One may wonder, why light?
Why is this the first thing that God creates, even before the objects that give light—the sun and moon and stars?
What is the meaning of this division between light and darkness in Genesis 1:4.
One of the wonderful things about bible stories, is that each story has several different meanings, layers of history, metaphor, and truth. None is the “right” meaning. And all should be understood.
Layer 1: Simple
On the one hand, God’s creation of the light, and the separation of light from darkness, simply describes the beginning of the day cycle.
This 24 hour light-dark-light cycle is the most basic unite of time that we humans use to measure and organize our existence. So here we have the ancient writer telling us that, at the beginning of time, the first thing God creates is… time.
Makes sense, right?
Layer 2: Metaphor
On another level, however, this story illustrates a spiritual separate which must take place inside us all.
God did not create the darkness. It is the opposite of God’s creation, its antithesis.
I don’t mean natural darkness, what exists in the real world when the sun goes down.
On the layer of metaphor, this is the darkness that existed before creation, and that still finds ways to creep into our lives even today. It is the remnant of the Abyss, the Nothingness which God first overcame when God breathed life into a lifeless void. It is a spiritual darkness, the power of non-existence, and the great antagonist of God’s story.
Layer 3: Science
Finally, there is yet one more level to explore in this story of God creating light. This is the scientific story, a theory called The Big Bang, which posits that the universe began with a great explosion. In that explosion, suddenly, all energy and matter came into being.
A great burst of light in the heart of darkness.
Of course, 3,000 or so years ago, people knew nothing about any of that. So they didn’t write about a “Big Bang” because- well – how would they? And still, the ancient writer tells us that the universe began in this one moment, when God spoke an explosion of light into the darkness.
And what better word did the ancients have to describe “energy” than “light.”
Why do you think Genesis tells us that God created light before anything else? Are their other meanings that the writers might have been trying to get across? In what ways do you think Genesis and science fit together? Share as you feel comfortable sharing below.
Missed the last few verses? Catch up with Understanding Genesis 1:3 <==
==>Understanding Genesis 1:5