This week I am returning to my study of Isaiah 45:7 and am continuing to look at the word “light”. I have written about seeing a picture of The Word being compressed into the human Jesus. More than that, a cell in the womb of the Virgin Mary. One of my Bible teacher’s recently mentioned there is a spark of light when a sperm fertilizes an egg. This phenomenon was first recorded in mice but has since been recorded in humans as well. It is sparks of zinc exploding and the effect is like fireworks. This is an amazing discovery and yet this explosion of light is something that takes place on a biological level. It’s a mechanism of creation.
What took place when the Creator became the creation? I cannot imagine. All scripture gives me is a taste of the miracle that took place. Scripture states the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary. That word in the Greek is episkiazo (G1982) and means “to cast a shade upon, to envelop in a haze of brilliancy, to invest with preternatural influence-overshadow”. The picture of Mary being enveloped in a haze of brilliancy-light-and the Light of the world bursting into being in her womb is beautiful to me. Light begat Light.
Fascinating as this thought is, I must put it on a back burner as I am in danger of digressing from my study. I see the light that is Jesus in Isaiah 45:7 but perhaps I am way off. Perhaps God is merely declaring Himself as Creator. Reading further in the chapter I find verse 12 where God says; “I have made the earth and created man on it” so the idea of Creator and creation is in the chapter. I have read commentaries and other blog posts on this passage and, almost to a one, I find the insistence that what is meant here is that God permits darkness and evil but is not responsible for it. And yet, the English word “create” is the translation of the Hebrew word and is translated the same in other places. The Hebrew is bara (H1254) and is the same word found in Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created (or bara-ed) the heavens and the earth.
I find the same Hebrew words for darkness and light in my Isaiah passage in the verses 2 and 3 of Genesis. In Genesis 1:1 God baras the heavens and the earth. In Genesis 1:2 darkness-choshek in the Hebrew-is on the face of the deep. In Genesis 1:3 God says “Let there be light”-owr in the Hebrew-and there is light. The words are the same as my passage in Isaiah but the pattern is different. Darkness is mentioned before light and, in Genesis, the light is brought into being and not formed. The word yatsar does not appear anywhere in the story of creation. I think something other than the act of creating is being spoken about in my Isaiah passage but I’d like to be certain.
An integral part of any study I do is to look to other translations of the Bible to see how verses have been rendered. As I read through, I do have my thought strengthened that Isaiah 45:7 is not referencing creation. Every translation carries the idea of a way of living. Consider the New American Standard: “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” The Young’s Literal Translation is especially interesting because instead of using the word “creating”, Mr. Young says “preparing darkness” and “preparing evil”.
While the translations are helpful, they are not at all helpful. In fact, I find I am confused. Whether or not this passage is referencing the act of creation or is speaking of Jesus, how can that same God who the New Testament stresses IS love create darkness and evil? Some translations have disaster or calamity in the place of evil but the different words don’t soften what feels like a blow. The Amplified appears to share my confusion because that translation renders this verse as; “I form the light and create darkness; I make peace [national well-being. Moral evil proceeds from the will of men, but physical evil proceeds from the will of God], and I create [physical] evil-calamity; I am the Lord Who does all these things”. I like the Amplified Bible and use it a great deal but in this passage I do not get the sense the translators are expanding the text to show the nuances of the original language. Rather, this feels like an insistence that God didn’t really mean what He says here. What He REALLY means is…I move on to other sources.
I look up the meaning of light (Strong’s number H216) in Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies. At first, Wilson’s appears to be directing me back to the light created in Genesis 1:2. The entry begins with, “…light is that subtle fluid, called into existence the first day of creation; as this material element of nature was created before the sun, so it appears to subsist independent of that body (see Job 38: 19, 24) to which it is attracted as a centre, and flows back in powerful agency through the solar system to every planet included in it.” If the definition stopped here, so would I and yet, I read further: “Light is put for life, natural and spiritual…life signifies prosperity, honour, joy…light in darkness is encouragement, comfort, or good hope in adversity…light, in a spiritual sense, attributed to God, to Christ, hence the saving knowledge of God and of Christ.” This is helpful for me to gain understanding of the nuances of the meaning of light but I don’t feel as if I yet understand.
I move on to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon and find the first precise attribution of the definition of light to the Messiah. I read the entry and, under #9, find, “light of instruction so the Messianic servant is light, the advent of Messiah is shining of great light”. Rabbi Benjamin Blech writes, “What was the original light of Day One in the week of creation? It could not have been sunlight. The sun was not created until the Fourth Day. It was a light of far greater intensity. It was a light, according to our Sages, set aside for the future of Messianic fulfillment.”
Am I certain that Isaiah 45:7 is speaking of Jesus and thus holds spiritual truths to be discovered? I am certain there are truths to be discovered but am still not certain as to the meaning of the passage, especially considering the fact that the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic the Bible was originally written are all dead languages and thus translations and renderings are subject to debate regarding their preciseness. I have seen enough to say there’s solid reasoning to believe there is something more than God’s creating light meant here but then I’ve seen enough to wonder if the light mentioned in Genesis 1 doesn’t mean something more than light created.
Chaim Bentorah shares a story of a man who asked a rabbi a certain question. The rabbi gave his answer and the man excitedly said, “You’re right!” Then another rabbi, overhearing the answer, joined the conversation and explained why the first rabbi was wrong and gave his own answer, which was the total opposite of the first. The man who’d’ asked the original question got excited again and declared to the second rabbi, “You’re right!” A third rabbi entered the conversation and said, “He’s right, and he’s right? They both can’t be right.” The man pointed to the third rabbi and announced, “You’re right.”
It’s a story that makes me chuckle but one I think all believers should take to heart. As I seek to discover the meaning of Isaiah 45:7, I am certain of one thing: there is nothing to fear because this passage makes clear there is no power above God. Does the fact that this passage states God creates both darkness and evil shake my faith in any way? No. This is where relationship is so important. I know Him. He is real in my life and has proven Himself trustworthy, faithful, and good in the midst of both well-being and calamity. Because I know Him, I do not doubt His character or His love for me. I also know I have a great deal to learn and thus, praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me and interpret for me, I continue my study.
New American Standard Bible, A.J. Holman Company, La Habra, California, 1960-1977
The Comparative Study Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984
Bentorah, Chain, Hebrew Word Study: Revealing the Heart of God, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 2016, Page 317
Blech, Benjamin, The Secrets of Hebrew Words, Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1991, Page 30.
Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt., The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, Eighteenth Printing-September 2018, 1906
Green, Jay P., The Interlinear Bible Hebrew Greek English Volume One, Authors for Christ, Lafayette, Indiana, 1976-1985
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990
Wilson, William, Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts
Young, Robert, Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, Revised Edition Old Testament, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1898, Reprinted 1995