Day Four

God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons and days and years, and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” It was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. He made the stars also. God placed the lights in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.
Genesis 1:14-19

In Day One, light itself was created and it was separate(d) from darkness visit their website. Now in day four, lights were placed in different positions/times and given a role of separating day and night. Light for the night and light for the day to indicate (not create) seasons, days and years. The lights were to “rule over” (the word here means to have dominion/jurisdiction) the day and night respectively. Here He also made the stars.

Here, I have a few strange observations:

  • The lights were positioned IN the sky – not outside, so they were underneath the “waters above” (Genesis 1:6-8). The stars were also in the “waters above”. This is a prehistoric (pre-scientific) view of the world.
  • The lights weren’t named! Naming happeneed in the first three days – day, night, sky, land and sea, but on the fourth day, no naming was done. Scholars suggest that this is to de-personify and de-deitify the sun and moon since other pagan civilisations were deeply involved in sun/moon worship and these elements were personified as deities (such as the Egyptian deities). There is also a long exposition about the creation of these lights, ensuring that the reader gets the point that these were created things and God (Elohim) is the creator.
  • For the second time, light is separated from darkness (Genesis 1:4). It appears that God really wants light to be apart from darkness.

I’ve found a pretty good picture of what creation looks like on day four according to the account in Genesis (taken from http://www.scienceblogs.com):

The Cosmos according to Genesis

Talk about unscientific. But that really isn’t the point here. Genesis isn’t as much a book about accurate scientific descriptions as it is about representing the beginning of earth and mankind. It has mild themes of science, but the message that Genesis is really getting at here is that God is the sovereign creator… not the scientific creator. That is not to say that He isn’t scientific but that really isn’t the point of Genesis. 

Now we get the feeling that the world is ready for some living and breathing animals. Thats up next.

Day Two

God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate water from water. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expense from the water above it. It was so. God called the expanse “sky”. There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.

God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.” It was so. God called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters he called “seas”. God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:6-10

On day zero, God created the God created the universe. And on the second day, He made light and time. He also defined light and darkness, distinguishing between them. We must remember that these things didn’t exist before God came along and light and darkness wasn’t defined. Everything was pretty much an undefined mess of stuff before day one.

Now on day two, God created again with just His speech. This time, God created the sky. This he created as a separation between the waters above and below. And on day three, God gathered the waters below into seas so that dry ground appeared. At the end of the third day, the planet is ready to support life. It seemed that this has been the plan all this while. God considered again and concluded that His creation was good.

Pause for awhile and think:

  • God separated the water. God gathered the water. In that way He created sky and land. His creative work isn’t restricted to creating something out of nothing. Here he manipulates a single substance, creating two different things. In three days, He has displayed three different ways of creating.
  • First God considered the light good. Now, He considered the sky, land and sea good. This was God’s reflection of His own work. It was good simply because it was His own work. Creation didn’t need to be complete (we know now that he wasn’t done creating at this point) for it to be good. It simply needed to be His handiwork.

We start seeing the trend here: he creates out of nothing (before this, there was no expanse), he then defines and names. All the while showing God is the central character in creation. It all begins with Him and He is sovereign over all of creation.

Looking Into The Sky

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:6-11

I wonder what the disciples must have felt when they stood there, staring at the blue sky, looking at Jesus floating up into heaven. Their last question to Jesus is crucial to get into their minds at this point.

After witnessing His death and complete resurrection, they now knew for sure that Jesus is the promised Messiah. They now understand His mission of redemption and renewal (Luke 24:45-49). They no longer see Jesus as the earthly political leader who will restore Israel’s sovereignty. However, there was one small little detail: Jesus promised that Israel would be restored (Luke 21:24) and that they would rule with Him (Matthew 19:28). Their question is: Since you’re here with us now, is that going to happen?

Jesus tells them not to speculate about the times or dates but to look forward to that power which He has promised (John 14:16, 26, 16:7; Acts 1:4-5) and to be His witnesses starting from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Then He was gone. They must have felt a pinch of sadness and disappointment. They followed this man in a hope that they would rise to greatness. This Jesus whom they have put all their faith in, who had been leading them for the last 3 years is gone. All that they have now are 3 years worth of experience as rookie Apostles and a bunch of His instructions and promises.

In comes two men in white with a potent question: why do you stand here looking into the sky?

Why indeed. He was already gone, hidden from their sight, and yet they were still staring up into the sky. Shouldn’t they be looking at the promises that He left them with? Shouldn’t they start looking into His instructions and anticipating the Holy Spirit? Why look at the departure of the Messiah, when you can look towards the next arrival of this same Jesus? The promise is that He will come back. This same Jesus with all His authority over all creation, with His heart of love, compassion and grace, with His power to work miracles will come back. It was time for them to get to work.

What about us? Are we still staring at the sky?

There are times when our world is in a mess and God feels like He has left. He is far away and out of sight. But hang on, this same Jesus comes back. In fact, He hasn’t left at all! He is simply preparing us to receive a greater, more powerful thing. Hold on to the promises.