God Divides The Light
April 7th, 1991 @ 10:50 AM
GOD DIVIDES THE LIGHT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-7-91 10:50 a.m.
We are grateful to you who listen on radio and look on television for your prayers as we present the Word of God, Genesis 1. The title, The Dividing of Light:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
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.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. And I would think, I am most persuaded, that if God did it, He did it beautifully, and perfectly, and gloriously. It is beyond my thinking that a work of the hand of God could be dark, and chaotic, and fallen. So to me, when God created the heaven and the earth, it was beautiful and perfect. “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. I think that that word “was” ought to be translated “became.” “And the earth became dark, and void, and formless, and chaotic,” tohu wabohu [Genesis 1:2].
I copy this from a scholar in one of the lexicons of the Hebrew language. This major Hebrew verb, translated here “was,” “and the earth was,” this major Hebrew verb means “to exist, to be, to become, to come to pass, to happen.” The term occurs 3,540 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. And it is not just a far-out supposition on my part that the word translated “was” can mean “became.” “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth became dark and void, chaotic, and without form” [Genesis 1:1-2].
Then what happened? Reading the Word of God, it is apparent what happened. God created this whole universe and this planet earth beautiful, perfect, glorious. And sin entered, and wherever sin enters, it brings darkness and chaos, destruction, and damnation. I know it was sin and Satan that entered God’s created universe from reading the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah [Isaiah 14:3-23], and the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel [Ezekiel 28:1-19]. There God plainly reveals to us that this beautiful and glorious creation, the work of His omnipotent hands [Genesis 1:1-2], Satan entered it, Satan rebelled, Satan brought sin into it [Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:15-17]; and when he did, the whole creation of God fell into chaos and formless void [Genesis 1:1-2]. Wherever Satan enters and wherever sin enters, it brings with it terrible damnation, and darkness, and chaos. There is no exception to that, never, ever.
A few days ago I was preaching in a city outside of Dallas, and I was staying in the Hilton Hotel facing a beautiful lake. And on the other side of the lake I looked at positively one of the most elaborate mansions I have ever seen in my life: beautiful white columns, a stately glorious edifice, costing several millions of dollars. That night at the end of the service, there was a group of men who came up to speak to me. I learned that they were the astute and gifted workmen who were placing the final ornamental fixtures and embellishments in that beautiful and gorgeous mansion. And I said to them, “From out my hotel window I look at that, positively one of the most gloriously beautiful homes I have ever seen.” And those workmen said to me, “But it is one of chaos and destruction and damnation.” I said, “What do you mean? How could it be?” And they said, “The man who builds it and owns it is one of the multi, multimillionaires of America. And just a day or two ago,” those workmen said to me, “in keeping with the opening of that beautiful house, and in keeping with the birthday of that multimillionaire, they gave an elaborate party in the mansion. The elite of the state were invited, and the rich from the ends of the earth were there. And in the midst of that elitist party, the wife of that multimillionaire presented him with a gorgeous album, and on the inside of that album pictures and brief biographies. And the pictures and the biographies were of the prostitutes and the whores and the mistresses that that multimillionaire had committed adultery with through all the years of their marriage. And at the end of the presentation of that gorgeous album, she announced her divorce.” And the workmen said to me, “Instead of that gorgeous home being beautiful, elaborately attractive, magnificent,” they said to me, “it is a home and a house of damnation and darkness and destruction.”
The whole universe is like that. However beautiful, attractive, glorious it may be, when sin enters, when Satan enters, there follows darkness and chaos and destruction. So here, “God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. If He did it, they were beautiful and perfect. “And the earth became without form, and void; and darkness covered the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]; sin destroys. In the goodness and compassion of the Lord God, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” [Genesis 1:2]. Always our salvation begins in the moving of the Spirit of God upon our hearts. “And God said,” and the Spirit of God is always followed by His inerrant and infallible Word, the word of our salvation. As our marvelous pastor preached at the 8:15 service this morning, “God said.”
“And God said, Let there be light…And God saw the light, that it was good” [Genesis 1:3-4]. No trumpet announced it. No voice was there to declare it. It was inherently good and the Lord looked upon it with pleasure. The light bore witness to His omnipotence, and His sovereignty, and His great power, and His love and compassion [John 7-9]; we have no God whose glory is in darkness and in chaos. He is a God of glory and of light [John 9:5].
What is the source of this light? “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” [Genesis 1:3]. You will notice, reading the chapter, that the sun and the moon and the stars were created four days later [Genesis 1:14-19]. What kind of light is this? There are many, many kinds of light. There is a light created by an electrical agitation of vapors and gases like a neon sign or a fluorescent tube. There is a light in a bug—I picked up a lightning bug one time, it was amazing to me. It had died with a light in its tail and that light was brilliant. And I kept it several days and that light shined in its tail, a mystery to the scientists to this day. There are different kinds of light: the phosphorous light of a myriad fish in the tropical seas, the aurora borealis, a magnetic light: the light of radium. There are many kinds of light.
What kind of light is this? The sun and the moon are not lights; they are luminaries. They hold the light; they emit light that streams out at 186,200 miles a second, seven and a half times around the earth in one second. What kind of light is that? You read it:
All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness overwhelmed it not.
When the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of the universe, created this world [John 1:3], it became dark in sin [Genesis 1:2]. He, in His presence, in His love and grace and compassion for the world that He made, He brought light to His creation [John 1:4]. Where Jesus is, there is light: Psalm 104:2, “He clothes Himself with a garment of light.” And Jesus is “the light of the world” [John 8:12]. When He was born, more brilliant than the star that shown over His manger [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11], was the light that shined in Jesus [John 1:4]; in His glorious ministry, His luminous life as Malachi prophesied, “The Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings” [Malachi 4:2]. And in His death, He brought light and immortality to light [2 Timothy 1:10]. “The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light. And to those that sit in the shadow of death, to them light is shining” [Isaiah 9:2]. Jesus is the light of the world [John 8:12], and His presence and His love and grace brought to a chaotic world the beauty of the light of God, and God saw that it was good [Genesis 1:4].
The blessing of the light and presence of our Lord, anywhere, everywhere, light brings life to the creation. There could be no field or forest or fruit without the life-giving presence of the light of God. This world, dark in the night, becomes filled with the glory of life when God’s light shines upon it. In the morning God says to the dull birds, “Sing!” God says to the dull fields, “Grow fruit, blossom!” And God says to weary men, “Arise, work, and shine!” And the light of God is freely bestowed on the poor, on the peasants, on the needy. As the Lord said in the fifth chapter of Matthew, “On the just and on the unjust the light of God shines on this earth” [Matthew 5:45]. And no man can prevent the rising of the sun.
God saw the light, that it was good . . .
And the light He called Day, and the darkness He called Night.
And the evening and the morning were the first night, and the evening and the morning were the first day.
God, in His grace and mercy, always moves toward the light, toward victory, toward salvation, toward triumph, toward glory; always, there is no exception. From darkness to light, from chaos to order, from sorrow to joy, from doubt to faith, from cursed to blessing, from the temporal to the eternal, from mortal to immortality, always God moves toward that ultimate triumph. “The evening and the morning were the first day” [Genesis 1:5]. Evening, the darkness, becoming the light of God.
Dear people, pick up any newspaper, and the headlines are vicious. They are full of violence and wrong and death. Pick up the Book, the Word of God, and it is filled with the glory of the triumph of the Lord Himself. There is no exception to it. In the fifteenth chapter of the Book of this Genesis, God took Abraham and had him separate the sacrifice of a bullock, of a lamb, of a goat, of the fowls, and God said to Abraham, “Walk through them.” And when Abraham walked through them, he was overwhelmed by a horror of darkness, then was followed by a blazing furnace and a glorious lamp, which always the fire is a symbol of God. And the Lord announced to Abraham his people should be in bondage four hundred years, but at the end of it they would inherit the Promised Land [Genesis 15:7-21]. There is no exception to that, the evening and the morning, always the darkness followed by the light.
I think of Jacob, a deceiver. His name means “supplanter, deceiver.” All night long at the river Jabbok, wrestling with that Angel, and when the light came, the Angel said, “You have won. Your name is no longer Jacob, “supplanter, cheater,” it is Israel, “a prince of peace” [Genesis 32:24-28]. That is God. Joseph is sold into bondage into Egypt [Genesis 37:26-28, 31]. He leads his people out of slavery into the freedom of the everlasting grace of God [Genesis 50:20; Romans 6:16-23]. Moses is buried. God officiated at his funeral. He never entered the Promised Land in this life [Deuteronomy 34:4-6]. I read in Matthew 17 of the transfiguration. Guess who is there? Moses, Moses in the Promised Land [Matthew 17:1-3]. Always that ultimate victory. Always. David, hounded from cave to cave. And God said to him his throne will abide for ever [2 Samuel 7:12-16]. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul awaiting martyrdom: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to them also who love His appearing” [2 Timothy 4:7-8]. It never fails, the evening, the darkness, is followed by the day, the light.
Our precious Savior in the Stygian darkness of Gethsemane [Matthew 26:36-46], and then on Calvary slain, nailed to a tree! [Matthew 27:32-50]. The third day, He rises again [Matthew 28:1-7]. He ascends into heaven [Acts 1:9-10]. He sends His Pentecostal Spirit [Acts 2:1-4], and some glorious day we shall see Him descend from the skies [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. Always that glorious victory at the end of the way. There is no exception. And our Lord thus spoke of us, Romans 8:28: “All things,” whatever they are—this guiding that you are going to speak of tonight, “all things work together for good to them who love the Lord, who are the called according to His purpose.”
I think of a preacher, childless, as the years multiplied God gave him a little boy, and the little lad died. Think of it, the pastor doting on that little fellow, loving the gift from heaven of that little life, and the little lad died. There were two men talking about him; one of them said, “You know, I have heard him in these years past. He is a great preacher.” And the other one said, “Have you heard him lately, since his little boy died?”
“No,” said the other man. Then the conversationalist replied, “But oh, sir, you ought to hear him now!” These sorrows and the disappointments, even the hardships and frustrations of life, God is working through them for our blessing and for our good. I think of myself—next birthday 82 years of age—growing old. Robert Browning, God’s wonderful Christian, wrote in “Rabbi Ben Ezra,”
Come, come, grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made;
Our lives, our times, our days are in His hand
Who saith, ‘A whole I planned,
Trust God: see all, nor be afraid!’
“God having purposed, purposed some better thing for us” [Hebrews 11:40]. In Him, all of the providences of life lead toward the light, toward the sun, toward heaven, toward our ultimate and final victory. And to give our hearts and our lives to the Savior who leads us to those ultimate triumphs is the sweetest experience we can know in human life [Romans 10:9-13].
And in the throng of people in this sanctuary and in the balcony around, down the stairway, and in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me and I am standing with the people of God in commitment and in faith” [Ephesians 2:8], come, and welcome; while we stand and while we sing.
GOD DIVIDES THE LIGHT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1. Creation was perfect if God did it
2. Became void
II. Source of light
III. Blessing of light
2. Direct paths
3. Ultimate truth