Monday, April 1, 2013

Genesis 1:3-5 God Separates Light and Darkness

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.
God saw that the light was good, and he 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."

Genesis 1:3-5 (NIV)

Day One:  God creates light.  Notice that God merely speaks, and light begins to exist.  This brings a huge difference into the creation.  I like this quotation from the NIV Study Bible comment on verse 3:

"Light is necessary for making God's creative works visible and life possible.
In the OT it is also symbolic of life and blessing."

Here are some verses which the commentary notes offer in support of this idea of 'creation by God's spoken word':

"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm."

Psalm 33:6,9 (NIV)

"Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.

 Psalm 148:5 (NIV)

"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command,
so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Hebrews 11:3 (NIV)

Some observations come to mind on these verses in Genesis 1:3-5:

People always debate whether the days of Genesis 1 were literal, 24 hour days as we know them now.  Some say that each of these days could actually be vastly longer.  I understand that sometimes this is done because people want to have vast stretches of time at creation to allow them the time [they think] for evolutionary processes to occur.  However, I don't agree, for at least two reasons:   #1  It seems an unnatural way to read this passage.  It seems obvious to me that to humans, when you say 'a day', you generally mean a 24-hour period of time, not millions of years.  For example, if you were to ask someone to pick you up from the airport in one day, would you be happy if they came back a million years later? [provided, of course that they would still be alive, which, actually, they wouldn't be.]  How about if they came back only one week later?  No. Still not good.  When we say 'a day', we mean 'a day'.  Well, in the Scriptures, I think that, for the most part, 'a day' means 'a day', too.

Oh, now we are going to have to discuss the 'my goodness, she is taking the bible literally' viewpoint, which would [they think] mean that I have abandoned all of my intellectual properties or become 'fanatical', or worse.  Well, as to 'literalness', I do appreciate the fact that sometimes the Scriptures make use of literary devices.  For example, when Jesus says 'I am the door,' he is not intending for us to believe that he has hinges.  Rather, the intent in that passage of Scripture is to indicate that Jesus is the way/access for us to get to heaven.  However, this passage in Genesis gives no indication that we are to read these verses in some 'other' manner.  Therefore, it seems that we should probably read the words in Genesis 1 with the normal understanding of them -- a day means a day -- unless we find some actual indication that we should not do so. 

Let me give you an example of  when we are not to take a passage literally.  In Solomon's Song of Songs, Solomon is extolling the beauty of his beloved wife, and he says these things about the woman:
"Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead." (chapter 4, verse 1)
"Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing." (chapter 4, verse 2)
"Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields,..." (chapter 4, verse 4)

Now, do you think that I think that Solomon is insulting his wife by saying that her hair reminds him of a flock of goats, that her teeth are like sheep, and that her neck is like a stone tower with shields hanging off of it?  Or do you think that perhaps we need to explore a bit about the context of this passage, and understand the culture within which it occurred?

These verses were intended to convey the thought (which we will certainly understand if we just read a little further in that passage) that, as Solomon states, "All beautiful you are, my darling; there is  no flaw in you."  Her hair doubtless tumbled down around her shoulders, her teeth were clean and even, and her tall, elegant neck likely sparkled with ornaments or jewelry [not soldiers' shields].  She would have understood that imagery, and not clobbered her husband with a frying pan.  So we do need to understand context and culture.

However, [and this is reason #2 for why I don't think that the 'day' meant more than 24 hours], we also need to remember that if God is who he claims to be, it would not be a problem for him to create things in a day, or in an instant, for that matter.  He is not stuck within the same limitations which you or I have -- constraints of time or space or ability.  In an instant, God can create a mature tree, or a mountain which looks like it has been there for  thousands or millions of years.

At times, there may be things which the Scripture says which we do not understand, or which seem unbelievable or impossible.  That should really not be all that surprising to us, unless we are arrogant enough to assume that we know everything, or have enough information to understand every single aspect of our world.  I think that it is fascinating, however, that there is not one single thing which the Scriptures say which has conclusively been proven incorrect.  Sometimes there are incidents which the unbeliever seizes upon and says, "Aha, look, here is a mistake!", but in time it is always proven that the skeptic, not the Scripture, is wrong.  Let me give one example of that:

In Luke 2:1-2, it speaks of a census which Caesar Augustus issued, where he called for a census to be taken of the entire Roman world.  Verse 2 of that passage says:

"(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius
was governor of Syria.)"

Luke 2:2 (NIV)
This census was the one which caused Joseph and his very pregnant wife Mary to have to travel all the way to Bethlehem to register, for they were both of the house of David.  [This also was the circumstances which God used so that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy.]  Skeptics had insisted that this must be an error in Scripture, for history at the time seemed to indicate that Quirinius did not rule as governor until a bit later.  Therefore, the skeptics were having a field day, claiming that Christians were just trying to wrestle the facts of history to fit their own agenda.  There was a census, but it was understood by these skeptics as having taken place after Jesus had been born.  However, later it was discovered that Quirinius had ruled for two terms, first in 6-4 BC and then in AD 6-9, and that a census had taken place in both terms.  [Acts 5:37 refers to the second census.]  So, once again, Scripture was correct, and the theories of the skeptic, although seemingly reasonable and 'proven' by the facts of history, turned out to be just part of the picture, so they had come to the wrong conclusion.  Let me just stop here a second and say that I am not intending to mock at anyone's attempt to search for the truth.  I am rejoicing, not at the skeptic's error, but in the fact that the Scriptures are no ordinary book, and God's Word will be proven right over and over again.  In fact, that is one of the main reasons I write this blog -- so that searchers for the truth can ask any honest question of the Scriptures which they may have, and that they may find the truth for which they are searching.

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