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Genesis 1:14

Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years

The sentence above leads me to a strange conclusion, which is :
before the event of Gen 1:14, the day and the night are mixed, not separated yet. After that event, then they are separated.

verse 18:

God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness

verse 4:

God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness

What is the difference at the event of separation and the condition after each separation the light from the darkness event which occurred in Genesis 1:4 and then occurred again in Genesis 1:18 ?


Addition after get an answer from GratefulDisciple.

GratefulDisciple quote :

The "light" is placed in the sky in such a way that provides lighting to only a part of the earth globe at a given time, just like how the sun lights the earth partially today.

That's why I can't understand it if it's like that ---> part of the earth globe is dark and other part is bright. Because if the condition is like that, then there is already "day" and "night" right after verse 3, isn't it ?

To me on reading the verse is like this(verse 3) :

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light

To me, right after the light created, there is no darkness anywhere at all. The whole globe surface get the light created in verse 3. There is no a part of earth globe in light and another part in darkness.

Verse 4a:

And God saw that the light was good

Next sentence of verse 4a is an act of God (verse 4b):

Then He separated the light from the darkness

To me, only after that act - the first day begin. There is a light in a part of the globe earth surface, and another part in darkness. That's why the next verse say this (verse 5)

God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

I understand it defies logic to say that the whole earth globe surface get the light right after it's created in verse 3. But to me, this is the only way to understand verse 4b.

So again....,
right after the light created :
IF the condition of the earth globe is already part in light another part in darkness, then :

  • what does it mean the act of God in verse 4b ?

right after the light created :
IF the condition of the earth globe is already part in light another part in darkness, then :

  • does it mean that verse 5 can be put before verse 4b ? In other words, without the separation act of God in verse 4b, there is already "day" and "night" ? the light is already separated from the darkness before verse 4 ? something like this :

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. God called the light “day” (the part of earth globe which is in light) and the darkness “night” (the other part of earth globe in darkness)

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  • 1
    Days have been separated from nights by the existence of light and darkness; this was further reinforced by the adorning of the day sky by the sun, and of the night sky by the moon and stars.
    – Lucian
    Aug 21 at 16:34
  • If you are really interested in the entire so-called 'Young Earth' approach to Genesis I suggest you read The Genesis Flood by Morris and Whitcombe which lays out in detail an intelligent and well informed structural argument. I read it myself at the age seventeen, over fifty years ago, and I have never read anything better on the subject since.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 22 at 15:06
  • Short answer: in v4, there just is light and darkness, sustained by God directly. In v14-18, God creates material things (stars, moons and planets, to use modern astronomical terms) which "take over" that function. (As noted elsewhere, there is not a one-to-one mapping between "stars" as used in the text and stars as understood by modern astronomy.) Also, as GratefulDisciple notes, v4 may be a conceptual action, i.e. there was darkness in v3, but it does not have a name until v4. Or v4 may just be a continuation of v3.
    – Matthew
    Aug 23 at 18:59
  • Proposed question for Hermeneutics: can v4 be translated "And God was the division between the light and the darkness"? That would certainly clear up a few things!
    – Matthew
    Aug 23 at 19:36
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Short Answer

before the event of Gen 1:14, the day and the night are mixed, not separated yet. After that event, then they are separated.

Using Ken Ham's hypothesis, the day and the night were separated just after Gen 1:3.

What is the difference at the event of separation and the condition after each separation the light from the darkness event which occurred in Genesis 1:4 and then occurred again in Genesis 1:18

The difference in condition is in the source of the light: in Gen 1:4 it's after the creation of temporary light (Gen 1:3), but in Gen 1:18 it's after the creation of greater & lesser lights (Gen 1:14-17). But it's very important NOT to read the separation as an ACTION, but as a description of the EFFECT of "Let there be light" (v. 3) and "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. ... And it was so." (v. 14-15) respectively. Using Ken Ham's hypothesis (see Long Answer), in both "separation" the meaning is the same. It is to contrast the lighted part of the globe from the total darkness (v. 4b) of the unlighted part of the globe (the Night, v. 5a).

To me, right after the light created, there is no darkness anywhere at all. The whole globe surface get the light created in verse 3. There is no a part of earth globe in light and another part in darkness.

We don't have to read it this way. The Bible allows for Ken Ham's hypothesis where in v.3 there was a light shining on earth in the manner like the current sun (see quote in the Long Answer).

what does it mean the act of God in verse 4b?

God DID NOT do anything in vv. 4-5a. All God did was the SINGLE ACTION to put the light in the sky in v. 3. The "separation" was the EFFECT, not an action.

does it mean that verse 5 can be put before verse 4b ? In other words, without the separation act of God in verse 4b, there is already "day" and "night" ? the light is already separated from the darkness before verse 4 ?

No. Verse 5b needs to wait until all parts of earth experienced Day and Night, so 24 hours needed to pass between verse 3 and verse 5b. Verses 4-5a is simply a DESCRIPTION of the effect of the SINGLE action in v. 3. With that single action, half the globe had Day (daylight brightness) and the other half had Night (total darkness). (See the picture in the Long Answer below.) Twelve hours later, the half that had Day now started to have Night. Therefore, 24 hours after God put the light in v. 3 every part of the globe had experienced an evening and a morning. Verse 5b is the description after that 24 hours.

Long Answer

Background

There are several ways to read Gen 1. You have asked for the modern Young Earth Creationist perspective, which reads Gen 1 as six 24-hour day creation week. YEC tends to use the following principles:

  • Modern YEC reads the Bible as literal / natural as possible unless allegorical / metaphorical / figurative meanings are clearly intended (such as the book of Revelation). For example, a YEC Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE) project determines that Genesis should be read as history.
  • Modern YEC also reads the Bible using the historical-grammatical method to discover the authors' original intended meaning in the text. For example, if the author intends Genesis to be read as history, then YEC would reject a symbolic, mythical, historical-critical, allegorizing, or other kind of readings.
  • There are different YEC interpretations of Gen 1. But in ALL YEC interpretations, when there is an apparent conflict between science and YEC's literal and natural reading of Gen 1 to Gen 11, YEC always gives priority to YEC's way of Bible reading.
  • YEC distinguishes between empirical science (which they embrace) and historical science (which they vet carefully). When historical science is done with certain conjectures (such as antitheistic Methodological Naturalism), YEC deems the practitioners to overstep science's authority because the findings may exclude the possibility of God's miracles in the past (even if a miracle is the best explanation) and instead replace God with theories like evolution, old earth geology, etc. More explanation here.

Just for perspective, here are several examples of how non-YEC reads Genesis 1 using non-literal interpretations:

But for this answer we will use the YEC principles above.

Ken Ham's YEC hypothesis

Ken Ham is CEO and co-founder of a premier Young Earth Creationist institution: Answers in Genesis (AiG).

For this answer we will go with Ken Ham's hypothesis described in a 2019 AiG blog article Light Before the Sun: How biblical apologists have historically understood the source of light before the sun was created in Genesis 1:

The first three days are written the same way as the next three. So if we let the language speak to us, all six days were ordinary earth days. . . . The sun is not needed for day and night. What is needed is light and a rotating earth. On the first day of creation, God made light (Genesis 1:3).

The phrase “evening and morning” certainly implies a rotating earth. Thus, if we have light from one direction, and a spinning earth, there can be day and night.

More background, explanation, and support for this hypothesis:

Commentary

We will then use Ken Ham's hypothesis and the YEC principles described above to interpret Gen 1:1, 1:3-5, and 1:14-18 verse by verse. We will use the ESV literal translation as well as checking the underlying Hebrew to make sure our translation doesn't add words that are not there in the original Hebrew text.

  • Gen 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth".

    • It means that the earth was created a globe and was already rotating at the current speed. There was also a sky.
  • Gen 1:3-5 "3 And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day."

    • In v. 3 "light" refers to temporary source of light provided by God before the creation of the sun. The "light" was placed in the sky in such a way that provided lighting to only a part of the earth globe at a given time, just like how the sun lights the earth only partially today. Imagine God putting the light to the LEFT (OUTSIDE) of the picture below: enter image description here Photo credit: "The planet Earth rotating, half in shadow." by A Luna Blue
    • The light was created instantaneously (within a split second). And as you say, "the creation of light itself 'automatically' causing a separation, some part is bright - some part is dark." With that single action, half the globe (the left side in the picture) had "day" and the other half (the right side in the picture) had "night".
    • God didn't do anything further in verses 4-5a. Verses 4-5a is simply DESCRIBING the effect of the SINGLE action in v. 3. In other words, as a consequence of putting the light to the left of the picture, God "separated" (as description of the effect) the area of the globe that received the "light" (daylight), calling it Day, from the area of the globe had "darkness" (no light at all), calling it Night.
    • Note that the "light" called Day in vv. 4b-5a refers to the daylight (the brightness of the day in the left side of the globe in the picture above). This is different than the light source which God created when He said "Let there be light" (not shown in the picture above, shining from the outside left of the picture). What God called "good" was the light source itself (vv. 3-4a), not the daylight (vv. 4b-5).
    • Note also that the "darkness" called Night in v. 5a (the total absence of light in right side of the globe in the picture above) is total darkness, since there was no moon or stars.
    • Twelve hours later, the half that had Day now started to have Night.
    • After another twelve hours, the earth had undergone a single full rotation. This was now 24 hours after God put the light in v. 3. By then, every part of the globe had experienced an evening and a morning. Since this is the first time that the WHOLE earth experienced both daylight and night, it's appropriate for this 24 hour period to be called "the first day". Thus v. 5b is simply DESCRIBING the effect 24 hours after God said "Let there be light."
  • Gen 1:14-15 "14 And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so."

    • Notice how the phrasing "separate the day from the night" is different than "separated the light from the darkness" in Gen 1:4. The change was because of a change in situation, since in Day 4, the earth was now lighted with a different source, and the night in the 4th day was now no longer total darkness but had "lesser light". The word "separation" still makes sense though, since the day was still much brighter than the night as it is today. Again, like in v. 4b, "separation" here is an effect, not an action. The action in the 4th day was creation of the sun, the moon and the stars.
    • Notice also how the meaning of "light" in Gen 1:4b is the same with the "day" in Gen 1:14. Both refers to the daylight (the effect of the light rather than the source).
  • Gen 1:16-18 "16 And God made the two great lights -- the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night -- and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good."

    • The "greater light" was obviously referring to the sun, either created from scratch, or from repurposing the temporary light in Gen 1:3. The "lesser light" was obviously the moon. See Matthew's answer.
    • What's called "good" in v. 18 was the whole arrangement of the present sun, moon, and stars giving light to rule the night and different light to rule the day, as well as their being "for signs and for seasons". Obviously, "good" in v. 18 is a different kind of goodness than the "good" in Gen 1:4a, which was referring to the goodness of the temporary light before the creation of the sun.
    • Notice how verse 18a says "separate the light from the darkness". There is a change BACK to verse 4 "separated the light from the darkness". I think this is to communicate a different idea than in verse 14b "separate the day from the night". This is to highlight the benefit of having some light during BOTH the day AND the night, compared to having no lights at all (the total darkness of the Night in verse 5a before the moons & stars). Again, "separate" here is EFFECT, not action. The action was in v. 16 ("made the two great lights") and v. 17 ("set them in the expanse of the heavens").
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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Aug 23 at 3:37
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    "Modern YEC reads the Bible as literal as possible"... except where allegory is clearly intended, e.g. Revelation. That said, someone did a linguistic analysis (part of the RATE report) that was able to qualify what parts of the Bible should be taken as allegorical, and Genesis was comfortably in the "historical" category. As far as Genesis, your statement is essentially correct, but could be twisted into an unwarranted criticism of YECs. (The following "too soon" statement is better.)
    – Matthew
    Aug 23 at 19:12
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    Similarly, YECs do not oppose historic science. Rather, they recognize that there is a significant difference between historic and observational science and they oppose the presentation of certain conjectures (based in antitheistic Methodological Naturalism) within historic science as unassailable facts (c.f. your point about "overstepping authority"!). Most YEC publications — the ones you'd specifically label "YEC", anyway — are themselves historical science. (Just because "God did it" doesn't mean we can't study it, or find evidence that God must have been involved.)
    – Matthew
    Aug 23 at 19:19
  • @Matthew Thank you for your input; updated my answer accordingly. I knew that I wasn't precise enough :-). Aug 23 at 20:58
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    Good edit; thanks! I'd be tempted to write, instead of "may deny...", "exclude the possibility of God's miracles in the past (even if a miracle is the best explanation)". But maybe that's a bit much.
    – Matthew
    Aug 24 at 0:14

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