Creation Story Day 1: “Let There be Light!”

The first day of Creation, according to the Genesis account in the Bible, is all about Light. Light and darkness.

"Let the be light" with image of sun rising through trees

“God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw the light, and saw that it was good. God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ There was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

Genesis 1:3-5 (WEB public domain)

It’s hard for us to imagine a time when what we see around us wasn’t here. The earth, space, matter and even time.

Scientists who study cosmology (the nature of the universe) are divided on whether the universe had a beginning. But many believe that it did, based on how the galaxies are moving away from each other at great speed.

It was at this early beginning point, says our Bible, that “the earth was formless [Hebrew tohu—emptiness, confusion, unreality] and empty [bohu—void, emptiness].” (Genesis 1:2)

What was the first thing God created? Light.

Here are a few thoughts I have about this first day of Creation and Light:

Light Came Before the Sun

Isn’t it interesting that God created light on Day 1 but didn’t create our sun or any other stars until Day 4?

What that tells us is that this light He created wasn’t based on anything material. He didn’t need a sun to create light. He didn’t need molecules and gases.

bright sunset over a lake and forest
If the sun is so blinding, what is God’s light like?!

We humans are limited to material things for light. We need flashlights with batteries, or light bulbs with electricity, or a fire or candles.

But light was already a spiritual reality before any of these material things were made.

We know from several different scriptures that light is part of God’s nature. Here are just three of them (you can do an online search for more):

  • “Behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth was illuminated with His glory.” (Ezekiel 43:2)
  • “This is the message which we have heard from Him [Jesus] and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
  • “The city [called the New Jerusalem] has no need for the sun or moon to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb [the risen Jesus].” (Revelation 21:23)

God was light before He created physical light. It emanates from Him, shines from Him.

So one way to look at it is: One of the first things God did was to speak some His own light into the physical realm, as the foundation of the rest of His creation.

Is That All?

This is what I’ve always understood: All God did on Day 1 was to speak light into existence and then separate that light from the darkness.

When you look at the long list of things He created on the other days, we may think: “Is that all?” Just light?

But in doing a bit of research, I read this article from Apologetics Press that teaches the first verse of Genesis 1 is part of Day 1, too—it’s not simply a summation of the whole process: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” etc., and culminates with verse 5’s “evening and morning, the first day.”

That makes sense to me. So I guess the title of this blog should be: Creation Story Day 1: Let There be Light, Heavens and Earth! But I’ll keep the shorter one.

canoeist paddling into the sunrise
Jesus’ promise to His children is the “light of life” (photo courtesy of Jamie Mayes)

Light and Darkness as a Biblical Theme

After creating light on Day 1, God separated the light from the darkness into night and day (again, even before the sun was around to set and rise).

The Hebrew word translated light in Genesis 1:3 is ore—illumination, luminary, light. The word translated day is yom, which is used for both a literal day and a figurative one, a space of time. It refers to light. And the word translated night is layil, which refers to darkness.

Light and darkness continue to be a major theme throughout the rest of the Bible. It’s especially used as a way to illustrate good (light) and evil (darkness).

Again, there are many verses I could list, but I’ll stick to these three here:

  • “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness…” (Isaiah 5:20)
  • “…Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
  • For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:8)
clouds in sunlight over the sea
Clouds can block the light at times, but never permanently

Light and Darkness in Our Own Lives

Some people are wired to be at their most productive during the night hours. That’s not what we’re talking about when we say to live in the light, not the darkness.

We mean spiritual light and darkness.

And who defines that? Well, if the God of the Bible is real, He defines light and darkness. Good and evil. He created all this, so He makes the rules that govern it.

The story of the Bible is, essentially:

  • How humankind turned from light to darkness…
  • What God did about it to enable us to turn from darkness back to light.

According to the Bible there are two different participants in the story for each one of us: Jesus and the individual.

Jesus did His part already by coming to earth as a human, showing people what the Kingdom of God looks like, taking on the darkness of sin on the cross, and defeating darkness once and for all through His resurrection.

As it says in 1 Peter 2:9, He “called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Your part, my part, is to believe He did this, accept it and allow His light to change us. To “…walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). That’s a lifelong journey.

two women walking on a paved trail towards the bright rising sun
When we walk in the light we can see where we’re going!

And thankfully we have the help of the Holy Spirit to do this.

Just as God spoke light on Day 1 of creation, so He continues to offer His light to us every day of our lives.

That’s very good news!

Here’s more…