ANSWER: This question has also been asked in this way, “How could there light on the first day of Creation if the sun was not created until the fourth day?” This question implies that the “light” had to be the “sun” and is usually based on the fact that on both days it speaks of “day” and “night.” The important thing to consider is that for whatever reason, GOD CHOSE NOT TO TELL US WHAT THE LIGHT WAS ON THE FIRST DAY. Was it the sun? Was it some other form of light? We simply don’t know, for God didn’t tell us!
Let’s read the account of the first day. Genesis 1:3-5 reads, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Again, many assume this had to be the sun, but there is not a word about God creating the sun. He simply said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” Perhaps, as others have suggested, God’s very presence introduced light into this scene of darkness, for 1 John 1:5 tells us that “God is light.” To support this view some have referred to Revelation 21:23 which reads, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” If this view is correct, then God Himself was the light for the first three days, just as He will be in the eternal city, New Jerusalem. But we can’t be sure, for God didn’t tell us.
Now let’s read the account of the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19 says, “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 for years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 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. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 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. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
As mentioned previously, there are similarities with the two accounts, for both speak of “day and night” and “dividing the light from the darkness.” But there are marked differences. On the first day God introduced “light,” not “two lights” as on the fourth day. We assume the “greater light” is the “sun” and the “lesser light” is the “moon.” After making these lights, we are told that “God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth.” But on the first day, THERE WAS NO FIRMAMENT OF HEAVEN, for heaven wasn’t made until the second day. So if the sun was the light of the first day, where was it placed? The PURPOSE for light was also different for the two days, for on the first day the light was used to CREATE DAY AND NIGHT. On the fourth day the two lights were used to RULE OVER THE DAY AND OVER THE NIGHT.
I have concluded long ago that if God wanted us to know the answer to the question we’ve been considering, He would have told us exactly what the light was on the first day. I have a question before we close, “Do we really need to know?” Isn’t it enough to just listen to God’s account of creation and simply BELIEVE IT, without having to UNDERSTAND IT? Hebrews 11:3 says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Instead of trying to “figure it out,” let’s be content to stand in awe of God’s power in creation and then praise Him for the faith given to us to enable us to believe it.