Week of Jan. 3

The Importance of Good Light

Read: Genesis 1-2; Luke 1

“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.”
Genesis 1:3-4, ESV


It seems very likely that Genesis 1-11 represents one of the most familiar portions of the Bible. Nearly all people have heard about Adam and Eve, the temptation and fall into sin, the Flood, and the tower of Babel. Familiarity with this part of the Bible certainly does not equate to unity among people as to how we should approach it and apply it to our lives! Some dismiss these chapters as little more than myths and fairy tales while others believe it to contain both good science and truthful history. It comes as no surprise, then, that the creation account has been hotly debated.

Quite frankly, as John Newport reasons, it is unfortunate when biblical authority and reliability are mistakenly extended to the technical realm of scientific explanation. We need to be clear about the purposes of the Bible. Dr. Newport wrote, “There are two primary purposes for which the bible is inspired. The first purpose is to provide understanding of the salvation which is provided through faith in Christ. The second purpose is equipping the faithful for a life of good works” (Life’s Ultimate Questions, 131). It should go without saying that the New Testament and early Christian writers relied upon this portion of the Old Testament in the formulation of Christian doctrine, so we need to understand what Moses intended when he penned these chapters (cf. EOT). We will focus our attention today on the opening verses of the Bible as recorded in Genesis 1.

Let’s See What the Bible Says

Make no mistake, the New Testament holds that God is Creator and Redeemer and, as such, has revealed himself fully in his Son Jesus Christ. This God, who is known as “John’s Logos,” has become flesh and lived right here among us (John 1:14)! The “Word” is known by his relationship “with God and also his relationship with all things as their source” (cf. John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17). Jesus, the “Word” explains God to us (John 1:18). Genesis 1-2 points forward to what we read in the gospels and they, in turn, reach back to God’s creation of the universe.

Are you like me and marvel that the God of the Bible speaks to his creation? The very first pages of Scripture introduce God as the God who speaks, “Let there be. . .and it was so” (1:3, 7). God not only speaks to creation, but he interacts with it (Genesis 2:15-16). Notice that there is no second-guessing what God says. His words are specific, practical, and state his will. When God speaks, his word produces its desired results. He speaks and creation responds. He also names the parts of creation which leaves no doubt to the mastery of his creative word. Since he names his creatures, God’s word “authenticates their existence and demonstrates his superiority” (NAC). In the case of human creation, the majestic and powerful and authoritative word of God created us and instilled within us innate dignity (1:26-27). Therefore, how we respond to God is important for how we fare in life.

The opening words of the Bible serve to remind us that our existence is framed by time and place (Genesis 1:1-2) We all locate ourselves by beginnings, when we are born, and endings, when we die. The fact that we believe God created us gives witness to his superiority and our finitude. In Ashlock-speak, “He is God, and we ain’t!” The glory of the creation account is that God has condescended to enter time and space and that we may experience him personally.

I need to offer something more for us to ponder today. God’s word bursts into the primitive darkness and gives birth to a new cosmic order (1:3). Notice that the “light” has its source in God himself and precedes the luminaries that were created in vv. 15-16. Scroll forward through the centuries and see where Paul develops the theological significance of light (2 Corinthians 4:1-6; cf. John 1:4-5). “The New Testament interprets this light as the Gospel of Christ” (NAC). Light is good—beneficial, morally righteous, preferable—because it accomplishes its purpose of dispelling darkness that had characterized the earth (1:4).

Let’s Deepen Our Walk

The Bible is quite clear. The earth had its origins ultimately in God. Nothing preceded him, there were no companions and no antagonists (NAC). I believe this truth with all of my being. However, I know that this view of origins runs directly contrary to other contemporary views of beginnings. For example, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famous astrophysicist and best-selling author, has written, “What we do know, and what we can assert without further hesitation, is that the universe had a beginning. . .every one of our body’s atoms is traceable to the big bang . . . and to the thermonuclear furnaces within high-mass stars that exploded more than five billion years ago. . .” (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, p. 33). My school-aged grandchildren attend public schools where evolution is used to explain origins. They, and their parents, may wonder whether science undermines the Creation account. Hardly!

As a reminder, John Newport writes, “It [the Bible] provides answers to urgent contemporary questions of meaning, values, and purpose in life—questions which are outside the purpose of modern physical science” (Life’s Ultimate Questions, 129). Dr. Tyson is one smart fellow, much smarter than I, but he, like you and I, must approach the matter of "origins" in faith and look elsewhere to find answers to life’s meaning and purpose. I offer the Bible to him and to you as a totally reliable source for answers to life’s most challenging questions.

Genesis 1 reminds us that God created the universe with a specific purpose in mind. God’s aim in history is the creation of an “all-inclusive community of loving persons with God himself at the very center of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious inhabitant” (LGB). The Bible traces the formation of this community all the way from creation in the Garden of Eden to the new heaven and new earth. I see Genesis 1 as an invitation to come to the Light and be transformed daily by it!

Let’s Think and Discuss

1. Take time to write down specific ways that God’s purpose in creating the world (and you) impacts your life each day. How does God’s creative purpose sustain your life? How does it change the way you make decisions?

2. For families: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Help children to understand the Bible truth that God’s light is helpful because it shows us the right way to live. Remember that our children were not born with full moral maturity in place. They learn new concepts quickly and need to acquire ethical skills in using them. For example, parents and grandparents are teaching them how to divide a birthday cake fairly or share their food with someone who does not have anything to eat.

Write the verses below on pieces of paper, then fold them and place them in a bowl or a hat. Turn off the lights in the room. Point out that it is difficult to move in the dark. Invite each child to pick a verse from the hat, shine a flashlight on the verse (or use your mobile phone flashlight!), then read it out loud. God’s word is light and helps to guide our steps each day. Ask each child to write the verse he or she has selected on the Pathway Kids journal page. Help them to put the verse to memory. Invite them to draw a picture of how God’s light will help them at home or school or with their friends. (Psalm 4:6; Psalm 18:28; Psalm 119:130; John 8:12; Romans 13:12; 1 John 1:5).

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock