What are the Greater & Lesser Lights in Genesis 1:16?

What are the Greater & Lesser Lights in Genesis 1:16?

Question for Dr. Saleska:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16).  Does light refer to wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, etc?

Dr. Saleska’s Response:

The question requires a two part answer.

1. Genesis 1:16 refers to the creation of the sun, moon, and stars which illuminate our physical world; vs. 17-18 give a little more detail: “And God set them (sun, moon, and stars) in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness…”  This provides physical light for the world in which we live.

2. Wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment are also referred to in Scripture as light.  The expression “to shed light on the subject” means to inform or bring comprehension to a particular subject.  This “enlightenment” is what Paul had in mind when he said to the Ephesians: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:17-18).

The Gospel brings “light” (understanding) to the people in darkness.  “The people which sat in darkness saw great light…” (Mt. 4:16).  Paul has the two kinds of light mentioned in your question in mind in II Corinthians 4:6 where he writes: “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, (Gen. 1:3) has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.”  In Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s wisdom, we can now understand what God is doing; his plan is comprehensible unlike it was when we were in darkness before.  This is the wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment that your question is driving at.  See also Psalm 119:105 and 119:130.

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