Let There Be Light
Dr. K. G. Jose
The General Understanding of Light in the Bible
Light denotes a relation, not a being, “The Lord is my light” (Pss 27:1). Light is a term for life in the absolute sense, not a mere existence. Light is salvation. To see light is to live. Part of salvation is to be in the light. Light is self-understanding and freedom from care. God breaks light when He wills, sending darkness on Egypt. Light is the shining of God’s countenance (Pss 44:3; Nu6:25. Is 45:7). God created light and darkness, salvation and destruction. Creation of light is the first salvific act. Nothing of creation before light. Light is created before sun and stars. Without light no creation; only light brings out the contours of things hovering in darkness. Heavenly bodies were created after the light. Night is a remnant of the darkness of chaos, but light is from creation. Darkness is not made but restrained.
Light and Creation
The first word uttered on this earth is “let there be light”. Since the universe began in God’s purpose, all existence can be viewed not tragically, but with trust and faith because this world is clear plan and creation of our Father. Life on this earth began in goodness, humanity can go forward into it with courage and expectation. It is our bold affirmation that God made us and the world around for us. God can work together whatever is best for us. Life began with Word of God, continues by the Word of God. The purpose of creation is to let me live and grow in an environment that is controlled by Almighty God. If we can trust that life on earth began in goodness, evil in the world is not fate but a contradiction to God’s noble purpose and therefore, can be redeemed. As creation has a beginning in God, so there can be new beginnings from the same God for our continuity and blessing on this earth.
In the beginning denotes a dateless date, is God. God created, causing to be, energy causes to be. The Divine Intelligence is the cause; blind force does not create anything. Force needs intelligence to create, and the mastery of volition. Thus there is energy, intelligence and will behind the creation. The day is called for the duration of light. The Spirit of the Lord brooded over the chaotic state. God is orderly and full of beauty, has the heart of motherhood. Thus earth is a distinct creation of God. God created the earth not as a waste. “God said” is repeated 9 times, and after each saying things happened.
Creation is not a finished story. As there was the beginning in God, there can be new beginnings. What we read in Genesis is Primary Creation and what God continues to do is secondary creation, which is, providence. The universe was made to fit together and to have meaning. It is our confidence that God made us and the world we live in. Therefore as long as I am faithful, I need have no fear of the circumstances. God can make conditions work together to finish whatever is the best that He means to create in us. Whatever is waste and void His Spirit moves creatively according to a holy purpose which nothing can be strong enough to turn aside. When life seems empty within, darkness seems to descent, but remember, the brooding Spirit has not vanished from us. There is a fairer world without darkness.
In the beginning is not the beginning of God. It is not the beginning of everything. It is the beginning of time and of our history. In Hebrew it is an initial period of time, than a point in time (Jer 28:1).
Light and Spirit
The Spirit of the Lord began brooding over a chaos, nothingness. The status of the earth before creation was disorder, useless and waste. When the people of Israel could not follow the guidance of the Lord in the wilderness 40 years of life in wilderness was wasted (Deut 32:10; Jer 4:23-26). The status of the earth was empty, dark, barren, awaiting God’s call to light and life. Light is God’s first blessing; so the prophets and apostles mark the beginning of a future new age of salvation with the light that pierces the nighttime (Isa 8:22-9:2). Future Messianic Salvation will be marked by a flowering of the desert into a fruitful land (Isa 35:1-2). The wilderness awaits blessings of God. Hence those waiting in the wilderness heard the Word of the Lord (Mt 4:4). The world will return to the original light without sun, moon and stars: “The sun shall no more serve as thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light to thee. For Yahweh shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Isa 60:19).
The verb create occurs 48 times in OT, always God as subject and therefore ‘create’ is a divine activity. What is the action of God-“Let there be light”! Divine utterance is action. Bara, the Hebrew word for creation never occurs in context where raw materials are mentioned. Creation of God is not mere manufacture of matter but in fixing destinies. Nothing existed before creation; it was an empty earth. Raging waters and darkness are chaotic. There is nothing sinister or menacing about this chaos in Genesis; it is simply the indication that God has not yet done His work. Spirit of God is disrupting the power of chaos.
Israel understood Spirit of God as an extension of God’s power, not a separate entity. The Spirit of God empowers but does not indwell; the Spirit of God gives authority. In the NT the Spirit of God indwell in believers and does creative work in them. The Spirit of God regenerate Saul with a new heart. Indwelling HG guided Simeon to come to the temple to see the Messiah (Luke 2:26-27). Brooding is the work of mother bird in protecting and making their nest fit for the young ones (Deut 32:11). As God did His work of creation by the Spirit of God, so Israel was to do their mission and work by means of HG. Work of HG is historically coequal with the work of creation. The Divine Being who inspired the Bible appears upon its first page, a mystic center of light and beauty in the midst of a universe of darkness. By the fatal shock received in Eden, the whole system has been disorganized. HG alone can rectify the deep disorders of our nature. The material chaos is but a faint image of spiritual chaos.
Light and Word
In OT the burden of the text is to convince the Israelites that there was only one God. Since they were having enough trouble in their cultural environment, God did not confuse them with Trinitarian elaboration. Christ thee second person in Trinity is always a mystery in OT, is the Word spoken here. Creation of the world by Word (Hebrew Dabar) in the OT is logos in the NT.
Light came into existence by the Word of God. Word created the world; Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We are also born by the Word. The Word will complete the world.
Light from Word of God. Word created the world; Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We are also born by the Word. The Word will complete the world. The term “let there be” is the verbal form of the word the noun Yahweh. Apostle Paul emphasizes that “by him were all things created….” (Col 1:16-17).
Word and Light
Darkness is well established; light is struggling, but God brings light without struggle. Light is always a conquest of darkness. Arrival of light is salvation. There is a decisive divine action behind it for the welfare of His creation. It is not for light that God called day, but the period of light. Let there be a period of light. On day one, God created time. This is the first of the functions God will use to bring order to the chaos of the cosmos: the orderly and regular sequence of time. This light was without sun. Israelites view sun as a source of heat and a source of light, but not as the source of light.
God saw that it was good; He took pleasure in it. May we not learn a lesson here, to pause after our daily toil, to inspect and review its worth? Every act of life should be followed by contemplation. No doubt darkness and light here began their quarrel. At flood God no longer saw that it was good, but saw how great wickedness (Gen 6:5). The good is that which is beneficial for humanity; in the second day, nothing good recorded as on that day nothing created that is good for humanity (Gen 1:6-8). We are in the conflict still. The moment we become Christian we begin our fight. As soon as we become Christian, no more rest. When He gives light, the believer begins to separate himself from darkness. Light is eminently good, for the Lord spent a whole day in creating and arranging it. God gave it a front rank by occupying the first day of creations week upon it. The Lord quickly discerns all the goodness and beauty which exists in what He creates. Darkness never did become light. Darkness must give place when God speaks. Gospel light is good as Jesus said “blessed are thee eyes which see the things you see”.
Light is one of the best gifts of God. It is inexpensive. We pay for the light produced by human effort. Humanity has limitations, God has none. Light is extensive; it floods the universe. It is an emblem of eternal light. Light God created was not so fierce as to injure humanity; neither was weak as to be ineffectual. Its darkness was to make him feel of the need of His protection. Light essential for all life. The best medicine is heliopathy for health (Mal 4:2). Pagan religions ascribe divinity to sun, moon and stars. Marduk is the sun god of Babylonians. Bible emphasizes light as the gift of God’s goodness. Thus “unto the upright there arises light in darkness” (Pss 112:4). Thus not only the sunny but the shadowed side of life is made the realm of faith. Life has its beautiful and blessed rhythm. There is a time for action, the day and a time to rest, the night. Religion can have no partnership with laziness. What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in Heaven for our Lord; even the lowly employment should be praised as a service of God. Religion is not to be a hectic activity without meditation. There must be a time to be quiet and receive from God. God who blessed the day has also blessed the night. He gave it for the kind of rest that genuinely restores our body, mind and soul. Coming in at the end of the day is coming to God.
Paul tells us that God the Holy Spirit, who first illumined the dark world of matter, still illuminates the dark world of mind. All ismidnight in the heart, mind, and soul of a sinner, until He, the Light of life, say, Let there be light. Earth was without form and void, similarly, the heart too without grace; the HG moves in His creative, enlightening energy. It was good because adapted to the purpose contemplated by it. The light ever active would rebuke indolence. In this light man was to order his moral conduct. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world”. The whole world shall finally enjoy His saving rays. Light is latent in God’s saintly children (Jn8:12). There is an eternal day for the sons of light, and eternal night for the sons of darkness. Light is pure. Its property repels defilement. It traverses unstained each medium of uncleanness. Light is lovely; beauty cannot live without it. God shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ. The Church is now the light in the world; every child of God is light; every minister is spreading light of Christ.