Billy Graham in his book World Aflame tells of how he sat in the office of
Dag Hammarskjold at the United Nations shortly before he was killed in the
plane crash. He said that Mr. Hammarskjold seemed deeply depressed, and as
he looked out over New York City he said quietly, "I see no hope for
permanent peace. We have tried so hard and we have failed so miserably.
Unless the world has a spiritual rebirth within the next few years, civilization
is doomed." Graham goes on in his book to quote leaders in every branch of
life and around the world who are pessimistic about the future. Man with all
of his light still lives in the dark.
Jean Paul Sartre, the French Existentialist, said, "There is no exit from
the human dilemma." Sir Winston Churchill said, "Our problems are beyond
us." Graham says that man is caught in a fire raging out of control, and in his
first chapter he paints a picture that is frightening. Graham wrote this nearly
40 years ago, but the fact is we still live in a time where it is the dark ages
spiritually. Can we be optimistic about the future? Yes we can if we know
God through Jesus Christ. We know a God who from the beginning has
turned chaos into harmony, and He has brought light out of darkness. God
has a plan for this world and so there is always a bright tomorrow, for we look
for a new heaven and new earth wherein dwells righteousness. The basis for
optimism if found in man promises of the Bible, but we are going to study the
first chapter of Genesis to see the method of God's creating that encourages us
to be optimistic.
We find harmony and rhyme even in the very statement of the original
chaos of the world. In Hebrew the two words describing the chaos rhyme. It
says, "And the earth was without tohu and bohu." The word tohu describes a
condition of shapelessness. There was just a conglomeration of matter. Bohu
means that it was empty and void. There was no life of any kind. Our world
started out as chaos. God created the raw materials just before He began to
form it for the habitation of life.
God did not create all in immediate perfection. We see here a progression
from the raw material to the finished product. There are some who have
developed what is called the Gap Theory, which says that God created heaven
and earth perfect in verse 1. Then a great catastrophe caused it to be
destroyed, and so in verse 2 we have the chaos of that fallen world which God
reforms again into a perfect world. The vast majority feel there is no basis for
reading so much between the lines. It is obvious that Moses intended to convey
no such impression, but rather, that God, like a skilled workman,
began with dull and drab raw materials, and by wisdom formed them into a
world of beauty.
We note that darkness was upon the face of the deep. Water was the most
abundant substance that God began with as raw material. Water covered the
whole earth and it was dark, for light was not yet created. it was a very bleak
picture. It was a giant mud pie sunk in a cold dark world ocean. If there had
been anyone around to see such a sight, they certainly would think it was a
God forsaken planet. But this verse says it was not so, for the Spirit of God
moved over the face of the waters. The Holy Spirit is pictured like an eagle
hovering over its young. Here the object is lifeless, but the Holy Spirit is eager
to give birth to life. Milton in Paradise Lost expresses it like this: "Darkness
profound covered the abyss, but on the watery calm His brooding wings the
Spirit of God out spread, and vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,
throughout the fluid mass."
Here is a picture of the material realm identical to the chaos and darkness
of the spiritual realm, which the Bible speaks of often. The wicked man is said
to walk in darkness, and darkness blinds his eyes. His understanding is
darkened, his heart is darkened, and he loves darkness rather than light. But
in both realms the darkness is turned to dawn, for God speaks and says, "Let
there be light." In both the physical and spiritual world God has turned the
chaos into harmony, and the darkness into light. Paul can say that we were
once children of darkness, but are now children of light, and we walk in the
light. We are delivered from the power of darkness because, as Peter said,
"We are called out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Bela Vassady in his book Light Against Darkness tells of how he and his
family lived through the horrors of the siege of Budapest in 1944-5. For three
months they were forced to stay in dark, damp, unsanitary cellars as fighting
raged above them. He writes, "Even unbelievers began to pray for the arrival
of the day when we could climb the stairs again and enjoy once more the
brightness of the sun. In those months we had to learn in the hard way that
man's most stupid sin is ingratitude. He simply takes for granted the things
that supply his everyday necessities; among them light, both in the form of the
physical radiance of the sun, and in the form of the spiritual blessing afforded
to all in the Light of the World."
God has given physical and spiritual light, and we have the responsibility,
as the hymn writer has said, of brightening the corner where we are. Those
who are outside the kingdom of God fit the description of man by Louis F.
Benson, "And infant crying in the night. An infant crying for the light, and
with no language but a cry." God has given light, but we need to reflect that
light in this world of darkness. We want to examine the two realms in which
God has said let there be light in order to gain understanding of how we are to
let our light shine, and to be grateful for the light God has given.
I. THE PHYSICAL REALM.
When we state here that verse 3 records the origin of physical light we
must remember that this was not the origin of light in an absolute sense.
Scripture tells us that God is light, and what ever God is, He is eternally. And
so light had no beginning, but is just as eternal as the very essence of God.
What we have here is the origin of light that is external to God. This is
important for it makes clear that there is a distinction between Creator and
creation. Nothing that God has created is apart of His essence. God is not
anything that is made. The whole physical universe was called into being by
His Word. God is in the world, but not of it. It is not God that we see in
nature. It is not God we see in beauty. These things are the handiwork and
wisdom of God. We only see God in Jesus Christ, and in his written Word.
This origin of physical light then is not God, but it is a revelation of the
wisdom of God, for light is essential to life, and God was planning for just
that. He has water and light, and all men know that these are essential for life.
Commentators note the interesting fact that light was created on this first day,
but the sun and stars were not created until the 4th day. There are a number
of theories to explain this, and it fits perfectly into the origin of the universe
held by many scientists, which is called The Expanding Universe Theory. We
may have here an explanation for the mystery about the nature of light. It is
scientifically proven that light is both a wave and a particle. It is possible that
two-fold creation of light is the cause for this paradox.
God is the author of light, and so all of life, beauty and color are part of
God's handiwork. All of the blessings of life that come through sight are by
God's grace. We need to praise God constantly for all that He has given us to
see. The hymn writer has written, "For the joy of ear and eye; for the heart
and minds delight; for the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight-Lord of
all to thee we raise this our song of grateful praise." It is
important to see that the physical is also spiritual. There is no distinction
between sacred and secular to the believer, for God is the author of all that is
good, true and beautiful.
II. THE SPIRITUAL REALM.
The Bible refers to Jesus often as the Light. He was to be a light to
Gentiles in darkness. His life was to be the light of men. He is called the true
Light, and in John 8:12 Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he who
follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." If one is
walking in darkness, they are not following Christ. God is light and in Him is
no darkness at all. Light and darkness is just as compatible in the spiritual
realm as in the physical. We need not fear the darkness as believers. When
intense darkness came over Egypt as a plague the people of Israel still had
light. So it is in every age. The pessimism of the world need not lead us to
despair, for as children of God we are to be children of light. Darkness is the
domain of the devil, but light is the land of the Lord.
The economist say if we redistribute the wealth there will be light.
Diplomats say that if we improve the United Nations then there will be light.
Educators say that if we teach every person in the world then there will be
light. Socialists say that if we improve the environment and eliminate poverty,
then there will be light. But the Bible says that all of these plans would still
leave the world in a chaos of darkness. They all start with the assumption that
the darkness is out there, but God says the darkness is within. You will never
dissolve the darkness in your cellar by putting the most modern lights on the
street corner. All of men's plans treat the symptoms and not the disease.
Jesus goes right to the source of the darkness, which is sin. He alone can
forgive sin and bring man out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of
light. He is the only answer that can bring light. The poet has said,
"The world's great heart is aching, aching fiercely in the night,
And God alone can heal it, and God alone give light;
And the people to bear that message, and to speak that living Word,
Are you and I, my brothers, and all others who have heard."
God wants to say through each of us in this dark world, "Let there be light."