Monday, January 16, 2012

Light Before The Sun

"Let there be light". The first recorded command in history rang out across a dark, formless void, and instantly the dark gloom was replaced by blazing light. The Creator-God stepped back and admired what he had made and he concluded, "this is good". Twelve hours later, the light faded and was replaced, not with never-ending darkness, but twelve hours of darkness before the light blazed forth again. The first recorded day in all of history was complete. On the next day, sky, and the next, land and vegetation with seed-bearing fruit came into existence through the creative command of God. The succession of evening and morning that had begun a few days previously continued and would continue. And then on the fourth day, God spoke again: "Let there be...lights".

It is well documented that the Genesis creation account records the creation of light first, but the creation of lights, of planets to emanate light, on the fourth day. The question begs to be asked, 'how could God create light on the first, and planets on the fourth day'? Some claim that this is a Hebrew poetic device, and that the days of creation are not meant to be interpreted as a creative succession, but rather, as a poetic re-telling of what must have happened, somewhere between history and myth. Some mock, and cite this as the first error in the Bible, the first authorial slip, the first sign that the Bible is not trustworthy. From human experience it is certainly impossible to have light, to have earth at all, without light-emanating planets.

Indeed, there are many proposed explanations for the creation of light before the creation of planets to emanate light, and I have yet to read all the various views on this important topic...but I do have a theory as to what was going on. I think that the second-to-last chapter of the Bible sheds incredible 'light' on Genesis 1. Revelation 21:23 says this about the New Jerusalem:
"And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb." (ESV).
What do we learn here? In the very least, we learn that God has no need of planets in order to emanate light, that all he needs is, well, himself. "God is light" (1 John 1:5). And the New Heavens and the New Earth will have no need of planets because all that separates men and women from God will be gone. Jesus, who is The Light of the World (John 8:12), has already paid for sin and redeemed his people. In the New Heavens and New Earth, the full-inheritance will be given, and the God who is Light will provide all the glory that the Christian's eternal home will need.

Could it be that in that first act of creation, God spoke and simply revealed his glory, allowed his own radiance to emanate forth? Could it be that he hung light into place on that day, and that he himself was the source of that light? This certainly makes sense.

Could it be that on the fourth day of creation, God was making provision for sin, for the day when the crowning climax of God's creation, men and women made in his image, would rebel against their creator, and would be separated from God's perfect presence, for the time when the God who is Light would be unbearable to be around, because he is so perfectly pure, and we are so utterly sinful? Could it be that the all-knowing Creator was already thinking of mercy, was already thinking of how to preserve a people who would rebel, so they would be ready for the gospel, even before they were created?

These are some of my own exegetical wrestlings with God's Word. I do not share these things as the final word, or even a great word that I've read in a book somewhere. I share them as the thoughts of a student of the Bible who is in process, but who loves to dig more deeply in the Word of God, so that the God who has revealed himself would be closer to his heart.

I'm so glad that I wrestle with the Bible deeply, long before commentaries on the Bible ever enter my hands. I'm so glad for the privilege of having daily, even constant, first-hand access to the very words of God.

And I'm also glad for community, even cyber-community. Can you share any thoughts that shed light on, or disproves what I've written? I would love to learn from my readers, and to have my gaze at God be brought into greater focus. Leave a comment and give some thoughts!

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