This year’s poignant collision between Hanukkah–the Feast of Lights–and Christmas has me meditating on John 1. And on BOTH advents of Yeshua, the Light of the World.
Photos of original artwork by Randi Durham of North Bend, Oregon
Selah is a term used in the Psalms for a pause to let a truth sink in. With the Christmas hubbub behind us and the Feast of Lights in its final days, it seems a fitting time to pause to contemplate….
…the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (John 1:9-10)
Fifth night. Artwork by Randi Durham, North Bend, OR.
Light is one of the most pervasive motifs in scripture–Genesis opens with it, and Revelation closes with it. It’s especially noticeable in the writings of John, who must have done a life-long selah on the subject.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
Lauren Crews and I did a series of posts together, digging into the I AM statements of Yeshua, placing them in their context with the festivals on the Hebrew calendar. Over the past week I got to meditating (again) on that last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles, with its spectacular light display.
The day all that brouhaha was over, Yeshua declared:
I AM the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. (John 8:12)
And He gave that claim a dramatic proof point when He healed the man born blind in John 9.
Do you know that, every day of the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles, the people had recited the “full hallel,” (Psalms 113-118), which includes these words:
God is the Lord, and He has given us light. Bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar. (Psalm 118:27)
The Temple menorah was the symbol of that light; Yeshua was the light, made flesh, walking among them! And on that day, He was only half a year away from becoming the One sacrifice.
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Heb 10:14)
God had indeed given them The Light–in the form of His only begotten Son. But most were too taken up with their man-made light show, and received Him not.
Feast of Tabernacles light display.
Click on the image to see the full painting on The Temple Institute’s Facebook Page.
How badly can you miss it??
Jesus’ name in Hebrew is Yeshua (Salvation). It has seven “flames,” like the Temple menorah. Selah!
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Gen 1:2-3)
Isn’t it fascinating that light existed before God spoke the sun into existence? That was Yeshua, the Light of the World!
Dawn breaking over the Sea of Galilee–my photo 🙂
…also the lampstand (menorah) for the light… and the oil for the light… (Exo 35:14-15)
In the desert tabernacle, which had no windows, the menorah was the only light, and it burned continually–by the power of the oil, which represents the Holy Spirit.
And in the heavenly Temple, of which the earthly tabernacle was just a copy or shadow:
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (Rev 21:22-23)
The Temple menorah was a symbol of God’s radiance. Yeshua is that radiance.
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb 1:3)
God has inherent glory, but we can only see that glory because it radiates. And the radiance is Christ!
That’s why, in the heavenly Temple, Yeshua replaces the menorah as the source of light.
Replica of the Temple Menorah
on display in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter.
It stands more than five feet tall!
John 1 goes on to say (and this has become one of my favorite passages in all of scripture):
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth…. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [or fully declared] Him. (John 1:14,17,18)
The word for “became” in John’s passage is in the middle voice, which makes it reflexive. So the Word was both the acted upon and the actor. Both the entity that became flesh and the Creator that caused it to become.
I’ve come to see recently how this wonderful passage reflects the Exodus 33-34 story, which is one of the key stories in Judaism. Moses, God’s special friend, pleaded for a chance to see God’s glory. And in response the Lord revealed Himself, proclaiming the thirteen attributes of His mercy. He “abounds in lovingkindness and truth” (Ex 34:6). And now, like Moses, we behold His glory—in Yeshua, “full of grace and truth.” Further, the Lord gave us the Law through Moses, but “grace and truth” are only realized through Yeshua.
The word for “dwelt” is σκηνόω, skēnoō, which is the verb form of σκηνος, skēnos, a tent or tabernacle! The same word for “tabernacle” appears both as a noun and a verb in Rev 21:3:
“… the tabernacle (σκηνή, skēnē) of God is among men, and He will dwell (σκηνόω, skēnoō) among them…”
So according to John 1:14, in Yeshua the Word—the full, intimate and powerful expression of the Godhead; the Great I Am Himself—generated itself into flesh and “tabernacle’d” among us!
Fifth night. Artwork by Randi Durham, North Bend, OR.
I mentioned above that Genesis opens with light, and Revelation closes with it.
Gen 1:3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light‘; and there was light.”
Rev 21:22-23: “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.”
Rev 22:5: “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.”
In the first chapter of Genesis, we see Yeshua, the Word, who “was with God” and “was God,” twice. We see Him when God speaks, and we see Him in the light that appears. The word John uses for “world” is actually kosmos (κόσμος), so “Light of the World” speaks of more than just our planet.
Revelation says that Light will “tabernacle” among us again, in a permanent way, not just for a few decades as He did two thousand years ago. The image of the Lamb as the lamp threads through the last two chapters of Revelation.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Rev 21:1-4
We have such a glorious future to look forward to, when He “appears a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him”! (Heb 9:28)
But it’s easy to get so caught up in our own light shows that we fail to see the REAL DEAL, even when He stands at our door and knocks! Are you “eagerly awaiting” Him?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev 3:20)
Brothers and sisters, please let that be you and me!
Seventh night. Artwork by Randi Durham, North Bend, OR.
If you’ve never opened God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus (Rom 3:23, 6:23), please please please be persuaded to do it now! It’s simple. Just tell God from your heart that you admit you’re a sinner that needs a Savior (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23) that you’re done running your own life, and that you’re ready to make Jesus Lord of your life.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom 10:9-11)
The decision that saves you is that simple!
Simple… But no one said living it out will be easy. Especially now, in these last days.