“A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” Luke 2:32
This text is part of the song of Simeon, just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Hence, we may take this expression as the truth of God.
Later, much later, Jesus called Himself the Light of the world.
Now what does this mean?
Light is in the Holy Scriptures the embodiment of all that is good, lovely, attractive, comely and sweet. I wish I could continue. But I have but small space in this meditation. You could go on and on, for God is a Light and there is not darkness at all in Him.
Darkness is the very opposite of Light. And Holy Scripture will tell us the significance of darkness. “Unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedience to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” Romans 1:29-31.
Light in Scripture is the very opposite of all those horrors.
And the baby Christ is the very opposite of all those horrors. His name is the Light.
Christ Jesus is the most beautiful Thing (Luke 1:35) the Lord God has ever shown to this sorry earth. Unto all eternity you will never see anything as lovely as Jesus.
And the text tells us that Jesus will be a Light to lighten the Gentiles. What may that mean?
It means, first, that Jesus will take away their darkness. Our darkness is our sin. And Jesus will take it all away. All our sin is placed upon Him, and He paid the price for all that sin on His cross.
There is a double imputation.
First, there is the imputation of sin.
Christ Himself is innocent, the very Son of God. But God imputed, that is, God placed this sin on Jesus Christ, and made Him answerable for us. We, that is, the total number of all God’s elect people, were given to Jesus. He speaks of that in John 17. And when we were given unto Jesus. He received also all our sins and guilt. So the great Innocent was made the guilty.
Second, there is the imputation of righteousness.
Christ stood as our Covenant Head before the Face of God, and paid and paid and paid. He died the eternal death which we otherwise would have to die.
And the manner of that dying of Jesus was so intense, and the motive for that dying was so Divine, so glorious, so sweet in its obedience to the Father, that He merited a great reward. And the reward is Eternal Life. And this reward is first of all for Himself, and second, for us. His reward is with Him and we will surely receive it.
And this Light that lightens the Gentiles is greater than any light which clothed Adam in Paradise. He could fall. We cannot fall again. His light was earthly, our is heavenly. His rested in his obedience, ours rests in the Son of God. As we have born the image of the earthy, so also we shall bear the image of the heavenly, and that is your Christ.
The Gentiles are the elect which are drawn out of all, kindreds, peoples and nations of all the world and from all the ages.
There will be a time (?) when you will see all this throng before the throne of God. They will be a beautiful spectacle, for they lightened. And that means that they shall be made as beautiful as the Son of man. You will be able to trust them implicitly; they shall be good men, true men, upright men. They bear the Image of Christ.
Moreover, Jesus Christ is also the glory of God’s people Israel.
This may mean the descendants of Abraham, that is, the elect out of the Jewish race.
But it may also mean the Israel of God, that is, the people of God of all the ages, before the flood, before the calling of Abraham and after that event. It would include the whole Church of Christ of the New Dispensation also.
I am persuaded that Simeon had in mind the first of these suppositions. I know, I know that we may have here the parallistic way of writing the truth in a double way, as it is found hundreds of times in Holy Scripture. And I also believe that the church of Jesus Christ from Paradise to the last hour of history is Israel, the Israel of God.
But here is my reason for thinking that Simeon had in mind the Jews as a race.
Wherever you read in the New Testament or in the Old the words Israel and Gentiles in close proximity, their distinction is maintained. But when you read the word Israel all alone by itself, it may mean the New Testament Church.
However, let us see what is said here.
Christ is the glory of Israel.
And that is true.
There is an advantage in being an elect from the Jewish race.
You see, it is very difficult for us to believe this, for we are so selfish. It is not easy to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. That is a fact whether you have to do with miserable things or pleasant things. It is oh so difficult to do as Paul tells us: Weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that do rejoice. For we are thoroughly selfish creatures.
But imagine for a moment that Jesus was of Holland descent. How would we feel today? Suppose the whole or almost the whole of Holy Writ were written in the Dutch originally? Suppose Moses, Elijah, David and Paul were Dutchmen?
But they were all Jewish.
And Christ is their glory. Glory is diffusion, radiation of virtue. And that is Christ for Israel. Christ makes the Jews that are elect to stand out in glory. For how many years did the elect of God exclusively come out of the natural children of Abraham?
They are the beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 8 December 1959