Before and After the Sun: God’s Eternal Light

From the Beginning to the Middle to the End of Creation, God is the Source of all Light

Juliette Alvey / 10.21.20

I don’t know how many times I have read the creation story in Genesis 1, but this time what stood out to me was how God created “light” on the first day, and then created “lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night” (that is, the sun, moon, and stars) on the fourth day. It occurred to me that if the sun and moon were created on the fourth day, what was the source of light on the first day? I have always thought that “day” was defined by the sun. But after God created light on the first day, it says that “there was evening, and there was morning — the first day” (v. 5). This implies that before the sun existed, God himself was the source of light.

Perhaps looking at the end of all creation will give us another clue. John is given a revelation of what it will be like when this earth is gone and God creates a new heaven and a new earth: “The City does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev 21:23). Again we see that God is the source of light.

In addition to John’s revelation from God, we also hear his first-hand witness about Jesus in his gospel. He reports that Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12). Jesus is the eternal light who was there before the foundation of the world, who came to our temporal home to rescue us from sin and death, and who will be its lamp when all things are done and gone (but really just begun!).

So we see from the beginning to the middle to the end of creation, God is the source of all light.

I don’t know why this realization hit me so powerfully this past week. In a world where everything has a lifespan, even if it is billions of years long, this truth gives me hope. We give created things, especially ones as powerful as the sun (it is not surprising that it was worshiped as a deity) the credit of permanence and power that can only apply to God. The sun seems like it will always be, but we know from our study of other stars that that is not the case. Leave it to me to worry about something as reliable as the sun rising.

At the end of my senior year in high school, one of my teachers asked us to give a presentation to the class about what we had learned or any lesson we will take with us as we move on to the next chapter of our lives. One of the girls in my class spoke about a car accident she was involved in. She said her life flashed before her eyes as the car ran into the center divide and spun out of control. She amazingly came out of it with only a broken arm, and she expressed how thankful she was to be alive. The lesson she gained from that experience? To make the most out of every moment in life, because life is temporary.

Her conclusion about life being temporary was absolutely right, but the meaning she gleaned from it left me sad for her. Rather than knowing she could depend on a God who is permanent in this temporary life, she decided to put more pressure on herself to make the most out of every second of every day. Not only is this impossible to do, but how does enjoying life and making the most of it solve the problem of everything coming to an end one day? What hope does that give?

No platitudes that we, created humans, have ever come up with to cope with the darkness in this life have ever made me feel comforted, because I know what they are: they are temporary.

As someone who tends to worry about the current day and all of eternity, knowing that God existed and provided light before the sun was created and that he will exist and provide light after the sun has run its course gives me immense comfort. Our faithful, reliable, never-changing God is the only true hope.

Sometimes we can fool ourselves into thinking life has permanence. Have you ever purchased something and thought, “Wow, I will never have to buy this again.” It feels like it will never break, wear out, or run out. A “forever” house? A brand new car? On a much smaller scale, I feel this way any time I buy a package of Q-tips. Even when the box starts to get low, there is always one when you need one … until there isn’t. It is a strange feeling when I have to add Q-tips to my shopping list, but nothing in this life is forever. The sun is like Q-tips. We know that it will last for billions of years, but no matter how far off it seems, one day it will be gone. And what will be left? The One who was there before it all began, the true source of light — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The good news for us is that, though God could exist for all time without us and be perfectly fine, he mysteriously chooses to include us. He walks with us through the darkness of loneliness, depression, the loss of loved ones, frustration, and failure in this life and goes to great lengths (thanks be to Jesus!) to make sure we are not left in the dark. He brings us into his eternal light of life.