Your Light Shines Before God

You shall make seven lamps for it, and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. -Exodus 25:37 

Dear members and friends,

Light is very important in the Bible and in Christian theology. According to Genesis, the very first words spoken by God to initiate the whole process of creation was, “Let there be light.” Prior to this event, “the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1:2) One important aspect that I would like to bring to your attention is that even after the creation of light, darkness still exists. In other words, the creation of light did not bring permanent light to humanity, but instead it enabled humanity with a new choice: did they belong to the light or the dark? Darkness represents humanity’s innate condition whereas light is our potential as enabled by God. In the Gospel of John, we find a similar narrative, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.” (1:5) And in Matthew 5, Jesus insists, “You are the light of the world.” Connecting the creation story and teachings of Jesus, we could reach to the truth that humans were created to become beings who could bring the light of God into all creation. 

In Exodus, on mount Sinai, Moses received a very detailed plan and description on how to build the tabernacle and fixtures inside it. One of the most significant items is the lampstand. As the tabernacle was designed without any windows, the lampstand was going to the sole source of light inside the tabernacle. The lampstand was to be made from pure gold. According to Exodus, “the base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its calyxes, and its petals shall be of one piece with it.” (Exodus 25:31) According to Swedenborg, the tabernacle symbolizes heaven, while the lampstand symbolizes the wisdom of the Creator, and thus light from the lampstand symbolizes spiritual truth for all angels and humans. Yet, another way to understand the symbolism of the lampstand is as our spiritual light we shine before God. However, this light can only be cultivated by our willingness to surrender what we believe to be the most precious, which is signified by pure gold. 

My brothers and sisters, God does not ask for anything that we possess and own, because God owns everything in the universe. What God is asking from us, therefore, is to let go of our desire to possess and own something that is not ours.    

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee