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A visitor for the US asks the following question: "Who is the father of light?"
"Father of Lights" (note that I'm using the plural of "light") is a phrase which is found in the Bible, and is used to describe God. The reference, in case you want to know, is James 1:17, which reads as follows (using the King James translation):
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Reading this in a modern translation (New International Version):
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
What does the phrase mean? Well, that's a good question! And there are a few ways to take meaning from the title.
- It is a reference to creation; God as the creator of all the heavenly lights, is referred to as the father of them. In a sense, then, you could give Him the title "Star Father."
- It is a reference to Jesus, who called himself "the light of the world." Following the logic of that; if Jesus is the light, and God is his father, then God is the "Father of Light."
- Light, in the Bible, is usually associated with either knowledge or righteousness (or both). For example, Isaiah 9:2 says that "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," and according to one Bible dictionary, the word "darkness" there metaphorically means one of the following: misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, or wickedness. Thus, of course, light would be, metaphorically, the opposite. So saying "Father of Light" could be the equivalent of "Father of Knowledge" or "Father of Righteousness."
The conclusion of the verse, which says he is unchanging, and has no shifting shadows, may be a reference to the stars, which twinkle and shift - indicating that God is greater than the stars of the heavens.
Thanks for asking, and I hope that was helpful!
Kendrick asks, "What is the meaning of the phrase straining at a gnat?"
Good question! The phrase comes from the words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 23, Jesus launches into what could best be described as a tirade against the religious leaders of his day. He doesn't hold back in his indictment of them, and calls them names like "hypocrite," "family of snakes" (technically, he calls them a "brood of vipers," but that's the meaning), and "whitewashed sepulchers."
In verse 23, he says: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
What does he mean by this? He's saying that they've picked out the smallest and least commandments to focus on, and take pride in doing those, while completely ignoring the most important matters, like justice.
He follows this up in verse 24 with the phrase you asked about: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."
Jesus is indulging in a bit of hyperbole here. He's imagining someone who is about to take a drink of water from a cup, notices that there's a small bug in it, strains the bug out, and then drinks the water, never noticing that there was a camel floating in the cup.
Silly? Sure, but it gets the point across. Jesus' claim was that the religious leaders were focusing on the lesser matters, while completely ignoring the more important ones.
A similar idiom would be "penny-wise and pound-foolish." Someone who is penny-wise is someone who is very careful about how they spend small amounts of money. Someone who is pound-foolish is someone who throws about large amounts of money indiscriminately.
So someone who is both penny-wise and pound-foolish is straining at a gnat (focusing on small things) while swallowing a camel (ignoring larger things).
Would you like a modern day example of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel?
As a teacher, if I gave a student a detention because he was slouching in his chair, but did nothing when he punched a classmate in the face, then I'm straining at gnats while swallowing camels.
By the way, if you have the time, you should take a few minutes to read Jesus' entire tirade against the religious leaders. Because we tend to think of Jesus as "meek and mild," this chapter can be quite astonishing to a lot of people: Matthew 23.