Cosmology, the Study of Origins

by WordExplain

Then 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." Genesis 1:14

How Did Our World Get Here?

An Exegesis of Genesis 1:1 - 2:3

By James T. Bartsch


Third Day of Creation
Fifth Day of Creation      

Fourth Day of Creation
God's Creation of Sun, Moon, and Stars
Genesis 1:14-19

1. God's Decree of Lights in the Heavens (Gen. 1:14a).

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens"

"Then God said" – literally, "then said God", where "then said" is the 3rd Person Singular Qal Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb 'âmar (559), to "utter," "say," or "speak" (adapted from BDB). "God" is the always-plural non 'ĕlôhı̂ym (430), the Strong One.

"let there be" is the 3 Masculine Singular Qal Imperfect of hâyâh (1961), the verb of being.

"lights" – a seldom-used noun mâ'ôr (3974), appearing but 18 times in the OT. All the uses in Genesis appear in this chapter (Gen. 1:14, 15, 16). All the uses in the OT refer either to the lights from the heavens, or more frequently, to artificial lighting from lamps (e.g., Ex. 27:20). One reference is apparently made to the light that emanates from the glory of God (Psa. 90:8), and one to "bright" or light eyes (Prov. 15:30).

Gen. 1:14 - "lights in the expanse of the heavens": The expanse (raqia, 7549) of the heavens (shamayim, 8064) is necessarily to be distinguished from the expanse of the heavens in which the birds were to fly (Gen. 1:20). The expanse of the heavens in which the sun, moon, and stars dwell is equivalent to the heavens (shamayim, 8064) which God created on Day One (Gen. 1:1). Admittedly, I am making a technical distinction which the Hebrew text does not make. However, the Biblical text states that God altered that initial shamayim on Day Two by inserting a raqia between the waters above the raquia and the waters below it (Gen. 1:6-8). That raqia amounted to an atmosphere surrounded by a Water Vapor Canopy on the top and the ocean surface below. And, of course, even today, when we stand on the earth and gaze upward, we cannot distinguish between the atmosphere surrounding the earth and deep space inhabited by the stars. It all looks the same to us. When one takes a plane, however, and rises above the atmosphere or descends into it, there is a discernible dividing line between atmosphere and space. The language of Scripture does not contradict what we know today. I would be less than accurate, however, if I did not distinguish between the Pre-Flood conditions and the Post-Flood conditions. The Pre-Flood hydrological system had enough water to deposit torrential rains upon the entire globe for a solid forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4, 11, 12, 17). Today’s hydrological system does not have nearly that amount of water in the atmosphere. Something has changed dramatically.

2. God's Purposes for the Lights (Gen. 1:14b-15a).

"to separate the day from the night," (Gen. 1:14b)

"to separate" is the Hifil Infinitive Construct of the verb bâdal (914), to divide or separate (BDB). It is used in this chapter to separate light from darkness (Gen. 1:4, 18), to separate the waters from the waters (Gen. 1:6, 7), and to separate the day from the night (Gen. 1:14).

"the day" is the noun yôm (3117), here referring to the sunlit portion of a 24-hour day, preceded by the article ha (equivalent to our "h" with the appropriate vowel pointing).

"from the night" – a literal translation is as follows: "to separate between the day and between the night" (emphases mine). In both instances the word "between" is the preposition bêyn (996).  The term "the night" is the  noun layil (3915), here referring to the sunless portion of a 24-hour day, preceded by the article ha.

"and let them be for signs and for seasons"

"and let them be" is the 3rd Person Common (Gender) Plural Qal Perfect Waw Consecutive of hâyâh (1961), the verb of being, preceded by the connective "and", waw.

"for signs" – the plural noun 'ôth (226), meaning "that which signifies something." Occurrences in Genesis include Gen. 1:14; 4:15; 9:12, 13, 17; 17:11. I think, in this context, that the lights in the heavens serve as signs signifying the glory of God (Ps. 8:1; 19:1; Hab. 3:3); the power of God (Psa. 33:6); the sovereignty of God (Psa. 103:19); the faithfulness of God (Psa.89:2); the judgment of God (Isa. 13:9-13; Joel 2:10,11 3:15, 16; Hag. 2:6, 21; Luke 21:25, 26); the transcendence of God (Job 22:12; Psa. 8:3-4). As astronomers have probed the heavens, we have learned of the vast numbers of stars and galaxies that exist out in the universe. What a testament to the creative genius of God!

"and for seasons" – the plural noun mô‛êd (4150). Used 222X in the OT, the most frequent translation of the word is "meeting," almost always in the context of "tent of meeting," (e.g., Ex. 27:21; 40:35; Lev. 1:1; 24:3; Num. 1:1; 31:54) especially in the books of Exodus (38X), Leviticus (48X), and Numbers (65X). In other books, a frequent translation is "appointed time" (1 Sam. 9:24; Neh. 10:33; Psa. 102:13; Dan. 8:19; Hab. 2:3); less frequently, "appointed feast(s) (2 Chron. 2:4; Isa. 1:14; Lam. 2:7, 22; Ezek. 36:38; 44:24; 46:9, 11; Hos. 9:5; 12:9; Zeph. 3:18). Judging by the overwhelming frequency of translations incorporating the idea of God and His people meeting together, it would seem that the translation "season(s)," as here in Gen. 1:14 has to do with the sun and moon indicating set times for these meetings to occur or for God to intervene (Gen. 1:14; 17:21; 2 Kings 4:16, 17; Psa. 104:19) or for an animal to respond to its God-given instincts (Jer. 8:7) or for plants to produce crops (Hos. 2:9).

"and for days and years;"

"and for days" – the plural of the noun yôm (3117), here meaning 24-hour days. The regular appearance of the sun each morning heralds the start of a new day. The phases of the moon signify the passage of days on a lunar calendar. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. Islamic countries also operate on a lunar calendar in many respects. The rest of the world operates on a solar calendar.

"and years" – the Feminine plural of shâneh (8141), designating the time of single revolutions of the earth around the sun. Those who do not trust the word of God seek to expand the Biblical solar year into great gaps of time in Genesis 1:1-2:3 in order to accommodate the spurious time-table of the Godless hypothesis of evolution and the "Big Bang." An honest exegesis cannot do that. See the article, "How Long Is a Day in Genesis 1?"

15 "and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; (Gen. 1:15)

"and let them be" is the 3rd Person Common Plural Qal Waw Consecutive Perfect of hâyâh (1961), the verb of being, preceded by the connective "and", waw.

"for lights" mâ'ôr (3974), i.e., to give illumination. See the discussion under Genesis 1:14 above.

"in the expanse" raqia (7549), the extended area, in this context, of deep space.

"of the heavens"
shamayim (8064), "heavens," in this context the second heavens, that is, deep space. This is the same understanding of "heavens" as is found in Gen. 1:1, which indicated the framework of the universe which God created on Day One, and in which He also created the planet Earth the same day. In this same heavens He would later place the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day.

"to give light"
– the Hiphil Infinitive Construct of the verb 'ôr (215), "to give light" or "to provide light" or "to illumine"

"on the earth" – "on" – the preposition ‛al (5921), "on" or "upon" – "the earth" – the noun 'erets (776) (preceded by the article) meaning here, the planet Earth.

3.  The Result of God's Decree. (Gen. 1:15b).

"and it was so." Literally, "and it came to be thus." "And it came to be" is the 3rd Masculine Singular Apocopated (shortened) Qal Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb hâyâh (1961), in this context meaning "became" or "came to be" or "happened" or "came about." The verb is preceded by the connective waw ("and"), and is linked with the adverbial particle kên (3651), meaning "so, thus" usually "as  has been described or commanded, with ref. to what has preceded."  It occurs frequently with the verb hâyâh, and is translated "and it was so" (adapted from Friberg).

The point is that the creative act God had proposed, installing lights in the expanse of the heavens, came about exactly as He had proposed. That fulfillment is described in Gen. 1:16. The phrase "and it was so" appears in this chapter in Gen. 1:7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30.

4. The Account of God's Creation of Lights (Gen. 1:16).

a. Of two great lights: "16 God made the two great lights," Literally, "And made God two the lights, the great ones"

"And made" is the 3rd Person Masc. Sing. Qal Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb ‛âśâh (6213), to "do" or "make." Here the verb is to be understood as meaning that God created the two great lights of our sky, the sun and the moon out of nothing, in Latin, ex nihilo. In the real universe, the one God made, there was no pre-existing matter. And there was no Big Bang. The original Scofield Reference Bible (1917 version), in commenting on Gen. 1:4, "Let there be light," and also applying its comments to Gen. 1:14-18, stated the following in footnote 4 on page 3:

Neither here nor in verses 14-18 is an original creative act impled. A different word is  used. The sense is, made to appear; made visible. The sun and moon were created "in the beginning." The "light" of course came from the sun, but the vapour diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an unclouded sky.

This simply is not true. Moses' use of ‛âśâh (6213), to "do" or "make" must be interpreted according to the context. Here in Gen. 1:16, the verb refers to an original creative act. God did not make / create the sun and the moon in the beginning. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and light (Gen. 1:1) on Day One. Scofield's problem, in regard to creation, like that of many other conservative commentators, is that he was cowed into adjusting his Hebrew exegesis to fit the biased views of atheistic scientists. The Word of God stands in judgment on the erroneous views of scientists and astronomers, not vice versa. God did not create the sun, the moon, and the stars until the Fourth Day. Creation Science has made a monumental contribution to maintaining fidelity both to the Word of God and to legitimate interpretations of scientific data. WordExplain stands solidly with Young Earth Creationism.

"God" is the always-plural 'ĕlôhı̂ym (430), His unity expressed in the singular verb ‛âśâh.

"two" is the Masculine Dual of the adjective
shenayim (8147), "two."

"the lights" is the Masculine plural of the seldom-used (18X) common noun mâ'ôr (3974), "lights" or "luminaries," preceded by the article ha. See the discussion under Gen. 1:14 above.

"the great ones" is the Masculine plural of the adjective gâdôl (1419), meaning here, "large in magnitude and intensity" (adapted from BDB), preceded by the article ha. The adjective corresponds in number and gender with "the lights."

(1) The sun: the greater light to govern the day,

Gen. 1:16 - the greater light to govern the day: A more literal translation: “the great light for governance of the day,”

"the light" is the singular of the noun mâ'ôr (3974) "lights" or "luminaries," preceded by the article ha. See the discussion under Gen. 1:14 above.

"the great" is the Masculine Singular of the adjective gâdôl (1419), preceded by the article ha. The adjective refers to the largeness and magnitude of the sun in comparison to the moon. In proper English we use the comparative, "greater." The Hebrew does not do so, speaking only of ("the light") "the great".

“for governance” is the Feminine Singular noun memshlh (4475), rule, dominion, realm (BDB). This noun is related to the verb mshl (4910), to rule, have dominion (BDB), used in Gen. 1:18.

"of the day" is the noun yôm (3117), here meaning the lit portion of a 24-hour solar day as seen by a person living on the earth, preceded by the article.

There are some Bible scholars who, sadly, attempt to harmonize the Biblical creation account with the secular humanistic hypothesis of evolution. But that is impossible to achieve. The Biblical record clearly indicates that God created the earth on Day One and the sun and moon on the Fourth Day. That order is anathema to evolution, which insists that the sun coalesced long before the earth did. The standard age of the earth, according to evolutionists, is 4.54 billion years. Astronomers have no way of dating the age of the sun. They calculate its age based on the radiometric dating of moon rocks, believe it or not! But radiometric dating gives wildly differing results depending on which dating method is used. There are three assumptions one must make in using radiometric dating: (1) One must assume that the dating clock has operated at a known rate. (2) One must assume the clock’s initial setting is known. (3) One must assume the clock has not been disturbed. (See Andrew Snelling, Radiometric Dating.) None of these assumptions in regard to Radiometric Dating can be proven, for no human was there at the beginning to record observations. Moreover the theories devised to accommodate the latest scientific discoveries are always changing. Only one Being was there in the beginning when it all came into existence, and that was God. If you reject His revelation, your pronouncements on origins will always be filled with error.

Regardless, according to the Biblical account, God created plant life on the third day of creation, prior to His creation of the sun. Such a model is completely unacceptable to evolution, which places the first appearance of land plants around 470 million years ago. It is impossible to harmonize Biblical Creationism with the Big Bang and evolution. See a brief discussion of Theistic Evolution.

(2) The moon: and the lesser light to govern the night;

Gen. 1:16 – and the lesser light to govern the night: A more literal translation: “and the light the small for governance of the night,”

"and the light" – the singular noun mâ'ôr (3974), "light" or "light-bearer" or "luminary" preceded by the article ha.

"the small" – the singular adjective qâṭân (6996) (preceded by the article ha), meaning "small" or "insignificant", referring to the much smaller in size and in light-output moon. We know today, of course, that the greatly subdued light of the moon comes from the fact that it is merely a reflector of light from the sun, not a generator of light (like the sun, which generates enormous heat and light from its constant fusion).

“for governance” is the Feminine Singular noun memshlh (4475), rule, dominion, realm (BDB). This noun is related to the verb mshl (4910), to rule, have dominion (BDB), used in Gen. 1:18. The term "governance" indicates that, insofar as light is concerned, the moon is the governing celestial light-bearer at night time.

"of the night." – the noun layelâh (3915) (preceded by the article ha), referring to the darkened portion of a 24-hour day.

b. Of the stars: "He made the stars also."

Gen. 1:16 - He made the stars also: Literally, “and the stars.” "the stars" is the plural noun kôkâb (3556) (preceded by the article ha). Scientifically, "A star is a large, spherical celestial body consisting of a mass of gas that is hot enough to sustain nuclear fusion and then produce radiant energy."

Moses used no verb. In the language of the creation narrative, stars are almost an after-thought, as in, "And oh, by the way, He also made the stars." The significant features of illumination upon the earth, from God's viewpoint are the sun and the moon. The noun kôkâb (3556) appears but 37 times in the Hebrew Bible.

In astronomy’s understanding of the universe, stars are its main feature. Not so in God’s view. The earth is the focal point of the universe. The sun and moon are needed, and stars are almost a footnote. If we were to extend the focus even further, it would go something like this: The earth is the focal point of the universe; man is the focus of life on the earth; and the ultimate man is Jesus the Messiah, upon whom the entire earth and man depend for existence and for redemption.

Evolutionists use the great distance of distant starlight in an attempt to prove scientifically that the earth and the universe are billions of years old. But their argument is fallacious. We have already stated that it is impossible to have Creation without also having a discrepancy between real age and apparent age. When God created the stars, He created them with their light rays already reaching earth so man could see them. Stars that could not be seen would be worthless. By the same token, when God created fruit trees in the Garden of Eden, the fruit trees did not have to grow several seasons before they finally bore fruit. The fruit trees in the Garden of Eden were created with the fruit fully formed so man could eat and survive. For a discussion of distant starlight and the age of the universe from a Biblical Creationism point of view, see the article, “The Age of the Universe, Part 1.”

5. God's Placement of the Lights (Gen. 1:17).

17 "God placed them in the expanse of the heavens" (Literally, "And placed them God in the expanse of the heavens ....")

"And placed them" is the 3rd Masculine Singular Qal Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb nâthan (5414) (preceded by the connective waw), a very fluid verb meaning, in very general terms, to "give, put, set" (BDB) with a wide range of applications, one of which is to "place." In my opinion, the Imperfect aspect of this verb is consistent with the fact that there was no final, complete placing. That is, each of the heavenly bodies designated in this sentence never is at rest in a single place. They are constantly in motion. Moreover, if our astronomical observations based on starlight redshift do not deceive us, the stars, in particular, may always be expanding outwards from the perspective of astronomers on earth. (However, an expanding universe is not settled science. Note, for example, the problem of time dilation in regard to quasars.) "Them" is the 3rd Masculine Plural of the particle 'êth (853), which serves as the marker of the direct object, often untranslated.

"God" is the plural noun 'ĕlôhı̂ym (430)

"in the expanse" is, once again, (raqia, 7549), referring here to the extended surface located in deep space (not the raqia separating the waters from the waters (Gen. 1:6, 7). The article is required because raqia is in construct to the following word, hashamayim, which does have an article.

"of the heavens" is, again, the always plural
(shamayim, 8064), here referring to what we today know as the "second heavens," the heavens in which the sun, moon, and stars travel. It appears with the article ha.

6. God's Purposes for the Lights (Gen.1:17-18).

to give light on the earth, (Gen. 1:17b)

"to give light" is the Hiphil Infinitive Construct of the verb 'ôr (215), "to give light" or "to illumine."

"on the earth" translates the preposition ‛al (5921), "on" or "upon", followed by the noun 'erets (776), here meaning the Planet Earth, preceded by the article ha. The reader should be aware that in God's universe, everything is geocentric, that is, designed and created by God for the benefit of humans living on Planet Earth. The earth is the center of the universe, purpose-wise, and man is the crown of God's creation. Jesus Christ is the ultimate man who is also God-come-in-the-flesh. The Big Bang and evolution are both purposeless, and with them, there is no legitimate purpose in life. Evolutionists who attempt to live with purpose in their lives are hypocrites who deny the implications of their atheistic explanations. Only with creation by God do we humans have purpose and meaning in life. Our purpose is to live for the glory of God by trusting in and living for His Messiah.

18 and to govern the day and the night, (Gen. 1:18a). Literally, "and to govern over the day and over the night"

Gen. 1:18 - “and to govern” is the Qal Infinitive Construct of the verb mshl (4910), to rule, have dominion (BDB), preceded by the connective waw. This verb is related to the noun memshlh (4475), "rule, dominion, realm" (BDB) that Moses used twice in Gen. 1:16.

"over the day" is the noun yôm (3117), "day," referring here to the daylight portion of a 24-hour day, preceded by the preposition bet, usually "in," but here, "over." The article is represented by the vowel patach under the bet preposition and the dagesh forte in the yod.

"and over the night" is the noun layelâh (3915), "night," or "nighttime," the darkened portion of a 24-hour day. The noun is preceded first by the conjunction "and" (waw) and second, by the preposition bet, usually "in," but here, "over." The article is represented by the vowel patach under the bet preposition and the dagesh forte in the lamed

and to separate the light from the darkness;

"and to separate" is the Hifil Infinitive Construct of the verb bâdal (914), "divide, separate" (BDB). This verb shows the purpose of God for these lights – the sun, moon, and stars – to separate

"the light" is the noun 'ôr (216), meaning the light of daylight

"from the darkness", the noun chôshek (2822), the darkness of nighttime.

7. God's Assessment of the Lights (Gen. 1:18).

"and God saw that it was good." Literally, "And saw God that it was good."

"And saw" is the 3rd Masculine Singular Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb râ'âh (7200). This has the idea of seeing with perception.

"God" is the always-plural common noun 'ĕlôhı̂ym (430), God, the creator of the universe.

"that it was good." "Good" is the adjective ṭôb (2896), pleasing to the eyes, and functionally good, appropriate. In this brand new universe there was no entropy, no decay. There were no supernovae, stars that have exploded. Decay and entropy entered the universe only after Adam had sinned, and death entered not only man's existence, but the universe's existence (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-19; Rom. 5:12).

The Biblical account of creation is incompatible with the prevailing cosmological model, that which we call “The Big Bang.” The apparently expanding universe has prompted astrophysicists to posit the expansion of the universe from a condition that they label a “singularity” (see also "What Is a Singularity?"), a condition in which there was infinitely dense, infinitely hot matter with 0 size. That is impossible. This occurred, they say, some fourteen billion years ago. How a cosmic explosion could be labeled “good” is beyond credulity. Observed explosions are always destructive, not creative. Furthermore, God created the universe ex nihilo, "out of nothing." Most "scientists" and "astronomers" are unwilling even to entertain that possibility. So they come up with impossible theories in order to  explain away the creative might of God. He is the only one who is infinite. Matter, as a created entity, can only be finite, not infinite.

The Big Bang is counterintuitive. If, in fact, the universe is expanding, it is doing so because that is the way God created it, not because there was a massive explosion (Ps. 104:2; Isa. 42:5; 44:24; Jer. 10:12). The universe is not fourteen billion years old. It is a mere 6,000 years old. For a scientific discussion of the age of the universe from a Biblical point of view, see “The Age of the Universe, Part 1.”

8.  The Conclusion of the Fourth Day (Gen. 1:19).

19 There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. (Literally, "And there was evening and there was morning, day fourth."

"And there was" is the 3rd Person Masculine Singular Qal Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb hâyâh (1961), the verb of being.

"evening" is the noun ‛ereb (6153), sunset, the closing of the day.

"and there was" is the 3rd Person Masculine Singular Qal Waw Consecutive Imperfect of the verb hâyâh (1961), the verb of being.

"morning" is the noun
bôqer (1242), the coming of dawn, daybreak.

"day" is the noun yôm (3117), here referring to a 24-hour day.

"fourth" is the adjective, ordinal number rebı̂y‛ı̂y (7243), "fourth" in a series.

The sense is that the evening, followed by the morning, concluded a 24-hour cycle.

Addendum: Galaxies are an insoluble problem for believers in the random nature of the Big Bang cosmology of the universe. If there was an enormous Big Bang, stars should be randomly and almost evenly scattered throughout the universe. But that is not what we find. We find enormous clusters of stars which we call galaxies. According to Space Place, "A galaxy is a huge collection of gas, dust, and billions of stars and their solar systems, all held together by gravity."

According to NASA Science, "Like more than two-thirds of the known galaxies, the Milky Way has a spiral shape. At the center of the spiral, a lot of energy and, occasionally, vivid flares are being generated. Based on the immense gravity that would be required to explain the movement of stars and the energy expelled, the astronomers conclude that the center of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole." "Other galaxies have elliptical shapes, and a few have unusual shapes like toothpicks or rings. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field shows this diversity."

Galaxies show design, not randomness. Even honest astronomers admit there is a problem. Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., wrote the following: "Dr. James Trefil, professor of physics at George Mason University, Virginia, accepts the 'big bang' model, but he admits that there are fundamental problems:

There shouldn't be galaxies out there at all, and even if there are galaxies, they shouldn't be grouped together the way they are.

He later continues:

The problem of explaining the existence of galaxies has proved to be one of the thorniest in cosmology. By all rights, they just shouldn't be there, yet there they sit. It's hard to convey the depth of the frustration that this simple fact induces among scientists.

The creationist cosmologist, Dr. John Rankin, also showed mathematically in his Ph.D. thesis that galaxies would not form from the big bang."

The astronomer who accepts the Big Bang cannot adequately explain the existence of galaxies. The galaxies show order and design, not random coalescence. Who can do anything but marvel at the beauty of a spiral galaxy. God created it that way. It is not the result of random chance!

An Artist's Conception of The Beautiful Symmetry of the Barred Spiral Galaxy, Milky Way

Image Credit

Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution (Atlanta, Georgia, 2014), p. 93.

James Trefil, The Dark Side of the Universe (New York, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988), pp. 3 and 55; see also A. Williams and J. Hartnett, Dismantling the Big Bang, Master Books, 2005.

John Rankin, Protogalaxy Formation from Inhomogeneities in Cosmological Models (Ph.D. thesis, Adelaide University, May/June, 1977).

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.)

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Last updated August 22, 2020