Christians celebrate the birth of the Messiah, the light of the world, and Jews mark the miracle of light in the Temple. Hanukkah commemorates the liberation from foreign rule and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Light reveals redemption and salvation, truth and justice, peace and life itself.
I recently became aware of how much light drives out darkness when I looked at a NASA satellite photo that we ended up using for the cover of our print magazine in German.
The world shines where those created in God’s image live. Before the coming of light, all was tohu va-vohu (formless and void) and there was darkness. Then God created light by His words. But He also created the former darkness. God addresses this though the prophet Isaiah: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (45:7)
God clearly connects disaster or evil with darkness, which He created in the very beginning. But let’s look at the different verbs used here, in Hebrew.
The Hebrew words for “make” (יוצר) and “do” (עושה) can also apply to man. Man can make or do. But only God can truly create, bara (ברא). In the first chapter, God created the earth, the great beasts of the sea and land, and finally man. Everything else, God made, not created.
Life makes (יוצר) light on this earth. As in the photo from space, we humans are the source of light. As soon as the sun disappears behind the horizon, artificial light is omnipresent on the globe.
If we humans would just try to displace the darkness inside and around us in a spiritual sense, then everything would be brighter and the suffering on this earth milder. Evil (darkness) flourishes when we do not shine. “For God is the source of life,” said King David and “we see light in your light!” In the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples: “You are the light of the world.” Those who follow God will have the light of life.
As a friend of mine likes to say: “Flip the switch and experience more light and love this year!”