Bible Study, Genesis

Light and Darkness

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:3-4 Day One of Creation

As I mentioned in a previous post, the light written about in these verses does not appear to be the same as the creation of the sun, moon, and stars which God brought into being on day four of creation week.

Searching for references to creation, light, and darkness in Scripture yield many, many results which aids in our understanding of the “light” and “darkness” that God created. Reading about the passages throughout the Bible that have to do with these terms gives us not only a better understanding for interpretation purposes, but also for practical application.

It is difficult to narrow down which verses to feature here! As I read verses about light, darkness, and creation, I was diverted for quite some time, thankful that the LORD is pleased to show us something of His glory in His Word.


The story of God in the Bible begins with God. It ends with God. It is filled with the work and nature of God. The LORD created man and blessed him, but God is, was, and always will be supreme. We are created for His purposes.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 
Genesis 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2

The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.
Proverbs 16:4

I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
Isaiah 45:6b-7

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens
(He is the God who formed the earth and made it,
He established it and did not create it a waste place,
but formed it to be inhabited), "I am the LORD,
and there is none else."
Isaiah 45:18

Remember the former things long past, For I am God,
and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, "My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure"...
Isaiah 46:9-10

God is Sovereign

In just these few verses, we learn something about God. Light and darkness are created by God and under His sovereign control. We do not have a good God battling an equally powerful evil force. Not at all. Both light and darkness are in His hand. Evil will not prevail and the sinfulness of neither man nor fallen angels will trespass beyond the borders the Lord has fixed. All are made for His purposes. No plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2; Isaiah 14:27)

The Lord created light for His own purpose, not as a panicked remedy to some opposing darkness that was outside His control. The Lord was not in any sort of need. He didn’t need to make light in order to see better (Psalm 139:12). We may tremble when we remember that the LORD Himself is the creator of both light and darkness, and that no one experiences well-being or calamity outside of His sovereign hand (see Isa 45:7 above); however, we must remember that when we put our trust in God, we are relying on the All-Powerful One Who alone has the ability to help and protect us (Psalm 71:3). In trusting Him, we trust the One against Whom no darkness can prevail. Sweet relief!

God is Good

In 1 John 1:5, the apostle John tells us “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”[bold emphasis added] In Christ, we are hidden in a powerful rock of refuge. There is no cause for doubt, unbelief, worry, anxiety, or ambivalence. The LORD will always do what is right. He can be trusted and depended upon for all our needs.

We tremble at the LORD who can create and destroy with only a word. But, we can find comfort knowing that there is no evil with the LORD. James tells us “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”(James 1:17) What blessed comfort!

The Light and the Darkness

As for definitions, I have begun by looking at several verses having to do with light and darkness. I don’t pretend to be a scholar of Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, but we can find where the same terms are used in multiple verses to make some sense of what is meant by the light and darkness at the beginning of creation. (As God has given the gift of teaching for the building up of the body (Eph 4:11-12), I plan to dive into the commentaries and study notes from sermons next and post my findings. So much to discover here that I’m not ready to move on in Genesis until I cover more of this section!)

In the following verses, it appears that “light” (Strong’s Number H216 – matches the Hebrew אוֹר (‘owr) and Strong’s Number G5457 – matches the Greek φῶς (phōs)) can refer to life, light of day, light by which to see, instruction, blessing, and goodness, while “darkness” (Strong’s Number H2822 – matches the Hebrew חֹשֶׁךְ (choshek) and Strong’s Number G4655 – matches the Greek σκότος (skotos)) may refer to death, evil/sin, darkness as of night, mystery, or ignorance:

So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel;  and there was the cloud along with the darkness,  yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near  the other all night. 
- Exo 14:20

May that day be darkness; Let not God above care for it, Nor light shine on it.
- Job 3:4 [word for "light" here is a different Hebrew word than noted above]

He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light. … They grope in darkness with no light, And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.
- Job 12:22, 25

When I expected good, then evil came; When I waited for light, then darkness came.
- Job 30:26 [word for "darkness" here is a different Hebrew word than noted above]

For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness.
- Psa 18:28

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
- Isa 5:20

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
- Isa 9:2

Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom.
- Isa 59:9

THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.
- Matt 4:16 (referring to Isa 9:2)

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
- John 3:19

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
- John 8:12

...to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
- Act 26:18

...and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness...
- Rom 2:19

Some Application

Both light and darkness have existed from the beginning of creation. Whether the verses in Genesis 1:3-4 specifically mean good and evil, the domain of God and of Satan, life and death, or blessing and curse (or a little of all those things) it is God who has created all things and He has made them for His own good purposes. The verses in 2 Peter chapter three help with further practical application of all this study: remember that evil and death will remain until God has final and ultimate victory. In a sense, it is already done– God has already defeated darkness for He has already decreed it and so it must happen. However, there is evil on the earth now. We do not make this present earth into heaven. We cannot do it. There are many false teaching groups that present the idea that we can bring about the dominion of good in this present age or that we can make heaven on earth now. Those teachings are in contradiction to Scripture which says that this present world is passing away and will be destroyed.

Overall, the application I have in mind is that we trust God in both good and bad circumstances, give ourselves to earnest prayer, evangelizing while it is still day, and remembering the blessed hope we have in Christ of eternal life.

There is much, much more to be written about these things, but I’ll stop for now. Please see the links below for further study.

Unless noted otherwise, Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright (c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.
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