SHINE FORTH: Yapha, verb, (Strong’s 3313).
Sounds like: yah’fah
It’s no secret that light is one of the key metaphors in the Bible. We’ve looked at light, lamp, sun, lightning, and radiance/sunstreams, so this week we’re going to look at the verb yapha (meaning to shine forth, or to send out beams of light).
YHWH was described as one who “shone” on His beloved people:
Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death. He said,
“YHWH came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone [hophia] from Mount Paran, and He came from the midst of myriads of holy ones; at His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.
Indeed, He loves the people; all Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they followed in Your steps; everyone takes of Your words.”
The Psalmist Asaph celebrated how YHWH shone from Zion:
[Asaph:] The Mighty One, God, YHWH, has spoken and summoned the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth [hophia].
Shine forth on Us!
YHWH shone forth on His people, but they did not always feel the warmth of His light. In their dark days they called on YHWH to “shine forth” on them:
[Asaph:] Listen, Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth [hophiah]!
Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, awaken Your power, and come to save us! God, restore us and make Your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.
But life wasn’t (and isn’t) always sun-shiny for YHWH’s followers. We have to hold onto the light, even in the darkest days.
Job, Not Feeling Shiny
There are days when it seems that those who reject YHWH have brighter days than we do. The unnamed Psalmist of Psalm 94 felt that way:
YHWH, God of vengeance, God of vengeance shine forth [hophia]!
Rise up, judge of the earth, pay back retribution to the proud.
How long, YHWH, shall the wicked be— How long shall the wicked triumph?
Job, who fulfilled the role of the suffering servant archetype, certainly felt that his life was much darker than the lives of the wicked who surrounded him:
Job 10:1-7, 18-22
[Job:] ”I am disgusted with my own life; I will express my complaint freely; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God,
‘Do not condemn me; let me know why You contend with me. Is it right for You indeed to oppress, to reject the work of Your hands, and to look favorably [shine forth: hopha’ta] on the plan of the wicked?
Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do You see as mankind sees? Are Your days like the days of a mortal, or Your years like a man’s year, that You should search for my guilt and carefully seek my sin? According to Your knowledge I am indeed not guilty, yet there is no one to save me from Your hand.’
…‘Why then did You bring me out of the womb? If only I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, brought from womb to tomb.’
Would He not leave my few days alone? Withdraw from me so that I may have a little cheerfulness before I go—and I shall not return— to the land of darkness and deep shadow, the land of utter gloom like darkness itself, of deep shadow without order, and it shines [wa-topha] like darkness.”
Shining like darkness was not shining at all. It was all darkness, shadow and chaos. Job’s life was dark, let’s not pretend it wasn’t. He suffered, perhaps more than anyone else in the Tanakh. The world was against him, and evil people seemed to have a much better life than he did… and he wasn’t wrong.
But he did not hold onto the light of YHWH’s Presence, instead he wished he had never been born:
Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said,
“May the day on which I was to be born perish, as well as the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’
May that day be darkness; may God above not care for it, nor light shine [topha] on it. May darkness and black gloom claim it; may a cloud settle on it; may the blackness of the day terrify it.”
The enigmatic fourth friend in the book of Job, named Elihu (meaning “He is my God”), asked Job to stop lamenting about his own life, and instead he suggested focusing on YHWH and the wondrous world He had created:
[Elihu to Job:] “Listen to this, Job; stand and consider the wonders of God.
Do you know how God establishes them, and makes the lightning of His clouds to shine [to shine forth: w-hophia]?
Do you know about the hovering of the clouds, the wonders of One who is perfect in knowledge, you whose garments are hot when the land is still because of the south wind?
Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, strong as a cast metal mirror?”
Job was one of YHWH’s creations; he was wondrous, and that’s how he should’ve seen himself. He wasn’t just a tortured soul, he was a beautiful creation who was struggling… that sums up everyone on the planet, from every age. Job wished that God had not shined upon him on the day of his birth, but his life as one of God’s suffering servants was important… and worth living, even through all the pain.
Job’s whole life wasn’t dark… in the end, there was great light and Job was rewarded with a double portion of what he had lost (Job 42:10). His suffering was over and rejoicing could begin.
Job was a suffering servant of YHWH, but it was Yeshua (Jesus) who stepped up as the ultimate Suffering Servant. When the angels announced the good news of the Saviour’s birth to the shepherds, it was noted that the glory of YHWH shone all around them:
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock at night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And so the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Messiah, the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army of angels praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.”
Immediately after the birth of Yeshua (aka Emmanuel, meaning “God with us”) YHWH shone a great light on the shepherds, the most humblest of servants. They were the first to hear the announcement of the Good News… their Saviour had arrived!
Three decades later, at the end of Yeshua’s ministry, He took three of His disciples up a mountain. There Yeshua would feel the light of God’s glory one more time before heading to Jerusalem to become the sacrifice that would save us all:
…Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and his brother John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter responded and said to Jesus,
“Lord, it is good that we are here. If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said,
“This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.
The disciples fell face down to the ground at the sound of YHWH’s voice, but Yeshua came to them, and touched them, and essentially said to them, “rise and shine”. It was their turn to rise up and reflect God’s glory to the others around them.
Yeshua was the suffering servant who fulfilled YHWH’s plan for human redemption. A week after the transfiguration, Yeshua was arrested, tried, and executed. During His execution darkness settled over the land:
Matthew 27:45-46, 50
Now from the sixth hour [noon] darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour [3pm]. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabaktanei?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
After receiving a drink, Yeshua cried out again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. His light was snuffed out. But three days later the Light came back! Yeshua returned, as alive and bright as He ever had been.
In the beginning, Eve and Adam had been expelled from the Garden of Eden, but that was not what God wanted. He wanted to walk with them, again, in His Garden Kingdom. So He made a plan to redeem His people and bring them back home. Yeshua fulfilled YHWH’s plan of redemption. He died to bury the sins of everyone, and then He returned, triumphant, from the grave. His death paid the entrance fee back into the Garden, where they could walk, side by side, with YHWH. Yeshua was the Saviour, and Shining Light, to bring them back home.
The apostle John envisioned the final conclusion to the story of humanity. They would find themselves in the New Earth, where God would shine on them without consequence:
[John’s vision of the New Jerusalem:] I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The image of a shining, illuminated, God was captured perfectly in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Messiah.
YHWH had always shone in the darkness, and His anointed Son was the shining face of God on earth. For those of us who follow YHWH, our hearts are illuminated by Him, and we are to take that illumination and be His bright and glorious reflection to everyone around us. We are to be the light that shines in the darkness, shining on this world that lives in shadow.
No matter how dark and chaotic life seems, we have the Spirit of God living within us. That means we have the ability to shine, even in the deepest darkness. God made you for a purpose. God made you to shine!
Next week: Widow