God Creates Lights and Life - Genesis 1:14-25
Introduction/Seeing the Need
Introduction/Seeing the Need
In this lesson, we will read of and consider God’s creation of the sun and the moon, of the planets and the stars, of all the things we can observe and wonder at in the night sky. Further, we’ll look at God’s creation of fish and “great sea animals,” birds, “tiny living things that swarm in the waters” (), and “livestock, crawling things, and wildlife” (verse 24). Just think about God’s creation of living organisms far too small for us to observe without powerful electron microscopes, and we cannot help but marvel and wonder at God’s creating power and at the ancient but ever new story of creation.
The Creation account in Genesis is a work of faith, trust, and obedience. It is not an attempt at any kind of scientific explanation of the world and interstellar space. It a daring and challenging assertion of the presence and power of God. It is a testament to our trust in almighty God.
It is a story of faith; it is not a work of science. Thus, the sometimes-cited conflicts between science and religion, of theory versus fact, entirely miss the point. The Genesis narrative is not and never was intended to be a comprehensive and exhaustive explanation of the beginning of all things. Instead, it is a testament of faith, to trust, to belief in the one God, the God of creation and redemption, the God of infinite love.
What does calling the Genesis Creation account a “testament to faith” mean to you? How, if at all, does perceiving the Creation narrative as a story of faith change the way you read it?
Day Four -
Day Four -
And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky 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 dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon 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.
As with the other days of creation, this one, the fourth, begins with God speaking. Having created “light” (singular) on the first day, God now creates lights (plural). These are physical objects that serve specific purposes. For them to separate the day from the night speaks to the need for cyclical illumination of the earth.
This illumination goes hand and hand with the lights’ being signs: things that attest to divine power at work. The idea is to give credit to God for his active role in the world. While there might be the occasional extraordinary sign, the ordered nature of earthly cycles is a daily reminder of God’s provision and presence.
Here in verse 14, we see three manifestations of God’s order: first, the celestial lights also give us sacred times. These become the appointed time for religious festivals of Israel’s calendar, as determined by phases of the moon. Second and third, we see the periods of days and years - which are the familiar periods of 24 hours and 365 days. The yearly cycle is what gives us the seasons of fall, winter, spring, and summer for, in some areas, the rainy season and the dry season. All of these provide order and regularity. We are created to thrive within this system. God has designed the world to fit us and created us to fit his world.
Since God is the author of the calendar, what are some ways to manage time that will honor him for that fact?
In verse 16, we see the extension of God’s order. The created order has three additional classifications of heavenly lights. First we have the greater light, the sun, which rules the day. This does not imply that the sun comes out when there is daylight. Rather, it’s the other way around: the sun defines and causes the day.
Likewise, the lesser light, the moon, defines a darker period, the night. Nights are not without some light, given the shadows we observe when the moon is bright. These celestial lights - sun, moon, and stars - are placed in the vault of the sky by God to provide various degrees of light on the earth. Their intensity causes the distinction between daytime and nighttime. All of them counteract darkness, the absence of light.
In this sense, they are testimonies to the presence of God in our world, for we are never without a heavenly light source. As at the end of the previous day of creations, the author notes that God observes what he has created and approves by designating it as good. It is pleasing to him and beneficial to us.
What responsibilities do we have to distinguish between moral light and darkness? What are some dangers that come with accepting this task? How do we manage them?
Day Five -
Day Five -
And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
Day five of creation begins, as the others have, with God speaking. On this day, God speaks into existence the living animals for the watery world and the sky. The unpolluted and unfished waters of the ancient world teem with life. God’s creation has variety that is barely imaginable for us. After hundreds of years of study, scientists are still discovering and classifying new water creatures.
The author also acknowledges creation of the creatures of the atmospheric world, the birds. He knows that most creatures do not have the capability of flight - only those with wings. The author gives another insight into the wonder and awe of the ancient person when it comes to beholding God’s created order: the reproductive capability of water creatures and birds.
This ability to produce offspring according to their kinds. Why does a sparrow always reproduce sparrows, not eagles sometimes? Why does a trout always reproduce trout, not barracudas sometimes? This is part of God’s created order as observed by the author, and it is marvelous for him.
In verse 22 we see that God’s plan includes multiplication. He intends that the salt waters and fresh waters be filled with appropriate creatures. God intends that his created variety of birds increase in number and spread throughout the earth. It is a tragedy when a species becomes extinct because of human behavior.
Day Six -
Day Six -
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
God speaks again, on day six, to call into existence specific components of his overall created order. On this day God addresses the dry land, the earth itself. This will be the home of God’s ultimate creation, human beings, later in this same day.
There are three general categories of land animals presented. The first, livestock, is a generic term that generally refers to herded animals, and here it has the sense of domesticated livestock as distinct from wild animals. This may include goats and sheep, which are popular choices among cultures dependent on herding. Later in the history of Israel, it will be animals from this category that are considered ritually clean for food or sacrifice.
The second category, the creatures that move along the ground, refers to creatures that live on the ground, including reptiles and snakes. Such animals will not be considered clean when the food laws are instituted for Israel. The third category includes the wild animals. We might divide these into carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. Such animals might be hunted for food, but they are not part of a nomadic herd or a located farm.
As with the creatures of the sea and air, the land creatures are made with the capacity to reproduce according to their kinds. Again, God finishes creating these categories and sees his work as good.
Where will you unhurriedly allow creation to inspire you to worship the Creator this week?
Science, rather than being the enemy of faith, has shown us the wonders of the heavens in breathtaking pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. Going the other direction, advanced microscopic technology of “inner space” has shown the intricate designs of God on the tiniest levels.
The Genesis account of creation is brief and beautiful (unlike scientific treatises of our day). It gives us a hint of the wonder and awe that ancient men and women experienced when they contemplated the world they inhabited. They were convinced that this ordered and beautiful universe came into being through the acts of a Creator.
The marvels of creation were not only the visible, tangible things, but also the system of days, months, and years that followed patterns that could be analyzed and then predicted. It was for later observers to understand that the angle of the earths axis, its period of daily rotations, and its yearly circumnavigation of the sun were all essential to sustaining the ecosystems that permit life.
There would be no life without God’s plan and provision. Genesis, however, teaches us that life did not arise on our planet as random adaptations to existing conditions, but that the earth was created to sustain the life that God intended and designed. That includes human beings, the topic of next week’s lesson.
Almighty and ever-loving God, help me to trust you completely and know that your created intention for me and all your creation is love and grace. We are learning about our world at a furious pace. May we channel our increased knowledge into more opportunities to contemplate you and your marvelous designs. You are truly the God of wonders, and we give you praise and glory. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.