30th November 2016

Light of the World 

“This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.”
1 John 1:5 (MSG) 

Some years previous we paid a hefty entrance fee to visit glow worm grottos in New Zealand. These subterranean caverns glowed with light emanating from thousands of larvae of a fungus gnat[i] (Arachnocampa luminosa) – the impression being that of a starry sky above us, only it was in the dank and dark underground world of a cave.

Did you know that Britain too has its very own glow worms?[ii] They generally go unseen in the modern well-lit habitats we tend to surround ourselves to live in today. Some years they are in abundance and other times you rarely see them, as eggs to adult have a 2-3year cycle. The British native glow worm is not a fly but, intriguingly, a beetle (Lampyris noctiluca).

‘Glow worm’ is the vernacular or common name given to both these insects, but they are in fact larvae (singular larva) and not worms etymologically[iii]. Still, what these two insects have in common is an ability to glow or to bring light. This process, termed ‘bioluminescence’ is present in only select species. Science today can ‘vector’ these genes to other organisms, which allows the non-invasive study of biological processes within other animals.

But what causes this luminescence? A substance named ‘luciferin’, the Latin word for ‘light bringer’, is the generic term used to describe the light-emitting compound found in organisms that generate bioluminescence. Luciferin is oxidized in the presence of ATP[iv] and luciferase, which generates light.

Intriguingly, the Latin name ‘Lucifer’ was used in Isaiah 14:12 (KJV), to mockingly compare the King of Babylon to a well-known Roman god called Lucifer – light bringer, star of the dawn, evening star – in a culture where celestial bodies were worshipped as gods[v]. Speculatively this verse has been used to parallel Satan (adversary) in Revelation 9:1, but this is misleading; Revelation 22:16 clearly says “I, Jesus … am the bright morning star.” Satan is not a light-bringer. God is the true light-bringer; we know this because he created light (Genesis 1:3). God challenged Job to answer this question in 38:19, “Do you know where Light comes from?”

Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus Christ and light are interwoven. John 8:12 says, “…I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” In John 9:5 Jesus says, “… I am the world’s light.” And again in John 12:45 “I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.”

But beware—our adversary, Satan, disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Perhaps this explains why the Latin name Lucifer has been incorrectly credited to him. The real and only true light of the world is Jesus Christ; described as the gospel message in the words following on from the header scripture. We are to live in that light and reflect this light to others as we read in 1 John 2:10: “It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others.” John 12:36 says, “As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.” 

We may not be glow worms, but as Jeremiah 13:16 translates in the Message Bible, “Let your lives glow bright before God”!

Lord, help me to live in Your light and reflect Your light to those around me.

Study by Irene Tibbenham

[i] A gnat is a Dipteroid flying insect, essentially a tiny, and oftentimes biting, fly.

[ii] www.glowworms.org.uk

[iii] The term ‘worm’ is a colloquial term, and one that most people today associate with earth worms whilst a larva is the juvenile term for an early stage certain animals pass through as they undergo stages of metamorphosis. To the untrained eye larvae look like little worms.

[iv] ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, the key enzyme implicated in dephosphorylation, whereby phosphorus, an incendiary chemical reactive to air, is released. The Roman god Lucifer was called Phosphorus in the Greek

[v] http://tikaboo.com/library/Ovid-Metamorphosis.pdf The Roman deity Lucifer was associated with the planet Venus.


irenetibbenhamAbout the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk


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