The Light and the Sun

https://bible.faithlife.com/verseoftheday/image/EN_Genesis_1_5

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:5

I love the exchange between Eustave and the star Ramandu in in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”

“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”

Most moderns raised in a thoroughly materialistic worldview tend to think like Eustace. And so we approach verses like Genesis 1:5 and are at a loss. How can God create light and dark without the Sun? That does not make sense to us. The Sun in our way of thinking creates the light that we see in the sky and so light without the Sun is an absurd contradiction.Most moderns raised in a thoroughly materialistic worldview tend to think like Eustace. And so we approach verses like Genesis 1:5 and are at a loss. How can God create light and dark without the Sun? That does not make sense to us. The Sun in our way of thinking creates the light that we see in the sky and so light without the Sun is an absurd contradiction. Most moderns raised in a thoroughly materialistic worldview tend to think like Eustace. And so we approach verses like Genesis 1:5 and are at a loss. How can God create light and dark without the Sun? That does not make sense to us. The Sun in our way of thinking creates the light that we see in the sky and so light without the Sun is an absurd contradiction. God creating light and dark makes us think of the natural cycle of sunrise and sunset, but of course the sun is not created until day four. What is obvious is that Genesis 1 is not using the same categories which we are used to thinking in. Rather, the author of Genesis is showing God preparing a space in anticipation of further creation.

Part of this difficulty lies in the use of words. When we use the word “create” we mean “give physical existence to something.” The author of Genesis uses “create” to mean “give purpose to something”. This distinction means Genesis 1 is not talking as much about God’s physical creation of the parts of creation, rather it is showing God giving order and purpose to creation. Thus, God creates light and divides it from darkness so that time can exist and be quantified. But time cannot be random, time must be governed, so on day 4 God will give purpose to the Sun, namely controlling time and bringing order to the world.

The author is using this description of creation to provide us a window into God’s character. The Sun will be created specifically to “oversee the day”. This is how God chooses to operate, with the help of the created order. Genesis 1 shows us that God is not an authoritarian dictator who micromanages creation. God creates day and night, light and darkness, and then steps back and gives a created object, the Sun, control. The same will be true later in the text when humanity is created. Humans are given control over the Earth and all animals who dwell on it. God creates humanity to oversee creation on God’s behalf. God seems to take delight in watching what we can do, and how we will choose to cultivate the garden left to our care. Creation, then, is about God providing purpose and meaning to the whole cosmos. So as we look around at nature we should revel in the sheer wonder of the order God has set in place.

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