The Creation of Light


The Creation of Light

October 21st, 1956 @ 8:15 AM

Genesis 1:3-5

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 1:3-5

10-21-56    8:15 a.m.



Now, we turn this morning to the first chapter of Genesis as we’ve been turning now for over a month and as we shall continue to turn for a long time yet to come.  And this morning, we are going to read the story of the first day and this morning we’re going to speak of The Creation of Light.  In the first chapter of Genesis beginning at the third verse:


And God said, "Let there be light": and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.  And the evening and the morning were the first day.

[Genesis 1:3-5]


Now, as to the time of the actual creation of light itself, which is what mostly we’re going to speak of this morning, almost certainly – and if what I have been preaching here is true, and I think it is the revelation of God or I wouldn’t preach it – if what I have been saying here in interpretation of this Book is true, then light was created in the beginning in the first verse: "In the beginning God created" bara – created out of nothing.  In the beginning God bara hashamayim we’et ha’aret" [Genesis 1:1].  That was in the beginning. 

So in the dateless past, when God made, created, formed, spoke into existence out of nothing all of the things that we see in the heavenlies and in this terrestrial earth, at that time, God created light.  Light was one of the things that He created along with other matter.  For this morning, before we’re done – and I hope I have time to present all this this morning – light is a physical creature like any other thing that God made. 

So, when God made matter, stuff – materiality, corporality – when God made what He made – a thing that you can see or hear or touch – when God made that He made light, for light is as physical a physical thing as anything else that is physical – as physical as a rock.

So when we come here to the third verse, it does not say bara, "God created light."  No. He did that in the beginning.  Back there in the timeless, dateless past, He created light.  But here in the third verse, God said, "wayyomer elohim yehi owr; wayhi owr" [Genesis 1:3].  God turned on the light, and it was turned on.  I don’t see any buttons around here.  That’s it.  God punched a button and the light came on.  He had already made it, but here, yehi owr, "be light" – punched a button instantaneously.

Now, I hope all of us have been here from the beginning of these discourses.  When God made that world, it was beautiful and perfect.  Isaiah says He made it not void and empty, tohu wabohu [Isaiah 45:18].  He didn’t make it that way, but He made it to be furnished, and habitable, and beautiful.  And, as I said, He put a king over it, and that king’s name was Lucifer [Ezekiel 28:12-14].  And the whole creation of God was perfect and beautiful [Isaiah 45:18; Ezekiel 28:12-13].  But Lucifer fell [Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:15]; and when he fell, the whole world was turned into chaos and into darkness and into great void, empty waste [Genesis 1:2]. 

You see, you have a firmament now, and that’s what we’re going to talk about next Sunday is the creation of the firmament.  You have a firmament now – a great space between this earth with the waters on it and the heavens with the great oceans of water up there above us.  But there wasn’t any firmament when all of this was created, when all of this creation was turned into chaos.  It was vastly empty, unfurnished, ruined, dark, vain and void, all mixed up: no land, no particular place for the water, no firmament – just darkness and ruin everywhere.

Now, on this first day – and last Sunday we said what a day was, the revolving of this earth, a day – on that first day, the time it took for the earth to revolve around one time, in that day, at a moment in that day, this first day of recreation, God said, "Let the light come; let the light come" [from Genesis 1:3].  And the light came through that appalling gloom.  The light began to shine [Genesis 1:2-5].

Now, immediately, the skeptic reads the story, and he scorns, and he scoffs, and he says, "Ha ha! What naïve idiocy!  Here Moses says on the first day, ‘Let the light shine.’  Now look at the fourteenth verse [Genesis 1:14].  It was not until the fourth day that God set the lights in the heavens: the sun, the moon and the stars."

So the skeptic and the pseudoscientist, he looks at that Book, and he reads it, and he laughs, and he makes fun of it to his students.  And he inculcates in their hearts the idea that the Genesis record is just old wives tales and silly superstitions of a long-ago child-like fable ’cause it says here’s the light and it was not until the fourth day that God put the sun and the moon and the stars up there to be the lights for the world.  So he laughs at it.  Well, what’s the matter is this – and I have three answers about this light here on the first day. 

The first answer is this: the supposition that light is only from the sun is so much folly wide the mark.  Light is not dependent upon the sun at all any more than Mars is dependent upon Jupiter.  There just happen to be two different things.  Here’s Mars.  Here’s Jupiter.  Here’s a rock; here’s a body of water.  Sunlight is a form of light, but there are many, many kinds of light, lots of kinds of light – lots of kinds. 

If you’ll come out to my study in my library at home where I study every morning of the world, every morning – six days out of the week, I’m in that study in the morning.  If you’ll come out there, I have a long – I have four long tubes above my desk. 

Well, you say, isn’t that sunlight?  Why, certainly that’s not sunlight.  On the inside of that tube is a vapor, a gas, and I go over there and punch the button, and an electric current goes through that gas, and those little old particles in that gas get to whirling and pretty soon I got light down there on my desk.  That’s not sunlight.  That is light created by running an electric current through a vapor, through a gas.  In my house, it happened to be fluorescent.  Downtown, they’ve got it neon – just everywhere all over this town.

That’s not sunlight.  That’s the – God don’t know, I mean the Lord don’t know what that is.  When you run that current through there, those gases give off a light: they are electrically excited.  All right, that’s not sunlight.  That’s just light.  God created light. That’s not sunlight.

All right, here’s another light that’s not sunlight.  Did you ever, as a boy, watch lightning bugs?  They are the funniest little critters you ever saw in your life.  Physicists for the years and the generations have been trying to find a light that doesn’t give off any heat.  Every kind of light – you look up there, those things nearly blind you.  If you were to put your hand up there on one of those great big spotlights, it’d burn it off.  Light that we know creates heat.  All kinds of light that we know creates heat, but a lightning bug has got a secret that no physicist, no entomologist can probe or understand.  He can turn on light, and there’s no heat at all.  And that’s a marvel.

You know, I picked up one of those little lightning bugs that was dead, and when he died he had his light on.   And there he was: I held him in my hand, dead as a doorknob, but his light was shining.  That’s a miracle.  That’s not sunlight.  Nobody knows what that light is except that God made light [Genesis 1:3] – a physical thing as we’ll learn later on. 

All right, here’s another kind of light that is not sunlight.  Now, what I’m trying to say is that these infidels who scoff at the Book and say, "Why, that’s silly. There couldn’t have been any light on the first day because light wasn’t up there and the sun and the moon placed for this earth until the fourth day" – I’m saying there’s just lots of kinds of light beside the sunlight.

All right, here’s another one.  Phosphorus will make light.  I’ve not seen this, but I have read that in the tropical seas there are sometimes so many phosphorus fish – that is, fish that have that unusual glow that you call phosphorus – they are so phosphorescent that you can read a newspaper by them in the middle of the night.  They’re playing there together in the sea.  That’s light, and it’s not sunlight – not at all.

Now, here’s another light that is not sunlight: the aurora borealis.  The best anybody can guess what the northern lights are is there is an electromagnetic field up there, and when you run it through nitrogen, why, nitrogen will give off colors like the northern lights.  The only guess anybody can make is that in those magnetic fields up there in the north somewhere, it electrically excites the nitrogen or the oxygen in the atmosphere and it makes those beautiful lights.  But that’s not sunlight nor is it connected with sunlight. 

Now, another kind of light is that radioactive light – radium – and all kinds of cosmic light which is made of ether or however God has done it out there that nobody knows about.  I have read that if you were to get a million, million, million miles away from this earth that the earth would glow with cosmic light, radioactive light.  I’ve read that.  Anyway, all of that, all of that is light, not sunlight.  Light is one thing; the sun is another as we’re going to see just now in a moment.

Now, what this light was I do not know, but I would just guess.  Some would think that was cosmic light – the light that God has out there that seems to permeate all this universe: cosmic light, ether light, whatever kind of light that is.  I would maybe guess, personally, that it was sunlight that God allowed through that awful gloom, that God allowed light to penetrate that appalling gloom.  That’s what I would suppose.  But I don’t know.  All I’m saying is the first answer is this: when anyone says that the sun didn’t shine until the fourth day, therefore the first day was impossible, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because light as such is not dependent upon the sun. 

All right, I have a second answer here, and that is this over here on the fourth day where God says He sets in the heavens the sun and the moon and the stars [Genesis 1:14-19].  Now, my second answer to that thing about light being on the first day and the sun not up there in the fourth day is this: the word for "light" is owr, owr [Genesis 1:3]. The word here used for the sun and the moon is me’orot, me’orot [Genesis 1:14].

Now, you have that same sort of a thing in Greek.  You have phos; then you have phoster.  Now the difference in the two is this: owr is light – whatever kind of light, light.  And we’re going to see in a minute what light is.  Owr is light.  Me’orot is a lampstand.  It’s a light holder.  It’s a light receptacle.  Me’orot is one of those things up there, but one of those things up there gives owr.   Me’orot the light holder, owr the light that comes down from it. 

Now, the same thing is used in Greek. Phos is "light."  Phoster is a lampstand.  It’s a light holder.  Now, that’s the word – these are the words that are used here in Genesis.  In the first day, the word used is owr, "light."  Here in the fourteenth verse [Genesis 1:14], on the fourth day, God calls the sun and the moon and the stars me’orot, light holders.

In the twenty-fifth chapter of Exodus and the sixth verse, the seven-branch lampstand in the tabernacle is called the ma’or – the ma’or.  It was a holder of light.  Now, that word ma’or that refers to the lampstand in the tabernacle is the same Hebrew word used here to refer to the sun and the moon and the stars [Genesis 1:14].  They are the me’orot: they are the lamp holders, the light holders, of God’s universe.

So, when it says here light on the first day, it means light.  When it says here on the fourth day God set His luminaries, His branch stands, His great candleholders – He set them up there in the sky – it refers to the sun and the moon and the stars as being the containers of God’s flaming, burning light.

All right, I have another, a third answer, to that question about the first day and the fourth day, and it is this: that light is a creation.  It is a creature. It is a physical thing. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit.

Here in the 148th Psalm, it says of God that "praise Him, sun, moon, stars of light . . . for He commanded and they were created" [Psalm 148:3, 5].  Here in the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, it says: "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me . . . I formed the light . . . I the Lord do all these things" [Isaiah 45:5-7].  Light is a creature.  It is a physical creation.

Now, I want to show you a place in the Bible where God pulled a physical creature away.  In the tenth chapter of the Book of Exodus, the twenty-one through the twenty-third verses, you have the story of the plague in Egypt that went like this: 


And the Lord said unto Moses, "Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness that may be felt" – felt.

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days –

they couldn’t get out of bed –

but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

[Exodus 10:21-23]


Darkness is a creature, and light is a creature.  It’s a physical thing, and there was darkness that they could feel.  It pushed them down and kept them in bed, and for three days they couldn’t get out of bed.  It was dark.  It was thick darkness.  But Israel over there turned on the lights.  They struck a match except they didn’t have any matches.  They pushed the button except they did not have any buttons.  They just turned on the lights, and they had light.   But God, in that plague in Egypt, took it out – the physical thing of light.  He took it out, and when He took it out the darkness was heavy and oppressive and could be felt.

 Now, light is a physical thing, and that’s what we’re going to look at.  It is a creature.  It is a creation; it is a creature.  Light can be analyzed.  It can be measured.  It can be bent.  It can be made crooked like a corkscrew.  It can be bounced off a polished surface.  It can be induced to follow a path.  It can be turned into sound.  Light is a creature, a physical creation like anything that God made. 

Now, before I go on with that, may I say something else about light lest we so overemphasize its physical qualities that we forget a little something on the side that I’m going to try to end with: the spiritual nature of light.  Light is a creation.  It’s a physical thing.  You can measure it.  You can bend it.  You can do all those things with it. 

But it also has a spiritual nature.  It can go through a solid rock, a solid rock, and leave no hole, no trace.  Glass is hard, hard, hard rock that is melted.  It can go through that rock, leave at the speed of thousand times a thousand times of a bullet, leave no hole, leave no mark, leave no shadow, leave no impress at all.  It is spiritual also in this sense: so far as I’ve been able to discover, it never stops.  When light starts, it goes on forever and forever.

When these astronomers go outside and look at the sky, they say, "You see that star up there through this telescope?  That star is 289 thousand billion light years away."  Did you ever think what that meant?  The speed of light is 186,200 miles a second: seven-and-a-half times around the earth in a second.  And yet those stars whose light you’re looking at started on its journey – the light that you’re now seeing – maybe 289 thousand billion light years away.

The distance light would go in one year at 186,200 miles a second: billions and billions and billions and billions and uncounted, untold billions of miles away, and yet that light has never diminished.  And if the ray isn’t stopped by some physical object here in the earth and it misses the earth, it just goes on forever.

 It has a spiritual nature.  It’s immortal, apparently.  It never stops unless something stops it – unless it hits your body and you absorb it.  That ray goes on and on and on forever.  And I haven’t time here to expatiate on some of these passages: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" [1 John 1:5]; and Jesus says, "I am the Light of the world" [John 8:12].  There is a spiritual side, a spiritual nature, to light.  When you get into these things, I tell you – and before this sermon’s over this morning, I hope I can demonstrate it – the spiritual world and the physical world are almost the same.  They just almost alike. 

Now, let’s look at this thing of the physical light.  It is a creation.  Among the many experiments measuring light, the most accurate was by Albert A. Michelson [1852-1931] who died in 1931.  And out there in California, he put a mirror and a mirror – one on Mount Wilson and one on Mount San Antonio – and by the rapidly revolving of one of those mirrors, he was able accurately to test the speed of light, and he found that it travels at 186,200 miles a second or seven-and-a-half times in a second around the world. 

And this French physicist Hippolyte Fizeau [1819-1896], who died in 1896, demonstrated that when you ran light through water, why, it is impeded, and it only goes about three-fourths as fast.  It’s a physical thing that moves along through space, 186,200 miles a second; through water, about a fourth slower.  It’s a creature that moves.

Now, the most marvelous thing that I have run into in the study of this Word in an age is this unusual Hebrew construction here, and we’re going to look at it in the light.  "And God divided the light from the darkness" [Genesis 1:4]: waiyyabdel elohim ben ha’owr uben hahōshek.

Now, the literal: wayyabdel badel, "to divide, to separate;" "God" Elohim; ben "between;" ha’owr "the light;" uben "and between;" hahōshek "the darkness."

Isn’t that an unusual thing? "And God badel – and God separated."  God made a division, ben, "between," ha’owr, "the light."  God divided the light [Genesis 1:4].  Now, Moses wrote that, oh, thousands and thousands of years before there was any such thing as modern science.  And yet, God divided the light, badel elohim ben, "between," ha’owr "the light."  God divided it up.

White light: the purest example you have of white light is from the sun – it’s sunlight.  And Sir Isaac Newton [1643-1727] in 1666 performed the famous experiment that gave birth to a new science, the science of spectroscopy – using spectroscopes.  And he took the spectroscope and he separated the light into its component wave-lengths.  And when he subjected that light from the sun to the dispersion effects of a prism, he found in it all the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, here to here, all the way through.

When I was in school, our teacher took a round disk like that and put all those seven colors of the rainbow on it.  Then he had a little machine there where he could whirl it fast; and as he whirled it, it turned gray, whiter, whiter until finally just as white as it could be.  Yet it was all the colors of the rainbow.

Now, light is divided just like Moses wrote it there [Genesis 1:4].  Wayyabdel: He separated, He divided, He made a division, ben between, ha’owr  the light.  Now, that separation of light is a marvelous, marvelous thing.  The elements, each element, has its own color.  When you heat the iron on the spectroscope, it’ll have a color and it’ll never vary.  When you heat sodium, when you heat copper, when you heat any element, turn it, put that light through the spectroscope, and those colors are always the same.

When I was a boy, there was an element that they caught in the sun.  Subjected the light of the sun to a spectroscope in order to pick out all the different elements up there in the sun that are glowing, and there was one they didn’t have down here in this earth.  Now, the Greek word for "sun" is helios, so they called this unknown quantity that was up there in the sun glowing, they called it "helium" – helium.  But there wasn’t any helium down here in this world.  They just called that "helium" because they didn’t know what it was.  It was a sun element not in the earth.

But the earth came from the sun.  That is, God had made it – made it all the same, made it out of the same stuff the sun and the earth.  So, by and by, out there where I lived, they discovered helium in natural gas; and they built a great big helium plant to take it out of the natural gas out there in Amarillo [Amarillo, Texas].

Each one of these elements, when it is fired, when it is white heat, each one of them will burn with a certain characteristic color and that color never changes.  It is always the same.

Now, this physical thing of light: light and sound are nothing but wavelengths at a higher frequency and at a shorter interval.  It pleased God to divide between the light, badel elohim ben, between, ha’owr, the light.  God divided the light.

Now, light and sound are just differences in wavelengths and in frequency.  If the ray of a speeding wave of light, on any frequency, if it’s changed upward, it’ll turn toward the blue.  If it’s slowed down, it’ll turn toward the red.  A color – and we’ll get to that in a minute – is just a wavelength of light.

Now, when you take a wavelength of light and you slow it way down, you will hear it as a high, clear sound.  And if you’ll slow it down more, it’ll be a deeper tonal quality and keep on going down until finally it goes out of the range of the ear. 

All right, take that same wavelength and speed it up, speed it up.  And it’ll raise, it’ll raise, it’ll raise, it’ll raise in sound until it gets way high, and then you can’t hear it.  It goes beyond the ability of your ear to hear.  And if you keep on stepping it up, it’ll turn into red light, and keep on stepping it up and it’ll turn finally into blue light.  All the difference is is just a difference of the speed.  Light is invisible sound, and sound is audible light.  Just say that again: light is invisible sound and sound is audible light.  That’s the way God made the physical creature.

Now, let’s look at these colors.  What is a color?  A color is nothing but the way God has divided the light.  Colors are merely rays of light traveling at different frequencies and at different vibrations and at different lengths.  Now, at one end of this wave is the red light.  That’s down here.  And at the other end is the violet light.  The slow, less frequent waves are here, and that’s red.  And when you step it up, step it up, it finally becomes blue.

Now, I copied down here what several authorities that I consulted and they all gave different figures, so I don’t know whether these figures are correct or not, but it doesn’t matter.  They’re so astronomical that it doesn’t matter at all. 

Now, look.  If the waves of material matter vibrating through space are long enough, if those waves are long enough to number 37,640 to the inch, and if they come at such low frequency as only to number 458 thousand billion to the second – you know, not very fast, only 458 thousand billion to the second – why, they’ll strike your eye as red.  That’s red.  That’s red: 37,640 of them to the inch coming by you at 458 thousand billion to the second. If they do that, why, you say that’s red. 

Now, if the waves of material matter vibrating through space are short enough to number 51,110 to the inch, and if they come at the high frequency, if they’re passing by you like that at the high frequency so as to number 6,222 thousand billion to the second, why, you say that’s blue.

That’s all it is.  Isn’t that simple?  Isn’t that simple?  God divided the light.  Light’s not one thing.  And we’re – ooh, ooh, the time’s up, and I haven’t got to the main part of this.  Let’s go real fast, real fast.

Color in an object – and this is common knowledge, I think – color in the object is the object absorbs all the light rays but excludes, repels, that one.  Now, a red rose, this red carpet, is every color except red.  When the light shines on it, those rays of light, filled with all those different colors, divided like Moses said God did it, when those light rays hit this carpet the chemical substances in this carpet absorb all of the light rays except red, and it reflects that.  It bounces it back.  It refuses it, and it hits your eye, and it’s a red carpet.

Now, just a little brief summary of a lot that I had here.  The visible spectrum, what you can see, is red and violet – red all the way through that orange and yellow and blue and indigo and violet.  Now, it doesn’t stop there.  It just goes right on that way, and it goes right on down that way.  Now, those rays that are below what you can see, red, you call them "infrared."  They’re so short, and they go with such small, such dim, frequencies – such slow speed – until you can’t see them.  That’s infrared.

Then when you go up here, the last color you can see is a violet, but the rays don’t stop there.  They go right on, and they’re higher-speeded rays than you can see with your eye, and you call them ultraviolet.  They’re beyond the violet rays.

Ah, I got to quit.  Now, one observation, and then I will. 

These invisible rays of light: I want to make this observation about the physical and the spiritual world.  These invisible rays of light, they’re at either end of that spectrum.  I can only see from the red to the violet, but those rays go right on, and those rays go right down.  They get down there and they gamma rays.  They get down there into radio ether waves.  They get down all kinds of ways – x-rays.  Then they go right on up there beyond ultraviolet rays.

Now, you can only see things, you can only see things that are in that vision of ours which is relatively small.  We can only see a ray, that physical thing, when it has a certain frequency to a certain frequency.  Beyond that, you can’t see.  Beyond that, below that, you can’t see.

But listen, there are creatures that God made that man never saw.  They exist, but this light from the sun, this light that we use, passes through their bodies, and they’re so transparent – they’re so clear – that the light passes through their bodies and you don’t see them at all.  They make no shadow.  You never know they were there.  But under an ultraviolet, speed that light ray way up there beyond what an eye can see – make an ultraviolet out of it – and those creatures can be seen.  They exist.  They’re there.

I have this one observation to make.  How do you know but that if you could speed up that ultraviolet, under God you could see the whole spirit world?  How do you know?  You say the only world that is is the one I can see.  Step up that light ray to an ultraviolet, and you’ll see God’s creatures that the naked, physical eye, by these light rays, never see.

I am proposing if you could step them up wonderfully enough, you might penetrate the whole spiritual world beyond.  The physical world and the spiritual world are all God’s same world.  He made it all.  The great Creator fashioned it all, and it’s all in His hands – to Him, one and alike.

Well, we must close, and while we sing our song, on the first stanza, somebody give his heart to the Lord; somebody put his life in the church.  While we make this appeal, while we sing this song, you come and stand by me while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W. A. Criswell  

Genesis 1:3-5 



I.              Creation

1.    God created a perfect universe

2.    Became dark, formless, void, chaotic after He created it

II.            Light

1.    Many sources other than sunlight

2.    Stars, planets, etc are luminaries, light holders

3.    Light is a created, physical thing

4.    Mystery of physical creation of light

5.    Division of light

6.    Properties of light