Q: #197. The Bible says that God created light on the Earth on the 1st day (Gen 1:3), but the sun was not created until the 4th day (Gen 1:14-19). How was there light on Earth without the sun?
A: Good question! Since the Bible does not really explain exactly what the “light” was in (Gen 1:3), we are left to conjecture. So, let me conjecture 🙂 . Because (Gen 1:14-19) makes it clear that the sun (and moon) was not created until the 4th day, it seems obvious to me that something else created the light. This seems to be verified by the fact that the Hebrew word “owr” is used to describe the “light” in (Gen 1:3-5), while the Hebrew word “maowr” (primarily used to describe a luminous “body”) is used to describe the greater or lesser “light” or two great “lights” of (Gen 1:14-19).
It is my belief that the “light” of (Gen 1:3-5) was God Himself. The Bible says in Revelation 21 that the “holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev 21:2), where all believers will one day dwell for all eternity, will not have a sun or moon to light it, “for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb (Jesus)” (Rev 21:23). Isn’t that amazing? If God is the “light” at the end, couldn’t He also have been the “light” at the very beginning too?
Let me share what I think could be a picture of this in the Old Testament in Exodus. This is when God is leading the Israelites in the desert after their freedom from slavery in Egypt.
(Ex 13:21-22) says, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: (22) he took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”
Also, note this in (Ex 14:19-20)(NIV) “Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, (20) coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side…”
I believe that (Ex 14:20) makes my point the clearest. On one side of the cloud (God) was darkness and on the other side was light. Couldn’t this be the same thing that happened in (Gen 1:3-5) when it says that “God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night?”
It is also interesting to note that the Hebrew word “owr” that we spoke about above is also used to describe light as “lightning” in (Job 37:3) and a form of this word “uwr” is used to describe light as “fire” in (Isa 31:9)(Isa 44:16)(Isa 47:14)(Ezek 5:2). This light as “fire” would correlate with our picture of “light” in Exodus.
Finally, a little off the topic, notice how the words “sun” and “moon” are never used in describing the creation account. “Two great lights” and “greater and lesser light” are used instead. (The word “sun” is not mentioned until Gen 15:12.) It is believed that this was done on purpose to place more emphasis on the God who created them rather than the celestial bodies themselves. This is likely because the sun, moon, and stars (primarily the sun) were being worshipped as gods at the time the Genesis account was written.