining light [k’owr], and the light [w’owr] progresses until the day is established. But the way of the wicked is darkness and they do not know on what they stumble.
Light and darkness, however, are not as distinct as we think. There is a lot of blurring of the lines. Those who claim to be righteous can be deceptively wicked. They may be publicly calling on God to show His plans for humanity, but their hearts are more darkness than light:
Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of deceit and pull sin along with cart ropes, to those who say, “Let Him hurry and hasten His work so that we may see it! Let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come so that we may know it!”
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light [l’owr] and light [w’owr] to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter.
There are those who become so rebellious against the light that they become twisted friends with the evils of darkness:
Then there are those who rebel against the light [owr], not knowing its ways or staying on its paths. When daylight is gone, the murderer rises to kill the poor and needy; in the night he is like a thief. The eye of the adulterer watches for twilight. Thinking, ‘No eye will see me,’ he covers his face.
In the dark they dig through houses; by day they shut themselves in, never to experience the light [owr]. For to them, deep darkness is their morning; surely they are friends with the terrors of darkness!
Here’s what Yeshua [Jesus] said about humans loving the darkness:
“And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”
Rising Above the Darkness
Sometimes we feel as though we live in darkness. We are surrounded by evil and hate, war and disease. Even in the darkest moments of our lives, God will be a light for us:
But as for me, I will look to YHWH; I will wait for the God of my Salvation. My God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise; though I sit in darkness, YHWH will be a light [owr] to me.
Because I have sinned against Him, I must endure the rage of YHWH, until He argues my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me into the light [l’owr]; I will see His righteousness.
This is what Yeshua said about overcoming darkness:
Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in Me does not believe in Me alone, but in the One who sent Me. And whoever sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should remain in darkness.”
Sight and Blindness
Living in the light is truly seeing God. This idea of light & sight, darkness & blindness is another common metaphor found in the Bible. There is hope for those who are spiritually blind and living in darkness. God says He will not forsake those who turn to Him:
Isaiah 42:6-7, 16
“I, YHWH, have called you for a righteous purpose, and I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and appoint you to be a covenant for the people and as a light [l’owr] to the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring prisoners out of the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness out from the prison house…
…I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on unfamiliar paths. I will turn darkness into light [l’owr] before them and rough places into level ground. These things I will do for them, and I will not forsake them.
Here is what Yeshua said about light/sight, darkness/blindness:
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it in darkness, you will be radiant, as though a lamp were shining on you.”
Yeshua healed the blind on more than one occasion. The entire chapter of John 9 emphasizes the metaphor of light-blindness-life. Yeshua said:
“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When Jesus had said this, He spat on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the [blind] man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing.
This man came back, not only physically seeing, but spiritually seeing and understanding that he was healed by a messenger of God. It’s a beautiful story where the once blind man has to face immediate persecution from the Jewish leaders. In their anger with him, and his assured belief that this man who healed him was from God, they threw him out of the Temple:
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, He found the man and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is He, Sir?” he replied. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.”
“You have already seen Him,” Jesus answered. “He is the One speaking with you.”
“Lord, I believe,” he said. And he worshiped Jesus.
Then Jesus declared, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind may see and those who see may become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard this, and they asked Him, “Are we blind too?”
“If you were blind,” Jesus replied, “you would not be guilty of sin. But since you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
Light and Life
Light and life are often synonymous within the scriptures:
For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light [b’owr-ka] we see light [owr].
Death and stumbling in darkness is the antithesis of life and light:
For You have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light [b’owr] of the living [ha-chayim].
Here’s what Yeshua said about light and life:
Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Messiah as the Light
This concept of light, sight and living over darkness, blindness and death comes into full fruition with the purpose of the Messiah. Isaiah wrote about the coming of the Messiah in light (pun intended) of these themes:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light [owr]; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light [owr] has dawned…
…For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah later goes on to tell us that this Messiah is not just for the Jewish people, he will also be a light to all the nations of the earth:
He [YHWH] says [to the Messiah], “It is not enough for you to be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the protected ones of Israel. I will also make you as a light [l’owr] for the nations, to bring My Salvation to the ends of the earth.”
In Isaiah 49 we hear of the promise of Salvation to all the ends of the earth. In Isaiah 60 we hear what it will be like when the Light comes to the earth:
Arise, shine, for your light [owrek] has come, and the glory of YHWH rises upon you. For behold, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples; but YHWH will rise upon you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light [l’owrek], and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Yeshua is the Light
Early in the Book of John we read these lines about the Messiah:
The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus proclaimed himself to be The Light. He was there in the beginning with God… and He dwelt among us. He was the Light who caused the blind to see, who illuminated the good within the darkness, who led us, with his spotlight, to life everlasting. We are to follow him and then, ourselves, become radiant beacons of light to all the nations.
Children of the Light
Not long before Yeshua suffered on the cross, he said this to his followers:
Then Jesus told them, “For a little while longer, the Light will be among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of light.”
Paul also emphasized our inheritance of becoming Children of the Light, living in goodness, righteousness and truth. Because we are illuminated by the Messiah, we become Light itself:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Test and prove what pleases the Lord.
Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself. So it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.”
Next week: Angel