Light, life and the glory of God
Flickr: Paul Willows
In Genesis 1:3–5 we read: “And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light that it was good. And God divided between the light and the darkness. And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Genesis 1:14–19 tells us that the sun and the moon were not created until Day 4, nevertheless there was still a day-night cycle as at present (Exodus 20:11). To account for this, creationists usually conclude that God provided the Day 1 light source, that it was on one side of Earth, and that it was the cause of the day-night sequence on a rotating Earth.1
In our experience, light needs a source, but this source does not have to be the sun, moon or stars. Other sources are fire, lightning, electric light globes, fluorescent tubes, luminous insects such as glow-worms and fireflies, etc. In the Bible, we also find many examples of light without the sun, but originating from a supernatural source. Most of these are associated with the glory of God, which in the Bible is usually manifested as light, although sometimes as fire. This is not surprising, as the Bible tells us that God is light (1 John 1:5; cf. John 8:12), and also that God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29).
During the three-day plague of darkness on all the land of Egypt, all the Israelites had light in their dwellings (Exodus 10:23).
In the exodus from Egypt, God led the Israelites by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire, to give them light, during the night (Exodus 13:21). At night the pillar of cloud moved and stood between the Egyptians and the Israelites, and there was darkness for the pursuing Egyptians, but light by night for the Israelites (Exodus 14:20).3
When Moses descended from Mt Sinai with the two tablets of stone, the skin of his face shone as a result of his having talked with God (Exodus 34:29).
At the birth of Jesus, the glory of the Lord shone round about [the shepherds] (Luke 2:9).
At the transfiguration of Jesus, His face shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2).
When an angel of the Lord released Peter from prison, light shined in the prison (Acts 12:7).
In John’s vision recorded in Revelation, the face of Jesus was like the sun shining in its strength (Rev. 1:16).
In John’s vision of the New Jerusalem, the city had no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they might shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb [i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, cf. John 1:29, 36] (Revelation 21:23).
This description of the heavenly city is repeated: And there will be no night there. And they need no lamp, or light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light (Revelation 22:5).
A religion of miracle
What should we conclude from these many Biblical examples of supernaturally caused light without the sun? Just this: trying to explain away the creation of light on Day 1 before the creation of the sun, by saying that clouds obscured the sun until Day 4 or something similar, so that one can add long ages to the plain text of Genesis, tends to do the cause of Christ a huge disservice.4
The examples given above of light without the sun in the Bible show that we can confidently say that God Himself provided the source of the Day 1 light. It is probable that God created the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum at that time and it is possible that this Day 1 light manifested some aspect of God’s glory.
Similarly, God was the source of life on Earth—plant life on Day 3, animal life on Days 5 and 6, and human life on Day 6. God did not need an evolutionary process to produce the first living things any more than He needed the sun to cause light to shine on the Earth on Day 1. Ancients who worshipped the sun as the source of life were equally in error with moderns who invoke evolution (powered by the sun) for this purpose.
We should never lose sight of the fact that Christianity is a religion of miracle. The Bible describes a huge number of miracles (concentrated in key parts of Biblical history)—from the supernatural acts of God during Creation Week described in Genesis, through the exodus from Egypt and other Old Testament miracles, to the many miracles associated with the birth, life, death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. These in turn lead on to those recorded in the book of Acts, to the final Judgment of the wicked and reward of the servants of God in the heavenly city described in Revelation.
The Bible clearly teaches that each Creation Day was an ordinary (approximately 24-hour) day, with a night-day, evening-morning cycle. The fact that the sun was only created on Day 4 does not contradict this, as the sun is not required for such a cycle. What is needed, in addition to a rotating Earth, is directional light. Genesis tells us that light was already there from Day 1. Many other parts of the Bible strongly suggest that it would have been quite in keeping with God’s activity, recorded in many other parts of the Bible, for this light to have emanated supernaturally from God Himself.
References and notes
- For a more detailed analysis see Batten, D. (Ed.), The Creation Answers Book, Creation Ministries International, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 34–35, 2009. Return to text.
- In the box Light before the sun? from my article Morning has broken … but when? Creation 23(2):53, 2000, four of these are mentioned. This theme is now enlarged upon. Return to text.
- Other examples of divinely caused fire include Exodus 24:17, 40:38; Leviticus 9:24; Numbers 11:1, Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Kings 2:11, 6:17; and Acts 2:3. Return to text.
- There is nothing new in these compromises. Calvin, and before him Augustine, dealt with and disposed of similar arguments in the 16th and 5th centuries respectively. Return to text.
I took note that this article came from 2001, but find comfort in that it parallels my thinking precisely, even though not on the primary point of this piece. I had wondered about this original light source, but this deduction lines up so well with the overall thrust of Scripture that I am confident that this will be found to be correct.
My agreement is with the statement that "Christianity is a religion of miracles." It is more and more evident that this is a major teaching that must return to the forefront. I prefer to say that our faith is a supernatural faith but the meaning is the same. Many are trying to "naturalize" the miracles by proposing natural means to produce them, and Lita Cosner's recent article shows how ridiculous these proposed "solutions" are. The apostle Paul stated it well when he said "If Christ be not raised from the dead, then is our faith futile...and we are to be pitied...BUT, Christ is risen." (My paraphrase from 1 Corinthians 15). We must make no bones about it: we have a supernatural God who is active in this world still today. A deist "god" will not do! Thank God for His innumerable actions to have created, sustained and even redeemed His creation!
Light is amongst God's chiefest creations and no life could exist without it. It stands to reason that God himself is light since he is the creator and all creation depends on him, even to be held together. In all the visions of God or the transfigured Jesus Christ, we see immense light emanating from the Father or the Son. It stands to reason that God created light before he created physical light sources. He is the original source of light, the source of all spiritual light, and the eventual source of the light of all our reality. It is interesting that the first chapter of the Bible starts with God referencing light's existence before the sun and the last chapter referencing light's existence emanating from God after the Sun is no more. God's light will seemingly permeate all darkness so that there is no longer night. No longer a separation of light and dark, the dark will be completely conquered and light will prevail throughout eternity.