On the first day of creation, God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and light appeared as a thing separate from darkness. The phrase let there be light could be confusing to some modern English speakers who are used to using the word let in the context of permission, as in “Let me out of this box” or “Let me have the last cookie.” Some might wonder whom is God speaking to. Was there some cosmic jailer who was keeping the light under lock and key?
The phrase let there be light is a translation of the Hebrew phrase yehi ˈor, which was translated “fiat lux” in Latin. A literal translation would be a command, something like “Light, exist.” God is speaking into the void and commanding light to come into being. The Bible tells us that God created the heavens and the earth and everything else that exists by simply speaking them into existence (Genesis 1). His personality, power, creativity, and beauty were expressed in creation the same way an artist’s personality and personal attributes are expressed through art or music. The idea of light, existing first in God’s mind, was given form by the words “Let there be light” or “Let light exist.”
The reality of the creative power of God’s voice has important spiritual implications that go well beyond the creation account itself. Light is often used as a metaphor in the Bible, and the word illumination (“divine enlightenment of the human heart with truth”) has to do with bringing things into the light. Spiritual illumination is a kind of “creation” that occurs in a human heart. “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus Himself is “the light of the world” (John 8:12).
When God said, “Let there be light,” at the creation, and light appeared, it showed God’s creative power and absolute control. The physical light that God made on the first day of creation is a wonderful picture of what He does in every heart that trusts in Christ, the True Light. There is no need to walk in the darkness of sin and death; in Christ, we “will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).