Recently I was talking with a friend who used a new term that he had heard in a management seminar. The term “residual light” actually comes from astronomy and is used to describe the light that still exists from a star that has died. You see starlight created today in the Milky Way traveling at the speed of light (299 792 458 miles per second) takes years and years to reach our sight here on earth.
According to the website www.astronomyexpert.co.uk/TheDeathOfStars.html there are two primary ways for a star to stop emitting light. It can simply die a long slow death and go cold or it can go super nova and explode with a spectacular light show and creating a black hole when it dies.
This idea of starlight started me thinking about light and how it is dealt with in the Bible.
· Light is seen as a symbol for what is pleasant, good, or uplifting, and is especially related to God. “The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory” (Is 60:19). The psalmist exulted, “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” and proceeded to ask, “whom shall I fear?” (27:1). God is said to be robed with light (Ps 104:2) and light dwells with him (Dn 2:22).
· During the plagues in Egypt the Egyptians experienced thick darkness while the Israelites had light (Ex 10:23). When the Israelites left Egypt, they were led in the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night (Ex 13:21). The pillar gave them light while their enemies were in darkness (Ex 14:20). In later days Israel remembered that God did not abandon his people even when they sinned; the pillar of fire was always there to show them the right way (Neh 9:19; cf. Neh 9:12; Pss 78:14; 105:39).
· A Godly leader is sometimes identified with light. Thus when the Israelites decided that King David should no longer risk his life on the battlefield they said, “You shall no more go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel” (2 Sam 21:17).
· Sometimes judgment on Israel is expressed as a withdrawal of light: “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord?… Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18, 20; cf. Is 13:9, 10).
· In the Old Testament the absence of light is a synonym for disaster. There are those who “grope in the dark without light” (Job 12:25). Bildad saw the light of the wicked put out in punishment and death (Job 18:5–17). The wicked will be “thrust from light into darkness, and driven out of the world” (Job 18:18). In the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem was the lament, “He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light” (Lam 3:2).
· In the New Testament Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), and “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). Jesus told his followers to believe in the light while it was with them (John 12:35 Christ not only brought a revelation from God as a revealer but He himself was and is the revelation and light himself. (John 1:1–10)
· Followers of Christ are also called light in the New Testament. When they are called the light of the world, there is clearly no saving significance in the description. They do not accomplish the world’s salvation. But they do point it out. It is their function as redeemed people to live as redeemed people. They are to show the quality of life proper to the people of God and in this way act as light to the people of the world. They are to let their light shine before the world in such a way that people will see their good deeds and so come to praise God (not, be it noted, those who do the deeds, Matt. 5:16). It is important for those in this position to make full use of the light they have. It is tragedy when the light that is in them is darkness (Matt 6:23; Luke 11:35).
You and I know many churches and even people that have been great lights in the past but today like dying stars have either become cold and lost their fire or have gone super nova and have exploded wreaking havoc not only with those closest to them but in the community around them.
The light that is Christ, who dwells within his people, is supposed to have illuminated us. If we ignore the illumination he brings us and live like those in the dark, then indeed we are in deep darkness. We are worse than others because we know what light is and what it can mean to us, and have turned away from it.
How do we fix this lack of light in our lives? Two things: First recognize it and repent (that means change your ways) and second, like the story of the wedding party waiting for the bridegroom be prepared with enough oil for your lamp so that when the time comes your lamp is lit and shining at it’s full capacity! Third, we must stay connected to the source of our Light.
Anyone got a light?