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Friday, November 24, 2006

What the Bible says about light

I recently posted about my gratitude for the electromagnetic spectrum. "Light" is the most common word used for that type of energy. The electromagnetic spectrum includes other types, however, but I'm sticking with light in this post. Actually, maybe I'm not. It is possible that some of the occurrences of "light" in the Bible refer to the entire spectrum, or to energy in general. I don't know for sure.

What does the Bible say about light? Below, I have given some of what I believe to be the most important uses of this word in scripture.

The first specific creative act of God, in Genesis 1 (all scriptural links are to the ESV), is the creation of light. Since the exact interpretation of Genesis 1 is in some doubt, I cannot say that the first creative act was God's creation of light. That is, it is possible that Genesis 1:1-2 is a summary statement, with specifics given in what follows, and that, thus, God's first creative act was the creation of light. It is also possible that the earth was already present when God created light, because Genesis 1:1-2 describe the creation of the earth first. We don't know. In either case, the creation of light was very significant. No wonder that James 1:17 describes God as the "Father of lights."

After the flood, God promised never to destroy the earth again by a flood, and He chose a rainbow, a phenomenon caused by light passing through water, to signify this.

During the Exodus, God showed Himself to the Israelites (at night, at least) as a light-giving pillar of fire, light enough to travel by.

In Exodus 25, and elsewhere, the Israelites were commanded to prepare light in the Tabernacle, as part of their worship of God.

In 2 Samuel 22, David said: "For you are my lamp, O Lord,
and my God lightens my darkness." (verse 29) Perhaps this is the first time that God's presence and communication with humans is compared to light. In Psalm 27:1, first part, David wrote that
"The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?"

Job refers to the day when he was born, and wishes that it had never happened (chapter 3) saying that he wishes it had been condemned to darkness. Darkness and evil, and light and good, are often linked, in the Bible.

Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path," comparing God's word to light. 1 John 1 is one of the places in the New Testament where God's revelation to humans is compared to light.

In Isaiah 9, Isaiah, apparently speaking of the coming of the Messiah, compares this event to the appearance of a great light. (This passage is quoted in Matthew 4:12-16.)

Jesus, in Matthew 5:14-16, compares the God-honoring life of his followers to light.

In John 1:1-13, the revelation of God in Christ Jesus is compared to light. John 3:16-21 says that that revelation of light has brought judgment. In John 8:12, Jesus describes Himself as the light of the world.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 says that Jesus "dwells in unapproachable light. . ."

As the first chapter in the Bible refers to light, so does the last, Revelation 22:1-5, which says that the only light necessary in heaven is God, Himself.

I submit to you that God has been well aware of the importance of light, and has used it as a symbol of Himself, throughout the time of His interaction with humans.

Thanks for reading.

* * * *

February 6, 2009. A commenter kindly pointed out that I had mistakenly omitted "by a flood" from the fourth paragraph above, and I have fixed that.

36 comments:

MDB said...

Says the apostle: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Light is a tri-unity of radient energy: Heat, Light, and Actinism. The infra-red is the warming life-giving rays. The ultra-violet is the chemical change producing rays.

The infra-red typefies the love of the Father, the visible light is the witnessing light, testifying that God is this, Father and Spirit alike unseen of man, and the ultra-violet typefies the Spirit's transforming energy, making from, say, a Jacob, the supplanter, an Israel, a prince with God.

Martin LaBar said...

Well, that makes some sense, I guess, but it's new to me. It isn't scriptural, per se, but "typifying" isn't always, and can still do some good, at least sometimes.

Thanks.

Pete Bax said...

I think in the beginning was Plasma
and it was always their God just had to turn it into mass. So the first act of God was to create Mass. People have been going to mass for years.

Martin LaBar said...

Dec 30, 2008: Well, Who made the plasma?

As I'm sure you know, that's a different kind of "mass."

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

God did not promise the Earth would not be destroyed, "never again a FLOOD to destroy the earth."
However,The earth will wax old like a garment" Check out Psalm 102 and Isaiah 51.6
So it wont be a flood, but one day the earth will be no more and most likely to be absorbed by the sun in its demise in about 5 billion years. That it were the smoke must come in.

Martin LaBar said...

I stand corrected, Anonymous. Of course you are right. Revelation also speaks of a new heaven and earth, implying that the first earth, at least, will be done away with.

I'll fix the post.

Anonymous said...

enLIGHTing.
thanks for the post!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, anonymous, whoever you may be.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I am studying the word "light" through the book of John w/friends. One thing interesting that we have found is the different definition "darkness" or "evil" takes on if "light" is Jesus. Not necessarily bad, vile people-as seen by our world. But those who will not come into the "Light".

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for the insight, Anonymous.

Chris James said...

Hi Martin,

I too found this a profitable study. I'd invite you to explore my synthesis of light as a biblical metaphor at www.jesusdust.com

Skyla said...

Hi,
Thanks for posting this blog about light and the Bible. I am a young mom trying to teach the truths of God to my children and this information helped me explain a great deal. Thanks again and please keep posting.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Skyla.

You are doing something more important than my blogging, for sure.

Trent Booth said...

Thanks, Martin - bringing John 8:12 to our church tomorrow, and this has snapped the writer's block! Peace

Martin LaBar said...

Glad to be of help, Trent Booth. Thanks for letting me know.

ADEBAYO OTEJU said...

hi im grateful im doing a studying on light which i called power in the house as my vision for men in our church that we ensure 24/7 light availability for all our programmes and your insight will be of great help when meeting and presenting the focus thank you keep posting

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, ADEBAYO OTEJU. God's best in your endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Great posts, this really electrified my paper comparing the uses of light throughout soviet literature/film!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Glad to be of help.

John said...

Gospel if Thomas

(11) Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"

(24) His disciples said to him, "Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it."
He said to them, "Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness."

(50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"

(82) Jesus said, "He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom."

(83) Jesus said, "The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the light of the father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his light."

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, John.

Interesting. I'm not familiar with the Gospel of Thomas, and, as you know, I expect, it's not generally considered to be part of the canon of Christian scripture:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

Elizabeth Carter said...

Good day!

I'm currently a contracted screenwriter for a project regarding an historical figure, and my imagery is centered around the Light of God theme - there is also a merging of science and faith in the script. I'd love to tell you more about it off a public forum, and I'd be very grateful for your insights.

My email address is copper.carter@gmail.com.
Thank you so much for your time.

E.C.

youngearthcreation said...

Hi Martin

My name is riaan
I'm currently busy with a study called religion vs science
I must state that I believe the word of God, but the premise of the study starts with the questions

Who am I?
Where did I come from?
What is my purpose?
Where am I going when I die?

I start the study on the premise of science
But soon deduce that their must be a god
I give this as my proof

Undeniable Proof that God exists:

There are no systems found anywhere that cause themselves. And to take away the cause is to take away the effect. So the effect of space, time, and matter to exist, cannot be without an initial cause. As this initial cause is outside the laws of time space and matter. Then this cause must firstly be eternal, and at the very nature of being outside of present reality must be super natural.

Note their is only one man on this earth with a theory that their could be no cause and that's stephen hawking. I do debunk the theory that he uses for his premise as being assumptive science and not provable.

I only deal with provable science and was busy with light when I stumbled onto your site. Very informative I must say though was not quite relating to what I was wondering about.

I read some of your posts and just had to add my 5 cents when I read a mention of genesis 1.

I use the kjv in my studies along with this web site http://biblos.com which deals with the original hebrew, aramaic and greek texts. Hebrew is a very fascinating language and upon study of the Hebrew I found that "heaven and earth" translates too everything. Some english translations have even used this translation of the words. I think it is important to keep in mind when reading the bible that it was meant for all people so many concepts would be understandably put very simply, as to not hide God from anyone. I can't now help but read Genesis 1:1 "in the beginning(time) God created the heavens(space) earth(matter) this does explain how in Gen 1:2 the form is still void and without form. He also only names the dry land earth in verse 10 after letting it come forth in verse 9. It is also important to note that the Hebrew "earth" in verse 1 and "earth" throughout the rest of genesis 1 is not quite the same, the exact differences can be seen on the letters though its complete meaning I am still not sure of.

Then it seems through links in your web site that you might not believe in a young earth? This is of no real relevance to me, I just want you to believe in God, which you do. I do however see that you were a science teacher? I would like to point you to Genesis 1:11-13 God creates plants. But the light source the sun only on day 4? Firstly does that not mean it had to have been a litteral day? Any extended period without. The sun would have killed all plants? People quote 2 peter 3:8 "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." But this pertains to God being outside of time. When He speaks to us the word day means day. Throughout the bible the word yom as day always means the literal day and never a period of time.

I would appreciate your insight into my own blog, being of a science background. I have not yet added the pages where the study of Genesis begins but I feel I have to build a solid foundation before I post these on the web. This is just the prologue to the study though some points are still to be added when refined www.religionvsscience.wordpress.com
I wish to have people helping me with this study and you seem like a great companion if you are interested please mail me at the following. We don't have to agree to be of value to each other the other perspective always balances things out.
young.earth.creation.777@gmail.com

I thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you soon

Kind regard
humble servant of God
riaan visser

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, youngearthcreation.

I attempted to check out your blog, but, when I followed the link, found that there are no posts there.

I do believe in God. The Bible doesn't clearly say when, how, or why things were created -- just Who did it.

youngearthcreation said...

I disagree that God does not state when and how. Yes it is not a scientific thesis that explains the processes but it is very clear.
Day 1 time space matter and light
Day 2 God made the firmament that he called heaven that divides the water from the water. Note this process is not said to be good indicating this expansion continues.
Day3 God makes the land mass of earth apear out of the water. Then makes every plant spring forth. God saw this was Good and stopped creating new plants. Just alowing them top reproduce of their kind!
Day 4 God makes the sun the moon and all heavenly bodies
Day 5 God brought forth every sea creature that has life, meaning blood. And fowl that fly God again states it is good and stops creating new animals. Then says go forth multiply each after its kind.
Day 6 God makes all other land animals and then man.
Day 7. He proclaims as a rest day
Then he keeps track of population by the biggest tally of people ever done! So that we can trace it back to his creation. Why would these records be of included in the Bible if it had no importance?

I also believe that if you read 2 peter 3 verse 3-7 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

If death was a process of creation would God really call it good? Would he tell adam and eve that they will die if they ate the forbidden fruit? Why would this good God ask for animal sacrifices and why does he not except Cains sacrifice? These answers become clear when you believe what God says, that adam and eves sin is what brought the death. Sacrificing was a reminder that You because of your sin brings death into the world. Which also explains why God expects the one bringing the sin sacrifice to kill the animal himself!

Note Satans first act was to ask eve ...." Did God say....?"
He has been trying to show God as a liar since the start, and I believe he is asking those same deceiving questions today making us like adam and eve to not believe Gods word which starts with Genesis 1:1

Evolution and Big bang is a wedge of satan to make us doubt Gods word. Many people like you seem to already believe that Genesis should be taken with a pinch of salt? You are then hearing the words of satan saying..... " Did God say....?"

I ask you and other christians to please see the deceptive lie of satan. please read the prologue to my study just once if you then think the big bang and evolution or any theories of this kind can be believed then I'll leave you be

Please do try the site again
http://religionvsscience.wordpress.com

Can't wait for your response
Riaan visser

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks.

I went to your blog, but was unable to comment. I did read the latest post. Your blog doesn't seem to be linked to the identity you used in commenting here.

Here's a little response to your comment:

The Bible does not say when God created -- no year is given, nor any reference like "three hundred years before x." It certainly doesn't say how, except that God did it, through instantaneous or emerging miracles.

The post you have commented on was supposed to be about light, and what the Bible says about it. Please see here for my most important post criticizing young-earth creationism. (All views of origins have weaknesses, not just young-earth creationism.)

I believe that there is enough evidence to take the big bang theory seriously, that this evidence was not developed to debunk God -- although some people who believe that there was a big bang do so -- and that God most likely worked through the big bang. I doubt seriously that either of us is going to convince the other, so most likely further extensive comment exchange would be a waste of your time and mine.

Thanks again.

youngearthcreation said...

Hey martin :o)

I appreciate your time. I have already learnt something from you. I'm sorry to hear you find it a waist of time.

There's a lot in the link you sent me that I have already gone over in my own studies, But I'm not going to go into that the info is all out there, The problem is that we as humans tend to believe what other humans think. Our history is littered with us making the same mistakes. Whichever theories are right I'm not going to believe the one that man suggests, I then prefer to believe the bible which have not been shown to me to be faulty.

I was brought up in a christian house with sunday church, and school and bible on the bed side table. At around four I had my first serious discrepancy with the bible. How can the first ever rainbow appear with noah? I gathered many more questions growing up
Then I learnt about evolution and the big bang. Someone was lying it had to be God! Coz these people where scientists! Note back then the big bang was absolutely one hundred percent 4billion years ago *wink* I bet that number will change in the future and I'm even more sure that the big bang will be replaced by the emerging plazma model. Which at least explains the star cluster and andromeda galaxy comming closer. These are undoubtadly the same type of theories that come from I assume, I think, I deduce, that made people believe the earth was flat or the moon was a shiny smooth sphere.
My answers could not be answered by any pastor anywhere! And so I lost faith in the bible and went looking for my God some where else! Couldn't find him in the lies of the quran, or budhist teaching. Wicca made more sense that the rest. But God yanked me out of that by His power alone and I found myself discovering, through wicca history in fact that my God of the Bible does make sense. Its the science that doesn't.

I still ask those same questions on many old world blogs sites and emails to many old world pastors. If one of them can answer them with satisfaction I might
Believe them, I'm still waiting.

Why does a good God require death as a sacrifice? Why does death play such a big part in the book of God? Why was there no rainbow before noah? Why would God include this Loooooong boring list of people there kids how long they lived when they died? I mean come on! If the bible isn't right anyway what is the point? If Jesus is our savior, Why would he lie and say that the bible is good for study, reproof, correction etc? why did God let Jesus Die if He is so almighty? Why does God allow the suffering? Why does He allow world wide lies? Why doesn't he make himself clearly visible to all? And then where are the sign the prophets speak of?

Forget YEC. I believe what Jesus believed, that the bible is the holy word of God and it is correct in every way. So if believing that the world is young makes you YEC then his deciples was the first of this YEC fundimentalism

Please ask yourself those same questions,
If the answers you find seems human, its coz they are, giving glory to a god through slaughter is a human thought

I keep asking those questions, and I ask them now of you, if you wish not to answer please feel free not to, but both of us might learn something in the end.

Gods faithfully
Your brother in Christ
Riaan

Have an awesome day Martin!

Martin LaBar said...

I have asked myself these questions, over several decades. I'm not the only one who has. You would be well served to read what some of these people have had to say, about, for example, Bible interpretation. Try here, for example: http://biologos.org/blog/lets-not-surrender-science-to-the-secular-world-part-4

On death, etc., I refer you to The Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis, as one of the most important sources.

The Bible is without error. My interpretation of it is not without error. Yours probably isn't, either. Fundamentalists, and others, have probably gone off the track many times.

God has revealed Himself through Christ, most importantly, and through the Bible, but also through nature (Psalm 19, Romans 1:20). Howevef, Hebrews 11:3 seems to say that we can't know all about origins by scientific study, but must understand by faith.

As to the rainbow, the Bible does not say that Noah saw the first rainbow. Some very important Bible scholars don't think he did: http://sunandshield.blogspot.com/2009/11/did-it-rain-before-flood.html (No rainbow is mentioned before Noah's time, but neither are a lot of other things, such as mountains and horses.)

I wish that, if you want to continue to add extended comments about young-earth creationism, to my blog, that you would put them somewhere else, such as here:
http://sunandshield.blogspot.com/2009/02/whats-wrong-with-young-earth.html This post is, or was supposed to be, about light, and our conversation is almost entirely off the subject.

Thanks for doing so.

RV said...

science was wrong, the speed of light cannot be constant, harvard physicist proves light's speed can be affected by man, how much more by God

Martin LaBar said...

Interesting, and pertinent, RV. Thanks.

However, it has long been known that the velocity of light differs, depending on the material it is going through -- the velocity usually given is the velocity in a vacuum, but that's not the same as the velocity in the material my eyeglasses are made of, which is why they work. One place to get more information on this question is in the Wikipedia article on refractive index, and many of the links from that article.

Certainly God could alter the velocity of light from what it normally is in, say, a vacuum, and possibly He has, and there would most likely be no way of finding out whether or not He has done so. But I don't think there is any good reason to suppose that this has happened.

Anonymous said...

please we should respect God for who he is.Dont use the creation of the motals (science)with God(the word and immotality)man dust can not fully understand eternity.thanks levi

Martin LaBar said...

You are welcome, Levi. God is sovereign.

Anonymous said...

In physics class we learned that as an object approaches the speed of light, its mass approaches infinity and time becomes undefined. If God is light, does this explain how he can be everywhere all the time and how a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day?

Martin LaBar said...

Possibly.

However, if God is Who the Bible says He is, He is more than light, and He created the physical laws, including the ones dealing with travel at near light speed. I suspect that He transcends these laws.

I think that the statement "God is Light," is just one attempt to explain or describe God, rather than a strictly literal statement. The Bible also says that God is love, and God is holy, and some other things.

Thanks, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

God is the Supreme Father, Supreme Soul. All religions covered in history (Islam, Christianity, Judaism)are all bodily religions meaning they were written by the authors in the awareness of "i am a body". In all religious books, there was no mentioning that we are souls clearly occupying physical bodies. The soul is a subtle infinitesimal point light sparkling like a star and it resides at the center of the forehead behind the eyebrows (near the pineal gland). You are all eternal souls havibg human experiences in this physical world by interacting through these costumes or instruments (physical human bodies). The soul is non-physical, spiritual, it is from light. God also is a soul, a point of light however what distinguishes us from Him is that he is bodiless (doesn't own a body) and ever-pure, Almighty Authority, Ocean of Love, Ocean of Peace, Purifier.

He is called the Father of Lights because He is the Supreme Father, the Father of all souls (light stars). He resides in the Incorporeal (non-physical world) where there is sweet silence, no thoughts, no actions, no reference to time.

God is called the Creator, not because He created earth, human bodies, or us souls or any of that. All of these three were existing since eternity in the same way in which God is eternal.

God the Sun of knowledge (Having knowledge of everything) is called a Creator, because through His knowledge He comes at the time when the state of earth & human values is at maximum impurity and purifies everything once again to transform this hell we are living in into heaven. Life is all about an eternal cycle of (Heaven/hell/heaven...) and God's role is to create heaven from hell. We are living in "hell" now because vices are in all souls now. ALl are impure (devils). God transforms the world into heaven by transforming purifying us souls (remove all vices, absolve our sins) and make us into angels through the knowledge He gives us to study. Through this purification, we then become worthy to re-incarnate in the land of heaven (which is th pure state on earth).

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous.

I'm afraid that I disagree with most of what you said, or at least couldn't say it with the authority you seem to think that you have.