Light Who Or What

by George F Spall

An intriguing question insists on needling me. It darts into my placid and bland inertia as I sit in a bus, waiting and trembling at the traffic lights. It invades the warm pleasure of gentle conversation as I wait between the savoury aroma of the soup and the tantalizing whiff from the casserole promising the next delight. Then the question evaporates, unanswered for the moment, but ready to stab me awake next morning as I meander sleepily to the shower and remember that I have a puzzle. Light. Is it an 'it' or a 'Why'? A something or a Someone?

O bother it! Does it matter if I know or not? It all started when a Jewish friend who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of her Bible and religious lore told me once that there were two distinct kinds of light mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. She said that the first one had been taken away by the Creator because He knew that men would worship it, and that the other lights from sun and moon were left for our use. The first light would return when the Messiah came.

That was an entirely new idea to me and I questioned her about it. She quoted ancient Rabbinic authorities, dug it up in Aramaic, in which she was also proficient, as well as in Hebrew, and smilingly assured me that this is so, and will be so.

She said that this light would shine from the Messiah when he rode to his kingly throne on a donkey; that the light would emanate from him, and certainly not from the donkey on which he would sit, for the animal would be but the humble vehicle of his majesty, and the emblem of the peace he will inaugurate.

In a world that is already in the twilight of this Gentile-dominated age, now jerking shamefully and violently into history, how eagerly we all await that Messiah!

So, the question will not go away: "Is light a Somebody or a something?" If light is THE Somebody, my loved friend says, he is neither in the animal, the vegetable or the mineral kingdom, or any other, for He created them and thus is outside them. We must remember the sacred Scripture says: "And God said: Light be, and there was light." Light is something God created.

However, there are statements in the Bible that would indicate that light is a Person, perhaps a startling concept. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1); "I will give THEE for a light of the Gentiles" (Psalm 42:6); and yet again, "For the LORD shall be thine everlasting light" (Isaiah 60:20).

The Jewish writer who wrote the fourth gospel in the New Testament is in strong support, for he reports the Man of Galilee's claim: "I am the light of the world."

Because he quoted other passages of himself from the Torah that used the sacred Name Jehovah, his contemporaries believed he was claiming to be that One. So, when he made that remarkable assertion that he was the light, he was saying that light emanated from him.

So the question that prods me is valid: is light a Somebody or a something? And was he merely saying that he was offering moral or spiritual illumination when he made the claim, or was there something rather deeper, bigger, more literal, more material?

Let us go back to the first mention of the word in Genesis. "And God said: Light be, and light there was."

Curiously I pick up the dictionary on my desk and ask it, "What is light?" It is a most obliging book and gives me some fifteen different answers. "Light is mental illumination" -- we pass over that as a definition for we all know that is only one use we make of the word. "Light is the vivacity in a person's eyes" -- we enjoy the imagery, though it does not satisfy the enquiry.

"Light is the natural agent that stimulates the sense of sight and medium of space in which sight is possible, a sensation, peculiar to the optic nerve." Or, "Light is a form of energy which when projected into motion, stimulates the sense of sight. It is measurable in wave lengths or assessed in photons of energy" etc -- bring a physicist into the discussion and we will need more than a dictionary; his answers would pose further questions!

Dr Nathan Wood is a physicist as well as a philosopher, and he shows us that 'matter' is really energy, which, proceeding through motion, produces various kinds of phenomena: iron, wood, or flesh as the case may be. Light is one such phenomenon.

If light is energy, whence comes that energy, because back of force there must be source, of course! The book of Genesis says that the Elohim is the source, and brings Him to us as the LORD, Jehovah. It is the same word that Psalm 27 gives us: "The LORD is my light and my Saviour (my Yeshua)." So we continue to ask is light a Someone or a something?

If light is really matter which is energy in motion, a force emanating from a Source, it seems logical to equate energy with the Energizer.

The creation account in Genesis informs us that God 'spoke' ten times. He spoke and it was done. There is an interesting association between the words 'matter' and 'word' in the Hebrew language. If they are written without the vowel points to denote vowel sounds, the word is the same -- dabar or debir. The word occurs more than 2,000 times. It is translated 'word' 1,700 odd times and 'matter or 'thing' 330 times. Energy from the Energizer; light from the LIGHT.

John opens his gospel: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men."

My Hebrew friend says that the first light, the greater light indeed, is to come back with the Messiah. Christian believers of course believe that the central figure of the New Testament is also the central figure of the Old. They agree with their Jewish friends that the Messiah is the Light.

But there are other claimants these days. There is Mahomet, and men like the Guru Maharishi, and this new one, Maitreya from the Himalayas. And there have been others, like Dr. Moon. We can safely ignore those flickering fireflies whose glow will go out when they die. Dr. Moon's light is already twilight. The prophet Mahomet is dead but the religion he founded is not. Islam is making as great a challenge in the world as Communism.

Inasmuch as there is a really big contender for the title THE CHRIST in what the Bible calls "the last days" , we might glance briefly at the candidates. I dare say that as none of the three, Moon, Maharishi or Maitreya lay claim to having been part of the creation operation, we can pass them over, in the light of the foregoing. None of them would accept what the Bible teaches about the Word who became flesh and is the Light.

Mahomet is a bigger subject. Though the Koran says that he was a man like other men, yet some Moslem writers go much further nowadays. One writes: "That light was the light of Mahomet and everything else was created for him." Another says: "All the light of the prophets proceeded from his light. He was before all. His name is the first in the book of fate. He was known before all things and all being, and will endure to the end of all."

The Talmud speaks of the Messiah like that.

One of the stimuli that has spurred the Ayatollah Khomeini and his Iranian activists is their confident expectation that the Imam Mahdi will soon be here. A Moslem 'second coming' is their impetus.

Israel 's prophets of old foretold that there would be a manifestation of the Messiah, and Isaiah particularly says of him that he will be a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Isaiah and others also foretell that there will be an impostor on the scene.

The magnitude of Islam in today's world, its tremendous influence backed by petro-dollars, political punch, opposition to Israel, and religious fervour, make it the most likely author of the anti-Messiah. In addition, Islam's geographical location and its animosity to Israel, together with its 'spiritual' ambitions and objectives, all combine to direct attention to the Arab world and to the ASSYRIAN of Isaiah 10.

The same Jewish writer, John, says: "God is Light." We agree. The Eternal who is the source of it, and still IS the source of it (for light must ever proceed as energy from the Energizer), identified Himself when He was here by the many miracles He did. Mahomet created nothing and did no miracle. He died and his tomb is not empty!

Of the Messiah who is risen from the dead it is written: "His life is the light of men."