Light and Darkness

Studies in Genesis 1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 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. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (Gen 1:1-4 ESV)

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, there was darkness. From the words used in Genesis 1:1-4, creation was chaotic and dark. His first act after creating the heavens and the earth, while there was darkness, was to command the presence of light. From creating light He gave order to what was chaotic. Why would God not create with order?

We will use Scripture to understand what God is saying and implying in the first few chapters of Genesis. However, we will try to interpret the rest of Scripture based upon our understanding of Genesis, not Genesis based upon other Scripture. God uses words in Genesis to define what He has created. Thus, we are constrained to understand how the words are used in Genesis to understand how they are used in the rest of Scripture.

There are three words in Genesis 1:1-4 used also in Isaiah. They are “light,” “darkness” and “create,” which is used twice in this verse.  “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV). “Darkness” is literally without light and figuratively means misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. “Light” literally means illumination or the source of light or illumination. “Light” may also mean to learn, to know intellectually, to come to an understanding. “Create” is a verb and means to make. God created ex nihilo, out of nothing, all that is in the physical universe. He then formed from the stuff created all physical things.

I believe God set up creation in such a way as to help those created in His image to understand Him and the spiritual realm. He is not created but did create heaven or the spiritual world. Some of what we see in physical creation is a type, copy or illustration of a spiritual reality. We need to take care to not manufacture illustrations where there is none. Darkness and light have spiritual meaning as well as physical meaning

John tells us Jesus, the Word, created all there is in both the physical universe and in heaven, the spiritual realm. Only God, Himself, is uncreated.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Joh 1:1-5 ESV)

Darkness is not just a lack of light but a lack of order and understanding, that which is not conducive to life and growth. Light is not just illumination but knowledge and wisdom, intricate and defined order, that which encourages life. From the beginning of creation God worked according to a principle of love for and complete involvement in His creation throughout time and space, especially for those created in His image.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:13-17 ESV)


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