Back to “Day One”

Two passages complementing the new creation vision of the age of salvation with particular regard to the original, unmediated light of God as related to the first day of Genesis 1:

Isaiah 60:19, 20
The sun shall be no more your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;
but Yahweh will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for Yahweh will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.

As picked up by John in Revelation 21, rather than relegating such a task to the Sun and Moon, Yahweh himself will be the light; i.e., he will rule (Gen. 1:16, 18) and the people will respond accordingly by living righteously (Isa 60:21 – “Your people shall all be righteous…”).

Zechariah 14:6, 7
On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost.
And there shall be one day (yom ehad, cf. Gen. 1:5),
which is known to Yahweh,
neither day nor night,
but at evening time there shall be light.

The coming of Yahweh (v. 3, 4) in judgment against the nations and in salvation for Jerusalem (in a manner reminiscent of the dividing of the Red Sea, this time dividing the Mount of Olives, vv. 4, 5) is, so to speak, a return to the first day, prior even to the initial division of day and night.

Christians gather and remember Christ collectively on the first day of the week. No one doubts why that is. “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (Jn. 20:1). But why was the resurrection on the first day of the week? Because it marks the inception of the new creation, a creation where God’s people live according to the rule of “the true Light” (1:9). Like John the Baptist, by gathering on the first day of the week we “bear witness about the (true) Light” (v. 8). Further, such gatherings must reflect a spirit of love toward those with whom we are gathered:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1 Jn. 2:9-11; cf. 1 Cor. 11:20-22, 33).

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Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 7:52 am  Comments (1)  

Isaiah’s vision and the shame of the sun

Earlier observations from Genesis 1 included the function of the sun and moon as rulers, the potential for viewing them in the heavens as somewhat parallel to humanity on earth, and of their carrying on what had formerly been a sole work of God. These observations may be at least partially behind Isaiah’s oracle of Yahweh’s judgment and its effects.

On that day Yahweh will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.

They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.

Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,
for Yahweh of hosts reigns on Mount Zion
and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.       (Isa. 24:21-23)

The “host of heaven” parallel, not merely humanity in general, but specifically the “kings of the earth.” The rulers below are punished together with the rulers above. The focus on the Sun and Moon and their respective responses to Yahweh’s personal reign in Zion relates to their roles as “lights”: the glory of Yahweh outshines both of them, reducing them as failures by comparison.

Scripture returns to this theme at its end in Revelation 21:23-25:

And the city (New Jerusalem) has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there.

The role bestowed upon the Sun and Moon by God at the first creation is revoked in the new. As God personally separated the light/day and darkness/night on the first three days of creation, so God maintains that role for eternity, with two notices: first, the incarnate Christ serves as the city’s lamp, conveying God’s glory/light; second, this lamp (Christ) will shine without rest, thus doing away with night.

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

An observation on the transference of direct agency on the fourth day

Both the first and fourth days of creation involve the separation of light/day from darkness/night. On the former day, the separation is described as an act of God himself:

v. 4 And God separated the light from the darkness.

Insofar as this separation is maintained throughout the second and third days (signified by the passing of evening and morning), readers may assume that God continues to act as direct agent.

This direct agency is passed on to the lights of the firmament on the fourth day:

v. 14 “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night”

vv. 17, 18 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens… to separate the light from the darkness.

The greater light and lesser light function in God’s stead following their creation and appointment, assigned with the responsibility maintaining boundaries he had previously set. A line was drawn on the first day; “rulers” were created on the fourth see that the line is not crossed.

 

Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

An observation on the relationship between the fourth, fifth, and sixth days

Because the sixth day is divided into two creative acts by God (the creation of the land animals, vv. 24, 25, and the creation of humanity, vv. 26-30), the fourth, fifth, and sixth days may be viewed as follows:
The creation of the heavenly lights.
The creation of the swimmers and flyers.
The creation of the land animals.
The creation of humanity.

The divine charge to humanity to exercise authority over the earth explicitly links the swimmers and flyers of the fifth day with the land animals of the sixth day–they are joint subjects of humanity. Furthermore, both the heavenly lights and humanity are charged with some form of rule. Thus,

A  The heavenly lights (rulers)

    B  The swimmers and flyers (ruled)

    B’ The land animals (ruled)

A’ The humans (rulers)

A tw0-storied view of creation emerges: an upper story wherein the greater light and lesser light rule over the day and night, and a lower story wherein humanity has dominion over the swimmers, flyers, and land animals.

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

An observation on the structure of the fourth day

The account of the fourth day of creation, concerning the various lights of the firmament, is presented along the following lines:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens…

A to separate the day from the night.

    B And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

        C and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.”

            D 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.

        C’ And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,

    B’ to rule over the day and over the night,

A’ and to separate the light from the darkness.

And God saw that it was good.

Arranged as it is, A corresponds easily enough with A’ (showing the same relationship between Day/Light and Night/Darkness stated earlier in the account of the first day), as well as C with C’. Less obvious is the relationship between B and B’. For a pre-modern reader of the text, the role of the heavenly lights in regulating time (line B) would be taken for granted. Line B’ reveals that this is not mere regulation–it is the exercise of authority, to which the day and the night must submit. The line at the center of the account (line D) underscores the reader’s identification of the two great heavenly lights as rulers.

Published in: on May 14, 2014 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment