God and the physics of light
God refers to Himself as light. Light illuminates, sustains all life, and is found everywhere, even in darkness. From quantum physics to geology and biology, many things cannot be fully understood without taking light into account. Light is paramount to our existence, and the qualities of light give us wonderful insight into the qualities of God Himself.
1 John 1:5 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Light is actually a part of the vast electromagnetic spectrum, which comprises an extremely wide range of wavelengths, from gamma rays measured in terms of picometres (one trillionth of a metre) to radio waves measured in metres.
What we call light is only a very small, visible part of this spectrum. Mankind today takes pride in our discoveries and technologies but the truth is, there is still much we can’t really see or understand. More than 99% of the universe is concealed from mankind, shrouded in darkness and 95% of the ocean remains unexplored. There are infinitely more secret things that only God knows.
Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Yet as vast, infinite, and magnificent as God is, He does not hide Himself from us when we choose to love and obey Him. The Bible states that when we submit to Him, God will call us out of spiritual darkness into His marvelous light, so that we can become a people worth of His holy name. When we allow God’s light, which is God’s Word, to illuminate our paths, we will no longer stumble in spiritual darkness. He is worthy of our gratitude, awe, and adoration.
1 Timothy 1:17 ESV To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 2:8-9 ESV … They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
John 12:35-36 ESV So Jesus said to them, “… Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” …
Knowing the Light
When we examine the qualities of light, we gain a deeper insight into God’s wonderful qualities.
1. Like light, God is constant, immortal, and indestructible
Light is the most fundamental element of this universe. It is unique, constant, unchangeable, and cannot be destroyed. Indeed, there is none like God, who has been the same since time immemorial.
1 Timothy 6:15-16 ESV … He who is blessed and the only Sovereign One, the King of kings and Lord of lords. who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
James 1:17 ESV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
2. Like light, God transcends time and space
Traveling at 300,000km per second, nothing moves as fast as light. At the speed of light, time becomes irrelevant. Indeed, God transcends time and space. Human beings are limited to space-time dimensions of length, width, height (or depth) and time. God’s Spirit is not restricted by any of these constructs, He dwells in eternity. What seems like one thousand years to us could seem like just one day to God.
Isaiah 57:15 ESV For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Psalm 90:4 ESV For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
3. Like light, God is found everywhere
Photons are the fundamental particles of light. They are found in the furthest corners of our universe to the cells in our bodies. Even in pitch darkness, light is still present in infrared wavelengths. Light is everywhere. Indeed, there is nowhere we can hide from God, even if we ascended up to heaven or descended down to hell.
Psalm 139:7-8 ESV Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
Psalm 139:11-12 ESV If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
4. Like light, God preserves all life
Without light, there would be no life. With light, we get to keep warm, grow food, and observe the world. Without the photons of light inside our bodies, we would simply collapse into a chemical compound made mostly of carbon (a key component of dust). Indeed, God holds all life together.
John 1:3 ESV All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Colossians 1:17 ESV And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Genesis 2:7 ESV then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
5. Like light, God promotes healing and health
Light has been shown to be beneficial in healing skin problems, depression, and pain, because of the way it interacts with our bodies and brains. Sunlight, for example, stimulates the production of vitamin D, nitric oxide, serotonin, and endorphin, all of which are beneficial for our well-being. Indeed, God’s Spirit brings emotional, physical, and spiritual healing when His truth fills our minds and hearts.
Jeremiah 17:14 ESV Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.
Proverbs 3:7-8 ESV Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
6. Like light, God has a full spectrum of varied qualities
Light is not just white. It comprises a full spectrum of rainbow colours; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, which can only be seen when light is refracted and reflected. Indeed, there is much more than what meets the eye in our understanding of God. It is when we go into deeper reflection on God’s Word that we see Him in His full glory.
Hebrews 11:1 ESV Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
7. Like light, God is enormously powerful and can wield great destruction
All the most potent forces of power are derived from light. The atomic bomb, for example, is derived from splitting atoms and releasing light and nuclear fission energy from within. God is the only One who can create light and use it to bring great devastation, as He did when He rained fire on the great wickedness found in Sodom and Gomorrah. Light has soothing healing properties when used in moderation, and fiery destructive properties when unleased fully.
Genesis 1:2-3 ESV The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
2 Peter 2:6-8 NLT Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.
As God’s children of light
Another way God’s Word uses light as a metaphor is when it refers to the Bible. His Word illuminates the path ahead of us so we can follow God’s will. Sometimes, this requires faith on our part to simply obey. Other times, this requires us to reflect deeply into our hearts and repent.
Proverbs 6:23 ESV For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
Psalm 119:105 ESV Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Proverbs 20:27 ESV The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts.
Not everyone likes to come close to God’s light, because the Word can act like a laser beam that targets the spiritual tumours in our hearts. This is seldom comfortable at first, but it always brings greater spiritual vitality and life afterwards. Along the way, God will always be faithful and turn any past darkness in our lives into light.
John 3:19-21 ESV And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Isaiah 42:16 ESV And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.
As our hearts are transformed this way, we will find ourselves becoming increasingly like Jesus in the way we love God and other people. We will reflect God’s glorious light more and more and become “the light of the world” just as Jesus is the Light of the world. That is a life worth celebrating.
2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:14-16 ESV “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
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