What does Genesis 1:14 mean?
ESV: 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,
NIV: And God said, '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,
NASB: Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and they shall serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years;
CSB: Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for seasons and for days and years.
NLT: Then God said, 'Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years.
KJV: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
NKJV: Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
Verse Commentary:
Regardless of translation, verses 14 through 18 can seem somewhat awkward in English. These words were originally written in Hebrew, and under a highly structured repeating pattern. And yet, the core point of these verses is impossible to miss: God made all the heavenly bodies, ascribed to the fourth day of His creation week. For the original readers of Scripture, this countered the widespread belief that stars, comets, and the sun were themselves divine. By clearly showing God's creation and control, Genesis dispels the idea that there are any true gods other than God.

Days four, five, and six of the Genesis creation week correspond to days one, two, and three. That is, what God creates in each of these last three days is placed in the setting He created on the corresponding earlier day. In this case, on day one, God used His creative words to form light. This verse describes day four, where God commands that there exist "lights in the expanse of the heavens," or in the "vault of the sky." The following verses will explain that these "lights" are the sun, moon, and stars.

This raises what some see as a difficult question: How did God create light and day and night on the first day (Genesis 1:3–4) if He had not yet created the sun? It's a reasonable question, and we don't have a perfect answer. The easiest explanation is that God caused light to exist apart from the source of sun and stars until those were created, something clearly within His power. Another option is that these words describe the first time that the sun, moon, and stars became visible on earth, possibly due to a vapor canopy or clouds. Some scholars offer further alternative explanations.

One interesting point of note is that secular science, per the "Big Bang Theory," actually supports this order of light, then stars. According to that model, the universe was filled with photons—light particles—long before there were stars or planets. Whether or not this has a meaningful connection to this part of Genesis, the point is that light preceding stars is not only scientifically possible, modern science claims that was actually the case!

In any event, Scripture does not provide specific details here, meaning they are irrelevant to the point at hand. The main idea of this verse is to describe God's purpose for these lights, according to His command. They were to separate day from night, as well as to serve as signs of days, years, and "seasons," which in this context refers to sacred times.

It is clear that God intended from the beginning for the earth and the solar system to move according to a regular pattern. He meant for days, years, and seasons to be orderly, measurable, and predictable.
Verse Context:
Genesis 1:14–25 describes the second three days of creation: days four, five, and six, just prior to the creation of human kind. As with the first three, there is a common pattern. God's spoken word results in creation, which God then names and declares ''good.'' The day is then numbered. Each of these days fills something created in one of the prior three days. The sun and moon are created on day four, while day and night were created on day one. Sea creatures are created on day five, for the oceans formed on day two. Land animals—and, later, human beings—are made on day six, for the dry land and plants which God created on day three.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 1 is nothing less than a bare-bones claim that God created the universe. Setting all of the debates on models and interpretations aside, the chapter undeniably insists on one thing: God means to be known as the Creator of all things. Written in the original Hebrew language according to a rigid, poetic structure, the chapter unfolds in a series of patterns and revelations. For those who believe these words, our response should be nothing less than to worship our Maker.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 1 is the first chapter of what came to be known as the Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible. Likely written by Moses, Genesis 1 begins the story of God and His relationship with His people Israel. The role of God as Creator is not only important for setting up His work in later chapters, but also in His supremacy and authority for all of the other words of the Scriptures. God intends first to be known to all peoples as the Creator of all things—from sun, moon, and stars, to human life itself. And as the Creator, He is owed worship by all He has made, including and especially human beings
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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