Day One measures a definite value of time. We know time is there because it is being measured for us. One way time has been classically defined—or qualified through measurement— has been “matter in motion through space.” But if the Bible is true, then this cannot be what time is because time came to be on Day One and space shows up on the second day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
It may be correct to say that the deep of Genesis 1:2 occupied a volume of space, but we would only infer that from our present experience of space. The geometry we are intimately familiar with—height, width, and length—had no real definition until there was a clear above and below. Isaiah describes the insertion of a diving space between the waters as stretching.
Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
Stretching and spreading are the same mechanisms that physicists speak of when they talk about an expanding universe. Space does not appear because stars and galaxies are moving away from each other. Galaxies and stars move away from each other because space is expanding. A fun way to see this principle at work is to take a balloon and draw dots close together on it then inflate it. The dots move away from each other, but not because the dots themselves are moving. The very fabric of the balloon is stretching, adding space between the dots.
The Heavenly Luminaries
Day one and two bring us to three, when God gathers the waters to reveal the land and commands the grass and trees to grow (Gen. 1:9-13). At the close of the third day, a most peculiar event takes place in the dark void of space.
14 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:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Lights in the firmament—stars, galaxies, and all glowing things—were not energized and apparent until the fourth day. Why is this most peculiar? Because Light appeared on Day One. What this tells us is that the Light that defined the reality of time came from outside the universe. Though we refer to time as a physical property, the way it appeared on Day One points to its spiritual nature.
God set the physical lights of the universe to “divide the day from the night.” Discriminating between diverse things is a priestly function.
8 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying,
9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
The themes of light and darkness are ever present in the redemption epic. Light and dark, life and death, holy and unholy, clean and unclean all resonate with one another. In the dark, no form or order is found. Light brings order to chaos, and it was with the express purpose of bringing order that the Lord lit the heavenly luminaries. They were set for signs, seasons, days, and years. “Signs” indicate their prophetic function. Seasons, days, and years tell us that they measure time. The very things God set in motion in the universe for us to watch as His first written word (Psalm 19) are the very things He presents as time rulers, further deepening the spiritual aspect of time itself.
Psalm 136:1, 7-9
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
7 to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever; ESV
The sun, moon, and starts and their rulership over day and night are things we should give God thanks for. He provided them to us because of His everlasting love. Anything given in love and worthy of thanks has to be good. Time is not the enemy.
The King James translators and the English Standard translators chose to use the English word “rule” for the Hebrew memshalah, which is also variously translated as dominion, government, and power. The idea of dominion and rulership is carried in the New Testament Greek word arche, which means “beginning.” This beginning, head, or start gives us the dual ideals of chief and commencement. The start of a line, road, or time is the arche. All these nuances are carried within the English word “rule.”
“Rule” comes from the Indo-European root reg, which means “to move in a straight line, with derivatives meaning ‘to direct in a straight line, lead, rule.” From the straight line derive the ideas of right, just, and correct. In essence, it was our use of straight measuring rods—rulers—that gave rise to calling kings “Rulers.” The root reg also forms the basis of our words regal, reign, and royal. These meditations prepare us to have the biblical mindset required to properly consider time lines and the arrow of time.