Disruption, Darkness and Light
GOD CALLS the darkness night. The darkness existed before God commenced His six days of reconstructive work. It was merely a new name, for the darkness was not an accompaniment of the first heaven and earth. It was an outcome of the disruption, that event which called God's kingdom into His counsels, and before which He chose and designated in Christ those whose salvation is to be glorified as the ecclesia which is Christ's body.
Light was the first requirement of the work of God, which in some measure restored the ruin of the disruption and rehabilitated the earth for the moving forward of God's ways. The character of life and conditions on the present earth were controlled by the disruption, for God formed and shaped the ruin to suit His ways whereby He will reach a greater and grander display of His glory than could be otherwise.
When, on the fourth day, God locates the light in heavenly luminaries, then the light of the luminaries functions with darkness to continue that cyclic activity which we know as the alternation of day and night. And, doing this, all life forms, on earth or in the sea, or atmosphere, plants, animals, and humans, are constituted agreeable to this phasic movement. At the same time, in retaining the darkness as night, God indicates the temporary character of the present heavens and earth. This fact is rounded out by God's later revelation regarding the new heavens and earth, when we learn of the absence of the sea, as well as night. Not until we reach the consummation will there be permanence in God's creation.
The rendering in Genesis 1:2 of the Hebrew verb eie (more usually known as hayah) by our English word was has been most unfortunate. The meaning of the infinitive is TO BECOME, not TO BE, and the grammatical forms of the several species of this Hebrew verb must take their significance from to become. Many times is the word rendered it came to pass. Had even this been used in this instance, then the minds of the students of the Scriptures would not be started falsely, burdened by the idea that chaos and darkness prevailed before God's creation.
The cataclysm of Genesis 1:2a is termed a disruption in the later Scriptures. It gave rise to (1) a waste earth in which state all life thereon was effectually stifled; (2) a vacant condition as to vegetation, with no possibility for the growth of plant life; (3) darkness on the surface of the abyss of water out of which and through which the earth cohered; (4) the abyss itself which arose with the disruption. These were the characteristics of the desolate situation out of which God's disrupted creation was raised by His six days of work.
The first three days were mainly devoted to repairing the waste, by separating the elemental solids and liquids and gases to their respective spheres, so making life again possible. The second three days corrected the vacant condition by putting living things anew on the earth.
The darkness was partially dispelled and controlled on day one, when God commanded light, separating between it and darkness. The atmosphere of the second day, and the seas of the third day, put the gases and the waters and the abyss within limits. The waste was nullified by the draining off and regulation of the waters into one place on the third day, and on the same day was the vegetation dealt with by the production of verdure, herbage and fruit trees with their seeds. The darkness was further controlled, when, on the fourth day, it is brought within the serial days, and luminaries are made and appointed. The days preceding have made the waters and the atmosphere suitable for life, and so, on the fifth day, living souls appear in the waters and flyers in the atmosphere. On the sixth day God creates living souls on the land, and also humanity. Here we reach the peak of God's six days of reconstructive work, and history moves forward to unfold that which God plans from the disruption, as well as a period during which God reverts to His decisions which antedate that signal event.
The evil of the disruption has not been fully eliminated, but light with its possibilities has been introduced, and so there is a partial respite from the ruin of creation, and God's world moves forward again under His ordering.
Darkness did not exist before the eons. Then God was All, and, even as during the eons, so then, before the eons, in Him is no darkness. Nor was the forming of darkness related to God's creative activity which initiated the eons. True it is that God in His word claims to create darkness as well as light, but that statement is no criterion of God's original creation. It speaks of His ways in this sinning world of humans and nations. Darkness is due to interference which produces inertia. It indicates a lack of harmony and is not an element agreeable to a perfect creation.
The literal meaning of the Hebrew word chshk, which as a noun signifies dark or darkness, can be seen in the verbal form; it is KEEP-BACK. To Abraham, Yahweh said: You have not kept back your son, your only one, from me. Joseph, speaking to Potiphar's wife, said: Potiphar has not kept back aught from me save you. So in the darkness ensuing during the period when the first heavens and earth lay in ruins, God's glory is being kept back.
The figurative usages in Scripture of this noun are several. In Isaiah 9:2 darkness denotes the absence of God, while in Psalm 107:10 it has an analogy to the shadow of death. Amos 5:18 uses the word to describe an aspect of the day of the Lord. Darkness illustrates the condition of Israel in particular, and the world in general, when the Word came to illuminate humans (John 1:5). It was the jurisdiction of darkness which operated in the hours preceding the arrest and crucifixion of the Lord (Luke 22:53). And from the authority of darkness the saints of the present administration are rescued (Col.1:13).
We may well conclude that darkness overtook the first heavens and earth in the sense of the figure in John 12:35. The whole evidence of the Scriptures regarding darkness is that it is an intruder, an evil related to sin. But in the present heavens and earth God has harnessed it to His system and made it serve His ways, which function to lead forward to His glorious ultimate. God is only partially revealed at present, even as light over the earth is only partial.
"And Elohim said: Let light come to be! And it became light. And Elohim saw the light that it was good. Then Elohim separated the light from the darkness. Elohim called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And it became evening, and it become morning: day one" (Gen.1:3-5).
A cardinal day! Of prime importance! Light is becoming! Light called forth and caused to shine out of darkness by the word of God. Such are the features around day one. And that light, more than any other consideration, had the major aspect that it illuminated God's glory as above all and any ruin which could arise in His creation. This was not any resurgence of nature because of its own potential, but it was God directly and immediately filling creation's lack, and without even using any medium to do so.
Light, as relative to darkness, was at that point an innovation. It had not been so in the first heavens and earth, for night and day were not features of that world and eon. God now uses light and its opposite, darkness as features and factors in the present heavens and earth.
God speaks according to His glory and power, but humans think and speak in terms of matter, and can only appreciate light as one of the phenomena of matter. To them it is that portion of the energy band of substance which emits radiations with such rhythmic vibrations as to enable humans to see. For light to be before and apart from the sun has been deemed to be one of the ignorant conceptions, spread by the folklore of the Hebrews. Science could not admit such a conception. It was a matter for faith, which sees God transcending His creation, as well as constituting creation to accord with His ways and intention at any given point or period of the eons. God is not limited by His creation, nor does creation display His limits. The luminaries He has given are serving according to His appointment, and yet He is still able to give light other than that emitted by these.
Saul was arrested by a considerable light, above the midday sun. God is the Father of lights, and the associated statements seem to suggest that He can give light without shadows. Isaiah shows God as able to step up the light of His luminaries, for the prophet speaks of the light of the moon being as the light of the sun, while that of the sun becomes sevenfold as the light of seven days. Still farther ahead, the sun is no more Israel's light, but Yahweh is their eonian light.
Light excels darkness, and is diffusive and dispensing, for it constitutes the condition of life as we know it at present. It gives health and happiness and blessing upon the earth, and without its favor we would have nothing but death.
When God next intervenes to make His presence known in creation, He will make it evident by showing His control over the stars of heaven and the constellations, for they shall not give their light. The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not cause light to shine. The gloom He then introduces will be the prelude to His judging among the nations on behalf of His people Israel. Then will be the establishing of God's kingdom on earth through Israel, and it will become more widely understood that Israel is the light of the world, because associated with their Messiah Who in a more pre-eminent sense is also the Light of the world.
We are so accustomed to the features of our experiences that we are prone to view them as being permanent, yet if we truly believed God's Word, and studied it to gain knowledge and wisdom from Him, then would our mind and understanding benefit. We should learn that He is leading creation (and not the reverse) to His glorious end. There is no such thing as a self-running nature. Darkness is but a temporary agent. Light is the permanency to which God moves. So death is but transient, and abnormality due to sin's presence. God will eliminate both darkness and death by repudiating sin. This will be through His Son, because in Him is Deliverance, Light and Life.
E. H. Clayton