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Light of the World

Christian Symbols Illustrated Glossary

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Candles, lamps, light and flames represent the manifest presence of God as the Light of the World.
Light of the World

Light of the World

Images © Sue Chastain
With so many references to God being "light" in Scripture, representations of light such as candles, flames and lamps have become common symbols of Christianity:

1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (NIV)

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV)

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? (NIV)

Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and to the Israelites in the pillar of flame. The eternal flame of God's presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or "Festival of Lights" we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.

Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm 119:105 says God's Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to our path. 2 Samuel 22 says the Lord is a lamp, turning darkness into light.

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