Illumination... but not as we've known it
by Lynette Woods
You are a chosen race, a priesthood of kingly lineage, a holy nation, a people belonging specially to God, that you may make known the perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. 1 Pet. 2:9
Sometimes God plants a word into me, and I don't know what He means by it for many days, or even months. It has to be planted, and then I have to wait for it to grow and bear fruit in me. This time the word was "illumination". I seemed to see the word everywhere, we even went to a concert called "Illuminations of the Beyond" (by Messiaen) and yet, funnily enough, I had no illumination as to what God was saying to me about it, beyond the obvious.
I knew that the darker it gets, the
brighter the light is, and we're all aware of how
important light is, especially at night. If you go
outside on a pitch black night with no
illumination, you can do nothing except stand
still. If you try to walk without light, you may
injure yourself and others. Not to mention not
knowing what direction to walk in! Some form of
illumination is vital. Spiritually it is exactly
the same. If we do not have the Light shining on
us, in us, and through us, then we may go the
wrong way, be injured, or cause injury to others
simply because we cannot see. You may in
fact end up at a standstill, unable to go on.
Darkness hides things while light does the exact opposite: it reveals and illuminates. When light pierces darkness, you begin to see things you were blind to before; in dawn's light you first see vague shapes in black and white, then objects, then full colour, and eventually you can discern and correctly perceive exactly what things are and where they are. With partial light we cannot make correct judgments about what and where things are.
And, of course, illumination is vital
when reading the Scriptures, not just so I can
physically see and read, but so that I can
spiritually see and read! It is a fact that
while we can physically read what is written in
the Scriptures, we can still have absolutely no
spiritual illumination or revelation about what we
just read. It takes spiritual illumination
to "turn the light on" and enable us to really
see what the words mean. Our mind may
comprehend, but it is our spirit that
needs to apprehend. If we try to interpret or
understand the Scriptures with our mind only, then
we are likely to misinterpret and misunderstand;
the Author always knows exactly what He means by
His own words and only He can illuminate them for
us. We must read in the Light (Author) so
that we may receive "the spirit of wisdom
and revelation in the knowledge of Him;
illuminating the eyes of your heart" (Eph.
This cannot be stressed enough. Many
people rely on their head knowledge of the Bible
and what they think they know and thus they
effectively blind themselves to further
illumination and revelation from the Author
Himself. The verse just quoted speaks of the
knowledge of HIM, and not the knowledge of a
book; it is heart knowledge of THE Word as a
Person, rather than head knowledge of many words
I recently read a book about an
illuminator who lived in the 1700s, and over the
course of several weeks, Father began to
illuminate for me a little more of what He meant
by giving me this word to ponder. I had never
heard of an illuminator before. For those who
don't know, centuries ago the artist who would
decorate the pages of Bibles for the church (and
sometimes other books too, but they were almost
exclusively Bibles) was called an illuminator.
Here is an example of the work an illuminator
This amazingly intricate work required
hours and hours of intense concentration and
talent. Often the illuminator would decorate or
illuminate only one letter on an entire page. What
was illuminated to me, is that we are called to do
the same thing. We see only such a very small part
of the whole Book, the whole Person of Christ, but
when He (as my Illuminator) reveals something of
Himself to me, I in turn reveal and shine that one
"page" for others to also see, doing my best to
reveal and illuminate what I have seen through the
words I use. We are individually and collectively
the living letters/pages of Christ (2 Cor.
3:3). We are part of Him as
The Book, The Word of God (John
1:1,14) with His words written on our hearts and
illuminated by the Master Illuminator!
In April of this year, my husband Mike
celebrated his birthday with a party. One of the
gifts he was given was a card from my aunt and
uncle. After the celebrations were over, I had a
closer look at the card and realised that it was
beautifully handmade. Knowing that my aunt is a very
talented artist, I asked her if she had made it,
and she confirmed that she had. And, it was an
illumination! I now have it in a frame on our wall, it is a
very special gift from a very special person:
Historically, illuminators would be
cloistered away for years doing their work. Unlike
some, I don't write lots and lots of words. I seem
to spend many hours over few words, instead of
producing many words over few hours. Just as the
illuminators would spend hours and hours
painstakingly drawing and colouring, applying
layer upon layer of gold gilt and colour to their
work, so I also spend hours and hours with words.
And it is not so that they are perfect, nice to
look at, or easy to read, but so that I am sure
that they are faithful to convey what I see
the Author and Illuminator of the Book wants;
because then the words are treasured and valued
because of Who the words come from and belong to.
The illuminators were sometimes paid
for their work, and the more of a book they
illuminated, the more costly and expensive
that book was. Anything of real value is
costly, but not only in terms of money. I
don't write to sell books, I don't even write to
convince others of what I write about. My primary
aim in writing is simply to record what I have
seen and heard from Above, doing what my Master
requires and desires. And that may, or may not, be
beneficial to anyone other than me! And it may
even be for a time in the future and not for now,
so I am not interested in statistics or how many
people read and comment on what I write. I don't
do what I do because people want me to, but
because my Father wants me to. Regardless, it is a
costly thing in time, energy, integrity, and
resolve, while also being a very deeply valuable
thing, rewarded with the presence and
companionship of working with the Author of All!
It is better to write one sentence, even
only one word that is illuminated by the Holy
Spirit of God, than to write a book or an entire
library. He does not need our superfluous words.
He can convey an entire universe of meaning to a
person through one single letter if need be!
Books used to be people's most prized
possession just a few generations ago; they were
treasured. Books were often locked away to
preserve them. Today, in contrast, books are very
cheap, and to a certain extent, words are cheap
too. The written word is everywhere you
look now, and we have a surfeit of things to read.
Today there is too much information and too little
transformation. Never before in the history of the
world has there been such access to such excess.
And we often have an excess of things to say as
well as to read! But although the art of
illumination is now largely a thing of the past,
illumination from Above will never be a thing of
the past; these illuminated words are living and
are full of Life, Light and Love now, today!
But of course, the most common understanding of illumination is not of applying gold and paint to a page, but simply that of light. The Greek word used in the New Testament for "light" is translated in various forms such as enlightened, illuminated, make men see, give you light, to light up, bring to light, render evident, give understanding to. The word is phos, or photizo, and is the origin of our English word "photo". And anyone who loves photography, knows how important light is.
Light is Life
Light and illumination are essential to
life; our natural world and our spiritual world
cannot survive without it. If there was no light,
there would be no life on this earth and the same
applies to us spiritually.
Light is absolutely necessary for Life
and yet many people run from Light or hide
from Light instead of embracing it. I recently
bought some wheat, and when I got it home I saw
that it had weevils in it. Thanks to growing up in
Borneo I knew exactly what to do with it, I spread
it out on a tray and put it in the sun outside.
The weevils simply could not stand the light of
the sun and immediately vacated the premises!
Within a matter of minutes, the wheat was weevil
free. Just like weevils, evils cannot stand the
Son shining His Light on His harvest. As Jesus
said, "Judgment is based on this fact: God’s light
came into the world, but people loved the darkness
more than the light, for their actions were evil.
All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go
near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But
those who do what is right come to the light so
others can see that they are doing what God wants"
Light is Love
Love is synonymous
with Light - Light and Love illuminate so that
we can see what is true. Love is a very seeing
thing, it sees through, it sees into, it sees
the truth, and it loves regardless!
This is made obvious in Christ by the fact
that He knows man, He knows the heart of man
in all its ability to hate and deceive, and
yet He loved us so much that He gave up His
life and died for us. He loved, He SAW, and
There is Light from Above, but there is also false light that is really darkness. How can this be? Our heart and its desires are likened to a lamp in the Scriptures. In speaking of the heart Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also, but the lamp of the body is the eye; therefore if your eye is sound, your whole body will be illuminated. But if your eye is bad, your entire body will be darkness; if therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great will be your darkness! No man can work for two masters, for either he will hate one and will love the other, or he will honor one and the other he will ignore. You cannot work for God and for money" (Matt. 6:21-24). You can see that in the context, it is the heart and what the eye of the heart sees and wants that is likened to the lamp of the body. That "lamp" of our heart can result in true light, or false light: "the light that is in you is darkness". Interestingly, the Greek word for "darkness" here can also mean blindness and darkened eyesight - the two go together: when it is dark, when we aren't walking in Love, we can't see well at all.
The key to the source of the
light (for even our enemy transforms into a
messenger of light - 2 Cor. 11:14,15) and
whether it is true Light or false light is often
revealed by our own hearts, by our treasure, by
what we love and want. When we believe that the
darkness in us is really light, then how
great that darkness, deception, and
blindness is! If you believe that you are
walking in the Light when you are really walking
in darkness, then you will not even try
to seek out real light; instead you'll say, "I
am rich, and have prospered, and don't need
anything or anyone," and you do not know
that you are really poor and blind and naked
(Rev. 3:17). May God have mercy on us and give
us a Damascus road experience with Light from
heaven striking us to the ground, revealing our
religious pride, so that we can really see and
hear only Him! Only then will we be capable of
being filled with His Light and Love.
Light is Truth
Truth is synonymous with Light - both Light and Truth illuminate, reveal, and lead - "Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me" (Ps. 43:3). Light and Truth result in knowledge. But we have a choice to see or not to see. As Paul said, "We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:2-6).
The Light from Above is often a very revealing, exposing thing - a true searchlight. Many do not want to see and live in the Truth, Life, and Love of God and yet God IS Light! "This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness—none at all! If we claim that we have fellowship with Him but keep living in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we keep living in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:5-7).
From the very beginning, God
separated the Light from the darkness. And in
our own lives He must separate the Light from
the darkness - that means revealing to us things
in us and about us that have their source in
darkness instead of His Light - revealing what
is false and revealing lies that we either
mistakenly believe to be true, or know are
untrue. We might not like to see those things,
or admit them, but it is essential that we allow
His Searchlight to illuminate them so that there
is no longer any darkness (duplicity and
deception) in us.
Light is Christ
Another form of light is from fire. Christ, being the Word of God, is our Lamp and must be burning within us. The Menorah/Lampstand in the tabernacle had to burn continually and was not allowed to go out (Ex. 27:21, Heb. 9:2). In that holy place there was no allowance made for the entry of natural light; there was only the light from this golden lampstand, fueled by oil. So too, in the tabernacle of our lives, we must learn to see (discern and judge) all things by the light of the Golden Lampstand who is Christ, and not by any earthly, natural light - not by what we see and think we know naturally - that is ruled out, it doesn't count.
The lampstand in the tabernacle
was a symbol of testimony - it testified not
only of its own light, but it testified of all
that the light revealed - it was a revelation of
all that could be seen and more! In the same way
Jesus Christ reveals Himself to us, and as our
Light He also unveils and reveals what is around
us that we could not see otherwise. All is in
darkness until the Light comes.
His testimony is also our
testimony and to a certain degree His story is
also our story. We too are born spiritually and
then have a period of growth where we learn to
walk, talk, see, and discern - we are learning
Christ in the school of Christ. As we grow into
maturity we experience the Cross of Christ. We
too lay down our lives in death, just as our
Teacher did; "It is finished" - I am finished.
And just as He was resurrected, so we too are
resurrected to new life, being born from Above.
And just as He did, we also testify that we are
alive and have Life (Acts 1:3). We realise that
we are no longer of this earth, we are heavenly;
we ascend with Christ and recognise that our
real life is with Him there - we become not only
the children of God, but the sons of God
reigning with Him! It was only after Christ's
ascension to the heavenlies that the Holy Spirit
was given in fullness: "You will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you
will be My witnesses, telling people about Me
everywhere" (Acts 1:8). Light - power - witness
- these three are linked, Light is a very
powerful testimony in and of itself!
Not only did Jesus
declare that He is the Light of the world (Jn.
8:12), He also proclaimed that WE are the light
of the world too, because we have Him Who is
Light living in us: "You are the light of the
world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be
hidden" (Matt. 5:14). Everything becomes clear
in the light, and what was hidden becomes
visible, "For you were once darkness, but now
you are light in the Lord. Live as children of
light (for the fruit of the light consists in
all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find
out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do
with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather
expose them. It is shameful even to mention what
the disobedient do in secret. But everything
exposed by the light becomes visible—and
everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
This is why it is said: 'Wake up, sleeper, rise
from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Be
very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise
but as wise, making the most of every
opportunity, because the days are evil" (Eph.
The first meaning in Hebrew of the word
for watchman (tsaphah) was to shine, to be
bright; to look out, to enlighten the eyes, to
peer, to watch closely. Watchmen would stay up
all night long, and with their torches lit they
would look for anything strange or potentially
dangerous. They were (and still are) very
important. Their work is predominantly when it
is dark, when it is hard to see, and when most
people are asleep and unaware. The watchman
keeps watch and shines his light on anything
that may be harmful and alerts those who may not
be able to see it.
The role of the watchman in the Old
Testament was literal, but under the new covenant
it becomes spiritual. We are told many times in
the Scriptures to be alert and to be on watch:
"For you are all children of light and children of
the day and you are not children of the night,
neither children of darkness. Let us not sleep
therefore as the rest, but let us be watchful and
sensible." (1 Thess. 5:5,6).
As watchmen our job is to first see
and then say what we see to make others
aware of what they may not have seen. Humility is
essential. Not one of us is immune to deception or
blindness - we need to hear what other family
members we are close to can see in the light of
the Golden Lampstand because without a mirror we
cannot see ourselves; we can only see each other.
This is one of the very practical reasons why our
Father places us alongside other Family members -
so that we can help one another by what we see in
His Light. There is no condemnation, but only
love, because the brothers and sisters that Father
knits us together with are part of us, we
are one in Christ. All is exposed in His
Light, so while today my brother may help me to
see the log in my eye, tomorrow I may help my
sister in the same way!
What we say is what we have seen,
with the aim of bringing others into that place of
illumination and seeing, with the eyes of our
hearts being lit to see what God wants us to see.
In His Light we see the earthly for what it is,
and we see the heavenly for what it is, and there
is no compromise between the two!
We must stand out like a light in the darkness of this world, like a city on a hill all lit up, like the city mentioned in Revelation 21:23: "The city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light". We are part of this City of God NOW! We are here on this earth as His light, and with no apologies and no reservations, we SHINE as His Light enters into and illuminates our lives and our hearts!
"Arise! Shine! Your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has dawned. Darkness now covers the earth, and thick darkness covers the nations. But the Lord dawns, and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings will come to the brightness of your dawn" (Is. 60:1-2).