God called the light "day," and the darkness He called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5. A true and firm foundation of revelation and faith must be laid in a Divine doctrine of "Genesis," the beginnings out of which have come both the world of nature and the world of grace. In this book we are taught what is the order by which all things must be tried. Coming forth from Elohim, from the Infinite Personality; flowing in his appointed course. The genesis of heaven and earth becomes the genesis of the human family. Out of the natural chaos is brought forth the Eden of rest and beauty. Out of the moral waste of a fallen humanity is formed, by the gracious work of a Divine Spirit, through a covenant of infinite wisdom and loves a seed of redeemed and sanctified human beings, a family of God. The genesis of the material creation leads on to the genesis of the invisible creation. The lower is the type and symbol of the higher. The first day is the true beginning of days. See what is placed by the sacred writer between that evening and morning.
I. THE COMING FORTH OF THE EVERLASTING, UNSEARCHABLE SECRET OF THE DIVINE NATURE INTO MANIFESTATION. "God created." The word employed denotes more than the bare summoning of existence out of nothingness. The analogy of human workmanship ("cutting," "carving," "framing") suggests the relation between creation and the God of creation. The heaven and the earth reflect their Maker. Works embody the mind, the spirit, the will, the nature of the workman. Although the name Elohim, in the plural form, cannot be taken as an equivalent of the Trinity, it points to the great fundamental fact of all revelation, the Divine Unity coming forth out of the infinite solitude of eternity, and declaring, in the manifold revelations of the visible and invisible worlds, all that the creature can know of his fathomless mystery.
II. HERE IS A GLIMPSE INTO GOD'S ORDER AND METHOD. "In the beginning," the immeasurable fullness of creative power and goodness. Formless void, darkness on the face of the deeps apparent confusion and emptiness, within a limited sphere, the earth; at a certain epoch, in preparation for an appointed future. Chaos is not the first beginning of things; it is a stage in their history. The evening of the first day preceded the morning in the recorded annals of the earth. That evening was itself a veiling of the light. Science itself leads back the thoughts from all chaotic periods to previous developments of power. Order precedes disorder. Disorder is itself permitted only as a temporary state. It is itself part of the genesis of that which shall be ultimately "very good."
III. THE GREAT VITAL FACT OF THE WORLD'S ORDER IS THE INTIMATE UNION BETWEEN THE SPIRIT OF GOD AND THAT WHICH IS COVERED WITH DARKNESS UNTIL HE MAKES IT LIGHT. The moving of the Spirit upon the face of the waters represents the brooding, cherishing, vitalizing presence of God in his creatures, over them, around them, at once the source and protection of their life. "Breath;" "wind," the word literally means, perhaps as a symbol at once of life, or living energy, and freedom, and with an immediate reference to the creative word, which is henceforth the breath of God in the world. Surely no candid mind can fail to feel the force of such a witness in the opening sentences of revelation to the triune God.
IV. TO US THE BEGINNING OF ALL THINGS IS LIGHT. The word of God "commands the light to shine out of darkness." "God said, Let there be light," or, Let light be. The going forth of God's word upon the universe very well represents the twofold fact,
(1) that it is the outcome of his will and nature; and
(2) that it is his language - the expression of himself.
Hence all through this Mosaic cosmogony God is represented as speaking to creation, that we may understand that he speaks in creation, as he is also said to look at that which comes forth from himself to behold it, to approve it, to name it, to appoint its order and use. Such intimate blending of the personal with the impersonal is the teaching of Scripture as distinguished from all mere human wisdom. God is in creation and yet above it. Man is thus invited to seek the personal presence as that which is higher than nature, which his own personal life requires, that it may not be oppressed with nature's greatness, that it may be light, and not darkness. There is darkness in creation, darkness in the deep waters of the world's history, darkness in the human soul itself, until God speaks and man hears. Light is not, physically, the first thing created; but it is the first fact of the Divine days - that is, the beginning of the new order. For what we have to do with, is not the. infinite, secret of creation, but the "manifestation of the visible world God manifest. The first day m the history of the earth, as man can read it, must be the day when God removes the covering of darkness and says, Let there be light." The veil uplifted is itself a commencement. God said that it was good. His own appointment confirmed the abiding distinction between light and darkness, between day and night; in other words, the unfolding, progressive interchange of work and rest, of revelation and concealment, the true beginning of the world's week of labor, which leads on to the everlasting sabbath. How appropriately this first day of the week of creation stands at the threshold of God's word of grace! The light which he makes to shine in our hearts, which divides our existence into the true order, the good and the evil separated from one another, which commences our life; and the Spirit is the light of, his own word, the light which shines from the face of him who was "the Word,' "in the beginning with God," "without whom nothing was made that was made." - R.
1. One of the first lessons which God intends us to learn from the night is a larger respect for wholesome renovation. Perhaps this may not show itself in any great lengthening of our bodily life, but rather in a more healthy spirit, less exposed to that prevailing unrest which fills the air and which troubles so many minds.
And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night:
I. DIVINE FIAT: God said, Let there be light, and there was light. The Lord Himself needed no light to enable Him to discern His creatures. He looked upon the darkness, and resolved that He would transform its shapeless chaos into a fair and lovely world.
1. We shall observe that the work of grace by which light enters the soul is a needful work. God's plan for the sustaining of vegetable and animal life, rendered light necessary. Light is essential to life. It is light which first shows us our lost estate; for we know nothing of it naturally. This causes pain and anguish of heart; but that pain and anguish are necessary, in order to bring us to lay hold on Jesus Christ, whom the light next displays to us. No man ever knows Christ till the light of God shines on the cross.
2. Next observe it was a very early work. Light was created on the first day, not on the third, fourth, or sixth, but on the first day; and one of the first operations of the Spirit of God in a man's heart is to give light enough to see his lost estate, and to perceive that he cannot save himself from it but must look elsewhere.
3. It is well for us to remember that light giving is a Divine work. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
4. This Divine work is wrought by the Word. God did not sit in solemn silence and create the light, but He spake. He said, "Light be," and light was. So the way in which we receive light is by the Word of God. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Christ Himself is the essential Word, and the preaching of Christ Jesus is the operative Word. We receive Christ actually when God's power goes with God's Word — then have we light. Hence the necessity of continually preaching the Word of God.
5. While light was conferred in connection with the mysterious operation of the Holy Spirit, it was unaided by the darkness itself. How could darkness assist to make itself light? Nay, the darkness never did become light. It had to give place to light, but darkness could not help God. The power which saves a sinner is not the power of man.
6. As this light was unassisted by darkness, so was it also unsolicited. There came no voice out of that thick darkness, "Oh God, enlighten us"; there was no cry of prayer. The first work of grace in the heart does not begin with man's desire, but with God's implanting the desire.
7. This light came instantaneously.
8. As it is instantaneous, so it is irresistible. Darkness must give place when God speaks.
II. DIVINE OBSERVATION. "And God saw the light." Does He not see everything? Yes, beloved, He does; but this does not refer to the general perception of God of all His works, but is a something special. "God saw the light" — He looked at it with complacency, gazed upon it with pleasure. A father looks upon a crowd of boys in a school and sees them all, but there is one boy whom he sees very differently from all the rest: he watches him with care: it is his own child, and his eye is specially there. Though you have come here sighing and groaning because of inbred sin, yet the Lord sees what is good in you, for He has put it there. Satan can see the light and he tries to quench it: God sees it and preserves it. The Lord watches you, and He sees the light. He has His eye always fixed upon the work of grace that is in your soul.
III. DIVINE APPROBATION. "God saw the light, that it was good." Light is good in all respects.
1. The natural light is good. Solomon says, "It is a pleasant thing to behold the sun"; but you did not want Solomon to inform you upon that point. Any blind man who will tell you the tale of his sorrows will be quite philosopher enough to convince you that light is good.
2. Gospel light is good. "Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see." You only need to travel into heathen lands, and witness the superstition and cruelty of the dark places of the earth, to understand that gospel light is good.
3. As for spiritual light, those that have received it long for more of it, that they may see yet more and more the glory of heaven's essential light! O God, Thou art of good the unmeasured Sea; Thou art of light both Soul, and Source, and Centre.(1) It must be good from its source. The light emanates from God, in whom is no darkness at all, and, as it comes absolutely and directly from Him, it must be good.(2) It is good, again, when we consider its likeness. Light is like to God. It is a thing so spiritual, so utterly to be ungrasped by the hand of flesh, that it has often been selected as the very type of God. Ignatius used to call himself, Theophorus, or the God bearer. The title might seem eccentric, but the fact is true of all the saints — they bear God about with them. God dwelleth in His saints as in a temple.(3) It is good, also, in its effect. It is good for a man to know his danger — it makes him start from it. It is good for him to know the evil of his sin — it makes him avoid it, and repent of it.(4) It is good, moreover, because it glorifies God. Where were God's glory in the outward universe without light? Could we gaze upon the landscape? Spiritual light shows us our emptiness, our poverty, our wretchedness, but it reveals in blessed contrast His fulness, His riches, His freeness of grace. The more light in the soul, the more gratitude to God.(5) Let me say of the work of God in the soul as compared to light, that it is good in the widest possible sense. The new nature which God puts in us never sins: it cannot sin, because it is born of God. "What!" say you, "does a Christian never sin?" Not with the new nature; the new nature never sins: the old nature sins. It is the darkness which is dark: the light is not darkness; the light is always light.
IV. DIVINE SEPARATION. It appears that though God made light there was still darkness in the world: "And God divided the light from the darkness." Beloved, the moment you become a Christian, you will begin to fight. You will be easy and comfortable enough, as long as you are a sinner, but as soon as you become a Christian, you will have no more rest.
1. One part of the Divine work in the soul of man is to make a separation in the man himself. Do you feel an inward contention and war going on? Permit me to put these two verses together — "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." How can these two things be consistent? Ask the spiritual man: he will tell you, "The Lord divideth between light and darkness."
2. Whereas there is a division within the Christian, there is certain to be a division without. So soon as ever the Lord gives to any believer light, he begins to separate himself from the darkness. He separates himself from the world's religion, finds out where Christ is preached, and goes there. Then as to society, the dead, carnal religionist can get on very well in ordinary society, but it is not so when he has light. I cannot go to light company, wasting the evening, showing off my fine clothes, and talking frivolity and nonsense.
V. DIVINE NOMINATION. Things must have names; Adam named the beasts, but God Himself named the day and the night. "And God called the light day, and the darkness called He night." It is a very blessed work of grace to teach us to call things by their right names. The spiritual aspirations of God's people never can be evil. Carnal reason calls them folly, but the Lord would have us call them good.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
2. The night is the season of wonder. A new and strangely equipped population, another race of beings, another sequence of events, comes into and fills the world of the mind. Men who have left their seal upon the world, and largely helped in the formation of its deepest history — men whose names stand up through the dim darkness of the past, great leaders and masters, have admitted that they learned much from the night.
3. The next thought belonging to the night is that then another world comes out, and as it were, begins its day. There is a rank of creatures which moves out into activity as soon as the sun has set. This thought should teach us something of tolerance; senses, dispositions, and characters are very manifold and various among ourselves. Each should try to live up to the light he has, and allow a brother to do the same.
4. Such extreme contrasts as are involved in light and darkness may tell us that we have as yet no true measure of what life is, and it must be left to some other conditions of existence for us to realize in anything like fulness the stores, the processes, the ways of the Kingdom of the Lord which are provided for such as keep His law.
5. Let us learn that, whether man wake or sleep, the universe is in a state of progress, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together."
6. Let us learn to use day rightly and righteously, to accept the grace and the forces of the Lord while it is called today, and then the night shall have no forbidding, no repulsive significance.
The evening and the morning were the first day. —
The Preacher's Monthly.I. THINK OF THE DAY'S BEGINNING. Evening came before morning. Light issued out of darkness. The first goings of creative power were in obscurity.
II. THE DAY'S CHARACTER — "Evening and morning." In all life are alternations of darkness and light — shadow and sunshine. Rest is the condition of labour, and labour of rest.
III. THE DAY'S RELIGION. There was a morning and an evening sacrifice.
IV. THE DAY'S END. That which began in darkness is followed by darkness, which ushers in a new day. "The night cometh."
(The Preacher's Monthly.)
II. TO THE COURSE OF HUMAN LIFE? For this is where you most need to know and feel it, and where, I suspect, you most fail to see it. It has been such a common blunder, from the days of Job and his friends down to the days when Christ rebuked the Pharisees, and from those days again down to ours — the blunder of supposing that the evening goes with the day before, and not with the day after — that the dark times of human life are a punishment for what is past, instead of being, as they always are to them that love God, a discipline and preparation for what is coming. There are many and many such eventides in life — times of enforced repose; hard times, when business stagnates or runs with adverse current; times of sickness, pain, seclusion; times of depression, sorrow, bereavement, fear. Such are the night times of life; and blessed are they who at such times have learned to "look forward, and not back"; to say, not, What have I done, that this thing should befall me? but, rather, What is God preparing for me, and for what is He preparing me, that thus He should lovingly chasten and instruct me in the night season? Then lift your heads, ye saints, and answer: "No, no! this is not the end; this is the beginning. The evening is come, and the morning also cometh; and the evening and the morning are the day. Look! look at the glory of the evening sky. It shall be fair weather in the morning, for the sky is red." So shall it "come to pass that at evening time it shall be light."
(L. W. Bacon.)
The Protoplast."The evening and the morning were the first day." The evening came first. God's glorious universe sprang into existence in obscurity. "There was the hiding of His power." It is very remarkable that the creation work and the redemption work of God were both alike shrouded in darkness. When God spake, and the worlds were made, it is said, "darkness was upon the face of the deep." When Christ hung upon the cross, having finished His work of love, it is said, "There was a darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour." What a lesson does this teach us! The glory was so exceeding that it needed to be overshadowed: for us the veil was thrown over Jehovah's brightness; the light would have been too strong for mortal eyes; the diadem of the King of kings would have been too dazzling to meet our gaze, had it not been dimmed for our sakes. Nevertheless, hidden as He is in unapproachable majesty, His secret is with them that fear Him; and while the evening lasts, they wait with longing expectation for that morning when they shall see no longer through a glass darkly, but rather face to face. "The evening and the morning were the first day." It was the alternation of light and shade which constituted this first day; and is it not so with the spiritual days of a Christian? Darkness and light succeed each other. If, then, thou art one who, ass child of God, art sitting in darkness, there is comfort in this word for thee. If it is evening now, the sunlight shall arise again. Even the record of God's creation speaks to thee of consolation: there is in it a promise of joy to come; thy day would not be perfect, if there were not a morning to succeed thy night. But if thou art one with whom there is the brightness of sunshine in providence and in grace, this sentence speaks to thee in warning. Although now thou canst look up to an unclouded sky, and there is light in thy dwelling and in thine heart; remember the evening shadows. The longest day has its sunset. God hath ordained the alternation of light and darkness. As it is with individuals, so it is with the whole Church of Christ; and now it is peculiarly with her the night time, the deepest night she has ever known, and, blessed be God, the last night. She standeth now beneath the darkened sky of that "tribulation" which is to issue in the millennial brightness of her coming Bridegroom's kingdom. How often does she inquire, "Watchman, what of the night?" and the answer is, "The morning cometh, still as yet there will be night: if ye inquire already, yet must ye return; come and inquire again" (Isaiah 21:12, Geneva version). It shall be darker yet with her, ere the breaking morn appeareth: but how glorious will be the dawn of that light, when the Sun of Righteousness Himself shall arise with healing in His beams. Truly, said David, when he saw the glory of the King of kings and spake of Him — "He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds." "Even so," Saviour, "come quickly," "The evening and the morning were the first day." I cannot help noticing another thing in the consideration of this subject. The evening of a natural day is the season of rest from labour: "Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening." In the darkness of the night, the various occupations of busy men are laid aside, and the world is hushed in silence, waiting the returning morning. Is there nothing of this in the Christian's experience? Can he work when the night sets in upon his soul? Does not he, too, wait and long for sunrise? "The evening and the morning were the first day." There is yet another lesson in these words, which I would notice. What is it which constitutes the evening of a natural day? It is not that the position of the sun is changed; but that the inhabitants of the earth are turned from Him. Let us not forget that it is so with the evening of the soul. There are some in the religious world, who seem to be just like the philosophers of a former day, who believed and taught that the sun moved round our planet; they speak as if the light of the Christian were caused by some change in Christ, the eternal Sun of Righteousness. Nay, it is not so. Our Saviour God is ever the same, in the glory of His salvation, in the brightness of His redemption; but we. alas I turn away our faces from Him, and are in darkness, it is sin which causes it to be evening with us; it is our iniquity which has made it dark. There is one thought connected with the evening and the morning, which is so precious to me, that I cannot pass it over. There was, under the law, a sacrifice appointed both for the morning and the evening. Ah! when it is daylight with thee, Christian, and thou goest into the sanctuary, having boldness to enter into the very holiest, having free access unto the Father; thy soul can there offer its sacrifice of willing, loving praise. But the evening cometh, and then thou dost shrink back from saying aught to God, from bringing thine offering with so heavy a heart. Still, go even then; and pleading the blood of that richer sacrifice which never faileth to bring down a blessing, lay the tribute of thy broken heart beside it, and ask thy God, for His sake not to despise it. He will not do so, for, in the provisions of His temple service, there was a sacrifice for the evening too.
The Protoplast.How rapidly do the "few days" which succeed the first evening and morning in the life of man, pass away. I think I have somewhere read of a philosopher who was seen in tears, and on being asked, "Why weepest thou?" answered, "I weep because there is so much for me to do, and my life is too short to do it in." Whether the philosopher said so or not, I am sure my own heart has said it oftentimes, and so, I doubt not, have the hearts of others. Sorrow and sickness are the two great means by which many a young heart has become aged; the mind is early matured, and the stranger wondering says, "How old such an one is in character!" Yet every day of natural life has its burden, as foreordained of God. There is one thought connected with the day, that is a very solemn one. The evening and the morning will succeed each other, without break or change, year after year; but a day will come upon us, the evening of which we shall never see; a sun will rise that we shall never see go down; the morning will come and find us in a body of sin and suffering, and before the evening we shall have passed away.
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