In Beginning 03: Light and Darkness

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

Light and Darkness
Genesis 1:14-25

Some think a biblical contradiction is found in these verses. They say that if God created light on the first day that could not be since He did not create the sun until the fourth day. They think there could not be light without the sun. That comes from what I have said we often run into in reading the Genesis account of creation. We have been taught to think that the universe is infinite and eternal; so, whenever we imagine God, our minds automatically put Him somewhere in that infinite universe. But the Bible says He transcends the universe. We also think light must have a source within the universe. We don’t think of light as existing apart from a source like the sun or stars, which are also suns, or the moon, which reflects light. It would not occur to us that light can be created apart from a source. However, since Einstein it is possible for scientists to think of light existing apart from a source. He put together the basic building blocks of the universe in his famous equation E = mc2 , those building blocks were mass, energy, and light. Einstein’s theory of relativity is that everything is relative to the speed of light; nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

People have used Einstein to say, “Everything is relative,” and they are usually speaking in ethical terms. Einstein’s theory didn’t have anything to do with ethics; it was just a physics theory saying that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. It says that as something approaches the speed of light, its mass becomes infinite and it can no longer be accelerated. In quantum physics, two objects may be moving apart from each other with one going one direction at .6 times the speed of light and the other one going in the opposite direction at .6 times the speed of light. Logically, it would seem they are moving apart at 1.2 times the speed of light. But Einstein has shown that they are actually moving apart at about .83 times the speed of light, since everything is relative to the speed of light. Light is a building block of the universe and all things are measured relative to it. Don’t ask me to explain that any further; that is about as far as I can go. I don’t even know if I got all of that right. I don’t know why it works that way, but Einstein figured it out and it has been demonstrated in experiments done in quantum physics.

Light is one of the first things God used to build the universe. When He said, “Let there be light, and there was light . . .” that means that light was one of the first things He made and He made it without first gathering it into a source. It just existed everywhere, having no source other than the Word of God. Some think that light in heaven may be like that. The source of the light there may just be God, or it may exist without a source. I have some trouble imaging that, but believe it is possible. The Book of Genesis is attempting to change our thinking so we no longer see the universe as infinite and eternal with all things coming from the universe, but see that it is God who is infinite and eternal and all things come from His Word. That thought is repeated throughout the first chapter of Genesis, God said, . . . and it was so. We are supposed to get the idea that everything that exists comes from God. God is infinite and eternal, not the universe. That is a hard concept for people to grasp today. Understanding how the universe works doesn’t work so well when we leave out God. It is the same when we try to figure out how our lives work when we try to leave out God. Merely looking at the material universe does not give a big enough reason for why life exists. We need to see that everything must flow from what God has said.

On the fourth day, God is not making light. He has already done that. On this day, He is creating time or giving seasons to life. He is making night and day, making the passing seasons of the year. He is establishing a rhythm to the life He has created. That is an extremely important part of life. Life is not supposed to go on without breaks or order. When I hear the term 24/7, it makes me shudder. Life is not meant to be continually pushed; it is supposed to have a rhythm and seasons. We aren’t supposed to be perpetually young; there is a season for youth and a season for old age. We are to live differently at night from during the day. God established a rhythm to the life He gave and it is important that we fit into that rhythm. That is what He established on the fourth day. It is an important part of His creation. Our job is not to live continuously without a rhythm of work and sleep; instead, we are to fit into the rhythm God made and said was good.

This is not one of the obvious teachings on how we are to live as Christians, but it can be very rewarding. The monastery is a very good place for me to go for rest and refreshment. An important part of life there is the rhythm that has been established for hundreds of years. Each day is built around worship. There is morning lauds at 4 a.m., which consists mostly of an hour of prayer. At 7 a.m. there is communion, then evening vespers at 5 p.m. and compline is the last worship time of the day and it finishes at about 8:30 p.m. Each day revolves around those special times with God. I find that to be a relaxing and creative way to order a day. As I fall into that rhythm, I actually see more of the rhythms of the universe. One time while sitting on the porch near the dining hall, I watched the incredible beauty of trees dancing to the rhythm of God’s gentle breezes. As my life took on a rhythm of worship, I increasingly saw the rhythm that God put into the universe. When new things happen to us, a new job or a new baby, we feel we will be okay once we establish a rhythm. Continual change or upheaval troubles our souls.

The times of worship at the monastery are pretty quiet; if they were loud and exciting it would probably be tiring, but as it is, it is very refreshing. It can help us when we fit into the rhythm that God established on the fourth day. His most basic rhythm was that of a day and night, of light and darkness. I think most of the mental anguish we have today comes from not establishing a rhythm to our lives. We don’t even allow for something as basic as day and night, but try to push onward day and night. We become continually frantic. We don’t have a Sabbath and are continually in need of rest but feel guilty when we do stop to rest. God gave us the Sabbath to have an appropriate time for rest and an appropriate time for work. We are not to always rest or to always work. We are to put both into our lives like the order God put into the universe. That is what God was doing when He gathered light into the heavenly bodies and brought order to their movement. He was creating a time-ordered universe and He said that it was good. We need to fit into that goodness. I like the changes of the world. I like the change of seasons. I would not want blue skies and sunny days every day. I like the day and the darkness. It is a good order that God has made and we gain joy when we fit into that order.

We need to remember that God said the darkness was good. We are often afraid of the dark and associate darkness with evil, but here God called the darkness good. The New Testament associates darkness with evil, but it first associates light with God. There really isn’t any such thing as darkness. Light is a measurable quantity, but darkness is merely the absence of light. When David was in the dark cave he told the children about, it really wasn’t a dark place. It would be more accurate to say that it was a place without light. When the Bible speaks of evil and compares it to darkness, it means much the same thing. Evil is primarily the absence of God, as darkness is the absence of light. Biblically, evil is what happens when God is not there. Evil is not just an accumulation of enough bad things that we then call it evil. Evil is what happens whenever we remove God from our lives. Our lives may be judged as pretty good by those around us, but the Bible says something is evil when God is not there. We may look good to others but still be evil because we don’t have God in our lives. Just as darkness is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of God. The difference between good and evil is whether or not God is there. The way to cast out darkness is to bring in light. The way to cast out evil is to bring in God. I don’t know where darkness goes when the light comes, neither am I sure where evil goes when God comes, but I do know that God and evil can’t exist at the same time any more than light and darkness can exist at the same time. We get rid of evil by bringing in God. That is how we fight evil.

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