How did light exist before the sun?

While making this week’s Sunday School lesson for the kids at our church about creation, I noticed something interesting while going through the account of what God created in each of the six days of creation. It says on the first day:

…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. 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 (ESV)

Seems simple enough, God made light and created day and night right? The one point I’ve overlooked all these years is that it also says on the fourth day:

…God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14-19 (ESV)

So why would God be introducing light again on the fourth day? Is there not already light from the first day? It may seem strange that it says light was brought into existence on the first day while the sources we normally associate with emitting/reflecting light (the sun, moon and stars) are created on the fourth day, but if we look carefully, we can find that this is not an impossibility with God. The Hebrew word used for light in Genesis 1:3-5 is ‘owr (pronounced ore) used as a noun. This word is also used on the fourth day once in Genesis 1:18 which may refer to the light mentioned in day one and not the lights created in day four. The difference between the word light found in these verses and the related Hebrew words used for light in Genesis 1:14-17 is that there are meanings in the definition that point to God’s being. Among the other meanings ‘owr has, it could be come to mean light of life, light of instruction, and Jehovah as Israel’s light. In Revelation 21:23-25 and Isaiah 60 2-3, 19, the exact word is also used and in both books, they mention the fact that God’s glory is a light in which there is no dependency on the the sun or moon.

So would that not mean that the light we see being introduce on the first day also has no dependency on the sun or moon? It makes sense to think that the light which God brought into the timeline of creation would be a light produced by His very being and the word itself has points to attest to this. God created the sun, moon and stars to become a source of emitting light for the earth to help track the time and seasons and to be multiple sources of light for the day and night.

If we were to take the other verses using the same word into account, this light may very well be God introducing His glory into time and creation which has a continual influence in our timeline (since all of creation shows God’s glory even now Psalm 19), marking His plans and revelations to mankind about His glory and very being. The one thing that is apparent from this study is that the bible is clear that God’s light is sufficient and that the created is not greater than the Creator. The sun and moon will disappear, but the all-powerful God who is the true light will never change or disappear and will continue to shine His glory forever.

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