Lampstand by Abidan Shah, PhD

LAMPSTAND by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  One of my favorite sites to visit in Israel are the Qumran caves in the Judean desert. Back in 1946-7, a Bedouin boy stumbled into one of the caves as he was looking for his lost sheep. This led to a discovery of tens of thousands of fragments of ancient scrolls from 2000 some years ago! Some were even almost complete, and, altogether, as many as 900 plus texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek were found. A common phrase, especially in the War Scroll, is “sons of light” and “sons of darkness.” I bring that up because light and darkness are a common theme in Jesus’ teachings. In this series, we’ve seen how Jesus used the various analogies (fishing net, harvest, and sheepfold) to teach his disciples about some aspects of reaching the lost. In today’s message, we will learn how Jesus used the analogy of light and darkness to teach us the great contrast between being saved and being lost. Main point: Jesus is the light of the world. When we receive him, we come out of the darkness of sin into the light of his salvation. Once we receive light, we are to shine his light brightly into the lost world so that others can also come out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Matthew 5      14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Context: The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, under the entry for “Light” writes, “The Bible is enveloped by the imagery of light, both literally and figuratively.” What it means is that both the beginning and the end of the Bible mention “light” with as many as 200 mentions of it in between. Light is mentioned in the beginning in Genesis 1    3 “Then God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.’ So the evening and the morning were the first day.” This light was not the sun because the sun will not be created until Day 4 in Genesis 1:14This is simply God’s glory becoming visible to his newly created creation. Now, let’s go to the last book of the Bible in Revelation 21:23 “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.” Revelation 22:5 “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” The lights are back on, never to go out again! 

Illustration: When Hurricane Ian came through a few weeks ago, our power went out Friday evening. It flickered at first, but then it was gone about 9 pm or so. I had a wedding to do in Virginia the next day. Then, it came back on about 11am or so. We were glad, but then an hour or so later while I was getting ready, it was gone again. Then, it came back for good. I thank Mr. Donald Paynter and all his team of people for helping us have light.

What happened to the light of God’s glory? When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit he had forbidden, the light of God’s glory went out. Throughout history, the light has flickered. Sometimes, they even stayed on for a period, but then they went out again. Two thousand years ago, the light was on full blast for 33 ½ years. Since then, the lights haven’t gone out, but they are scattered all over as individual lights.

Let’s briefly walk through the history of the light of God’s glory:

1. When God made Adam and Eve, they were covered in God’s light. Yes, sin distorted their innocence, but previously they were covered in the light of God’s glory. Psalm 104        1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, 2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment…” On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus demonstrated this in Matthew 17:2 “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” When Adam and Eve sinned, the lights went out. Now they could see, but it was no longer the light.

2. When God called Abraham and his descendants, they were to be a light to the world. Although, the imagery of light is not mentioned in the calling of Abraham, it is mentioned later in the messianic prophecies. It is mentioned in the sense of Jesus will fulfill what the people of Israel failed to do. Isaiah 49:6 Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” At various times, the light was bright, but then it was not. It was bright when Joseph was in Egypt, but not after him.

3. When God’s people left Egypt, the light was with them throughout their journey. Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. Exodus 40:38“For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

4. When Israel sinned, the light would definitely go out. After the time of the judges, listen to 1 Samuel 3       1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. 2 And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, (Can you hear the undertone of lights going out?) 3 and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was (this is where we get the tradition of the sanctuary lamp and chancel lamp), and while Samuel was lying down, 4 that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” 5 So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” In other words, as the light is going out in Israel, God is striking another fire in someone else. Always remember, no matter how dark it gets, God’s light is always shining somewhere in some heart. It’s a matter of time before it gets bright. Later, even Daniel had the light – Daniel 5:11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him.”

5. When God’s people were in trouble, they spoke and sang about the light of God.

  • Psalm 18:28 “For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”
  • Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?”
  • Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.”
  • Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  • Psalm 119:130 “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”

God’s light symbolized his presence and his truth. It also symbolized his salvation.

  • Micah 7:8 “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The LORD will be a light to me.”
  • Isaiah 60       1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. 

Even the prophets saw the coming of Jesus as the coming of the light of God.

  • Isaiah 60:3 “The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.”

6. When Jesus came two thousand years ago, light came on full blast. John 1       1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the lightshines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…9 That was the true Lightwhich gives light to every man coming into the world.” Unfortunately, not everyone received the light. John 3     19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” “Does the truth” does not mean salvation. It is simply a heart willing to let Christ come in.”

Jesus was not shy about being the light of the world. John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Many could not receive him because they couldn’t get over the fact that the light was coming from a small town in Nazareth or Bethlehem. They couldn’t get over the fact that his mother was a “virgin” or his father was a “carpenter,” even though God was his true father. They accused him of blasphemy and having a demon. He even opened the eyes of one born blind, and they threw him out of the temple! As they began plotting his death, and he knew that his time had come, listen to what he said to his disciples.John 12      35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

Jesus gave them a clearly path to the light. John 12     44 “Then Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.’”

Application: Do you believe in Jesus? Are you still walking in darkness? Rejecting Christ is choosing darkness. By the way, hell is a place of burning forever, but it is without light. Jesus said that – Matthew 25:30 “And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

7. When Jesus commissioned his disciples, he told them to shine their light. Matthew 5      14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” All the ministries that we do at Clearview are to help you shine the light of Jesus. Ephesians 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

The verse that captures the essence of the message – 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Here are some cautions:

Watch out for the enemy – 2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”

Watch out for bitterness and resentment – 1 John 1       5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all…7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin…9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

Invitation: Do you know the light of life, Jesus Christ? Are you still walking in darkness? Can people see the light of truth of Jesus in your words and deeds? Who do you know is walking in darkness?

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