20181208 Parsha Miketz – The Nature of Light Sermon
Torah Portion Genesis Chapter 41-44
B’rit Chadashah – Matt 5:13-16
In this week’s Parsha we continue our story of Joseph how he correctly interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and ascends from prison to the second highest position in Egypt. It is a remarkable turn of events for Joseph that proves God’s hand in directing his life. We see how the dreams he had as a teenager are now coming to fruition as the scene is set for his brothers to have to come to him with hat in hand trying to get food for their families. It is an amazing story of prophecy fulfilled for the purpose of physical salvation of the Israelite people. Joseph was taken from the darkness of prison into the light of God’s purpose. I encourage each of you to take time out this week to read Genesis Chapter 41-44.
But since we are celebrating Hanukkah this week, I wanted to speak on the subject of light. Hanukkah has several names and several spellings. It is known as the Feast of Dedication as evidenced in John 10:22. But it is also popularly known as the Festival of Lights because we light candles each night to commemorate the miracle of the Menorah staying lit for eight nights. I spoke of that miraculous history at length last week.
Today I want to speak on the Nature of Light. What is light? What are its properties? What did Yeshua say about Light?
What is Light? Light is electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation occurs over an extremely wide range of wavelengths, from gamma rays with wavelengths less than about 1 × 10−11 meter to radio waves measured in meters. Within that broad spectrum the wavelengths visible to humans occupy a very narrow band, from about 700 nanometers (nm; billionths of a meter) for red light down to about 400 nm for violet light.
Visible Light is made of many wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. It takes all those wavelengths from infra-red to ultra-violet to give us a product that allows us to walk across the living room floor in the middle of the night without rearranging our toes.
The spectral regions adjacent to the visible band are often referred to as light also, infrared at the one end and ultraviolet at the other. The speed of light in a vacuum is a fundamental physical constant, the currently accepted value of which is exactly 299,792,458 meters per second, or about 186,282 miles per second.
Since light is a constant, we use it for measuring vast distances. For instance, the distance to the nearest star outside of our own little solar system is 4.22 light years away. That means that if you could travel at the speed of light it would take you 4.22 years to reach Proxima Centauri, the closest star in the Alpha Centauri system.
Light also produces heat.
I’m not going to bore you with the physics behind all those little particles called photons bouncing around hitting each other. There are a couple of reasons why I’m not going to explain this in detail. First of all, it would take too long to adequately plumb the depths of quantum physics in the few minutes allotted to this sermon. But the most important reason I will not be expounding on how light produces heat is…..I don’t have a clue how it produces heat. I just know that if you touch a light bulb even if it has been lit for only a few seconds, it will be warm. Just remember, light produces heat.
Why is all this important? Let’s look at what Yeshua says about light.
In several scriptures He states that he is the light of the world.
John 8:12 Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
John 12:46 As light I have come into the world, so that everyone who trusts in Me should not remain in darkness.
That is easy for us as Believers to accept. Yes He is a great light for all of us to follow.
But then He also says something extraordinary.
Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt should lose its flavor, how shall it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (14) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
He says that we are salt of the earth and light of the world. How can we be the light of the world if He is the light of the world? Those are some big sandals to fill. There are some important principles here that bring us back to the properties of light.
Light is a constant.
The speed of light doesn’t change. It is always the same. We can use it to measure to wide expanses of the universe. Yeshua never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His standard of holiness never changes. What was immoral 2000 years ago is still immoral today, regardless of what modern society tries to foist on us.
When Yeshua tells us that we are the light of the world, we are to be emitting the same morality, the same standard of holiness, the same level of “Chesed” or lovingkindness that He displayed. If we can be invisible believers, you know what I’m talking about. The invisible Believer is one that can go through his daily routine and no one suspects he is a Believer. If you can live your life so that people don’t realize that you are a follower of Yeshua, then I would submit that maybe you are not. You need to get plugged in to the power of Yeshua. If you are a light to the world, then people should see that light.
The world should see that there is “something different” about us. How do you react to offense? Do you bow up like a junk yard dog, ready to fight at a moment’s notice?
How do you react when confronted with genuine need? Are you too busy to help? Too turned off by physical appearances? Or do you show compassion like the Good Samaritan?
It is something to think about.
Yeshua also mentioned being the salt of the earth. We often hear of good, down to earth people as being “salt of the earth”. But what does that mean? Salt was very important in the Middle Eastern culture of the 1st century.
First, because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food, especially meat, which would quickly spoil in the desert environment. Believers in Yeshua are preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin.
Second, salt was used then, as now, as a flavor enhancer. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of the food it seasons, the followers of Yeshua stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Believers, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to the Lord, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of the Messiah, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God, returning good for evil.
Let me ask you a question. Can you hold salt in your hand? Can you see it? Can you taste it? Of course you can. Salt is a tangible commodity. It has physical properties that are readily apparent to our senses.
By the same token, can we hold light in our hand? Can we taste it? No, but….we can see light if enough of the right wavelengths of electro-magnetic energy is present in the right quantity and intensity.
We can feel light. One of the most pleasant sensations for me is to feel the radiant warmth of the sun on my body. Remember, light produces heat and with heat we produce work. Think steam engines, jet engines, cooking stoves.
Yeshua is telling us to be a light to the world. He is telling us to emit some heat. Do some work.
Notice He said we are salt of the earth and light to the world. What’s the difference? Salt of the earth. Something tangible you can hold in your hand. Doing works that can be measured. Works are important. Yaakov, the brother of Yeshua said in the second chapter of his epistle, that you show your faith by your works. In fact, your faith is non-existent without works.
Yeshua that we should let our light shine so that men can see our good works, or rather, the evidence of our faith, and thereby glorifying God the Father.
Our works are tied to earth, flesh and blood, wood, stone, etc. But the light is beyond time and space. How do you measure love, compassion, lovingkindness? It is hard to know if we are a quart low on loving our neighbor. How about 3 meters of compassion?
When Yeshua tells us we are the light of the world, He is telling us that there should be no limit or boundaries to our love and compassion. His love was limitless. It was infinite. I see no reason why we should be different. He said that we could do greater things because we have the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit to guide us and sustain us.
Today as we continue to celebrate the Festival of Lights, I want to encourage each of you to consider the Nature of Light.
It is a constant. Remember God never changes.
It produces heat that leads to a work product. The Lord calls us to work, not sit.
It produces a visible light by which the world can see our mitzvot (our good works) and thereby glorify God in heaven.
Are we fulfilling Yeshua’s expectations of us to be light to the world?