The Creator’s Grand Design—Part 3

The Days of Creation

“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” —Genesis 1:31

THROUGHOUT the centuries the wise and learned have endeavored to pry into the secrets of creation and discover how the great universe came into existence. They have not been able to understand how out of nothing there came countless billions of worlds; myriad forms of life—plant and animal—and why law and order is displayed in it all. Arid try as they may, human wisdom has not been able to offer an explanation given to us in the Scriptures that in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

The truthfulness of these words has been acknowledged in our day by prominent scientists. While many scientists imagine the universe as having come into existence by sheer chance, others do not. Even the great Professor Einstein, once an agnostic, in the later years of his life confessed that his increasing scientific knowledge had led him to the conviction that there is an Intelligence displayed throughout the universe which he was glad to acknowledge and honor. Einstein was unable to accept the crude conceptions of God handed down to a credulous world from the Dark Ages; however, he came to see unmistakable evidence of supreme Intelligence in what he formerly considered to be but the works of nature. And this is true of others of our great scientists today.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is a simple statement of fact. Few will deny that the heavens and the earth did have a beginning, and in these few words we are informed that the Creator was responsible for it. God does not attempt to tell us how the universe was created, for he knew that it would be quite beyond our ability to comprehend how the creative forces he put into motion had brought into being the countless millions of suns and sent them spinning forth through space under orderly control.

Nor have our most brilliant scientists discovered any worthwhile information other than is contained in the simple statement that “God created the heaven and the earth.” There are many theories of creation, but they are only theories. Until recently; one theory quite generally accepted by the scientists was that of a continuously expanding universe. More recently many scientists have turned to the “pulsating” theory, which holds that the universe began with a great explosion billions of years ago and that it has been expanding since, and is now about ready to go into reverse and contract. After a few more billions of years, according to this theory, all the material will again become compressed into a great center. Then there will be another “big bang,” and another pulsation will begin. Sooner or later this theory will probably be discarded in favor of still another. The point is that man just does not know how God created the heaven and the earth.

It is true that modern man has acquired a great deal of knowledge. He even knows how to split an atom. But since man does not know how to make an atom, or how atoms were made, he has little whereof to boast. Atoms, we are told, are the building blocks of nature, but to know this still does not take us beyond the simple statement that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” However, in conjunction with the information furnished in the rest of this opening chapter of the Bible, the statement is very meaningful, for it reveals that the work outlined in the remainder of the chapter was not the bringing of the universe into existence, but the preparation of the earth for the habitation of man.

Yes, the earth already existed, having been created by God “in the beginning.” But, as verse two, of the chapter explains, it “was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” This indicates that the fixed contour of the earth, as designed by God, had not yet been reached. There were neither mountains nor valleys, trees nor shrubs, rivers nor oceans. The earth was “void,” or empty of all forms of life.

Not Twenty-four Hour Days

The creative work outlined in this chapter was accomplished in six “days.” We are not to suppose, however, that these days of creation were twenty-four hours in length. The Hebrew word here translated ‘day’ is yowm—pronounced yome. While in many instances in the Old Testament it is applied to a literal day of twelve or twenty-four hours, the sacred writers did not thus limit its use. In Exodus 13:10, Leviticus 25:29, Numbers 9:22, and in other places, the same Hebrew word is translated ‘year’. In Genesis 4:3 and 26:8, and many other places, yowm is translated ‘time’. A careful study of these references reveals clearly that the meaning of this Hebrew word is not limited to a twenty-four hour day.

Besides, the Bible often uses the word day in a broader sense. The period of forty years that the Israelites spent in the wilderness is referred to as “the day of temptation in the wilderness.” (Ps. 95:8-10) Isaiah refers to the era of Christ’s kingdom on the earth as a day. (Isa. 11:10) While six days are mentioned in connection with the preparation of the earth for man, in Genesis 2:4 the entire period of creation is referred to as “the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” It seems clear, then, that yowm cannot be limited in its application to any specific length of time, such as a twenty-four hour day, but simply denotes a time, season, or era, during which certain events take place, or a particular work is accomplished.

The First Day

It was at the beginning of the first day of creation that God’s Spirit, his almighty power, “moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:2) The Hebrew word here translated moved means ‘to brood’, as a bird brooding over its nest. In a general way this is a fitting illustration of how the Spirit, or power of God, brooded over the waters of earth, that a home might eventually be made ready for all the myriad creatures he had in mind for the earth, and especially for man. That brooding began at the outset of the first day, and was to continue until man, male and female, was brought forth in the divine image at the close of the sixth day.

When God’s Spirit began to brood over the waters, “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Since this was prior to the time when the land and the water were divided, the earth’s surface was one vast ocean. God asked Job: “Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it?”—Job 38:8,9

God’s question might well suggest the manner in which the sea came into being. Scientists agree that as the earth-mass cooled, a more or less solid crust formed on the outside. For a time this crust kept the hot gases confined, or, as God’s question suggests, “shut up … with doors.” But the confined gas built up a tremendous pressure and broke forth through innumerable small craters, spread over the earth’s entire surface and, in cooling, condensed and fell upon the hot surface of the earth. Thus, the sea was “born,” God likening it to an issuing out of the womb.

And at its birth clothing was provided. The Lord said, “I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband.” A tremendous quantity of vapor arose from the hot sea, which resulted in complete darkness surrounding the whole earth as a swaddlingband. How beautifully and realistically the Lord describes this phase of the creative work!

Much was accomplished during that first day, or era. The Creator said, “Let there be light,” and as a result of this decree “there was light.” It seems clearly established by scientists that the sun was created long before the earth and probably was the light referred to in the Creator’s decree, although it did not penetrate the clouds of vapor and gas that encircled the earth with the same degree of brightness that it did later. The Bible states that “God divided between the light and between the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” (Gen. 1:4,5, Margin) It was the earth itself that made the division between the darkness and the light. Even as now, the side of the earth that faced the sun would be light—light, that is, in comparison with the darkness on the other side of the globe. As the light of the sun began dimly to penetrate the dense canopy of moisture that surrounded the earth, the first era of God’s brooding came to an end.

We read that “the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Gen. 1:5) The marginal translation states, “The evening was, and the morning was.” The Hebrew word here translated evening literally means dusk or darkness. What the Creator evidently wants us to understand is that each of the creative periods had an obscure, dark beginning, and that the completion of the work of each age was a morning of brightness. It was literally true of the first day that it began in darkness and ended with the divine decree, “Let there be light.”

The Second Day

It was during the second creative period that the earth’s atmosphere was formed. The word expansion is used in the marginal translation of Genesis 1:6: “God said, Let there be an expansion in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” In this division of the waters by the expansion, the main body of water probably remained on the earth, while a tremendous quantity of water vapor was held suspended in the upper atmosphere.

Scientists tell us that the remaining gases which came from the hot earth, much of which condensed to form the ocean of boiling water which at one time covered the earth, were now used to make the atmosphere. Probably so, but can the scientists explain just how these gases happened to so adjust themselves as to provide exactly the right amount of oxygen that would be necessary for the many breathing creatures of earth which later were to be created? Besides, provision had to be made to maintain the proper mixture of nitrogen and oxygen throughout the future ages in order for both the vegetation and the breathing creatures of earth to continue to exist.

The Creator alone was capable of accomplishing this. Concerning this great one, the Prophet Isaiah wrote: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” (Isa. 40:22) What a beautiful way of describing the expanse of atmosphere that surrounds the earth! It is as a tent in which to dwell! And truly, every living creature on earth does live in this oxygen tent.

The earth’s atmosphere is also vital to life because it is so integral a part of the circulatory system by which the earth is supplied with the water needed for its vegetation and for drinking purposes. The sun continues to turn the waters of the oceans into vapor, and it is lifted up into the atmosphere. In due time it returns to earth in the form of rain or snow.

We are told that the atmosphere holds billions of tons of water in suspension, ready to be sprinkled upon the earth. What a marvelous watering system! How it reveals the wisdom of the Divine Architect! And how strengthening to faith it should be to realize that the Bible described this arrangement so long ago, long before the wisdom of this world understood anything about it.

How simply it is described—“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. And God called the firmament heaven.” (Gen. 1:7,8) The Hebrew word here translated heaven is the same one which is also translated air in this chapter. It would therefore be just as correct to say that God called the firmament air. With the forming of earth’s atmosphere completed, that era came to an end, “and the evening and the morning were the second day.”—Gen. 1:8

The Third Day

It was during the third day, or epoch, that the land surfaces of the earth appeared. “God said, Let the waters under the heaven [or air] be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land earth: and the gathering together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good.”—Gen. 1:9,10

In Proverbs 8:29 we read of the time when the Lord “gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth.” We are told that if all the continental land masses of the earth would be leveled off, the entire land surface of the earth would be from one to two miles under the ocean. Apparently this was the situation prior to the third creative day.

Obviously by divine design, and under the control of divine power, there began a buckling of the earth’s surface, which was as yet a somewhat soft crust, deepening the ocean beds and heaving up our continents. Speaking of the wisdom, power, and majesty of the Lord, the psalmist wrote: “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment [a reference to the time when the newborn ocean covered the entire planet]: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them [by the buckling of the earth’s crust]. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth [as the oceans originally did].”—Ps. 104:5-9

Species Fixed

Also in the third creative period God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” (Gen. 1:11) Thus are described the earlier forms of vegetation. But let us pause here to note the profound and scientific significance of the expression ‘after his kind’. This is the Lord’s way of saying that all species of life are fixed; that there is no evolving from one to the other, even though there may be many varieties of each species. Darwin himself, in his “Origin of Species,” made this frank admission: “In spite of all the efforts of trained observers, not one change of species into another is on record.”

The third creative era embraced what scientists describe as the Carboniferous and early Permian Periods. It was at this time that the rank vegetation growing up into veritable forests furnished the material for the coal deposits of the earth. The climatic conditions were such as to produce a rapid and continual growth of forests. It is claimed that during this period eighteen layers of forest-like vegetation were deposited. With the amazing display of divine wisdom in creating the earlier forms of plant life, the third creative day came to an end: “The evening and the morning were the third day.”—Gen. 1:13

The Fourth Day

The work of the Creator during the fourth day pertained to the sun and the moon. The casual reader might easily suppose that it was during this period that the sun and the moon were created, but this is not the case. Both the sun and the moon were created “in the beginning,” when “God created the heaven and the earth.” They are a part of the heaven.

“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.” (vs. 14) Verse sixteen reads, “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.” In the statement that God made two great lights, the thought is that he appointed the sun and the moon to rule the day and the night. In verses seventeen and eighteen we are informed that the Creator “set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night.”

The Hebrew word translated made in the statement that God made two great lights, is translated appointed in Psalm 104:19. Here the psalmist informs us that God “appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.” Thus we have the Bible’s own interpretation of God’s work in the fourth day: that it was not the creating of the sun and the moon, but the appointing of them to rule over the day and over the night, and also that they might be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years.

As we have noted earlier, it was evidently the light of the sun which dimly penetrated the ‘swaddlingband’ of darkness that surrounded the earth at the time in the first creative epoch when God said, “Let there be light.” While the light of the sun got through to the earth sufficiently at that time to make a difference between day and night, it did not rule. It is doubtful if the moon was visible then at all.

It is evident, we think, that some sunlight reached the earth prior to the fourth creative day, for it would be needed by the vegetation that was created in the third epoch. But that the sun and the moon did not then rule in the sense of producing seasons and marking off the literal days so definitely that years and seasons could be reckoned, is evident by the fact that the huge trees that were deposited to form coal beds do not show any rings to denote the years of their growth. It was after the sun began to rule, that yearly rings were produced in growing trees.

The Fifth Day

The fifth epoch in the preparation of the earth as a suitable habitation for man was devoted to the bringing forth of marine life and the “fowl that may fly above the earth.” (vs. 20) In the King James Version we read that “God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind.” The Revised Version gives us the words “sea monsters” instead of whales, and Professor Strong informs us that the Hebrew word here translated whales could also be properly translated “land monsters.” It is reasonable to conclude that the reference in verse twenty-one is to those huge monsters to which scientists have given such names as Dinosaur, Diplodocus, and Tyrannosaurus, meaning huge lizards. The word dinosaur means ‘terrible lizard’.

Scientists suggest that while these huge monsters could live on land, their tremendous weight made it easier for them to move about in the water, for the water would help to bear up their weight. However, all the other myriad forms of marine life were also brought forth during the fifth day.

It was during this epoch also that birds were created. The expression, “every winged fowl,” need not be limited in its application to the feathered birds. (vs. 21) Professor Strong indicates that the word here translated fowl means primarily a bird covered with wings, the emphasis being on wings, rather than feathers. The reason we call attention to this is that geologists tell us that during this period there were huge winged creatures that were not feathered, their wings being constructed somewhat like those of a bat.

Whether it be the huge lizards of this period, the creatures which lived exclusively in the sea, or the feathered or unfeathered birds of the air, each species was created ‘after its kind’. This is confirmed by geologists, who freely acknowledge that from the testimony found in “The Book of the Rocks,” each of these species appeared suddenly and with no evidence of having climbed an evolutionary ladder.

The Sixth Day

It was at the close of the sixth day that “God created man in his own image.” Appropriately, it was also during this era that the land animals which were to contribute to human needs were created. We read: “God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind: … and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind … and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over everything that creepeth upon the earth.”—vss. 24-26

Man was created to be king of earth; and when the grand design of the Creator concerning him is completed, the earth will be filled with perfect humans, exercising their original God-given dominion. Man is now a fallen creature, and Paul wrote that “we see not yet all things put under him.” But as we continue, we will discover the Scriptures abundantly testifying that ultimately man’s dominion over the earth will be restored, to the glory of God, and to the eternal joy of his human creation.—Heb. 2:8

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