This is the Day . . .

A favorite Bible verse greets me nearly every morning from my egg carton: 

This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

I usually take that moment to thank God for another day of life. If I’m a bit grumpy because I missed some solitude and a cup of coffee, I’m reminded to reset my poor attitude.

I find it ironic though, in light of the various interpretations throughout history of Genesis 1, that this particular verse is placed on an egg carton. Undoubtedly the verse is placed for all to read with good intentions that it is the God of Genesis who brings forth the day, regardless of the mythological motifs of the world being hatched from a cosmic egg

We in the church often speak of God creating the world out of nothing. Most likely that means to many of us that nothing — as in nada, zilch — existed in the beginning. Yet, it is interesting, and I admit somewhat distressing, to note that both darkness and water were already present when the earth was a formless void (Genesis 1:2). 

God did not, according to the Genesis account, call darkness or water into being. Should we rethink this notion of nothingness

The text goes on to say that God speaks the good LIGHT into existence. Then God promptly separates that light from the darkness, which was already there. God calls the light DAY and the darkness NIGHT (Genesis 1:2-5).

The second day concerns calling into existence a dome (NRSV), an expanse (NASB), a vault (NIV), a firmament (KJV) that separates water above from waters below. The first two days of creation involved God’s work of separating — separating that which was already in existence (Genesis 1:6-8).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflects theologically on this subject in Creation and Fall in the chapter titled, The Day. Most of us give little thought to what may be a deeper meaning of the word day in the Creation narrative found in the first chapter of Genesis. 

When we do speak of the days of creation, we declare them to be literal 24-hour events in our defense against those of evolutionary persuasions. Yes, God could create the world in seven, 24 hour days.

Yet, is there more to learn from Genesis one than to use it to defend a young earth?

Bonhoeffer, writing in the early 1930s, is not bogged down or bothered by the ongoing battle between the fundamental and liberal views of creation. Rather, he dives deeper into the text and reads it Christologically.

After all, if Christ is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 1:8; 21:6;22:13) it is only through Christ, that we who live in the middle (as Bonhoeffer describes our ‘here, but not yet’ reality), can ever apprehend the beginning from the end! 

Here is what he says:

“The day is the first finished work of God. For us the creatureliness and miraculousness of the day has completely disappeared. We have deprived the day of its power. We no longer allow ourselves to be determined by the day. We count and compute it, we do not allow the day to give to us. Thus we do not live it. Today less than ever — for technology is a campaign against the day. The Bible too speaks of the day in the same calculating way as we speak of it but the Bible knows too that the day is not this calculable day of the earth’s rotation — that it is the great rhythm, the natural dialectic of creation.  

Creation and Fall/Tempatation, SCM Press, Ltd., 1959, pg. 27-28.

I’ve been ruminating on this for days (yes, literal days). I may be getting a small glimpse into what this could mean. If I reread the above paragraph and substitute the word light in place of the word day, I am able to imagine and envision Jesus – this Jesus who claimed to be the light of the world (John 8:12) as the one present at the beginning (John1:2).

Going even further, the whole point of Creation is to culminate in calling forth Jesus’s crucified and very dead body out of the darkness of the grave to the work of redemption, of recreation. I wonder if Bonhoeffer, teaching in the early 1930s, was calling out the church in Germany for failing to walk in the Light in the literal days leading up to war. 

The fact that God calls Light out of Darkness was not lost on Peter. Did Peter draw upon this image from the Creation account when he wrote to encourage and strengthen the exiled church who were facing dark days? 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

At one time — in the beginning — the world as we now experience it did not exist. In Genesis we see Creation at work: God’s calling the world out of darkness into light. The work of Creation is the beginning of Redemption, to be later completed in Christ. 

At one time the Church did not exist. It too, required the power of God’s Word — calling men and women out of Darkness into the Light — in order for the Body of Christ to come into existence. Peter continues:

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:10

Paul picks up this theme in his reminder to the church at Ephesus. This is a reminder for the church today: 

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of Light.

Ephesians 5:8

Our breakfasts should never be the same. From now on, whenever we crack open that beautiful egg, let us be reminded of the power of Creation and of the power of God’s Word that continues to call the Church out of Darkness in order to walk in the Light of every day!

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