Friday, July 16, 2010

Phosphoric Imagery

What is Light? This is the question I am working on here.
Even though, according to my family, I am rather wordy when it comes to descriptions, I would have thoroughly enjoyed a simple one sentence description of what light is. Seeing , however there are so many different uses of the word, definition becomes rather broad and wide.
This question for me originally came up in a bible study group I attend, and it was on the beatitudes of Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 5:14-16 Jesus extends the unbelievable idea to his disciples; "you are the light of the world". An astounding statement that I'm sure they would have struggled with.
What exactly did Jesus mean with this statement of poetic imagery he conveyed? What did it mean to the disciples and to me(us)? This is what I want to discover.
I want to begin this study not with a definition, but with a beginning statement that brought time into being. Genesis 1 says this; "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was empty and formless, darkness was over the surface of he deep and the breath(spirit) of G-d was hovering over the waters. And G-d said let there be light. G-d saw the light was good and separated the light from the darkness. G-d called the light day and the darkness he called night; and there was evening and morning,the first day."
That is GREAT!, SUPER!! What great imagery of G-ds creativity and masterpiece if ingenuity in starting the time clock. And He does it with light. But what light is this passage talking about? If this is the first day of creation and there is no sun or moon, no stars in the sky, for they do not enter existence until the fourth day. What is this light?
Maybe G-d really did create the sun and stars on the first day and didn't flick the switch until the fourth day. After all, plants and vegetation were created on the third day and plants need sunlight and water to produce photosynthesis.
To investigate further on this idea of the first creative act of light so as not to come up with kind of grasping at straws answers.
1. G-d as light of revelation
I'm finding this idea of a theology of light a little deeper than I anticipated. If however there is anything worth investigating time into, this, at least for me is necessary and valuable.
The scriptures repeatedly use metaphors for G-d in images that we can somewhat understand. It is not a full representation of the One True G-d, but rather the language is earthly more so than spiritual terminology. It helps to describe the undefinable essence of G-d.
Light is used in varied terms for G-d, so we must uncover some passages that might reveal this luminous G-d. The first idea of light or illumination I would like to draw from is from the account of Moses arriving at the mountain of G-d in Exodus 3:1-3. After many years in the backside of the desert, Moses, who had fled from Egypt and royalty became somewhat of obsolete from society. He became a husband, father and a shepherd, and yet there remained a light from the past to shine forth towards the future.
The account in Exodus says that" an angel of the L-rd appeared to him in a blaze of fire amid the bush. He saw and behold, the bush was burning in the fire, but the bush was not consumed.".
This is a theological reality that I struggled with as I read this, and that is the idea of omnipresence. This is a word that theologians use to describe G-d in terms of being in all places at all times and that there is no place where G-d is not. With this idea given however, how does the invisible G-d illumine in one place and not elsewhere? If there is a theophany(appearance of G-d), is He no longer present elsewhere? How can this be?
Moses encountered G-d in many occasions, probably more so than others in scriptures. In this first stark meeting is in and by an angel in a blaze of fire. So many question arise in my mind with this statement, such as why a fire?; was the angel the fire?; and why a bush?
So as not to get off track, I want stay with this idea of G-d, the omniscient and omnipresent One, containing himself in the light of fire.
As a kid I remember being rather interested in fires, as young boys are. I remember taking a magnifying glass into the side yard of my house. I would get some paper or some dried grass in a pile and would try setting it on fire by the little ray of light that would be captured through the glass. I could usually only get the paper to start to smolder.
I am trying to understand this revelatory idea of an omnipresent G-d through the mind of my childhood so bear with me. Maybe G-d when He chooses, concentrates his light and radiance like a magnifying glass. He is still ever present and everywhere, but has for special purposes concentrated His light and pinpoints himself for special revelation.
This angel that is spoken of in v.2 of Ex. chapter3 could very well be the light of G-d pinpointed in the blaze. His light is in the lowly thorn bush which very well could be a picture of Israel in bondage. With the presence of G-d, the light of the fire, and thus Israel even though in bondage and exile is not consumed.Moses coming upon this wondrous occasion "saw". Moses saw and beheld this phenomenon . Because of time, distance and maybe comfort had forgotten the anguish of his brothers and sisters in suffering.Through the light of fire, he now saw and it was only because of light that anything came to his mind.
As in the beginning, the first thing to ever come into existence and invade the earth was G-d and is the light , the light of revelation. Light is the illumination of G-ds essence and expression and of his righteousness and goodness.
I believe this is what that first light was; It was the ethereal light of G-d Himself.
And G-d said let there be light.


  1. I completely follow your thoughts and want to add something.
    The Bible is prophetic to say the least. I believe that God was bringing light into existence to introduce Jesus. Light generally represents good and darkness evil. To put it simplisticly.....Jesus is the ultimate good...perfection.
    Light helps you see what really is and what is hidden in darkness. In an earthly sense, we can change things, fix things and work on things with light. You can't work on a car in the dark....well, I suppose, you can try but chances are it will be a mess. Jesus illumates our lives and ourselves so we can see ourselves for who we really are. I hope that made did to me.

  2. Ah my friend Noel, Finally someone that i can speak with. Throughout the scripture the "light" comes up frequently. Moses as you mentioned met with the L-rd on serveral occasions and always came back a changed man. Especially, when he came down from Sinai and as he walked down from the he had his faced covered because it was glowing from being in the presence of G-d. Just being in the ligt of the L-rd has that effect on people. Love the blog. . . i will keep looking in the scriptures and keep reading your blog.

  3. Ok so the reason I didn't post a comment last time I read this was because I always have to wait for your blog post to really sink into my thoughts... they're always so deep. I come away thinking, what can I say to that?! Tonight on the way home I was telling Asa about my predicament and I decided what I wanted to say. Thanks for being so deep and causing me to think. It's so easy sometimes to float through the busyness of life on auto pilot and just not think deeply. But every time I come away, from Bible Study or your blog, I have more of a desire to live a DEEP thinking, rich Christian life! Your thoughts inspire me and the way you live the Christian life is encouraging! Sooooo keep blogging :) I DO still read it, actually, I probably check it out at least once a day!

  4. (ACTUALLY WRITTEN BY ASA) When I think about people and their perspectives on life, I think about the person as a if THEY are a story. I often wonder what makes them think the things that they think? And WHO is their Author? WHO is writing their story? What does their relationship really look like with G-d? And WHAT or WHO inspires thier thoughts about G-d? Nole, I just have to say that I really appreciate your openness in sharing your thoughts and queries. I know that God is working in your life and can deffinately say that I am drawn more to know GOD because of your humble sharing. As I compare the CONTENT of WHAT you share with the content of G-d's revelation to man through Jesus Christ and the bible I see truth. I see light. I see G-d's personal hand at work in your life. Thank you for seeking G-d and sharing your insights. You are like an older brother to me. -- Thoughts and Prayers, Asa Kiser