The scriptural content for this post is found in Genesis 1:1-3
It can be difficult for twentieth first century readers to understand the creation story from the perspective given in the Genesis text. When most of us think of the earth we picture a beautiful blue and white orb floating in the dark background of space. This mental picture of the earth is from a completely modern perspective and did not exist throughout the vast majority of human history, and certainly not when Genesis was written. God instead reveals the creation story through humanity’s original perspective of living on the earth and viewing the environment as it unfolds all around us. It is as though these scriptures are being narrated to us by someone with an earthbound front row seat as they witness the preparation of the dwelling place for humanity. If we view the creation story from this perspective then the inspired depictions given to us by Moses becomes much easier to follow.
We are told in Genesis 1:1 that God created the heavens and the earth. The Hebrew word translated created here at the beginning is bara and indicates the creation of a completely new and unique thing and is only used three times in the creation narrative, when God created the heavens and the earth, when God created the first animal life and when God created man. The other two Hebrew words used in the creation narrative is yatzar, “formed,” and asah, “made” both of these terms imply the forming of something from the pre- existing. The statement in Genesis 1:1 containing the word bara is a declaration that God has created something original and unique and not arising from or contingent upon something that came before.
These original and unique heavens certainly included the creation of physical light because the creation of the heavens included the stars and its other sources of light. This creation of the heavens also included the creation of the earth as part of the expansive universe but because the creation narrative is told from an earthbound perspective the earth is mentioned separately and the rest of the universe is spoken of as the heavenly expanse seen from the earth. Light was present in these heavens separate and distinct from the condition of darkness that would have been experienced on the face of the earth.
In Genesis 1:2 the focus changes exclusively to the earth and we are told that the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep and God’s spirit hovered over the face of the waters. In Genesis 1:3 when God says, "Let there be light" He is not inventing physical light because light was created when He created the heavens and the earth in verse one. In verse three God is declaring, from an earthbound perspective, that light shall pierce the darkness that is described above in verse two. Light can now be seen on the once darkened world.