The Bible has more to say about light — and the absence of it — than you may have thought!
About 6,000 years ago, the earth was a desolate planet, cloaked in a shroud of thick, murky darkness. The waters completely covering its surface rolled and tossed in the endless night, whipped by unobstructed winds. How long it had been like this we do not know. Then something momentous took place. This event is described in Genesis 1:3. Above the churning, black waters, God waited, ready to act. Everything was finally ready. The time had come to start God's 7,000-year plan. Over the billow and surge of un-illumined waves a mighty voice ordered, "Let there be light!" Immediately the blackness yielded as the awesome forces of the elements reacted in obedience to the almighty Creator. And with those words God's plan was set in motion. "Let there be light!" A command for illumination of a dark planet. Yes, but at the same time, the words that launched God's plan reflect its outcome in a thrilling and inspiring way. Actually, as we are about to see, there are few aspects of the physical, material realm that illustrate spiritual truths as profoundly as the relationship between light and darkness. Hundreds of scriptures draw the analogy. In this article there is space to cite only a few of them. Many hours of rewarding Bible study await you if you will look up verses listed in a concordance under the headings "light," "dark," "day," "night," "blindness" and related words.
The light of the world
Think of it: The world was in total darkness until God made light to shine. The world hadn't always been in darkness. It became that way. How? Why? Because of sin! When God first created the earth — perhaps millions of years ago — angelic beings described as "morning stars" sang for joy (Job 38:7). Many of them were given this earth as a place of habitation. They were ruled by the great archangel Lucifer, whose name meant "light-bringer" or "shining star of the dawn." Do you know how bright stars are? Our sun, as bright as it is, is just a dwarf as stars are measured. With all those brilliant "stars" — angels of light — inhabiting this earth, it must have been a bright place indeed, at least spiritually speaking. Then tragedy occurred. Lucifer, not satisfied with this earth, led a rebellion against almighty God in heaven. The rebellion was not successful. Lucifer and the angels who followed him were cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12, Revelation 12:3, 9). No longer was he called Lucifer or "Light-bringer." He was now called the devil and Satan, and his kingdom became a kingdom of spiritual darkness and confusion (Ephesians 6:12). It was therefore fitting that the physical earth that was his domain be in darkness and confusion, too, rendered that way by the titanic battle Lucifer and his legions waged against the Eternal and His hosts. And so the earth came to be in desolate darkness until God intervened some 6,000 years ago to bring light. It should be noted, however, that God did not totally abolish darkness at that time. He introduced light into the world. He divided the light from the darkness. He declared that the light was "good" (Genesis 1:4). But the darkness (which, it is interesting, He did not call "good") He allowed to persist. There is something we can learn from this. As night coexists with day on our physical planet, so in the spiritual realm Satan and his rulers of darkness now coexist on earth with spiritual light. Do you know what that spiritual light on earth is? "You are the light of the world," Jesus said to His Church (Matthew 5:14). Yes, spiritually speaking, God's true Church is the only light on this planet. Each era of God's Church is symbolized as a single "lampstand" (Revelation 1:20). Each Church member individually is a child of light (Ephesians 5:8). Have you wondered how Satan recognizes who, among the billions of human beings alive, are God's people? How does he pick you out as a target of his attack if you are converted? If a million unlit matches were spread out in a vast, dark room, how could you locate a specific match? You couldn't. But light that one little match and immediately it is visible from everywhere. It stands out in striking contrast to all the other 999,999 matches. Like that room, the whole world lies in spiritual darkness, its inhabitants swallowed up in the obscurity. But here and there in the spiritual blackness a light shines. You, if God's Spirit is "aglow" in you (Romans 12:11, Revised Standard Version), are such a light (Philippians 2:15). Satan sees you clearly. He can pick you out. He sees the Church clearly. He hates what he sees (John 3:20), and he is exerting every effort possible to put out those lights. Don't allow him to do so. Determine that your light shall continue to shine. Let there be light — always! The final punishment determined for Satan and his demons, who are even now limited by "chains of darkness" (II Peter 2:4), is to be "wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13). What a comedown for those who were once brilliant morning stars! You've probably heard of the "black holes" out in space that astronomers are studying. Some black holes have been described as once-gigantic stars that shriveled up and folded in upon themselves. Now, instead of giving out light, they seek to draw everything to themselves, their gravity having become so intense that not even light can escape. Who knows? Maybe the likeness IS more than coincidental.
Is your lamp lit?
We must learn to hate spiritual darkness, though it is true that, physically speaking, we may in some ways enjoy nighttime. For one thing, we become tired and need to sleep. What is more, in our technological world, where a flick of a switch brings illumination, nighttime has lost most of its drawbacks. If you lived in a society without artificial light, however, the night would be quite a bit more unwelcome. It would be easier to understand the lesson Jesus gave in John 11:9-10. He said, "If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world [the sun]. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Light is not inherent in a human being. It must come from an outside source. The sun gives light by day. Without the sun at night — in a world without conveniences such as electricity — humans run the risk of stumbling. Oh, they may by their own efforts build a fire, but such human works amount to mere sparks and do not vanquish the night (Isaiah 50:11). People in such a situation need light from the sun if they are to walk without stumbling, as Jesus pointed out. Actually, the darkness engulfing human beings cut off from God is twofold. The Bible describes them as being in darkness (John 3:19) and blind (II Corinthians 4:4). The eyes of those being called now, however, have been opened (Ephesians 1:18). Our source of light is God. "God is the Lord, and He has given us light" (Psalms 118:27). "For You will light my lamp," David exclaimed to the Eternal, "the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness" (Psalms 18:28). A lamp — the kind the Bible speaks of — needs fuel to function. The Holy Spirit is the oil that fuels our lamps and keeps them burning. We need a constant supply of that fuel. The more of God's Spirit we have, the brighter our light will shine. How much effort do we expend seeking that precious oil? Like the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, are we allowing our lamps to flicker and die out for lack of oil? Or do we always have an adequate supply, as did the five wise virgins?
As different as night from day
"Let there be light!" That, in so many words, is what Jesus Christ commanded His followers (Matthew 5:14-16). In order to do that, we must seek an uninterrupted supply of the Holy Spirit. But there is more that we must do. We need to study and put into practice God's Word. "The entrance of Your words gives light," the psalmist declared to God (Psalms 119:130). "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," he exclaimed in verse 105. Let there be more light in your life. Drink in of God's Word and put it to practice. "For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light," states Proverbs 6:23. Outside of God's revealed laws and inspired testimony, there is no light (Isaiah 8:20). Also, let there be light by getting involved in God's great commission of sending forth the "light of the gospel" (II Corinthians 4:4), emanating truth in a dark and dying world. Of course, when we become Christians we do not shine in full brightness all at once. It takes time. It is something we grow into. But it is vital that growth be present and noticeable, for "the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). From the first glimmer of dawn, the sun does not cease to grow brighter until it reaches its apex, what the Proverb refers to as "the perfect day." The sun does not retreat or retrogress. A Christian should constantly undergo self-examination, asking, "Am I making progress in shining brighter this year than last year, this week than last week, today than yesterday?" Let there be light! How well those words sum up the Christian calling. How are you doing? Is your light shining ever brighter?
A striking contrast
Light, as long as it is allowed to shine, always overcomes darkness. It always dominates (Ecclesiastes 2:13). When you turn on a light in a dark room, the darkness vanishes. But you cannot "turn on" darkness in a light room. The only way darkness can return is if the source of light is extinguished or covered up (Luke 11:34). Light is a positive force. Darkness is negative; it is the absence of light. Light symbolizes life (John 8:12) and truth (Psalms 43:3); darkness symbolizes death (Psalms 143:3) and error (Luke 11:34). Light symbolizes God; darkness symbolizes the power of Satan (Acts 26:18). Light and darkness are opposites. They cannot get along together. "For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" (II Corinthians 6:14). Answer: None! The apostle Paul further amplifies this truth in Ephesians 5:8-13: "For you were once [before conversion] darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light [how?] (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord" (verses 8-10). Living God's way — that is, generating light. Paul continues: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (verse 11). To expose them as an individual member of God's Church does not mean in most cases to do so orally. Oral exposing is the job of the ministry that lifts up its voice like a trumpet (Isaiah 58:1). Members of the Church, on the other hand, are to let their light shine. You can't hear light. A Christian exposes the works of darkness by being an example. It is the contrast between right and wrong that exposes the wrong. If you are a Christian there must be a contrast, as clearly as light contrasts with darkness, between the way you do things, your outlook, your attitude — your total purpose in life — and that of the world, or something is amiss! When you are tempted to blend in with surrounding darkness, to partake of things hidden in shadows, to do what you know you should not, to cover your lamp or compromise the bright glow it should be giving off, get a hold of yourself and think — say out loud to yourself if need be — "Let there be light!" and follow through by doing what you know God's will to be.
The Day of the Lord
Bible prophecy shows the Day of the Lord is the time God intervenes in world affairs and punishes rebellious nations at the return of Jesus Christ. But that's only the beginning. Actually, Jesus' return will mark the beginning of the millennial "day" after the "night" of Satan-inspired human misrule (I Thessalonians 5:2-8, Romans 13:12-13). Jesus is the "Sun of righteousness" who "shall arise with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2). The glorious day of God extends on past the Millennium, encompassing the ultimate transformation of the present heavens and earth into "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (II Peter 3:10-13). We must never lose sight of the awesome destiny we have before us. God is the "Father of lights" (James 1:17). That's us! In God is no darkness (I John 1:5, Psalms 139:12), no shadow (James 1:17). He clothes Himself with light (Psalms 104:2). God dwells in "unapproachable light" (I Timothy 6:16). Jesus, being the brightness of God's glory (Hebrews 1:3), shines as the sun in its full strength (Revelation 1:16). He is the bright and morning star (Revelation 22:16). We shall be like Him (I John 3:2). That's part of the "inheritance of the saints in the light" (Colossians 1:12). In this age, evil and righteousness coexist like night and day. After the completion of God's 7,000-year plan, however, in the new Jerusalem, there will be no evil. Neither will there be night (Revelation 21:23, 22:5). "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43). "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Let that be your destiny. Let there be light!