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Let There Be Lights

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God.  The title for the lesson is “Let there be Lights”.  And our primary text is taken from Genesis chapter 1 verses 14 through 19 which I will include in the body of our lesson.

     Think about it how could such a myriad of stars and planets, etc. that exist in the universe have evolved out of nothing?  Moreover, how could they have gotten scattered across such a vast expanse of space?  And how could they have uniformly been placed in apparent systematic orbits?

     Our text in Genesis chapter 1 verses 14 through 19 reveals the answer that the God of the Bible created them on the fourth day of his ingenious and marvelous creation.  God needed only to speak them all into existence.  Almighty God is the source and originator of the universe.

     John MacArthur writes: “Their vastness, their complexity, their beauty, and their sheer number all reveal the glory and the wisdom of an all-powerful Creator.  And they remind us how amazing it is that such a great Creator would lavish his grace and favor on the human race.”

     Consider how the psalmist David celebrated this in Psalm chapter 8 verses 1 through 4 “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.  From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

     For God to create the heavens including the moon and the stars it was just finger work.  As overwhelming as the universe is, God is infinitely greater.  And the human race is only an infinitesimal speck in all the vastness of the earth.  Yet in God’s creative masterplan, the human race is central.  Humankind alone is made in the very image or likeness of God.  This includes that humans have a spirit, intellect, creativity and originally a moral sense humankind was good and sinless.

     Notice that the entire creation account is revealed from an earthy perspective emphasizing as central planet earth.  Even the creation of the stars and moons is recounted from an earthly perspective so that the earth’s sun, actually a star, and moon appear as two great lights, whereas the vast galaxies of stars and moons appear as lesser luminaries, barely even considered.

     Genesis chapter 1 verse 14A “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky.”  Everything God creates from day four on is finishing work, as God fills and populates that which was formless and empty.  So, the first thing to be filled was the vast expanse of the heavens.  Everything that God created was instantaneously done.  God’s creation is not a process; God originated it and it was always something God himself completed. 

Moreover, what our omnipotent God created and completed has a complexity that staggers the mind

      Notice carefully in verse 14 “Let there be lights” – plural.  On the first day God stressed “Let there be light” – singular.  So, light energy was activated first, but on the fourth day God created a great body burning in complex chemical and nuclear reactions to serve as light giver to the earth.  The other “light” in this context of Genesis chapter 1 verses 14 through 19, is the earth’s moon which is actually reflected light not energy or light of its own.

     In Genesis chapter 1 verse 14B says “to separate the day from the night and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.”  So, God created the earth’s sun and moon not just for light but to serve as markers for signs, seasons, days and years.

These signs would include, for example:

Regarding “to make seasons” it is the rotation of the earth in relation to its sun and moon that determines the seasons.  Regarding “days and years” this applies to calendars used by mankind.

     So, the existing light created by God on day one was allocated by God to the earth’s sun and tempered specifically to the needs of plant, animal and human life by day four.

Also, God filled the cosmos with luminaries or stars in multiple galaxies, yet the focus remains central to planet earth.

    Genesis chapter 1 and verse 15 “and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.”

  1. C. Leupold writes: “When now verse 15 says distinctly that these luminaries are to be ‘in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth’ this plainly indicates that from the time of this creative work onward all light that the earth receives is to be mediated through the luminaries.”

Genesis chapter 1 verse 16 “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

In this verse for the first time we have explicitly revealed ‘two great lights’ as for as earth is concerned and how they appear to mankind.  So, mankind was to know how important these ‘two great lights’ are to planet earth and how they originated.  “He also made the stars” is almost like a footnote.  This would include all the stars, the luminaries, throughout all the galaxies.

     John MacArthur writes: “From our perspective, it appears that the stars are fixed in space.  They are not.  They move vast distances at incredible speeds.  But because the distances are so great, from the viewpoint of earth the stars appear to be in the same place all the time.  Mariners for thousands of years have been able to chart their course by the stars because they don’t appear to be moving.  But they are moving.  Even the sun has a circuit.

Psalm 19 and verse 6 “It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”

    And the entire solar system moves with it, in constant orbit around the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  Astronomers using radio telescopes recently calculated that it would take the earth about 226 million years to complete a full orbit of the galactic center.  That is exactly the path God designed the earth to travel and it all began in a moment, when he created all the stars and set them in motion with a single word.” 

    Genesis chapter 1 verses 17 through 19 “God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning —the fourth day.”

    John MacArthur continues: “What had been a disembodied blanket of diffused supernatural light in Genesis chapter 1 and verse 3 was superseded by a universe full of light-bearing bodies.  The alternation between day and night continued, but now heavenly bodies provided the varying degrees of light.

    The language is picturesque in verse 18: “to rule (or govern) the day…to rule (or govern) the night.  We’re not to think this signifies anything similar to the pagan idea that the heavenly bodies themselves are deities.  There are no such mythological or allegorical features anywhere in the Genesis account.  Although it speaks of the sun ‘ruling’ the day and the moon ‘ruling’ the night, the imagery is not at all like that of the ancient Babylonian or Sumerian accounts of creation, where the sun and moon were personified and made into gods or godlike beings – deities that supposedly governed the details of life on earth.  The Biblical account has nothing in common with such fanciful pagan notions. 

    Instead, the Genesis account speaks of how the heavenly bodies govern our days, nights, months, and years, and thus they control our life patterns.  The heavenly bodies are presented to us as created objects absent any personality traits and devoid of any of the trappings of deity.  They ‘rule’ only in a figurative sense.  In other words, their light overseas the earth and governs its passage from day to night.

    The sun, of course, radiates light, while the moon merely reflects light.  But from an earthly perspective, both are light sources.  The Genesis account does not aim at a scientific explanation of how the moon gives light.  It simply reveals that the divine purpose for the moon was to provide illumination by night, and that purpose is perfectly fulfilled through the reflective light cast by the moon.

    The sun and the moon are fascinating bodies.  The sun is an immense ball of flame.  It’s diameter measures 865,000 miles, which is about 109 times the diameter of the earth.  Its volume is 1.3 million times greater than that of the earth, meaning that if the sun were hollow, lit would take more than a million earth-sized objects to fill it.  If the sun were the size of a bowling ball, the earth by comparison would look like a poppy seed.  Most scientists believe the sun is composed of 70% hydrogen, 28% helium, 1.5% carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, and less that .5% other elements.  The surface temperature of the sun is estimated at about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and scientists believe the temperature at its core is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

    As stars go, the sun is only small to medium-sized.  Astronomers classify it as a yellow dwarf.  By comparison, many stars, known as supergiant’s, are as much as 1,000 times larger than our sun.  The distance from the earth to the sun is about 93 million miles.  At that distance, it takes about 8 ½ minutes for light to travel from the sun to the earth.  So, the light you see at the first glimpse of a 6 AM sunrise is light that left the sun when it was about 5:51 AM at your location on the earth.

    The sun’s brightness remains fairly constant, but occasionally eruptions flare up on its surface.  Dark spots, known as sunspots, also appear at times and seem to rotate with the sun’s surface.  These variations are not visible to the naked eye, but they can cause dramatic weather changes and electrical storms on earth, as well as storm like conditions in space.  Solar flares are the largest known explosions in the solar system.  A single flare of typical size is equivalent to several million-megaton hydrogen bombs.  The energy sent out from such explosions can play havoc with power systems on earth.

    Yet the sun maintains an amazing balance of light and energy that is perfect to sustain life on earth.  If the brightness or temperature of the sun were increased or decreased by only a few percentage points either way life as we know it would soon end on earth.

    The moon is also an immense body.  Its diameter is more than one-fourth that of the earth. And is larger than what was considered a planet – that is Pluto.  Its surface temperature varies enormously compared to that of the earth.  Depending on whether it is in sunlight or darkness, the moon’s surface can be as hot as 215 degrees Fahrenheit or as cold as -243 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The moon circles the earth like a far-off satellite in a slightly elliptical orbit that varies from 221,000 miles at its closest point to 252,000 miles at its furthest point.  The moon completes a full orbit around the earth every 27.3 days, traveling a distance of almost a million and a half miles each month.

    The same side of the moon always faces the earth, and therefore if you stand on the moon, the earth is always at the same place in the sky.  The lunar phases we see from the earth are caused by the position of the sun relative to the moon.  The moon appears full when the side of the moon that faces the earth is also facing the sun.  As the sun’s position moves out of alignment with the earth, the amount of the moon that appears in shadow increases.

    The moon has virtually no atmosphere, so there is no diffusion of the reflected light at the moon’s surface.  Standing on the moon, the sky appears black, even in bright daylight.  And viewing the moon through a telescope, finds its features may be seen from earth with amazing clarity.

    The moon, like the sun, helps keep the perfect balance of earth’s life-sustaining environment.  Ocean tides are caused by the moon’s gravitational pull.  High tides align with the moon on both sides of the earth.  The earth bulges slightly, both toward and away from the moon, and this affects the water levels of the oceans.  As the earth rotates on its axis, those bulges move across the face of the earth.  That is why there are two high and low tides each day.  The size of the tides varies depending on how close the moon is to earth and where it lines up with the sun.  The sun’s gravity also has an effect on earth’s tidal ebb and flow.  These tides are vital to the balance of earth’s ecosystems.

    Because the earth is tilted on its axis, the sun’s rays strike different parts of the earth at different angles throughout the year.  That produces the seasons that are so critical for the rejuvenation of life, the growing of crops, and the flourishing of the earth.  It is all in perfect balance and works to bless humanity with a variety of climates and weather patterns.  The perfection with which these all operate is one of the great proofs that they were designed by a wise and gracious Creator.

    Think of it: the rotation of the earth on its axis is what determines a 24-hour day.  The moon’s orbits around the earth determine our months.  And the earth’s revolutions around the sun determine our years.  Interestingly, there is nothing in the celestial bodies that determines a week.  And yet humanity universally numbers the calendar by weeks.  Where did that come from?  The creation week of Genesis chapter 1.  It was the period of time in which God created the universe and rested or ceased from creating and thus ever since, it has governed how humanity marks time!”

    Finally, consider the words of C. A. Lewis, defender of the faith: “If the solar system was brought about by accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident.  And the whole evolution of man was an accident to.  If so, then all our present thoughts are accidents, the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms.  And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s.  But if their thoughts are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true?  We see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.”  Very wise words.

     What should we expect to be more reasonable, accidents or our awesome God as Creator?

 

     David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33