“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light…”1 John 1:5
GOD IS LIGHT.
This is His transcendent attribute of purity, perfection, and goodness of the Divine nature. Light is an attribute and expression of holiness and thus a personal quality.
His glorious light is so transcendent that it is described as unapproachable light. “He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:16)
We cannot approach Him (because of His transcendence). But that does not mean He cannot approach us (this is His Immanence).
This is exactly what happened when God came to Moses and allowed Moses to approach Him and speak with him.
God did not appear to Moses in His transcendence, as that Light would have obliterated not just Moses, but the whole earth. Rather, God came to Moses in His Immanence, allowing Moses to hear His voice and see the fire. That fire was a tiny visible speck of His unapproachable Light.
Moses encountered the literal presence of God there.
Some Muslims say God cannot or would not descend to the earth. But if Allah can descend to the lowest heavens every night (cf Saḥih Bukhari 1094, Sahih Muslim 758), why would he be incapable to descend to the earth?
And who was Moses speaking to if God’s presence was not there? Is Allah a talented ventriloquist to speak from the fire, while he parked in the lowest heavens? And why was Moses commanded to remove his sandals if God’s presence was not there? (cf Sura 20:12)
It was sacred ground because the presence of God was there!
[Islamic commentators give different reasons but tafsir Maududi sums it up: “In general, the commentators are of the opinion that Tuwa was the name of the valley, but according to some it means, “The valley that had been made sacred for the time being.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an)]
This truth that God is Light, as declared in 1 John 1:5 is echoed in the Quran too.
Allah claims in Sura 24:35 that, “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth…”
Let’s use a simple analogy to illustrate this.
Our sun is the light of our heaven and earth.
How does the earth experience the light of the sun? The light of the sun comes to the earth, of course. Nothing on earth can produce or generate sunlight on earth.
The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world.John 1:9
“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD” – JesusJohn 8:12
Jesus said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.John 8:23
Light also describes revelation and the word of God. Your WORD is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). Since Jesus is the divine and eternal WORD (John 1:1), it makes perfect sense that He is LIGHT.
John the Apostle describes for us the INCARNATION.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
The Light of the heavens and the earth…..came to the earth!
The Bible teaches that Jesus is God WITH US. (Matthew 1:23)
But how can the Almighty God of All Creation “limit Himself” by coming to the earth? How does the 15 million° Celsius of heat in the center of the sun become only 15 to 30° Celsius on earth? Isn’t it still the same light and heat? Just as sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere and appears in a form that we humans can experience, THE LIGHT passed through a woman’s womb and appeared in a form that we humans can perceive and see and touch and experience. (That’s how Unapproachable Light became approachable!)
John spoke on behalf of the other apostles when he wrote, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”(John 1:14b). This is like saying, “We have seen THE LIGHT of God in Jesus.”
Once, one of the apostles of Jesus asked Jesus to show them the Father.
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.
Jesus replied, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9)
Can you sense His incredulity and astonishment?
Imagine if you could speak to the sunlight and you say, “Show us the light of the sun.” And the sunlight replies, “Bro, I have been with you all this time and still you do not know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the light of the sun! How can you say, ‘Show us the light of the sun.'”?
If Jesus was not God and was just a mere man, it is shocking blasphemy to say, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Imagine if Muhammad had told his followers, “If you have seen me, you have seen Allah.” He would have been stoned.
Towards the end of his life, the Apostle John wrote these words testifying about Jesus:
“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him.1 John 1:1-3
And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
“For with You is the fountain of life; in your Light we see Light.” Psalm 36:9
The prophets of old did prophesy the coming of THE LIGHT.
The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Arise, shine, for YOUR LIGHT has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”(Isaiah 60:1)
The Prophet Malachi wrote, “But to you who fear My name The SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS shall arise With healing in His wings.” (Malachi 4:2)
King David was even more explicit in spelling out for us exactly who THE LIGHT is……
The LORD (Yahweh) is MY LIGHT and my salvationPsalm 27:1
[Interesting side note: the Hebrew word for salvation is “yeshua”. You might recognize that the name of Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. Try reading Psalm 27:1 as “Yahweh is my Light and my Yeshua!”]
Jesus was prophesied to be “The Light for the revelation of the Gentiles and The Glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:32)
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power...Hebrews 1:3
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. John 12:46
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.John 1:4
For God…has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6)
In closing, a description of heaven by John the Apostle:
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:22-23)
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”Revelation 21:5-7
Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.