Summary: God populates the earth and the heavens preparing for humans to come on the scene.
“Filling the Cosmos”
A. God Forms the Cosmos (vv 2-13)
Day 1: He Produces Light
Day 2: He Parts the Waters
Day 3: He Prepares the Land
Well, there is a little more creation work to be done before we are allowed to come on the scene, and God spends the next couple of days setting up the earth so it can operate on its own, and he also provides the beginning of intelligent life that will be used by us for food and companionship. Today beginning at day 4:
B. God Fills the Cosmos (vv 14-31)
Day 4: He Positions the Light Givers (vv 14-19)
i. Their Function (vv 14-15)
God suggests three functions for the sun, moon and stars. To give light to the earth, to govern the day, the night, and the seasons, and to separate light from darkness. He also says that they are to be for signs, and isn’t it interesting that a star just happened to be a sign for Jesus’ birth. Then in Luke 21 Jesus tells us there will be signs of the end of the age in the sun, moon, and stars. These celestial bodies are for man’s benefit, but should not be worshipped by us. Jeremiah and Isaiah both condemn the worship of these bodies and the practice of astrology.
Here is where it gets interesting. How is this light different from that created on day two when God said let there be light? This is one of the most controversial verses in the Bible because secular science cannot make sense of there being light before the sun. They discount the supernatural, but if they have trouble, the other easy answer is that God created a very cloudy atmosphere in the beginning, and the sun may not have been visible but there was still light.
However, Christians believe the light that God created on day two was an overall light like the light that will illuminate heaven where Revelation tells us that there will be no need for the sun or moon to give light, it will again come straight from God. There is also the suggestion that this is why God did not say it was good on day 2 yet, He wasn’t finished with the sky and the heavens.
We also believe that God wanted to show that He could create and sustain the plant life that he made without the sun, so He decided to create vegetation before he created the sun. He also wants us to know that these creations are not the origin of light but the mediators of light.
The best interpretation of “lights” in this passage is lamps, or luminaries. He basically gave them the function of being the stewards of light much as we are created to be stewards of the living things on earth. Once again everything in creation, including us, was given a purpose, and all of creation fulfills that purpose with perfect obedience, as we also are called to. But we were the only created thing given free-will, which might not have been a good idea if we were in charge of the sun.
ii. Their Creation (vv 16-18a)
The sun has to be the exact size it is, the exact distance it is from the earth so that the earth doesn’t freeze or fry, and the earth has to rotate, and tilt in relation to the sun at a perfect speed and angle to provide day, night, and seasons. But of course this is just a random accident right? The moon has a less important purpose and the stars were created to assist in the governance of the night according to Psalm 136:9. The moon does however have a great deal to do with gravity, and the tides, or the rhythm of nature, so again it must be doing its job for life on earth to be the way God intended.
Why doesn’t God name the sun and moon? Remember that this creation story was being given to Moses for the people, long after creation. At that time, most of the world worshipped the sun and moon, like they worshipped just about any created thing that was a benefit for them, so God seems to intentionally leave out the names to de-emphasize their importance, and emphasize the fact that He created the light. Again naming was very important in that culture.
iii. Their Evaluation (vv 18b-19)
Now God says the light and the sky are good, now they are fully doing what God intended them to do.
Day 5: He Populates the Sea and Sky (vv 20-23)
i. The Beginning of Life (vv 20-21)
This is the emergence of conscious life. The first brains were developed and we see the incredibly complex circle of life in which God created amazing detail to help each species, again according to its kind, survive. Birds here, is best interpreted as flying things which can easily include insects, and even the winged dinosaurs that scientists say birds came from. With the exception of the theory of evolution, I think this is where science has helped us immensely, to see what the purpose of each creature is in nature and for us. Besides simply showing us beauty, every creature seems to have purposes in the food chain, for fertilization, pollination, and so much more. Science here has helped us appreciate the awesome order in God’s creation.