Day 4 of Creation – Why Didn’t God Create the Sun on Day 1?

Many readers of Genesis may wonder why the sun doesn’t appear until day four when God said to “Let there be lights” (Genesis 1:16). Since light determines day and night cycles, why couldn’t there be lights during its creation on days 1-3?

Some theologians have speculated that God repurposed some type of light from day one as the sun on day four; however, this seems far-fetched.

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Day 1

One frequently raised Creation Week question concerns this: Given that light wasn’t produced until Day 4, how was there light for days 1-3 of creation week?

Answering this question directly may be challenging for those who cling to an interpretation of Genesis as describing a literal six-day workweek in Scripture. One reason may be that “light” (Hebrew) used on Day 1 can refer to more than visible light; its dictionary definition includes radio waves, infrared radiation, ultraviolet rays and even X-rays as sources.

Light was produced through various natural means, from friction and chemical reactions to nuclear fusion. Some of this light was reflected by Earth’s atmosphere while the rest radiated directly from its surface.

Some ancient writers, like Basil of Caesarea (329-379 AD), suggested that God used an intermediary source to provide light during the first three days. Basil likened this light source to that of a lamp; He suggested that God then simply collected all this illumination and added it into His solar lamp on Day 4.

But this interpretation is troubling. It suggests that the sun was created as an independent entity on day four rather than part of an expansive universe; additionally, this suggests Earth rotated during these first three days – something not mentioned by Genesis 1:16.

Malbim, a 19th century Jewish commentator, contends that on day one God did not create intrinsic light – maor in Hebrew – but rather (nathan). According to him, He then used this intrinsic light later to form the Sun on Day 4. But this explanation fails to account for biblical passages which state clearly that God set it in place on Day 4.

Likewise, Scripture tells us that in the New Jerusalem there will be no need for sun or moonlight; rather it will be illuminated by divine glory – its light being pure wisdom and truth (Isaiah 60:19).

Day 2

On Day Two, God separated light and darkness and then created sun, moon, and stars as lights for creatures on Earth to use in navigation, while plants took advantage of sunlight for photosynthesis – all essential tasks necessary for life to exist on our planet.

Problematically, the Bible doesn’t specify exactly what provided the light for Days 1-3; this could have been starlight from the firmament or chemical compounds produced on those three days; but it could have also been something completely new; God isn’t limited by physical laws of our universe and can create something from nothing at any given moment.

As modern scientific advancement has progressed, Christians have grappled with how the biblical creation story can fit with modern scientific discoveries about our solar system and Universe. Some have attempted to fit it into an alternative timeline proposed by evolutionists; such attempts only cause more confusion and are unsupported by scripture or scientific findings.

Others have asked how the Bible describes days without any mention of sunlight; it wasn’t created until day 4. The answer lies within Genesis itself being written two millennia ago when nothing about cosmology or orbit of Earth existed at that point in history, making this book written from an observer on its surface perspective.

There have also been those who suggest that the light of the first three days was not actually sunlight but instead was more like mist or fire pillars, and on Day 4, God used this original source material to form sun, moon and stars – although this would certainly fall within His power and discretion – yet such material does not appear in scripture on that date.

Day 3

Gen. 1 and Day 4 can sometimes raise questions. Light began shining over the waters of Earth on the first day, yet sunlight wasn’t created until day four – how is there day and night without a sun?

Reminding ourselves that when the Bible was written 2,000 years ago, no knowledge was available regarding cosmology or star orbits. Therefore, if God chose to temporarily suspend physics during Creation Week then moon and stars could have become visible from Earth on Day 1. However, both scriptural and physical evidence indicates they were already there before Day 1 began of Creation week.

On day one, God created intrinsic light; on day four He created (Hebrew nathan) its generators (sun, moon and stars). Additionally, God set (Hebrew asah) their locations within the firmament on this fourth day.

This solution to the day/night issue provides a workable answer for discrepancies between what happened on Day 1 and what occurred on Day 4. Unfortunately, however, this approach leaves out several crucial details – for instance how light from days 1-3 was differentiable from that on Day 4. Furthermore, this explanation takes no account of new sources of light providing heat needed for life to continue existing.

This solution involved the brightness of new suns and moons being determined by their distance from their old source; that is, as their distance increased, their luminosity increased accordingly; more light would emanate from each moon or star that got closer. Without their predecessor suns to help guide them, it would have been very challenging to achieve such results on its own; now these new luminaries had to travel much further distances.

This argument is also insufficient because Scripture never indicates that existing materials were utilized to produce the new sources of light on day four; rather, the text clearly states that new sources were created individually on that date and installed into their positions.

Day 4

Many people ask how light could exist on Earth during the three days between Day 1 and when God created the sun and moon on Day 4 of Creation Week. This question has often been used as evidence against trusting the Bible because of its account of Creation Week; but in actuality the answer to this problem can be found within its pages.

God created light at the dawn of time to divide time into days and nights; He called Day Day, while Night was Night. This division allows us to pinpoint when days and years began passing by.

Ken Ham, co-founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis, is an influential creationist and Christian apologist who is widely revered. In his New Answers Book 1, he asserts that other sources provided illumination during days 1-3 of Creation; electromagnetic radiation being one such form that might have shone onto Earth from objects other than the Sun itself. Ken has presented this idea of light from other sources as theological arguments before. This idea of light from other sources being present during these early days has also been advanced by other theologians as well.

Ephrem the Syrian was another ancient theologian to address this topic, living in Edessa Syria during the 3rd century AD. He believed that during the first three days, God placed this original light in lamps before using that flame on Day Four to create our universe as one unique entity – hence why light is often associated with fire and candle flames.

This theory may provide an appealing explanation as it explains why the sun wasn’t mentioned until Day 4, but it raises more issues than it solves. First of all, the notion that nuclear fusion requires oxygen for combustion makes no scientific sense at all; secondly, according to Day 4 of Creation’s description God made the sun and other celestial bodies “and set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth”.

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