“In thy light shall we see light.”
The sweet singer of Israel is singing a hymn, a song of praise to God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the ages the church has repeated this song of praise, even as we do today in the well-known words,
Thy mercy and Thy truth, O Lord, transcend the lofty sky;
Thy judgments are a mighty deep, and as the mountains high.
Lord, Thou preservest man and beast; since Thou art ever kind,
Beneath the shadow of Thy wings we may a refuge find.
With the abundance of Thy house we shall be satisfied,
From rivers of unfailing joy our thirst shall be supplied.
The fountain of eternal life is found alone with Thee,
And in the brightness of Thy light we clearly light shall see.
Who can fathom the animated joy that floods the soul and comes to expression in this hymn? It provides us with a foretaste of the eternal: song of Moses and the Lamb, standing, as it were, at the very portals of heaven. We sing to our Almighty God, Whom we worship and adore. We sing to Jehovah, our eternal, unchangeable covenant God, Who keeps covenant forever. We declare before Him in humble worship His glorious perfections as we experience them from day to day in our lives. God’s mercy is the keynote of our song. It is higher than the heavens, transcending all human thought or imagination, as God in mercy bestows upon us the riches of His salvation. God’s faithfulness covers us as a protective cloud by day and a cloud of light by night. God’s righteousness is as steadfast as the mountains, founded on holiness and truth. Therefore His judgments, are just judgments, punishing the wicked according to their sins and bestowing blessings upon His people in abundant mercies. How precious is that mercy of our God, far beyond anything that wee could cherish in our hearts here below. We are abundantly satisfied with the spiritual bounties of God’s House, bounties of spiritual bread and wine in covenant fellowship with God at His table. From the throne flow rivers of pleasure, filling our hearts with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The climax of our eulogy is reached in the confession, “With thee is the fountain of life: in thy light we shall see light.”
“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”‘ (I John 1:5). When we look for a definition of light we search in vain. Just as a definition for life escapes us, so also a definition of light defies our understanding. We can say something about light, even about the effects of light, yet even so we have not yet expressed what light really is. We speak of light as movement, vibration. We know it produces heat and warmth. We need it to see and to move about. Dark objects take on shape and form as the pawn of a new day spreads its light over the earth. Colors appear in the light. In the light we see one another, have contact, fellowship, and communion. Therefore we can say that light is life. Yet, even so, we still ask, what is light?
Scripture directs our attention to God. God is Light. The light that God created on the first day of the creation week is an earthly picture of the light of God. The sun that was made the light-bearer on the fourth day is a constant reminder to us of Him Who is the Light of life. God is Light! Who can fathom that? As mere creatures of the dust we worshipfully confess that God dwells in the dazzling brightness of His own glorious perfections. Before Him the angels hide their faces, the saints bow in adoration. Holy is His Name! He is the Holy One of Israel Who is holy in all His dealings with His people and with the wicked. Righteousness and truth belong to Him. He thinks righteous thoughts, speaks righteous words, and deals righteously always. In Him is infinite knowledge and wisdom. He is eternal, immutable. He is self-sufficient, sovereign over all His wide and vast creation. He isGod. The one, only true and eternal Light.
This brings to mind the words of the Savior, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The first creation was made with a view to the coming of Christ and the new creation. God had eternally appointed His Son to be the Christ, the Firstborn of every creature to bring many sons to glory through the dark yet glorious way of sin and grace. All history was planned to serve that purpose even from paradise to Paradise. It was with that in mind that God created this present world, bringing forth light out of darkness by the Word of His power. This light was the light of life. Adam also was created a living soul, in the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. He had the light of his eye whereby he could see the amazing splendor of God’s creation. With the light of his understanding he saw the hand of the Creator in all things, so that he must have cried out: My God, how great Thou art! With the spiritual light of love in his heart, which controlled his whole being, he was devoted to God as God’s friend-servant. In devotion to God he consecrated his whole being to his God with all the earthly creation. But through the fall of Adam abominable sin and horrible darkness settled upon this world. When Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world He plainly implied that the whole world lies enveloped in the darkness of sin and death. Darkness stands antithetically opposed to light. Light is holiness, darkness is vile rebellion; light is righteousness, darkness is defiance of God and of His laws, transgression; light is knowledge, darkness is spiritual blindness, the lie; light is life, darkness is the isolation of death. To sinners born in this world of sin and death Christ proclaims the glad tidings, “I am the light of the world.” He does not merely say that He brings light into the world, He is the light. He does not allow for the possibility that there might be other sources of light. He is the light. He comes into this world of sin and darkness to bring the light of salvation. He enters into the very depths of our darkness to bear the wrath of God against our sin in the raging torments of hell to deliver us and bring us to glory. He is the Captain of our salvation Who through the darkness of death and the grave marches onward to life and victory in glory. From heaven He sends His Spirit into our hearts to draw us out of death into life and out of darkness into His marvelous light. We who once were darkness are now light in the Lord (Eph. 5:8). He restores in us the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. We are spiritually enlightened so that we may see with our eyes and know with our minds the wondrous majesty and glory of our God as revealed in all the works of His hands and in the Holy Scriptures. Our hearts are renewed so that we can devote ourselves to God with heart and mind, and with: our whole being. We know the mercies of God that transcend the lofty skies, and His judgments which are deeper than the sea and higher than the mountains. We are satisfied with the abundance of God’s house and drink from the rivers of living waters which continuously flow to us from our Savior Jesus Christ.
Thus we become disciples, followers of Jesus, walking in the light as children of the light. We experience Gods approval, having fellowship with God and with the saints, for God’s people are our people, and their God is our God. We take the Holy Scriptures as our guide, our road map to lead us along the perfect way that leads us to life with God in His glory. We confess, “Thy word; is a lamp before my feet, and a light upon my path” (Psalm 119:105). That Word is in our hearts as the message of God Himself to us, revealing to us is eternal mercies and grace as the God of our salvation in Jesus Christ. God promises to us, as the heirs of salvation, the riches of grace in Christ Jesus. He instructs our hearts and minds in wisdom’s ways, so that in Him we trust, upon Him we wait, in Him is all our joy, our expectation, and our longing. To live apart from God is a conscious experience of death. Of this we become deeply aware when we sin. God’s approval means more to us than our earthly existence. Now we see as in a mirror dimly, soon we shall see our God face to face; now we know in part, soon we shall know as we are known.
This knowledge of God is the basis, the principle of all true knowledge. For it is in God’s light that we see the light. All true knowledge is knowledge of God, theology. It is true that there is a certain knowledge in the world of unbelief, a remnant of natural light that remains after the fall of paradise. The natural man knows, not merely that there is a god, but that God is God. He cannot escape the fact that God’s law is good and that God must be served. He knows very well the difference between good and evil, as is evident from his reaction to those who offend him. He knows that it is to his own advantage to remain a bit close to keeping the law. He takes advantage of the discoveries and inventions God opens up to him in His creation. He discerns the laws that are basic for mathematics, science, languages, etc. He applies this knowledge to his own life in the world. Yet, even so, he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, for he walks in darkness. Knowing God he defiantly asks, “Who is God, that I should obey Him?” He determines for himself what is right or wrong. The consensus of opinion becomes the criterion for what is proper, even when it violates all God’s holy law. Knowing God he works his own condemnation, so that he stands eternally before God without excuse.
True knowledge of God is a God-centered knowledge. This we confess before the face of God when we declare, “In thy light we shall see the light.” This implies that all knowledge in every field of learning is based on God’s revelation of Himself in the Scriptures. We are not misled by those who argue that there are many interpretations of Scripture, and, therefore none can be exact. Scripture is its own interpreter. The Holy Spirit Who testifies through the Scriptures does not speak to one differently than to another. It is our duty prayerfully to search the Word of God from day to day. We must approach that Word with a docile, receptive, heart, asking, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Only then are we spiritually qualified to see the light and to walk in it.
This is more than a confession. It is our prayer to God that He may enlighten our understanding, give us receptive hearts for His Word, and give us grace to be shining lights in our families, in the church, and in the midst of the world. In answer to that prayer. God feeds us with the fatness of His House. We drink of Jehovah’s stream of life with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Thus we also live in anticipation of that day when with the multitude before the throne we will declare in perfection of glory: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! . . . For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen!” (Romans 11:33, 36).