Ch 1:3-6 “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. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” ESV
And so we move on to day one, which though most translations use the phraseology “first day” (as LXX suggests by “ημερα μια“, it would more appropriately and fitting to the Hebrew text to say day one or one day as shown by אֶחָֽד׃ . Again, it is important we don’t overlook these nuances, and even more important to understand these texts on their own account, lest I am accused of imposing NT interpretation of the Pentateuch onto the OT, when the OT speaks perfectly clear by itself on account of the Trinity (as you will realise my incessant quoting of more OT than NT texts). We will perhaps look at the nuances in later verses or other entries.
Now, it is of no coincidence that Day 1/Day 4, Day 2/Day 5 and Day 3/Day 6 have serious correlations. For the sake of convenience (and much glory to God for using Dan Hames over at theologynetwork.org for putting up this valuable resource):
|1||Light and dark, night and day||4||Stars created; sun and moon to govern night and day|
|2||Heaven (i.e. the sky) separated from water||5||Water filled with fish etc, sky filled with birds|
|3||Earth (i.e. land) created, vegetation created||6||Earth filled with animals, man crated and told to fill the earth|
And we can see, Day 1 – 3 concern God’s formations whilst the latter Day 4 – 6 concerns God filling these formations and foundations layer by layer. No doubt, the latter three witness to the former three respectively, which ultimately teach the doctrine of choice (light vs. dark/deep, waters of judgment vs. dry land, tree of life vs. death); and secondly, God taught the Israelites not to worship the sun or the moon and the witnesses in Day 4-6, but what they witness to (Deut 4:19/17:3).
Let us today look specifically at Day 1 and Day 4 and the gospel sermon which our God preaches through creation (Psalm 19:1-6).
We see that God does not finish with the light-darkness dichotomy offered in v. 2. — where in v.2 we see a fine distinction between ‘darkness’ and the ‘deep’ (by the interesting phrasing of the darkness being “over” the “face” of the deep), now God shifts our attention away from the deep and God’s first Word was, “Let there be light”. Although darkness was there first, it did not immediately imply that light did not exist — no, God IS the everlasting light. Why withhold the light? Why show the darkness first, and then light? Again, it is within God’s predetermination that darkness will necessarily exist first as a display of our inevitable rebellion against God by choosing the tree of the law over the tree of grace, and lastly eradicated by this overwhelming light which cannot mingle with darkness. God had to separate this light from darkness, and this is of course worth looking at, without relying on our secular society-sculpted senses to come to the conclusion that light immediately means good, why exactly should light be good? Are they a dichotomy in opposition with one another, or has God complete control over light’s dominion over darkness?
Let us first look at “light”,לָאֹור֙ (meaning illumination or (concrete) luminary (in every sense, including lightning, happiness, etc.) — bright, clear, + day, light (-ning), morning, sun), or φως.
We can immediately note that this light was controllable by God and so was this darkness – there is no indication that this burst of light immediately overwhelmed the darkness (though it inevitably will), but God controlled the light and separated from darkness, much like what the Israelites had experienced pre-exodus in Egypt (Exodus 10:23). Light, having 13 times in Genesis 1 as opposed to darkness which occurred 4 times, is also often attributed to fire, the sun, the moon, the stars and lightning, all five giving off bright light in different circumstances and different distinctions and representations. No doubt this is when we should move from God’s formation on Day 1 to God’s filling on Day 4 to separate the evening and the morning:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day“. – Genesis 1:14-19
Just as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:41 that “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory”, and that the skies proclaims His glory (Psalm 19) and the “like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies” (Psalm 89:37) followed invariably by the rather pensive Selah.
So what exactly do these different ‘lights’ witness to? Just an overview:
For light = fire, it is again not without doubt that God displays his control of the burning nature of light through the witnessing of the burning bush (Exodus 3:5), the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21), the lampstand of pure gold with oil (the Spirit) for the light (Exodus 25:37/27:20/35:8/35:14/35:28/39:37; Leviticus 24:2; Numbers 4:16/8:2 – with the seven lamps giving light in front of the lampstand); the fire from the heavens (1 Kings 18:38), the tongues of fire (Acts 2:3); Revelation 4:5 – the seven torches of fire which are the seven spirits of God. No doubt these different references in the Pentateuch and Revelation can in themselves attest to the Spirit’s work as oil (more on this when it becomes even more relevant) and fire giving off light.
Then we have light as lightning, Exodus 19:16/20:18 (lightning on the third day with a trumpet blast when the Angel of the Lord meets God the Father), Psalm 18:14, Luke 17:24 (“for as lightning flashes & lights up the sky from one side to another, so will the Son of Man be in his day”), and of course Revelation 4:5 (“from the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumbling and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning 7 torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God”). This lightning, having been directly attributed to the Son of Man in his day and when the Son of Man met his Father on Mt. Sinai on the third day, just as the Son of Man completed his mission as incarnate Christ on the third day by his resurrection and ascension, so also lightning will be a symbol and a witness to Christ’s flash-like coming which will shock and awe you – something terrifying for the reprobate, but a pleasing surprise for the circumcised in the heart.
But there is more to this lightning; in Ezekiel 1 the four-faced living creatures had the “appearance like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.” (v.13-14) Furthermore, the “glittering sword” made of lightning is taken up for slaughter, for the great slaughter (v. 10, 15 and 28). What coincidence is this to Satan falling like lightning from heaven? (Luke 10:18 ) There is of course no coincidence except that Satan, the Destroyer, the Deceiver, the first sinner, fell from his guardian role in Eden (Ezekiel 28), the garden of God, and is subject to the slaughter of the sword polished to flash like lightning (Ezekiel 21:10), the sword held by a Lord whose appearance, also, is like lightning (Daniel 10:6).
This lightning, though it witnesses to the particular event of the Son’s fulfillment of the final coming, is however different to the sun’s witness, where the Lord is described as the sun in Psalm 84:11, and that Christ himself as portrayed by Solomon in his Song in chapter 6:10 (“who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?”), and that whenever the sun or the light is extinguished a dreadful thing occurs (Gen 15 – God’s prophecy of Israel’s bondage in Egypt/Exodus 10:15 – the plague of darkness/Joshua 10:12 – the sun standing still at Gibeon, the moon in the valley of Aijalon). So the sun is like the bridegroom Christ:
Psalm 19:4-6: “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” KJV
My preference for the KJV here is more specifically to do with the more faithful translation of the word “tent” used in the ESV which is better translated as “tabernacle”/ אֹ֥הֶל or “dwelling place” as in Green’s translation. For the framework of the world is a tabernacle set for Christ, the sun of righteousness:
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. – Malachi 4:2
He, as the sun/Son, rules not just any day but the Resurrection Day, to come out of his chamber, the third heaven and throne to dwell with us, and rejoice as a strong man running a race to the destination where he has prepared the Marriage Supper for the Bride, the church. Which I think is the best time now to turn to the lesser lights, the moon and the stars.
Moon and Stars
What to say of them? Like the sun which rules the day and the moon to rule the night, so this moon is a witness of the everlasting light even in times of darkness, and the stars witnessing to Abraham’s countless descendants which God will not fail to utilise to illustrate particular prophecies as in Joseph’s dreams. Yet we should not fail to notice the absence of the sun in the night, the sun which gives off the true light where the moon is but a copy, a shadow, a temporary steward ruler, a representation of the true light in the period of darkness. For what other stewards are there in the current times of darkness other than the visible body of Christ, the universal church? So also, the woman clothed with the sun (Christ), the moon (church) under her feet as anchor, on her head a crown of 12 stars (the 12 sons of Jacob) will bear the child which God will protect (Revelation 12) – and likewise every Christian is clothed with Christ’s lambskin with the church as our fellowship and on our head the privilege of being spiritually counted among the 12 tribes of circumcised Israel.
Yet the stars seem to hide a secret from our blind eyes which can only be unmasked by those filled with the Spirit – E.M. Bullinger aptly puts in his “Witness of the Stars” in a further exposition of Psalm 19:
“For more than 2500 yrs the world was without a written revelation from God. The question is, Did God leave Himself without a witness? The question is answered very positively by the written Word that He did not. In Rom 1:19 it is declared that, “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”. But how was God known?… We are told by the Holy Spirit in Rom 10:18., having stated in v. 17 that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word (the thing spoken, sayings) of God,” He asks, “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily”. And we may ask, How have they heard? The answer follows – “Their sound went into all the earth and their words (teaching/message/instruction) unto the ends of the world.” What words? What instruction? Whose message? Whose teaching? There is only one answer, and that is, the heavens.”
And so Bullinger continues in his book to expose the witness of the stars to the complete gospel presentation offered in ancient constellations which God himself named (Job 9:9/38:31; Amos 5:8), an analysis of the very star over Bethlehem which prophesied the birth of the Christ; these very constellations and signs and seasons which many secular astrologists adopted and made mere carbon copies and representations which, rather than pointing to the truth of Christ’s redemption, has been twisted to become horoscopes of a Satanic self-seeking nature.
Light > Darkness
And finally, the general meaning of light, in contrast to darkness. In Job we see light being referred to 38 times and darkness 37, the latter referring to the gates of death and the gates of deep darkness and times when the light is disturbed and where the east wind (the Spirit) is scattered, an illustration of the destructive and disciplinary side of the Spirit (Job 38:17/38:24; Ezekiel 17:10/19:12/27:26). Job, being one of the first books written (possibly the oldest?) in the Bible is not short of this light/darkness dichotomy, and he fully knows that the light is, as the Psalmists agree, his very salvation.
Therefore, from the OT we naturally come to the exegetical meaning of John 1:1-18:
1(A) In the beginning was(B) the Word, and(C) the Word was with God, and(D) the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3(E) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4(F) In him was life,[a] and(G) the life was the light of men. 5(H) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6There was a man(I) sent from God, whose name was(J) John. 7He came as a(K) witness, to bear witness about the light,(L) that all might believe through him. 8(M) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9(N) The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet(O) the world did not know him. 11He came to(P) his own,[b] and(Q) his own people[c](R) did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him,(S) who believed in his name,(T) he gave the right(U) to become(V) children of God, 13who(W) were born,(X) not of blood(Y) nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And(Z) the Word(AA) became flesh and(AB) dwelt among us,(AC) and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of(AD) grace and(AE) truth. 15((AF) John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said,(AG) ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) 16And from(AH) his fullness we have all received,(AI) grace upon grace. 17For(AJ) the law was given through Moses;(AK) grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18(AL) No one has ever seen God;(AM) the only God,[d] who is at the Father’s side,[e](AN) he has made him known.
So what does this mean?
Now John is by no means saying something entirely new as I’ve been attempting to lay down the OT saints’ knowledge of the meaning of the lights in every respect. Every Christian (Old and New) has always known that the light of the sun/moon/stars etc are by no means objects of worship in themselves, but are representations of not only the generic Trinity but specific functions and persons of the Trinity. It simply does not make sense to assume that the New Testament believers had any more knowledge of Christ than the Old (OT saints), when the Old have expressed so deeply (and sometimes with even more depth than John here, who only really states the obvious meaning of ‘light’ in a Sunday-school manner) the truths of the Trinitarian nature of God albeit not as a written doctrine a la First Council of Nicaea but an accepted truth nonetheless!
Now we can come to the meaty stuff rather than crazy (and sometimes tedious, though edifying) wordplay. The light entered the world as the first thing that was declared as “good”, and everything before that was mere desolation! And so also, the one good thing that this fallen world, this dark world, will ever experience is the light that entered the world. So here, the Father himself is prophesying to the incarnation of his Son as the Christ, and that is the first thing he says to his creation. “And God said, “Let there be light”” – God did not even think darkness deserving his words, and his first words are words concerning the true light of the world (John 8:12/ Matthew 5) which all lightning, fire, stars, moon, sun prophesies to – the light that will overcome darkness for good in Revelation 22:5 where night will be no more, where Genesis 1:2, Exodus 10, Matthew 27:45 and of course, the prophecy of the judgment Day (Matthew 24:29). The theme of darkness before the judgment and light bursting forth, of the plague of darkness before the killing of the firstborn to save the faithful, of the darkness falling on Mt. Moriah before the Father’s wrath on his firstborn, and of the darkness engulfing the world as everything melts away, leaving the judgment Day of light and fire a comfort for the saved but a terror for the unsaved.
And so also, only by His light can we see light (Psalm 36:9), and that all things are made through Christ for Christ (in support of everything being cut-down/bara from Christ @ Genesis 1:1), and that Christ has been the chosen mediation of God’s glory as shown here in Day 1 which Day 4 witnesses to – that Christ is the very mediator, and that we are guided by his mediating light which all lights look towards and that we attract to it like moths (or more biblically speaking, like sheep to a shepherd). Why does the light gain the privilege of being the first thing that God says? Because it is all that the Lord wants to say to us!
Now, in spite of what I’ve said before, it is also important to see the distinction between what the true Light witnesses to in comparison with the incarnation in itself. For, at most, the Light preaches a sermon of the inevitable conquer over darkness, but the revelation comes at the very essence of Christ’s victory at the Cross.
Christ’s incarnation can be seen summarily as his “coming into His own creation in a much more intimate way, as the Word that resides in them [the people], the light that dwells in them and enlightens them, chases away all their darkness such that they comprehend the light and are not overcome by the darkness… [thus giving] them life eternal” (Dev Menon’s talk on John 1:1-18). However, Dev notes the distinction between Christ as a tabernacle among them, and Christ on the cross. Indeed, Christ’s incarnation was akin to the clouded glory as shown in the past through the Tabernacle and the Temple, yet even the Tabernacle and Temple had to be destroyed and rebuilt. Nay, God knows that these physical foundations are merely dusty rubble in comparison the eternal temple in Ezekiel 43. But the pattern of destroying and raising the temple was something proclaimed fully on the Cross! Christ’s glory was hidden at incarnation and not fully understood, but Light was fully poured out onto darkness at the Cross when the Son of God died! Here, Dev states:
Even in the gospels, whenever Jesus talks about the Word of God, He refers to Himself as the seed, the representation of the one sent from the eternal tree of life to die for all so that all may have new life. You can’t see anything revealed in the seed per se, but when the seed dies and gives new life, all is revealed. The Word of the Lord is always associated with the formation and building up of the church, the new creation through the cross of Christ through revealing the Father to us! Through the cross, Christ shouts out everything of Who God is, and that results in the creation of life, the building of the church, the destruction of the old and the re-creation of the new. Life happens when we receive the Word and the Father is revealed to us. On the cross, Christ’s blood shouts out a better Word to us. On the cross we hear everything about who God is, the fullness of grace and truth, the fullness of His faithfulness and steadfast love, in that we have received the fullness of that grace, verse 16, the grace that replaces grace, the grace that builds on grace, that ever new grace, grace and truth that the law would never claim. That Word of God that was from the beginning is only at the cross fully expressed. Like the ark of the covenant that was lifted up, the Word of God is shouted out at the cross. Everything is shouted out at the cross, we hear the Word, “Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani: My God, my God why have you forsaken Me”, yet “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, “It is finished”, “Receive my Spirit” and countless other testaments that are phrased for us throughout Scripture, all clearly spoken at the cross, demanding that the world take notice of this Word, and finally see “This is Your God”. There we see the Logos of everything, the reason for all creation, displayed fully, finally and perfectly at the cross.
Finally, we know the Word sent from heaven is not for the heavens, as we can see that the heavens are given the opportunity of being filled with the lights as witnesses to The Light – and so the Word, the true Light of lights, is for the earth – the male light ( לָאֹור ), and the male heavens, speaking to the female terra/earth. And why should we not be surprised that everything on earth, that men and beast, should not only praise but submit to the Lord, just as the husband is the head of the wife, as the Son is the head of the church, and God (Father) is the head of the Son (1 Cor 11)? This is no post-fall hierarchy of women desiring after men and men ruling over women we are speaking of, but a truth of intra-Trinitarian relationship proclaimed from the very anchor shown in Genesis 1:1-6, 14-19 thus far, pre-fall, fully glorious to God’s nature and functions as Trinity!
Thus we conclude that however, we are still waiting for the Judgment Day, the resurrection Day, when all nights will be vanquished, all darknesses will be gone, all sleeps will be pointless, all stars, moon, sun and heavens and earth will fade away and we are left with the new heavens and earth, the light which shines in Zion. And this light-darkness dichotomy creates in us a choice – a choice to understand what the lights witness to – a choice to understand that light will inevitably conquer darkness, as the evening is engulfed by the morning – a choice of either the tree of life or the tree of death – as we will inevitably wake up even after our death-sleep whether as Christian or non-Christian, but that we should remain in the eternal Light shown so fully on the cross. And only by His death, resurrection and ascension can we now be clothed by His lambskin, royal robe, his light and not be cast into the gates of hell and darkness and the lake of fire (the fire no longer representing the Spirit or God’s presence), a punishment awaiting not only the fallen angels, Satan but also the non-Christian.