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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Light Into the Darkness 1: Let There Be Light
Text:Genesis 1:1-5 (View)
Occasion:Advent
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2023-01-24
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Colossians 1:1-23

Text: Genesis 1:1-5

 

LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS: “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

  1. The Beginning

  2. The Creation

  3. The Separation

 

  1. Psalm 93:1-4

  2. Psalm 119:13-15

  3. Psalm 90: 1, 7, 8

  4. Hymn 67: 1, 7

  5. Psalm 46: 1, 5

  6. Psalm 148: 1, 4

 

Words to Listen For: prologue, perfection, pride, particle, physical

 

Questions For Understanding:

  1. Why might a verse from Mark belong at the beginning of the Bible?

  2. What does “in the beginning God (created)” mean?

  3. How did Jesus act in creation?

  4. What did God create on the first day? (tricky!  Be careful here!)

  5. What is the final result for darkness?  For light?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved children of the light,

What does the word “chaos” mean to you?

Maybe “chaos” brings to mind the shopping malls around Christmas time.  Hordes of people, all pushing and shoving, no order, just masses of people moving in random directions.

Or maybe chaos is what it is like when you’re late for something and you forgot that you had to defrost the car.  You’re running around looking for the scraper you haven’t used or even thought about for the last 11 months.

These are chaotic EVENTS, but they’re not REAL CHAOS.

So what is REAL CHAOS then?

Well, real chaos is what we are introduced to this morning. The beginning of the world was real chaos.

Genesis 1:2 describes this in a very stark manner - The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.

Our english translation here makes it sound a lot nicer than it actually was. 

But actually hear these familiar words

  • Without form

  • Void

  • Darkness

  • Deep

Picture it.  It’s not a picture of NOTHING in verse 2.  It’s not NOTHING, it’s CHAOS.

There was darkness and there was water.  But not darkness in the way that we think of darkness.  Not water in the way that we think of water.

Because OUR DARKNESS is limited.  OUR DARKNESS usually has a bit of light.  Whether a flashlight, or a streetlight, or even our “divine night light” of the stars and the moon.

And in our darkness, there is hope, because we know that there will be light.  If we are in a pitch black cave, we are always looking for the light.  A pitch black night, we are always looking for the morning.  But at the beginning of that first day of creation…there was no such order.  No light in the darkness.  Not yet.

And similarly OUR WATER is limited.  When you’re out in the middle of the ocean and it feels like chaos, the wind is howling, the waves are crashing over the boat…there IS STILL ORDER.

After all, the water is organized into waves.  They crash in generally the same direction.  There is an up, there is a down.  But not so on that first day of creation.

There are those who try to picture what it would have looked like.  And so they imagine a pitch black background, and in the middle, a big blue ball, a globe of water.

But you see, a globe is a form.  And it was formless.

To see the water you need light.  But all was darkness.

But then our God did what He always does.  He did for the first time what He would do thousands and millions of times since then.  He created order out of chaos.  He created beauty out of the void.  He created 

LIGHT IN(TO) THE DARKNESS: with the awesome words: “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”  We will examine

  1. The Beginning

  2. The Creation, and finally

  3. The Separation

 

Light Into The Darkness: Let There Be Light!

We are beginning our advent sermon series at the very beginning.  Which, as we all know, is a very good place to start.

And truly, another beginning could be here as well.  The words that begin the gospel according to Mark could really begin the Bible.  Mark 1:1 could serve as a prologue, or an introduction to the entire Bible.

The beginning of the gospel of the Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Because this book is ALL ABOUT HIM from beginning to end.

  • The Old Testament can be described as the PREPARATION for the Son of God.

  • The Gospel Accounts are the DESCRIPTION of His Incarnation.

  • Acts is the PROPAGATION, the spread of His Gospel.

  • The Letters are the EXPLANATION of the treasures of His grace.

  • And Revelation is the DECLARATION of His final victory.

Preparation, Description, Propagation, Explanation, and Declaration.

It is important for us, as believers to see Holy Scripture as ONE BOOK with ONE THROUGHLINE.  The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

It’s ALL GOSPEL.

  • The law is gospel.

  • The prophets are gospel

  • The writings are gospel

  • The gospels are gospel

  • Apocalyptic literature is gospel.

From the beginning it is gospel, because from the beginning, there was God.

That’s what we read, right?

In the beginning God.

You’ve heard before, from this pulpit, from me, that this is a full sentence.  In the beginning God.  And that’s true…in a sense.

 

In the beginning God.

Hard to say this isn’t true, it’s written there in black and white.

 

But we need to expand our minds a little more.  We can expand our minds, our understanding, by including the next word.  The next word gives more understanding to the first 4.

 

In the beginning God created.

Ah.  So in the beginning God…DID SOMETHING.  We’ll get to the “what” in a moment, what it means that He created, but in the beginning God ACTED.

And so, what does this mean?

 

In the beginning God created NECESSARILY MEANS “before the beginning God was.”

I’ll say that again.  In the beginning God created NECESSARILY MEANS “before the beginning God was.”

 

If God ACTED in the beginning, at the beginning of the beginning, it means that God WAS…BEFORE the beginning.  For someone to act, he must first EXIST.  Existence is before action.

 

And so, before the beginning, GOD WAS.

He was all that there was.  We never read of when the heavenly realms, Heaven itself, and all the supernatural spiritual beings who exist there to serve and worship God were created.  We don’t know the WHEN, but we do know that they were all created.

As we will sing later in the service, Psalm 148 speaks of angels as created beings, created to worship.  Colossians 1 speaks of the creation of all things, visible and invisible, including thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities.  There are the terms used for the hierarchy of angels - elect angels and fallen angels.

Before the beginning, existing eternally in perfect blessedness and glory, loving and being loved within Himself - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He was all that there was.  He EXISTED and then He ACTED.

And what did He do?

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.

GOD created.

You see…as human beings, we do not create.  All we do is we sort of “move dirt around.”  We work with what we have been given.  We can “create” a building…but what is it that we actually do?  We mine iron from the ground, and turn it into steel.  We make cement from various minerals such as lime and silica, add water and turn it into concrete.  And then we shape that concrete and steel into amazing building projects.  Skyscrapers that reach to the sky.  We are CREATIVE, but we do not CREATE.

And science does not create.  Science merely DISCOVERS.

And much of the time, what science “discovers” has already been revealed.

Ponder with me on this famous discovery made by a scientist named Herbert Spencer in 1903.  As a scientist and philosopher, Spencer spent a lot of time thinking about existence, and came up with this “new” and “revolutionary” thought.

All things in the universe belong to 5 categories - Time, force, action, space, and matter.

Amazing.  Brand new.  Or…perhaps…God beat Herbert Spencer to the punch.

What Spencer discovered in 1903 was actually there already in what may have been the first words ever in recorded history.

Genesis 1:1 teaches exactly what Spencer said.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

In the Beginning - That’s Time

God - That’s Force 

Created - That’s Action

The Heavens - That’s Space

The Earth - That’s Matter

AMAZING.

And you may wonder why we are spending so much time on creation.  Because creation is primarily the work of God the Father, is it not?  

Well yes, the Father was involved in creation.  Absolutely true.  If we are to divide up the Trinity into their main roles in salvation, the Father is Creation, the Son is Redemption, the Spirit is Perfection.

But Advent, and all of Scripture is about God the Son.  Our Messiah.  Our Redeemer.  Our Saviour.  So…why all this focus on creation?  For that answer, let’s take a look at our reading. Colossians 1.

In Colossians 1, perhaps more clearly than anywhere else, we see that, not only was Jesus PRESENT AT CREATION - John 1, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

But we see that truly all three Divine Persons of the Trinity were involved in Creation.  The Father created BY the Son and WITH the Spirit.  The Spirit was hovering over the waters.  More on Him shortly in our second point.

But the ;Father created BY THE SON.  Colossians 1, starting at verse 15

He - that is Christ Jesus - is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Just to pause here briefly - firstborn of creation does not mean THE FIRST CREATED BEING, but rather, that Christ has the rights of the firstborn Son.  It all belongs to Him.

For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.

All things were created through Him and for Him.

The Son was involved.  When we hear the voice of God saying, in Genesis 1:26 - Let us make man in our image…He is speaking, not to the angels, for the angels do not create.  We are not created BY an angel, or in the IMAGE OF AN ANGEL.

Let US make man in OUR image…and then, verse 27 - So God made man in His image.

Us - plural

His - singular

 

Plural - Father, Son, and Spirit

Singular - One God

 

AMAZING.  All of this, right there in Genesis 1.

But.  Colossians 1.

All things were created through Him - God the Father chose to work through God the Son.  We don’t know exactly what this means in practical terms.  Could it be that the Son is the WORD and God created with His voice?  Speaking creation into being?  Possibly.  We don’t know.  And it’s amazing that we don’t.  It’s amazing that God is so far beyond us that at times we simply sit back and wonder.  Sit back in amazement, turn our eyes upwards and say, “HOW GREAT ARE YOU O LORD!”

All things were created through Him…AND FOR HIM.

What a joyful encouraging phrase.

We were made FOR HIM.  We were given to Jesus Christ as a gift.  As a present.  To be His treasured possession.

And it is THIS FACT that makes us valuable.  Not our beauty, not our intellect, not our goodness, not what we can do for Him, but rather, we are valuable, we are loved, because we were made, in a very real way, along with all creation, as the first present.  The first gift.  Made by God the Father for God the Son.  If that doesn’t encourage you of your value in Him, I’m not sure what will.

Our Saviour, the light of the world was personally present, personally involved, thinking of YOU in the world of dark, watery, formless, void chaos.  And what did He do?  He ACTED.  He started bringing order to the chaos.  He CREATED.  Our second point.

Fill in the blank: on the first day God created ____________

Pretty easy question, right?

Because what we see in children’s Bibles, what we teach in a simplified way in school is that on the first day, God created LIGHT!

But that’s not all He created, is it?

On the first day, God created darkness, God created water, AND THEN God created light.

Because, as we heard in our first point, only God is eternal.  Darkness is a created thing.  Water is a created thing.  Chaos is a created thing.

And there are those who have a challenge with this.  They have a problem.  “Isn’t all that God created GOOD?  Why would God create the chaos of a watery dark formless void?”  Well…apart from the difficult task of trying to fully understand exactly what THE ALMIGHTY is doing and why He is doing it…we know that God works with chaos.  Again and again and again.  If Holy Scripture consisted of only 2 verses, Genesis 1 and 2, then you would be right to be confused and wonder.  But God is working to bring something beautiful out of something chaotic.

HE does this AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.  Through CHAOS God restores the COSMOS.  Through CHAOS God restores the COSMOS.

Through the flood - the chaos of water restored the cosmos.  Human evil was punished, Noah and his family survived.

Through the tower of Babel - the chaos of languages restored the cosmos.  Human pride was punished, the people filled the earth and subdued it.

Through the Red Sea - the chaos of water restored the cosmos.  Human evil was punished, Moses and the nation of Israel were set free.

And here too.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

He created the universe, an empty dark universe, and a watery dark earth.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

It is comforting that the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  This hovering shows CARE.  This word can be translated as cherishing, or as brooding.  What a mother bird does to her babies in the nest.

All that God CREATES, He controls.

All that God CREATES, He cares for.

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

And out of care, God acted in the chaos, bringing order.

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

There is something gained when we look at the original here.  The Hebrew is so beautiful and simple and powerful.  So indulge me for a moment.

 

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים  (Va-yomer Elohiym)

And God said

יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־ אֽוֹר (yhi or, vayhi or)

“Light be” and light was.  Light be, and light was.

 

You see, God - Father Son and Holy Spirit - were not looking down on the dark, formless, watery earth and puzzling, asking each other… “what’s was the formula for light again?  How do we create this?”

No.  God simply SPEAKS and IT IS.

LIGHT BE

    AND LIGHT WAS.

Wonderful.  Awesome.

How did God created light?  By calling it into being!  He commanded what never existed before to exist, and it did!  Light just sprang into existence.

WOW.

And WHY was light created?

It wasn’t so that GOD could see - the psalmist writes in Psalm 139 that “the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

No…God created LIGHT because He was preparing His world for LIFE.

This is the historical reason.  God created light because He was preparing His world for life.

But theologically.  What can we say?  What can we say about light?  What distinguishes light from the other things created?

 

Well…light is a bit of a mystery to us.

  • Science says that light is somehow both approximately a particle and a wave, and exactly neither of them.

  • Science tells us that light is, in a sense, timeless.  When something travels the speed of light, about 300 000 000 meters per second, time slows to a stop.

  • Light is absolutely incorruptible - darkness cannot dim light, but truly the exact opposite.

  • Light is a universal gift - it shines on both the righteous and the unrighteous.

  • It is a free gift, a useful gift, a silent gift, and a comforting gift.

It is no wonder that light is one of the favorite metaphors of the Bible for everything good, for life, salvation, for God’s commandments, and for the very presence of God.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…the true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Jesus Christ came, as light into the darkness.  There was, in the incarnation, the beginning of a new creation cycle.  The chaos of a sinful, dark world, would receive the favor of the light of God - Jesus Christ Himself.  That’s the story of Christmas.  That’s what we are preparing our hearts for.  The coming of the light.

And one more awesome thing that first day.  Not only was light CREATED that day, but also separation.  Light was created, it was named as DAY, and separated from the chaos of the darkness, which was called night.  Our final point.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good.  And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

It is interesting, is it not…that God does not specifically call the darkness “good.”  Verse 4 - God saw that the light was good.

And what comes immediately after?  That which God saw was good, that which God called good…was immediately SEPARATED.

The waters too…they are never called GOOD.

In day 3, God created dry ground, and gathered together the waters and called them seas.  THIS was good.

But darkness…unrestrained chaotic water…never called good.  Interesting.

 

And this carries through the whole Bible.  Darkness is never seen as something good.  The chaotic water of storms…never seen as good.

Darkness represents something to fight against, something to dispel with light, something that covers what is shameful.

And water, well, think of the destructive power of the flood, the destructive power of the Red Sea, the chaos and fear and uncertainty of the storm in Psalm 46 - We will not fear, EVEN THOUGH the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

The chaotic water, even the restrained chaos of the seas, are seen as something causing distress.  Something we must trust in God DESPITE.

And so God SEPARATES.  He SEPARATES His new ordered creation of light, remember, something good, something undefiled, something that is the manifestation of God’s own being…God SEPARATES this from the chaos.  The chaos that seemed to have reigned supreme.

 

Chaos…BUT GOD…order.  Goodness.  Glory.  Beauty.

 

This is what our God always does.  Separation is the way of His world.  Already on the first day of creation, shown more and more throughout, with the clearest symbol being the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The two are DISTINCT.  Good and evil are not all bundled up together in one, like a perverse yin-yang symbol.  Where the white and black and combined with each other.

NO.  God does not NEED the Devil.  Good does not NEED evil.  Right now, they co-exist…but one day…

Now, one of you might think that this is too much of a stretch.  Maybe, just maybe light in this passage is only literal light.  Maybe, just maybe, in this passage, darkness is just literal darkness.  Does EVERYTHING have to be a metaphor?

That’s a good point, and we must be careful not to add something foreign to the text.  To imagine symbols where no such symbols exist.

And if you are wondering if that’s what’s happening now…let me draw your attention to 2 Corinthians 4.  Turn there now with me.

Because, beloved, we must not add anything foreign to the text.  But what is the text?  It’s not just Genesis 1:1-5…THIS  (hold up Bible) is the text!  Remember what we heard earlier?

Holy Scripture is ONE BOOK with ONE THROUGHLINE.  The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  It’s ALL GOSPEL.

And so, anything in all of Holy Scripture cannot be foreign to our text.  It’s all one story.  From beginning to end.

So.  2 Corinthians 4.

If your Bible is like mine, the title of this chapter - The Light of the Gospel.  Interesting.

Let’s read the first 6 verses here together.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.  But we have renounced disgraceful underhanded ways.  We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word,

Elsewhere, this behaviour is described as hard-heartedness, corruption, darkness

But by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  In their case, the god of this world - Satan - has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing…from seeing WHAT?  To keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.  For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

And here is the clincher.  There have been hints of light and darkness already, nothing concrete to tie it to Genesis 1…but this verse, verse 6…

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

WOW.

Let’s unpack this a little together just before we close.

The darkness.  Satan lives in the darkness.  He works in the darkness.  We heard in our reading from Colossians 1 that Satan’s domain is the domain of darkness.  And he wants to spread that darkness far and wide.  Notice what Satan does to the unbelieving.  He DOUBLY keeps them in darkness.  He VEILS the gospel to them…like putting a blindfold on them…and he blinds their mind.  Double darkness.  A blindfold on a blind man.

But.

BUT GOD.

What does God do?  He sends light into the darkness.  And you know what…just as with physical light…THE DARKNESS FLEES!

You flick a lightswitch, and those kind of particles kind of waves, but really neither…they IMMEDIATELY flood the room!  The speed of light is SO FAST that there is no delay for us.  It is an IMMEDIATE victory of the light over the darkness.

Darkness cannot HOPE to stand up to light.

And the God who said: Let light shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts.

Light is the first thing created in the chaos of the world.

Light is the first thing created in the chaos of our sinful soul.

Light is fighting against darkness.  And we know that light could INSTANTLY DEFEAT darkness.  We know this, and we struggle with it.  God could, in an instant, forever defeat Satan.  Take away ALL HIS POWER, throw him in the burning lake of fire.  God could do that RIGHT NOW.

And we pray for this day, don’t we?  When we pray, when we sing, as we will in a moment, Come Lord Jesus Maranatha we are praying for the victory of the light.  We are praying that darkness will be forever defeated, as is promised in Revelation 21 - in the heavenly city there will be no night.

We are longing for the day that night will not only be SEPARATED from the light, but that night will be FOREVER BANISHED.  One day, closer now than ever before…it will come.  It will be day forever.  Living in the light of the glory of God.

Because the God who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The light that God created in the world was good.

The light that God has shone in your heart is VERY GOOD.  It is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

He has given you that light, in your heart, as a downpayment.  He has given you that light in your heart as a foretaste of that world where all will be His glorious light and there will be no more night.

We are called to be children of the light.  To separate ourselves from the darkness as God did on that first day of creation.

And so, already now, in this dark world, we also, as Christians, literally LITTLE-CHRISTS, are called to be lights in the darkness.  How does the children’s song go… “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.  Let it shine til Jesus comes, I’m gonna let it shine.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

AMEN




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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