Light and Darkness on the 1st day of creation

This is an alternative interpretation of the first day of creation. This was published elsewhere before.

While reading through my daily dose of blogs, I came across an interesting argument regarding the inerrancy of the Bible. The source text was Genesis 1, and the argument is familiar to some of us:” How can the Bible be inerrant if it states the light was created (day 1)before the sources of the light (day 4)?” That seems to be clearly illogical, and is not something that is easy to solve on face value.

That argument prompted me to think through it again, by the grace of God, and again look at what we can see in these passages:

Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Gen 1:4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
Gen 1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

This seems to refer to days and nights as we know it, or does it? I know of the usual proposals to explain away the apparent discrepancy between days 1 and 4, like the light was a supernatural light until the creation of he celestial bodies on day 4 or there was a cloud of some sort that covered up the light from the light sources, and they only became visible on day 4 when needed to make the plants grow etc.

My thinking, aided by some use of the original languages, is somewhat different, in that the specifics around day 1 have nothing to do with physical creation, it has to do with the creation of God’s plan for what was to follow, and putting in place the conditions necessary to carry out His plan of salvaton.

First, we are told of the conditions prevailing at the time of creation:
Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

“without form” and “void” are both translated close in meaning:
without form:
From an unused root meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), that is, desert; figuratively a worthless thing; adverbially in vain: – confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness.

From an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, that is, (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin: – emptiness, void.

Basically, nothing existed. Earth, or the “firmament” was essentially a vacuum, but, we read about the “darkness” that was around.

From H2821; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: – dark (-ness), night, obscurity.

If we then follow the reading from the original context a bit, it reads that there was chaos everywhere, brought on by the darkness, which, as we see above, carries all the characteristics of our evil enemy. This also ties in with what we can learn from Satan and his cohorts dismissed from heaven, they had to be somewhere, and “the deep” (also translated as the waters) sure sounds like a place we would find them. Interesting sidenote, we hear about the waters of life, and the waters referred to here can also be read as “wasted waters”, in my mind another clue that we are on the right track, since the water of life is surely wasted on evil.

If we then move to the verse that describes day 1, we start with:
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
In most explanations of this verse that I have heard, it is explained that this means the creation of physical visible light. That may be true, but let’s look at the original language again.
From H215; illumination or (concretely) luminary (in every sense, including lightning, happiness, etc.): – bright, clear, + day, light (-ning), morning, sun.

It can mean day or sun, but, it can also mean luminary or happiness. We are told many places elsewhere in the Bible about the meaning of light:
John 3:19-21 (NIV)
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. [20] Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. [21] But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

1 John 1:5 (NIV)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

1 Tim. 6:16 (NIV)
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

The contrast is set clearly that God is responsible for the light, against the darkness of evil.

If we then read further, we DO NOT read that God created darkness on Day 1. This is kind of curious, since if this referred to the actual creation of lightsources and a turning earth that would give us day and night in the calender sense, then God would have been responsible for the creation of darkness. Instead, we read that:
“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.”

That aligns perfectly with the plan of salvation, God separating light, His love and grace, from darkness. The darkness, earlier described as pre-existing chaos and emptiness, and associated with the deepest recesses of creation, is here more clearly described as misery etc.

The seperation of light and darkness in these terms are numerous throughout the Bible, but is well described in:
2 Cor. 6:14 (NIV)
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

It makes sense for God to start off by seperating His light from the embodied evil before getting on with the rest of creation. He knew what He was creating, and He started by seperating His good (the light), from evil ( the darkness). He did not create the darkness, it is seperation from the light, just like we learn in science, darkness is the absence of light. Light and darkness can have no fellowship, but if we were to read Gen 1:3-5 as the creation of 24 hour days, then surely night and day has “fellowship”, it moderates the temparatures on earth so that we don’t fry or freeze.

To finish off, and to confirm that we read this right:
God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literally (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figuratively (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverbially): – age, + always, + chronicles, continually (-ance), daily, ([birth-], each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever (-lasting, -more), X full, life, as (so) long as (. . . live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year (-ly), + younger.

It is possible to have a wide range of readings on this, of course depending on context. In this context it will not be out of place to read it as a new birth of life, that what happens as a result of the light, God’s plan of salvation, and salvation, for His creation that is to follow.

We can further confirm that by looking at the the opposite.
lah’-yil, lale, lah’-yel-aw
properly a twist (away of the light), that is, night; figuratively adversity: – ([mid-]) night (season).

It is the turning away from the light, the adversity humans experience as a result of evil.

In summary, if we read the very first parts of Genesis from another perspective, it seems that it is speaking about the creation of the history that was to come, the creation of God’s salvation for His creation, and the seperation of that from the darkness that was prevailing. If that was not the case, creation would have happened into darkness, with all being eternally lost.

This also addresses the dilemma that our objector brings up, this is not the same light that was brought forth by celestial bodies that we read about on day 4, this is the eternal light of God’s plan, grace and love.


3 responses to “Light and Darkness on the 1st day of creation

  1. G’day August! This is a treat to have discovered your blog. 🙂

    This post gives a lot of good food for thought and consideration. I have always appreciated your astute critical analysis, the way you present information, and set questions to stimulate a line of reasoning or show inconsistencies in a point of view. I will be popping back regularly to read what you write in here.

    God bless

  2. I am nowhere up to filling the gap you left, and I will definitely miss you in that role. 😦
    However, it is good to find you here and writing much that is worth the read. 🙂

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