Worldwide Church of God

…and another thing  by John Stettaford

Isn’t it good when, finally, the sun shines? Doesn’t it feel good to have the warmth of the sun on our faces or backs? After a long gloomy winter and a cold, equally gloomy spring, the contrast when the sun breaks through is noticeable and startling.

When I was learning all about photography as an art student, we spent quite some time looking at light sources and what one could do with them to effect the outcome wanted on the photograph being taken. Soft lighting on the face de-emphasises wrinkles and defects. If done carefully it can make the most craggy appear as smooth as a film star. But the best light source of all was always sunlight.

Every other light source has deficiencies of one kind or another. Maybe it doesn’t have the full spectrum, or the ‘warmth’ of the light adversely colours the subject. For example, if you’re photographing strawberries a light source which darkens the fruit won’t appeal to us. We like our strawberries to be rich, red and juicy.

All of which reflects in the expression about seeing things in “a good light”. What is a “good light” for one item can be a bad light for another. We used to experiment as students with coloured lights. A bowl of fruit completely changed its perception when viewed in differing coloured lights. A red light turned a ruddy apple black; an orange light darkened peppers and oranges so that they appeared as dark smudges.

Human beings use the same idea to control moods: a bright yellow/red/green in the living room, but a darker blue/green for a bedroom. Kitchens are better light with yellow/white/red colours.

So now consider how the Bible can be viewed. And now, of course, I’m not talking about actual light, rather a mental light. If a passage is ‘difficult, dark’ we tend to pass over it quickly. If it is ‘light’ we may read it more readily and more often. Consequently there are many places we don’t go to in our Bibles. They seem not to be important to us, or we don’t get anything of value in reading those sections.

In many places we ‘colour’ what we read by our own understanding or preconceptions. All of what can cause problems. But then we can ask, for example, why are there all of tribal lists in the book of Chronicles? What value to us today when Israel/Judah is scattered to the four winds? Or all that detail about the tabernacle and its furniture in Numbers and elsewhere? And so, not ‘seeing’ any purpose in them, we skip reading them, we fail to understand any importance for them, we dismiss them as irrelevant.

Well, as someone famously said that I often quote, there isn’t a superfluous word in the Bible. Every word needs to be weighed for what it means. In much of the symbolism concerning the tabernacle are images of aspects of Christ’s current ministry for us. You can actually learn a lot about Him and how he functions today as our high priest from those descriptions given to us. Only, of course, we view them in unfavourable light because we fail to understand what is there and why it’s there.

I have long wondered about all those tribal names in the book of Chronicles. Yes, perhaps of value when Israel finally comes home in the world tomorrow; but actually of value today in revealing to us the detail and complexity even of human affairs with which our God is involved. We’re told the very hairs of our head are numbered. And that’s a number that changes by the hour as hair falls out and hair grows. Imagine if God had to do a complete recalculation every time we have our hair cut or have a restyling at the hairdressers. It puts a new light on how God view us.

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