Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Just the Facts that Matter on Day Four (Genesis 1:14-19)

The second half of the creative week parallels the first. On days one, two and three we got light, sky and seas, and land. Here in the second half God will create the luminaries, fill the sky and seas with creatures, and create land animals and man.

Most importantly for day four is the fact that God creates the luminaries in the heavens as objects under His control. This is where the theological intent of the passage is seen over any human or cultural understanding or interpretation of the way things are. God does not try to teach the original readers of this passage that their cosmological picture of the solar system was flawed. He does not try to provide a scientific framework to replace their understanding. Such information, while more accurate, would have no impact on the lives of people at the time. And, for the purposes of the message of scripture, it still makes no difference.

In this passage theological truth trumps scientific. That is because the message is paramount. God doesn’t stop down for however long it would have required to educate the readers on the scientific realities of the solar system that would have had zero impact on their lives. Such facts are not negated or contradicted, they are simply not addressed. He gets right to the truths that matter. Irrelevant facts don’t muddle things up. Much in the way that Sherlock Holmes claimed to be unaware or have purposely forgotten that the earth travelled around the sun, the issue here is relevance and purpose.

What God instead corrects here in the creation story is the natural human tendency to worship the creature rather than the creator. Cultures throughout history have worshiped the sun, moon and stars. Here in Genesis, God shows the heavenly bodies to be mere objects created by Him to fulfil their purposes.

God makes them. He controls them. He gives them orders and they do simply as He commands. Here in Genesis, they are not even named. “Sun” and “Moon” would have been more natural than “greater luminary” and “lesser luminary.” But the proper names might have personified them, and in the context of this passage they need to clearly be objects, creations.

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