By Bob Bunn
Scripture Reading: James 1:16-18, Genesis 1:14-19, Psalm 136:1-9, Isaiah 59:1-2, Isaiah 59:9-16, Jeremiah 31:35-37, Hebrews 13:8
Section 1: The Light of the World
Several years ago, when my kids were young, we took a family “field trip” to Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky. While traveling hundreds of feet underground was pretty cool, I’ll admit one part of the tour left a bigger impact on me than anything else.
The ranger leading the tour brought us into a large cavern and asked us to take a seat on some benches. It seemed like an odd request at the time, but the purpose became incredibly clear a few moments later. Once everyone was seated, the lights suddenly went out, revealing just how dark the cave could be.
I had heard the old saying about not seeing your hand in front of your face, but this was the first time I could remember experiencing it. The blackness just surrounded us. We could actually feel the darkness. That’s when I realized why they wanted everyone seated. Even the slightest movement could quickly disorient you. It was much safer to simply sit and stay put.
I’ve never been afraid of the dark, and I wasn’t really afraid in that moment. I was, however, taken back by how surreal those few minutes of utter darkness were. Nothing—before or after—compares.
Needless to say, we were all pretty relieved when the lights came back on. It’s amazing how much we take light for granted—until it’s gone. Then, we long for it with all of our hearts.
What’s true for physical light proves even more real for spiritual light. In his epistle, James used an interesting phrase to describe God’s relationship to light. He called Him the “Father of lights” (James 1:17). On one hand, that makes perfect sense. After all, the very first chapter of the Bible tells us that God created the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14–19). He brought everything we associate with light into being so we wouldn’t have to live in darkness.
James was saying more than that, though. In Greek, the idea of “Father” can also mean the originator or progenitor. In other words, God didn’t just create light. He is light! Without Him, light would not be possible.
James also emphasized the superiority of the Father of lights to those lesser lights He created. The Greek wording for the change and the shifting shadows described in verse 17 are both astronomical terms. One points to the way the sun’s light increases or decreases depending on the time of day. The other refers to how light and dark change according to the seasons. Both illustrate the uncertainty of life and stand in stark contrast to the unchanging, immovable character of God. As the Father of lights, He offers a security and solid footing that can’t be found anywhere else.
Advent is a season focused on light, so take time to lean into the Father of lights this month. Wherever you are, no matter how dark things feel, He can meet you right where you are. He’s the light you’ve been longing for.
Written by Bob Bunn