Eight Devotions on Light
Hanukkah Reading Night One
The Lord is Our Light
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory (Isa 60:19).
God shall be all in all in the happiness here promised; so he is always to true believers: The sun and the moon shall be no more thy light. God’s people, when they enjoy his favour, and walk in the light of his countenance, make little account of sun and moon, and the other lights of this world, but could walk comfortably in the light of the Lord though they should withdraw their shining.
In heaven there shall be no occasion for sun or moon, for it is the inheritance of the saints in light, such light as will swallow up the light of the sun as easily as the sun does that of a candle.
“Idolaters worshiped the sun and moon (which some have thought the most ancient and plausible idolatry); but these shall be no more thy light, shall no more be idolized, but the Lord shall be to thee a constant light, both day and night, in the night of adversity as well as in the day of prosperity.” Those that make God their only light shall have him their all-sufficient light, their sun and shield. Thy God shall be thy glory. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps 27:1).
The Lord is my light. David’s subjects called him the light of Israel, (2 Sam. 21:17). And he was indeed a burning and a shining light: but he owns that he shone, as the moon does, with a borrowed light; what light God darted upon him reflected upon them:
The Lord is my light. God is a light to his people, to show them the way when they are in doubt, to comfort and rejoice their hearts when they are in sorrow. It is in his light that they now walk on in their way, and in his light they hope to see light for ever. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Two
The Word is Our Light
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Ps. 119:105). The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple (Ps 119:130). For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Prov 6:23).
The nature of the word of God, and the great intention of giving it to the world; it is a lamp and a light. It discovers to us, concerning God and ourselves, that which otherwise we could not have known; it shows us what is amiss, and will be dangerous; it directs us in our work and way, and a dark place indeed the world would be without it.
It is a lamp which we may set up by us, and take into our hands for our own particular use. The commandment is a lamp kept burning with the oil of the Spirit; it is like the lamps in the sanctuary, and the pillar of fire to Israel. It must be not only a light to our eyes, to gratify them, and fill our heads with speculations, but a light to our feet and to our path, to direct us in the right ordering of our conversation, both in the choice of our way in general and in the particular steps we take in that way, that we may not take a false way nor a false step in the right way.
We are then truly sensible of God’s goodness to us in giving us such a lamp and light when we make it a guide to our feet, our path. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Three
We Should Be a Light to Others
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light (Luke 11:33).
They had the light with all the advantage they could desire. For God, having lighted the candle of the gospel, did not put it in a secret place, or under a bushel; Christ did not preach in corners. The apostles were ordered to preach the gospel to every creature; and both Christ and his ministers, Wisdom and her maidens, cry in the chief places of concourse, v. 33.
It is a great privilege that the light of the gospel is put on a candlestick, so that all that come in may see it, and may see by it where they are and whither they are going, and what is the true, and sure, and only way to happiness.
All believers in Christ are light in the Lord (Eph. 5:8), and must shine as lights (Phil. 2:15), but ministers in a special manner. Christ calls himself the Light of the world (John. 8:12), and they are workers together with him, and have some of his honour put upon them. Truly the light is sweet, it is welcome; the light of the first day of the world was so, when it shone out of darkness; so is the morning light of every day; so is the gospel, and those that spread it, to all sensible people. The world sat in darkness, Christ raised up his disciples to shine in it; and, that they may do so, from him they borrow and derive their light.
As the lights of the world, they are illustrious and conspicuous, and have many eyes upon them. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. The disciples of Christ, especially those who are forward and zealous in his service, become remarkable, and are taken notice of as beacons. They are for signs (Isa. 7:18), men wondered at (Zech. 3:8); all their neighbors have any eye upon them. Some admire them, commend them, rejoice in them, and study to imitate them; others envy them, hate them, censure them, and study to blast them.
They are concerned therefore to walk circumspectly, because of their observers; they are as spectacles to the world, and must take heed of every thing that looks ill, because they are so much looked at. The disciples of Christ were obscure men before he called them, but the character he put upon them dignified them, and as preachers of the gospel they made a figure; and though they were reproached for it by some, they were respected for it by others, advanced to thrones, and made judges (Luke 22:30); for Christ will honour those that honour him. As the lights of the world, they are intended to illuminate and give light to others. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Four
The Light of the Body is the Eye
The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness (Luke 11:34).
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:18).
Having the light, their concern was to have the sight, or else to what purpose had they the light? Be the object ever so clear, if the organ be not right, we are never the better: The light of the body is the eye (v. 34), which receives the light of the candle when it is brought into the room. So the light of the soul is the understanding and judgment, and its power of discerning between good and evil, truth and falsehood. Now, according as this is, so the light of divine revelation is to us, and our benefit by it; it is a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.
If this eye of the soul be single, if it see clear, see things as they are, and judge impartially concerning them, if it aim at truth only, and seek it for its own sake, and have not any sinister by-looks and intentions, the whole body, that is, the whole soul, is full of light, it receives and entertains the gospel, which will bring along with it into the soul both knowledge and joy.
This denotes the same thing with that of the good ground, receiving the word and understanding it. If our understanding admits the gospel in its full light, it fills the soul, and it has enough to fill it. And if the soul be thus filled with the light of the gospel, having no part dark,— if all its powers and faculties be subjected to the government and influence of the gospel, and none left unsanctified,— then the whole soul shall be full of light, full of holiness and comfort. It was darkness itself, but now light in the Lord, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light, v. 36.
Note, The gospel will come into those souls whose doors and windows are thrown open to receive it; and where it comes it will bring light with it. But, if the eye of the soul be evil,— if the judgment be bribed and biased by the corrupt and vicious dispositions of the mind, by pride and envy, by the love of the world and sensual pleasures,— if the understanding be prejudiced against divine truths, and resolved not to admit them, though brought with ever so convincing an evidence,— it is no wonder that the whole body, the whole soul, should be full of darkness, v. 34.
How can they have instruction, information, direction, or comfort, from the gospel, that wilfully shut their eyes against it? and what hope is there of such? what remedy for them?
The inference hence therefore is, Take heed that the light which is in thee be not darkness, v. 35. Take heed that the eye of the mind be not blinded by partiality, and prejudice, and sinful aims. Be sincere in your inquiries after truth, and ready to receive it in the light, and love, and power of it; and not as the men of this generation to whom Christ preached, who never sincerely desired to know God’s will, nor designed to do it, and therefore no wonder that they walked on in darkness, wandered endlessly, and perished eternally. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Five
Messiah is the Light of the World
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:4-5).
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 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).
Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them (John 12:35-36).
Jesus Christ is the light of the world. One of the Rabbis saith, Light is the name of the Messiah, as it is written, (Dan. 2:2), And light dwelleth with him. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God; God of gods, Light of lights. He was expected to be a light to enlighten the Gentiles (Luke. 2:32), and so the light of the world, and not of the Jewish church only.
The visible light of the world is the sun, and Christ is the Sun of righteousness. One sun enlightens the whole world, so does one Christ, and there needs no more. Christ in calling himself the light expresses, 1.) What he is in himself— most excellent and glorious. 2.) What he is to the world— the fountain of light, enlightening every man.
What a dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Christ by whom light came into the world (John 3:19).
The light shineth in darkness. Light is self-evidencing, and will make itself known; this light, whence the light of men comes, hath shone, and doth shine. The eternal Word, as God, shines in the darkness of natural conscience.
Though men by the fall are become darkness, yet that which may be known of God is manifested in them; (see Rom. 1:19-20). The light of nature is this light shining in darkness. Something of the power of the divine Word, both as creating and as commanding, all mankind have an innate sense of; were it not for this, earth would be a hell, a place of utter darkness; blessed be God, it is not so yet.
The eternal Word, as Mediator, shone in the darkness of the Old-Testament types and figures, and the prophecies and promises which were of the Messiah from the beginning. He that had commanded the light of this world to shine out of darkness was himself long a light shining in darkness; there was a veil upon this light (2 Cor. 3:13).
The Jews, who had the light of the Old Testament, yet comprehended not Christ in it. As there was a veil upon Moses’s face, so there was upon the people’s hearts. In the darkness of the types and shadows the light shone; but such as the darkness of their understandings that they could not see it. It was therefore requisite that Christ should come, both to rectify the errors of the Gentile world and to improve the truths of the Jewish church. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Six
Paul Saw the Light
Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:12-18).
Paul saw a heavenly vision, the circumstances of which were such that it could not be a delusion— deciptio visus, but it was without doubt a divine appearance. He saw a great light, a light from heaven, such as could not be produced by any art, for it was not in the night, but at mid day; it was not in a house where tricks might have been played with him, but it was in the way, in the open air; it was such a light as was above the brightness of the sun, outshone and eclipsed that and this could not be the product of Paul’s own fancy, for it shone round about those that journeyed with him: they were all sensible of their being surrounded with this inundation of light, which made the sun itself to be in their eyes a less light.
The force and power of this light appeared in the effects of it; they all fell to the earth upon the sight of it, such a mighty consternation did it put them into; this light was lightning for its force, yet did not pass away as lightning, but continued to shine round about them.
Christ himself appeared to him (v. 16): I have appeared to thee for this purpose. Christ was in this light, though those that travelled with Paul saw the light only, and not Christ in the light. It is not every knowledge that will serve to make us Christians, but it must be the knowledge of Christ.
Christ made himself known to him, he said, “I am Jesus; he whom thou hast despised, and hated, and vilified; I bear that name which thou hast made so odious, and the naming of it criminal.” This convinced him that the doctrine of Jesus was divine and heavenly, and not only not to be opposed, but to be cordially embraced: That Jesus is the Messiah, for he has not only risen from the dead, but he has received from God the Father honour and glory; and this is enough to make him a Christian immediately, to quit the society of the persecutors, whom the Lord from heaven thus appears against, and to join himself with the society of the persecuted, whom the Lord from heaven thus appears for. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Seven
No Longer in the Darkness
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:8-11).
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober (1Thess. 5:4-6).
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise (Eph. 5:11-15).
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:5-9).
In your unregenerate state you were darkness, you have now undergone a great change. You lived wicked and profane lives, being destitute of the light of instruction without and of the illumination and grace of the blessed Spirit within.
A state of sin is a state of darkness. Sinners, like men in the dark, are going they know not whither, and doing they know not what. But the grace of God had produced a mighty change in their souls: Now are you light in the Lord, savingly enlightened by the word and the Spirit of God. Now, upon your believing in Christ, and your receiving the gospel.
Walk as children of light. Children of light, according to the Hebrew dialect, are those who are in a state of light, endued with knowledge and holiness. “Now, being such, let your conversation be suitable to your condition and privileges, and accordingly live up to the obligation you are under by that knowledge and those advantages you enjoy— Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hanukkah Reading Night Eight
We Need to Let Our Light Shine
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain (Phil. 2:14-16).
We should have a cheerful obedience to the commands of God: “Do all things, do your duty in every branch of it, without murmurings. Do it, and do not find fault with it. Mind your work, and do not quarrel with it.”
God’s commands were given to be obeyed, not to be disputed. This greatly adorns our profession, and shows we serve a good Master, whose service is freedom and whose work is its own reward.
We should have peaceableness and love one to another. “Do all things without disputing, wrangling, and debating one another; because the light of truth and the life of religion are often lost in the heats and mists of disputation.”
Observe, where there is no true religion, little is to be expected but crookedness and perverseness; and the more crooked and perverse others are among whom we live, and the more apt to cavil [quibble], the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. Among whom you shine as lights in the world. Christ is the light of the world, and good Christians are lights in the world.
When God raises up a good man in any place, he sets up a light in that place. Or it may be read imperatively: Among whom shine you as lights (compare Mt. 5:16).
Let your light so shine before men. Christians should endeavor not only to approve themselves to God, but to recommend themselves to others, that they may also glorify God. They must shine as well as be sincere—Holding forth the word of life. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)