Reflecting God’s Glory

Genesis 1:14-23

Today, on the fourth and fifth days of creation, we read how God creates both the sun, the moon, and the stars, and also the creatures that dwell in the sky and the waters. The Fathers point out an apparent oddity here. God had already created light and had separated the light from the darkness on the first day of creation, but He only creates the sun on the fourth day. Not only does this show that this creation account is not intended as a scientific explanation, but it makes an important theological point. In a world in which the sun was often worshipped as divine, this account of creation consciously makes the sun dependent on God. Light comes from God and it is Jesus Christ who is the true Light who enlightens everyone coming into the world (John 1:9). The light of the sun does not exist independently, but is a reflection of that Light and passes it on. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite writes,

The great, shining, ever-lighting sun is the apparent image of the divine goodness, a distant echo of the good. It illuminates whatever is capable of receiving its light, and yet it never loses the utter fullness of its light. It sends its shining beams around the visible world, and if anything fails to receive them the fault lies not in the weakness or defect of the spreading light but in the unsuitability of whatever is unable to have a share in light.

Moreover, we see how the waters and the air become populated with all sorts of living beings. The earth begins to team with life and this also reflects God creative activity and shows His design for His creation. Saint Ambrose writes,

The Word of God permeates every creature in the constitution of the world. Hence, as God had ordained, all kinds of living creatures were quickly produced from the earth. In compliance with a fixed law they all succeed each other from age to age according to their aspect and kind. The lion generates a lion; the tiger, a tiger; the ox, an ox; the swan, a swan; and the eagle, an eagle. What was once enjoined became in nature a habit for all time. Hence the earth has not ceased to offer the homage of its service.

We begin to see, then, how creation reflects God glory and goodness – even before we arrive at the summit of creation, the creation of human beings.

*****

A Reading from the Book of Genesis 1:14-23:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.