Lessons From God’s First Command
The first commandment recorded in the Bible is the creation of light.
The first commandment recorded in the Bible is the creation of light. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).
With this command, mankind was given one of the greatest manifestations of God’s wisdom and power. Methodist commentator Adam Clarke writes, “Light is one of the most astonishing productions of the creative skill and power of God. It is the grand medium by which all his other works are discovered, examined, and understood, so far as they can be known. Its immense diffusion and extreme velocity are alone sufficient to demonstrate the being and wisdom of God” (Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 1, page 33). This first command also establishes a foundation upon which our faith in God must be built.
1. God has all authority. The Bible does not set forth an elaborate argument proving that God possesses all authority over our lives. We are expected to understand this fact by reading the first chapter in the Bible.
God spoke, and by the power of His word, this physical universe came into existence, took shape, and began to be governed by what we recognize as the laws of nature. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. He did not flip a light switch or pull back a curtain. He “commanded light to shine out of darkness” (2 Cor. 4:6). This light came out of nowhere and has been a constant and needed presence in our universe since it was created.
The authority of God can be seen in the fact that this material world responds when deity speaks. The wind and waves of the Sea of Galilee recognized the voice of their Master when Jesus said, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). It is man who sometimes refuses to recognize the authority of God’s word; a mistake we make to our own peril.
2. God’s commands have a purpose. The text in Genesis tells us why God created light. The creation of light dispelled the darkness and gave order to God’s creation (Gen. 1:2-5). The entrance of light gave us the most basic unit of time needed to govern our existence in this physical realm. “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (v. 5).
Sometimes God’s commands don’t make much sense to us. Like children, we can find ourselves protesting God’s will by asking, “Why?” “Why do I have to be immersed in water to be saved?” “Why can’t I divorce my spouse if I’m in an unhappy marriage?” “Why must we mark and withdraw from unfaithful Christians?” Nature responds to God’s voice with obedience. Mankind often responds with questions.
We must have faith to believe that every command of God has a purpose, whether we recognize that purpose or not. We must remember, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Is. 55:8-9).
3. God’s commands are good. “And God saw the light, that it was good…” (Gen. 1:4). Every command from God is good, which means every command God has given us is for our good.
The fathers in Israel were to tell their children, “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deut. 6:24-25).
God does not give us arbitrary commands for His selfish pleasure. There is a reason we must do the things He calls upon us to do, and a reason we must refrain from the things He tells us to avoid. We may not understand what that reason is, but we must have the faith to trust God and obey His commands.
The book of Genesis establishes the foundation of our faith. One of the first lessons we learn is that God always has authority to issue commands, these commands always have a purpose, and they are always for our good.