In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. Genesis 1:1-19 (NIV)
Have you ever read a certain passage of scripture hundreds of times and then all of a sudden, when you read it again, you notice something new? I love it when this happens. I’m not a Bible scholar so I may not always catch on to things like some do. Though I have read the creation account many times, one day I noticed the order of the creation was not what I had always envisioned.
In my mind, I had always imagined a universe with no form until God started to separate water and land, then proceeded to create the sun and moon, plants and animals and man. But I noticed that I missed a step. Before God parted the waters, made land and plants and animals, what did He do? He created day and night – on the 1st day. The sun, moon and stars were not created until the 4th day. Are you following me? I had read this so many times until one day it hit me that there was light before the lights we see were created. In our human minds and our knowledge of how our world works, we think without the sun shining, we would be in darkness. God doesn’t need the sun for light because He is light.
Of course, I am familiar with the verses in the New Testament about Christ being the Light of the World. I’ve read those hundreds of times as well. And I know as Christians, we also are to be light in this dark world. But all of that, I thought, was just figurative language. And yes, it is to a certain extent.
Read these verses from John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:1-9 (NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV)
We can also pull out a lot of other scripture that speaks of the Lord as our light. The following are some of my favorite.
You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. 2 Samuel 22:29 (NIV)
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. 2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent Psalm 104:1-2 (NIV)
The Bible does use the word light many times to describe how the love of Christ is like light compared to the oppressive darkness of sin. As believers, we can attest to that fact when we think about the times in our lives when we have been close to Christ as compared to far from Him in our daily walk. The times we are close to Him, things seem brighter and more hopeful, even though the circumstances we are in may be hard. When we are not walking close to God, then we can feel the darkness surrounding us in the form of depression, oppression and hopelessness. Or if we are not close to God and things seem to be going well, we must admit that there’s just something missing. The reason we feel something is missing is because we are in a place where we are unable, because of the darkness in our souls, to see the light of His presence and love.
So light can be understood in scripture as being figurative. However, in Genesis 1:3-5, the light is real. It was not comparing a situation to light, it was light. God was and is light. This fact is also supported in scripture in the prophecy recorded in Isaiah.
The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Isaiah 60:19-21 (NIV)
And also in Revelation, where God allowed John to see what is to come, we find that there will be no need for a sun because the glory of God will be our eternal light.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23 (NIV)
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5 (NIV)
So maybe I’m a little slow processing some things, but when I saw within the first couple of verses in the beginning of the Bible, that our God was the light, how fitting that the very same fact is brought out in the very last chapter of the Bible. God is light. He has blessed us with a wonderful, beautiful creation. I love the feel of the warmth of the sun and I appreciate the light it provides. I love star filled skies and the brightness of a full moon. But the greatest light that I long for; the greatest light that my eyes will surely one day see, is my God, the Greatest Light of the World.