“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
Here, at the beginning, is the creation of light. Yet people sometimes stumble at this revelation. How can there be light three days before the sun is created? (Genesis 1:14-19). This, however, is at least part of the point of this passage.
How striking this narrative would have been for the Israelites who read Moses’ description of the Creation in the first place! It is utterly different than the sun-worshiping pagan mentality that surrounded them. They, like we, were doubtless often tempted to think of the sun as the source of light, rather than thinking of God as the source of the sun. The fact that we wrestle with this in our generation reminds us that, in our own modernist and scientific way, we have a tendency to be sun-worshipers as well.
We tend to think that light and life come from the sun, rather than from the God who created the Sun!
Jumping into the Creation account and asking skeptically, “How could light exist before the sun, or vegetation exist before the sun?” is to utterly miss the point of this entire narrative. It is like people who doubt the historicity of the book of Jonah because a man can’t survive inside a sea creature for three days. That’s the whole point! That’s why Jesus calls it a “sign,” a miracle.
Similarly, the point of the Creation narrative is that God is the source of all life, the foundation of all existence — God doesn’t need the sun to shine light on the earth or to keep plants alive. In addition to the point just mentioned, consider the following biblical truths about the God of the Bible:
- He doesn’t need Pharaoh’s permission to bring His people out of Egyptian slavery.
- He doesn’t need a fire extinguisher to save the three Hebrews from the furnace.
- He doesn’t need modern medicine to bring Lazarus back from the dead.
- He doesn’t need the sun to illuminate Heaven for all eternity.
- God doesn’t even need a world of humans to elect some humans to salvation in His Son Jesus Christ.
God is not one with, or dependent on, His Creation.
How arrogant of us to think that only we modern, enlightened, technologically advanced people see the problem of light or vegetation without the sun. As though back in Moses’ day people were going around wondering where the daylight came from or were trying to grow plants in subterranean caves. Of course, the sun is needed for light and vegetation to exist! But the point of Genesis 1 is that God is needed for the sun to exist.
A good exercise for every Christian living in the secular Western world is to go and read Jesus’ Olivet discourse in Matthew before they read Genesis 1. There we are reminded that it is God who will undo and unravel this cursed Creation in the end with the result, the sun will go dark, and the stars will drop from heaven, along with the sky being rolled back like a scroll to make room for Jesus’ triumphant return. Do you think any modernist Christian will be asking in that day, as they watch the Son of God descend with crowns on His head, “But how is Jesus’ robe still shining white after the sun has gone dark?”
The same God who will bring it all to an end one day is the God who started it all on the first day—and He purposefully does it in a way that shows He is the source of all existence. The Bible says that on the first day God said, “Let there be light”… and there was light. No sun, no moon, no stars yet; but there is light because God said that’s the way He wanted it!