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QUESTION: What was the Light on the 1st Day?

I received the following question from a good friend via the Question Box on my congregation’s web page.
Genesis 1:3-5 speaks of the separation of light and darkness with God calling them day and night. Then in Genesis v:14-16, God creates the sun and moon (to separate light and darkness; day and night).  Verses 11 & 12 mention the creation of vegetation before the creation of the sun.  What light is He speaking of in the first passage if the sun and moon have not yet been created?
This is a question that has puzzled many people. Some point to this to say how ludicrous the Bible is. “How can there be light before there is a sun,” they ask (as you can see here).
Yet, the Scripture speaks clearly of a time when we will no longer need the sun:
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. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. – Revelation 21:23-25
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
The bigger question for Genesis 1 on the first three days might be, “Where did the night come from – if God provided the light?”
You might also consider the use of light as a metaphor for good and darkness for evil. If you think of it that way, on the very first day of creation God made a distinction between good and evil. I do not offer this as the answer, though, because later God saw that all He had created was good. If “light” is good, and “darkness” is evil in this chapter, it would be hard to say that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Of course, you could argue that God did not make the darkness; He only made the light – and the darkness is nothing but the absence of light. I do not recommend this as an answer because I shy away from allegorical interpretation unless the text demands it.
The real answer, of course, is that God is not dependent on the sun to provide light, even light in wave lengths conducive to plant growth.
I hope these very few words (for me) will answer your question.

One Response

  1. It is strange that this is today’s topic, as I have been turning a series I taught on Revelation into a book, and today I just happened to be writing about the light in Genesis 1:2 and Revelation 21:23-25.

    It is too long to post in a blog comment, but maybe you’ll find this interesting. I believe the “light” that was created on day one of Genesis went out when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem (Jeremiah 4:23).

    This is the same “light” that will never go out over New Jerusalem in Revelation. But I am in the minority that believes New Jerusalem is a symbolic depiction of the present “church age,” rather than speaking of Heaven.

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