Years and years ago, the Maori people of New Zealand would gather around the fire and tell stories or myths about Maui. This character was a practical joker. He played tricks, and the stories say that he had learned great magic. The myth of how Maui tamed the Sun is set in the land of Hawaiki—the legendary home of the Maori.
“In Hawaiki,” so the story goes, “the boys played with spears to learn to become fierce warriors. The girls would weave fine mats and baskets. The mothers would plant the gardens and supervise the children. The fathers would fish and hunt and build beautiful canoes. But every day the Sun would race across the sky. No sooner would a father mend his spear, than darkness would fall. No sooner would the boys choose a big tree to use for a swing, than night would creep over the mountains. No sooner would a mother prepare the ground for her sweet potato plants, than the Sun would set.
“Hine, Maui’s mother, complained to Maui: ‘The children are crying. They are not sleepy when night comes. There is no time to do our work. Maui, you must do something!’
“Maui grinned, because he had a plan. He carefully prepared a strong, magic rope. Then he climbed to the highest peak on the island and waited. The next morning, Maui swung the rope nearer and nearer to the rising Sun. The rope lashed out and snaked around the Sun. Maui jerked on the rope with all his might. The Sun gasped and glared angrily at Maui, because he had never been treated this way before.
‘Let me go,’ the Sun wailed. He twisted and turned but Maui did not loosen his grip on the magic rope.
‘You must slow down because my people cannot work or play before it is night again,’ Maui cried. So the Sun agreed to slow down.
“Now the children could play to their hearts’ content, and the men and women could finish their chores, thanks to Maui.”
Isn’t that an amazing story! It tells us how the Maori explained their world. Some people say that the Bible’s “story” of Creation is no different. But let us look closely at what the first chapter of Genesis has to say about the Sun and our days:
· God separated the light from the darkness; He called the light “daytime,” and the darkness “nighttime.” Together, the first evening and the first morning became the first day (verses 3-5).
· God created light-givers in the heavens, including two great lights: the greater light, or Sun, for the daytime, and the lesser light, or Moon, for the nighttime (verses 14-19).
Do you notice any difference? In Genesis, God makes the world the way it is; there is no heroic man or magic rope. Among all the creation stories, Genesis is very special because it gives a plain and simple description of how the Universe came to be. But still, is Genesis just another story or myth that uses God instead of heroes and magic? No, because it is the truth. Jesus said: “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). By telling his people about the Creation, Moses made sure they knew Who God was, and how and why He created the world the way He did. Moses wanted to make sure that they worshipped God, and not a man, or the Sun, or an idol made from stone or wood. In other words, he wanted them to worship the Creator, and not the things He created (read Romans 1:25). By telling his people the truth about the Creation, Moses freed them from worshipping false gods and the things of the world.
Thanks to the Book of Genesis, we know that if God could plan and make the whole Universe, then we know that He is powerful enough to answer prayers, and give us a home in heaven forever (2 Timothy 1:12). And, thanks to the rest of the Bible, we know that the Lord loves us, we know how to show our love to Him through worship, and we know how to get to heaven.