This Little Light of Mine

Genesis 1:3-5
When my daughter was born, she opened her beautiful dark blue eyes just moments after she was born, and saw light and all sorts of things in the room, especially momma. All birth goes from darkness into light. When a person is still in the womb, all that person knows is darkness. When that person is born, they then have light. We are looking today at the birth of the world. We see here three things: how God created, what God created, and how He separated and ordered what He created.
Notice here HOW God creates light. It is not by doing battle with countless godlike foes. It is not by divesting Himself of part of His godhood. It is by speaking a word. God is so powerful that the light obeyed the voice of God even before it existed. God commands and things jump…into existence! This is what the NT describes as the “Word of His power.” It is another way of saying that Jesus Christ is the way that everything came into existence. We must also understand that the word is always associated with prophecy. By speaking, God is acting like some of the later prophets. Hebrews 1:1-2 says that “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” This line of prophecy starts here in Genesis, continues through the OT prophets, and ends in Jesus Christ.

In the opening part of John’s Gospel, we learn that the Word was with God in the beginning, and that without the Word, nothing was made. Jesus was involved in the creation of all things. So we see here in Genesis that how God created light points us to Jesus Christ. Indeed, as we saw last week, the Holy Spirit was involved in creation, giving life to dead things. The Father commanded, and the Son obeyed: the Trinity accomplished the same work: creation. John goes on further to say in his Gospel that the new creation is also accomplished by Jesus Christ through the incarnation. That is what John calls “the true light coming into the world.” How did God create light? Through Jesus Christ, who is the light.

Notice that God’s word was present not only in creating light, but also in naming the light. In the ANE, if you had the right of naming something, that meant that you had power over the object itself. Naming was an incredibly important part of how something came into existence. Names indicated what the person or thing was supposed to do. So light is associated with the day, and darkness is associated with the night.

What did God create? He created light. Now here we must be careful. We just said that Jesus Christ was the light. This does NOT mean that Jesus Christ was created when light was created. This is what the Arian heresy said in the 4th century. Arius said that Christ was a created being, though he was the first of God’s created works. But that is not what John is saying in his interpretation of our passage here in Genesis. What John is saying is that God created light for the benefit of mankind at the creation, and that Jesus created that light, because in creation He is identified with the Word. So also in the incarnation, the light that is God comes into the world for mankind’s benefit.

Notice that God created light before He created the sun, moon and starts (which happens on day 4). There are two excellent reasons for why God did it this way. The first is that God wants us to know that light comes directly from God, and that God has all power over light. It does not come solely from the sun. Light is not some uncontrolled thing that exists. God created it and continually controls it. The other very good reason why God is said to create light before the sun is that Israel just came out of Egypt. Now, Egypt worshipped Ra, the god of the sun. And so Moses is careful to say that Ra is not god of the light, but rather the God of Israel is God of the light. Israel was always being tempted to go back to Egypt. Moses here has an agenda. He is arguing against the gods of Egypt here.

So, back to Genesis, at the beginning of this creation process, God does what is really the most natural thing imaginable. He turns on the light switch. If you are going into a room to start a project, and it is pitch black in the room, the first thing you do is to turn on the light switch. Now, we must be careful to recognize that God does not himself need the light to see His creation. The light is for our benefit. In fact, the Bible often uses light as a metaphor for life itself. The very first thing that God says in the Bible is a command for light. Light exists to show God’s glory to mankind, whom He is about to create. All of Genesis shows God’s grace to us by showing that God made the world into a very livable place. The world cannot survive without light. Plants need light, animals need light, and humans need light. This is what God created.

Thirdly, we see that God separated light from darkness. Separation is a very interesting idea in the OT. Separation was what the priests did: separate clean from unclean, sacred from common, even dividing sacred into several categories like holy and most holy. Separation is something priests do. It creates order, and preserves holiness. So also God is exercising a priestly function by separating light from darkness. This particular separation means that God appointed light to do a certain thing, and to have its own place. The same is true of darkness: God appointed darkness to have its own place, and to fulfill its own purpose. Notice then that we have just seen God act in two ways: prophet and priest. Does God act as king? Yes, He rules over all creation. So, we see God acting as prophet, priest and king.

Separation is ironic here as well. This separation between light and dark is for the purposes of order. Later, we will learn of a separation between man and God that results in chaos, confusion and misery. That separation is called sin. That makes the priestly work of separation into holy and unholy necessary. They would not have had to do such separation if mankind had not sinned. This is why Jesus Christ came into the world, to separate the curtain of the temple into two pieces, so that the separation between God and man would no longer be in existence. The light came into the world, and the darkness of sin did not overcome it, as it had everyone else coming into the world. Instead, Christ came to institute a new separation between those of the light, and those of the darkness, between those who are holy and those who are not holy, by putting a separation into mankind between those who believe in Jesus Christ and those who do not.

You see, we are lost in the darkness of sin. But when God shines the light of the Gospel into our heart, He commands, “Let there be a Christian.” And there was a Christian. And God saw that the Christian was good, and he separated the Christian from the non-Christian. The Christian He called “Son,” and the non-Christian he called “Enemy.” And there was evening, and there was morning, a new era.

Do we go to the light? Remember, our sinful nature loves the darkness, because it is comfortable there, since its sin remains hidden. John 3:16-21 is relevant here. Know that we need to come to the light. We need to come to Jesus. We need to have the darkness of our hearts exposed, so that light can enter. We need a light to enter our hearts that can never be overcome by the darkness.

God is light, and God is love. What about evangelism? I can think of no application of the idea of light more pressing in our day and age than that of evangelism. You see, the light has shone in our hearts, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. But what about “this little light of mine?” Are we going to let the light be snuffed out, be put under the bushel basket of laziness, lack of love, or some other hindrance? We are the light of the world. Just as God came down to earth as light in the person of Jesus Christ, so also has he put us here to be the light of the world. “Let there be light” to all those who have not heard the Gospel. Let the light claim more and more territory for itself until darkness has no more room for itself.

The problem is, that we are apathetic. We fear rejection in our evangelism. We think that the light in us is annoying to other people. To a certain extent, the light in us is a stumbling block to other people. Jesus did talk about being rejected, just as He was rejected. That should NOT stop us from sharing the Gospel with those who do not believe. We should rather fear Him who can put both body and soul into hell. We have been forgiven our ten thousand talent debt. Now let us help others to be rid of theirs. The other problem, though, is that we do not love others. Is it not true that we may have shared the gospel with a person several times, maybe even for years, and because they did not respond, we lose our love for them? But God did not give up on us. Many of us rejected God for years, choosing rather to be in darkness. But God’s light is effective. It will pierce those whom God has chosen for himself. We know that the Word of God is effective. So let us not lose our love for people. Sometimes people are like onions: you have to peel off layer after layer of resistance, until you get to the tender core of the heart. This requires an immense amount of patience. Sometimes we like to do good things, but forget about the best things.

Evangelism will eventually result in all of God’s people being harvested from the fields. When that happens, there will be an evening followed by the morning of the consummation of all things. Darkness will have been driven back, until the only place left for it is hell itself. Then the ultimate separation will take place. Hell will be only darkness, and heaven and earth will be only light. There will be no need of the sun and moon in that great new city of Jerusalem, because the light of the city is the Lamb, Jesus Christ. That vision should make a difference in the here and now, because it is precisely that vision of the consummation that God is bringing about using us as His instruments.

Where will you put that little light of yours? Will you put under a bushel, which is like putting it in hell? Or will you let it shine, let it shine, let it shine so that all men may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.

2 Comments

  1. Droll Flood said,

    February 5, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    I have an oddball question for you totally unrelated to the post:
    Do you know Vern Picknally, minister in the PCA in Carson, ND?

  2. Mr. Baggins said,

    February 6, 2006 at 9:01 am

    I do happen to know him. However, he’s OPC, not PCA. A great guy.


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