Index by Subject

Let There Be Light

There are several phrases and themes that are used repeatedly throughout the Bible. One is these is “light” and the ongoing contrast between light and darkness.

The creation of light is the first command given by the God (Genesis 1:3). At the end of the Bible, the light of God is shown as overwhelming and casting out all darkness (Revelation 22:5). Between these two beacons, the imagery of light makes nearly two hundred appearances in the Bible.

That light is a fitting theme to be used in the Bible can be seen from some of its physical qualities.

Rulership of the universe. “Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16). The greater and lesser lights (sun and moon) were given to rule the periods in which they dwell. Light, by its very nature, rules and overpowers darkness.

Protection and safety. “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people” (Exodus 13:21-22). Cities provide lighted streets for the safety of their citizens. The Lord went before Israel in a pillar of fire by night to give them light in the wilderness.

Illumination. The most obvious quality of light is that of illumination. When the Philippian jailer awoke in the night and saw that the doors of the prison were opened, he assumed that the prisoners had all escaped and drew his sword to kill himself. Paul called out of the darkness of the prison and told him to do himself no harm because all the prisoners were present. The jailer “called for a light” and ran in to the prison to verify Paul’s claim (Acts 16:29).

Source of life. Sunlight is essential for the process called photosynthesis. This is the process that gives life to plants and algae. Without photosynthesis, life could not be sustained on this planet.

“Light is one of the most astonishing productions of the creative skill and power of God. It is the grand medium by which all his other works are discovered, examined, and understood, so far as they can be known. Its immense diffusion and extreme velocity are alone sufficient to demonstrate the being and wisdom of God” (Adam Clarke).

Because of its obvious qualities, and its undeniable presence in our world, the Bible often uses the word “light” in a figurative way to refer to some spiritual blessings.

Light described godly character. Children of light are to walk in the light, which consists of goodness, righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9). We are to put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12), and shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation by being blameless, harmless, and without fault (Philippians 2:15).

Light describes the spiritual illumination that results from embracing the truth. God’s word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The psalmist continues, “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (v. 130). The introduction of the truths contained in Scripture is likened to one turning on a light in a dark room. While in the dark, one is left to wonder where everything is and to wander in search of a way out. However, when the light is turned on, he can see all things before him. He can know where dangers are located and he can see to find his way out of the room. The same thing is true spiritually. When one is ignorant of the truth, he is vulnerable to the spiritual dangers found in this world. The word of God tells us of these dangers and points the way out of this world and into Heaven.

Those who possess knowledge of God’s will are said to possess light. When strange writing appeared on a wall before the Babylonian king Belshazzar, he called for Daniel to make known its interpretation to him. When Daniel appeared before him, the king said, “I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you” (Daniel 5:14). Daniel was said to possess “light” because he possessed the Spirit of God who gave him understanding and excellent wisdom. We have the same thing today; not miraculously as was the case with Daniel, but God’s word gives us understanding and wisdom that we are to share with others.

God is the source of light, both physical and spiritual. God is light (1 John 1:5). He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), and is the Father of Lights (James 1:17). Light is a part of His creation (Genesis 1:3). While pagans worship the light (the sun, moon, and stars), Christians worship the God who created the light!

“Let There Be Light”

Everything has to have a beginning. “Let there be light” was the command that was uttered which brought light into being. It is the phrase that refers to the creation and introduction of light. There are at least three times in which it can be said that light (physical and spiritual) was introduced into this world.

1. Introduction of Light at the Creation

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:3-5

Physical light came into existence by the creative voice and power of God. The command gave order to God’s creation. First, it dispelled darkness that was upon the face of God’s creation (v. 2). Second, the separation of darkness from light gave us a concept of time – night and day. The command resulted in that which God called “good.” Light has been a blessing to mankind ever since.

2. The Introduction of Light at the Incarnation of Jesus

In the Gospel of Matthew, the incarnate Christ is called “Jesus” and “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:21, 23). However, in the Gospel of John, Jesus is called “the Light.”

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

John 1:4-9

Isaiah prophesied that people who walked in darkness would see a great light, and that light would shine upon those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:1-2). Matthew said that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy as He preached the gospel in Galilee.

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.

13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,

14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:

16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:12-17

When Jesus began to preach, the light began to dawn upon those who had been in spiritual darkness. Spiritually speaking, God said, “Let there be light,” and Jesus began to preach.

Not everyone appreciated the introduction of this spiritual enlightenment. Jesus told Nicodemus, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).

Jesus declared Himself to be “the light of the world” and the means by which man can “have the light of life” (John 8:12). The light that was introduced at the Incarnation is of much greater value than the light introduced at Creation. Both “lights” are necessary, but only one prepares us for eternity.

3. Introduction of Light at Our Conversion

The moment that one comes to understand, believe, and obey the gospel can scripturally be described as a “let there be light” moment.

3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

The God who, in the beginning, commanded light to shine out of darkness, has also commanded that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should be preached or caused to shine upon all mankind.

The Bible uses the imagery of darkness and light to describe man’s conversion. Jesus commissioned Paul to go to the Gentiles, “to open their eyes, (through the preaching of the gospel – HR) in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). Without the preaching of the gospel there is no enlightenment, and without spiritual enlightenment, no one would turn from darkness to light. Paul told the Colossians that Jesus “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). Peter said that Christians are those special people who God has called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Once we are called into the light, it is imperative that we remain in the light. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Our fellowship with the saved, and the forgiveness of our sins, is dependent upon our remaining in the light. We are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The more time we spend learning the teachings of Christ, the more light we will have. The more light we have, the better we will be able to shine as lights in the world.

Conclusion

“In all of the Bible’s references to light, light is not self-generated. It comes (usually unbidden) from outside the earthly sphere and transforms that sphere with transcendent splendor” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, page 512).

God has given us light and all the blessings that accompany it. This light has been introduced in our world at different times. Physical light came at the creation. Spiritual light came with Jesus Christ. This “light of life” came to us personally as we came to believe and obey the gospel. We can walk in the light, and help others to see and know this light, or we can remain in darkness and eventually dwell in outer darkness (Matthew 8:12).