I love ah-ha moments. I expect them literally every time I read from the Word. You see, God is not like man when it comes to what He says. Or, I should say, not like me. He doesn’t waste His words. So every book, every chapter, every verse, every word of His Word has been spoken and then written for a purpose.

Genesis 1:3

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening and there was morning—the first day.

Getting to the Root of it

The word “light,” found in Genesis 1:3 is, in Hebrew, “owr,” (transliterated and pronounced “ore”). Under the definitions (Strong’s #216)—and there are eleven—I find five that deserve a closer look:

1. Morning light
2. Light of a lamp
3. Light of life
4. Light of instruction
5. Jehovah as Israel’s Light

Light of a Lamp

In the last installment of Ah-ha Moments in the Bible, we took a look at Jesus as the Morning Light. Let’s now look at the second definition within the root word “owr” (Hebrew) or, in English, “light.”

In the days of Jesus, lamps were used for bringing light into the tabernacle and private homes. Among other things, they were used to provide light during war (on chariots), by persons going out at night, and during marriage processions.

Matthew’s first record of Jesus teaching as an adult is found in Matthew 5, commonly known as The Sermon on the Mount. Within His words, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16, emphasis mine)

In this passage, Jesus is clearly teaching that we, as believers, have a light within us that is not to be kept hidden under a bowl but is to be raised up so that everyone can see the light and so that our Father might be praised.

During the Hanukkah and Christmas season, my family lights many candles; the candles of the Menorah and the candles along the fireplace mantle, illuminating the detailed crèche my husband bought me as a Christmas gift several years ago. Our granddaughter enjoys the beauty of the candles, but really enjoys the “science” of using the candle snuffer before we go to bed. Without oxygen, she quickly learns, the flame goes out.

I think of this whenever I read the words of Jesus here in Matthew 5. A light under a bowl will quickly go out. This is clearly not their purpose. Like the candles in my menorah and atop my mantle, without a flame, they are useless. Lamps were made to be filled with oil, lit, and then raised up in order to provide light for all those around.

The Lamp, the Oil, and the Light

It is quite obvious in Jesus’ message that we are the lamp. Just as we can symbolically be seen as the lamp, often in Scripture, the Spirit of God is represented metaphorically by oil.

Psalm 45:7 reads: You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

But Zechariah 4 gives us an even more stirring picture:

Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left."