(1) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (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. (3) And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (4) And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (5) God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (ESV)
In our current series, we have covered Creation’s Definition (Genesis 1:1) and Creation’s Description (Genesis 1:2-5). Now we begin Creation’s Detail (Genesis 1:3-31). In previous blogs we noted that in the beginning there was an absence of landscape, an absence of life, and an absence of light. Also in the beginning there was the presence of power, the presence of perfection, and the presence of purity. We ended the last blog talking about how God separated the light from the darkness and named the light Day and the darkness Night.
God is light
Let’s begin with a question….
What did God create on the first day? If you said light, you are correct. God created light on Day One and prior to that there was only darkness. Genesis 1:3 tells us: “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.”
Here’s another question—and it’s a doozy! Why was it necessary for God to create light since 1 John 1:5 proclaims that God IS light? It’s a good question. Let’s answer it this way:
First, since God is God, He can reveal His light whenever He wills (and He can hide His light when it’s His will to do so). Psalm 115:3 reminds us, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” For reasons known only to Himself, God chose not to reveal His light at that time.
Second, consider this: God never hides His love from us, but He may hide His light if it suits His purpose. For example, He may hide His light from individuals who continually deny His existence. He may hide His light from churches who fail to proclaim His Word as Truth. He may hide His light from nations who turn their backs on Him and who love and serve false gods or themselves. Here’s something else to keep in mind. God loves us so much that He may step back—so to speak—and let us go our own rebellious way to show us what it is like to NOT have His light in our life.
Today, such an action on God’s part (hiding His light) can reveal His love for us. How? When we disobey and turn away from God, He may allow pain, heartache and difficulty in our lives to help us see how much we need Him! If God allowed a believer’s life to be smooth while living in sin, that would NOT be the complete, righteous love of God. Think about it...if a sinful lifestyle produced a smoother, ultimately happier life, we might decide to stay longer (and deeper) in our sin and consequently (1) cause much harm to ourselves and others, and (2) be separated from the close fellowship He desires to have with us. Too many of us make a hard life harder by ignoring who God is and by disobeying what God has said. (Please don’t misunderstand, not all pain, heartache and difficulty are results of personal sin—but that’s a topic for another day.) Although God is not bound by the confines of time, He nevertheless has His own pre-determined schedule. God did not choose to reveal His light until the time was right—His time, according to His purpose (See Galatians 4:4). God has a master plan that is still in effect. He continually orchestrates His plan (See Philippians 2:13).
As we continue in our study, we move now to verse 5 of Genesis 1, the Bible says, “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” What does the word day mean? The Hebrew word is “Yom.” In Genesis 1:5, the word refers to a 24-hour period. Likewise, in Genesis 8:22 day means a 24-hour period. However, Genesis 2:4 uses the Hebrew word “B’yom” for the English word day. “B’yom” refers to an unspecified period. “These are the generations of the heavens and the
earth when they were created, in the day (“B’yom”) that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” That same word can also be used to mean a moment in time. Genesis 2:17 reads, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day (“B’yom”) that you eat of it you shall surely die.” This verse is not saying Adam and Eve ate the fruit for twenty-four hours. Day in this instance is referring to a moment in time. We can usually know which meaning is intended by the context of the passage. Sometimes the word is plural in the Hebrew language (“Yamim”) and actually refers to a year as used in Exodus 13:10. The important thing is that the word day in Genesis 1:5 is talking about a 24-hour period. It can refer to nothing else and still make sense. For more proof, continue reading.
At the end of verse 5, the Bible says, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Now, what are the words “the evening and the morning” all about? This sentence is repeated several times in chapter 1. (See verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31.) Each time only one word is changed—the number of the day. Why does the verse say, “…the evening and the morning…”? Why not the morning and the evening? Don’t we call the start of the day morning? And don’t we call the end of the day evening? To our way of thinking, shouldn’t the words be reversed to “the morning and the evening were the first day”? For the verse to make sense to us, we need to know a little something about Jewish culture.
The workday is very important in Jewish culture. The traditional Jewish day ends at six o’clock in the evening when the workday is over. The Jewish workday begins again at six o’clock in the morning. The traditional Jewish night is from 6 pm to 6 am. That’s the time they rested from the previous day’s work.
It’s important to understand that most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew by Jewish writers (not authors, God is the author). Since the Old Testament is worded from the perspective of the Jewish writers (an arrangement which God allowed, if not ordained), the day is described as “the evening and the morning.” This phrase would make perfect sense to a Jewish believer. Sometimes Biblical phrases can be confusing to us if we do not understand the culture of those who penned the words of Scripture. Taking time to learn something about Old Testament Jewish culture would help to understand why some Scripture is phrased the way it is.
The mechanics of creation
Another interesting thing about the first chapter of Genesis is what it doesn’t tell us. The chapter does not mention the mechanics of creation, meaning God does not reveal how He created. He tells us what He did—but without a lot of detail. As you read Genesis 1, you are going to have questions. And when you get to the end of Genesis 1, you will still have some of the same questions! God tells us exactly what we need to know. We talk about Hebrews chapter 11 being a faith chapter…well, so is Genesis 1! Read the chapter, then accept its truths
by faith. The teaching materials for the (theory) of evolution must be gathered from sources other than the Bible. Countless hours have been spent by students of the Scriptures studying Genesis 1 in detail. Countless books have been written on the subject of Biblical creation. There is nothing in the first chapter of Genesis (or any other chapter in the Bible) that even remotely teaches or supports evolution. When God created, He CREATED. Again, the chapter does not address the mechanics of creation. It simply states matter-of-factly what God did and what “God said...” Whether or not we accept the Biblical narrative of creation, it is God’s Word and, therefore, it is the truth.
Many people reject Biblical creation because they do not believe the Bible. People can choose to believe the Bible; or they can choose to reject it; or they can choose to question it. It is one thing to question based on a genuine desire to understand God’s Truth. But if the authority or accuracy of God’s Word is being questioned—well, that is something else altogether! Questioning the truth of God’s Word was a tactic Satan used in the Garden of Eden to deceive Eve (Genesis 3) —and sadly, he is still using that tactic today to sway the hearts and minds of many people.
As we look at Creation’s Detail in the coming blogs, we will explore each day of creation and observe the truths God provides us. He provides very interesting details. Until next time, continue to look in the book!
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