The Days of Creation

“God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” —Genesis 1:31

IN THE BOOK of Isaiah, chapter 55, verse 9, the great God and Creator of the universe says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” A moment’s reflection emphasizes the truthfulness of this statement. Indeed, when we consider the wisdom manifested in the works of God with which we are surrounded, and as demonstrated in all the far-flung reaches of the universe, we realize that his thoughts must be higher than ours. But in his infinite wisdom, and by his great ability, he is able to convey to our puny minds at least some of his high thoughts relating to his human creation.

God speaks to us in our own language, for how else could we understand what he says? Speaking of the writers of the Old Testament books, the Apostle Peter explains that they wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; that is, the power of God. (II Pet. 1:21) Just how the power of the Almighty conveyed to the prophets what he wished recorded is beyond the comprehension of our finite minds. This is one evidence of God’s wisdom and ability that is as far above the capacity of our minds to understand as the heavens are higher than the earth.

We open this lesson with these thoughts because it will deal with a chapter in the Bible which, in its thirty-one short verses, reveals a sequence of steps in which the Creator prepared the earth for plant and animal life, carrying forward the work of establishing the earth until it became a fit habitation for man. Geologists and astronomers have written countless pages on the same subject, and basically have told us nothing that is not contained in these thirty-one verses.

Instead, they have done much to confuse and distort the facts as they are now becoming more and more recognized. Our contention is, then, that only God, who understood all the facts of Creation because he was the Master Workman, could have caused them to be written in so few, yet meaningful, words. Even so great a geologist as the late Prof. J. D. Dana, of Yale University, asserted with great emphasis that the wisdom displayed in this chapter cannot be accounted for in any other way than to have been inspired by God, the great Architect of Creation whose work it describes.

The Beginning

The opening verse of the chapter is a simple statement of fact—“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Few will deny that the heaven and the earth did have a beginning, and here we are told that the Creator was responsible for it. It does not attempt to tell us how. The Creative forces put into motion by God that brought into being the countless millions of worlds and set them spinning through space under orderly control would be quite beyond our comprehension in any case. Nor has man, even man of this so-called brain age, discovered any further information concerning Creation than the few simple words set forth in this verse. There are many theories of Creation, but they are only theories. Astronomers now think that the universe is continually expanding, but they are not sure. What seems to be an expanding universe, may be merely the astronomers’ expanding ability to see more of it.

Oh yes, modern man has acquired a great deal of information. He even knows how to split and fuse an atom, but since he does not know how to make an atom, or how atoms were made, he has nothing whereof to boast. Atoms, we are told, are the building-blocks of nature. This is doubtless true, but to know this does not take us beyond the simple statement of Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

God could have had that text read, “In the beginning, by the use of atoms, the heaven and the earth were created.” But then, how much more would we have known? We would have to ask, “What is an atom?” and the real answer to this question would have been beyond our ability to understand, so the Lord knew it was better not to tantalize us with details which we could never comprehend.

From this simple statement of Genesis 1:1, we learn that the “heaven and the earth” were already in existence when the work of the six Creative days, described in the remainder of the chapter, began. “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” verse 2 informs us. The earth “was,” because already created, but “without form, and void,” or empty. Its fixed contour, as designed by God, had not been reached. There were neither mountains nor valleys, trees nor shrubs, rivers nor oceans. It was “void,” or empty of all forms of life.

“The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (vs. 2) The word “Spirit” used here translates a Hebrew word, the basic meaning of which is ‘wind’. Its broader meaning is invisible power, and the ancients used it to describe the unseen and inexplicable power of God. The Lord tells us, then, that the shapeless, empty earth was prepared for human habitation through the exercise of his power. More than this we could not understand.

By reasoning from the known to the unknown we reach the conclusion that there are invisible forces beyond the reach of human understanding and control. While in our modern world we believe we know more about power than did the ancients, it would perhaps be more correct to say that man has now learned just a little in the way of harnessing power. Beginning with the steam engine, and then on to the electric dynamo and motor; gasoline engines; electronics; and more recently the fission and fusion of atoms, we have witnessed the exercise of power millions of times greater than is contained in our own brawn and muscle.

Yes, we see railroad trains a mile long hauled along the tracks at sixty to two-hundred miles an hour, through the controlled use of evaporating water or burning oil; we see a giant flying machine rise from the ground carrying scores of passengers and tons of freight, and force itself through the air at from 300 to 600 miles an hour. Seeing these, and the many other modern uses of power, we say to ourselves (perhaps), How wonderful is man, and how marvelous are his creative works!

But hold! Just what has man created? Basically, nothing. He has simply learned how to use—in many instances, misuse—some of the materials which God had already created. He has learned how, in a very limited way, to use these materials without really understanding what they are, or how they were created. The molecules of iron, they say, are held together by magnetism; but what is magnetism? Oh, magnetism is an electrical energy. But what is electricity? No answer!

So on down the line from coal to hydrogen, which, when used to power bombs, might well destroy the world. Should we ask our most brilliant scientists just why, basically, these substances behave as they do, if they replied at all it would be to say they do not know, or else admit the truth, which is that they are creations of God and contain in various forms the invisible and unexplainable power of God. And, after all, how limited is man’s control of divine energy which has been bottled up in the things which God has created! How helpless is man, with his gadgets, in the face of a tornado, a flood, or an electrical storm!

The ‘Spirit’, the power of God moved upon the face of the waters; that is, the Creative work continued, as it had begun, by the use of divine power. When we consider the amount of power that is stored up in a single atom, and realize that the Creator produced all the power of all the atoms in the countless millions of worlds which he had created, our faith can readily lay hold upon the fact that such a God could easily accomplish his design in preparing this planet for the habitation of man.

“God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (vs. 3) This is in sequence to the statement that darkness was upon the face of the waters. God’s power was exercised. At his command light emerged from darkness. Where did it come from and where did the darkness go when the light took its place? Job was asked this question but could not answer, nor can our Einsteins of today. (Job 38:18-21) Beyond the fact that light thus appeared at this very early stage in the earth’s preparation for man, we know little.

“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.” (vss. 4,5) Since nothing in this account has yet been said about the sun, which provides the measuring line of our twenty-four hour days, it is apparent that the Lord is here using the word ‘day’ in its broader scriptural application, to denote, that is, a period of time, or era, during which certain things came about. We speak, for example, of Washington’s day, and Lincoln’s day. The first ‘day’ of Creation was the period of time during which the developments described in verses 2-5 took place.

Some have mistakenly concluded that because the beginning and closing of the Creative ‘days’ are described as the ‘evening and the morning’ the reference must be to twenty-four hour sun days, but the Scriptures do not restrict us to such an interpretation. The Prophet David speaks of the entire period when sin and death reign in the earth as a ‘night’, saying, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”—Ps. 30:5

The ‘eve’ of an event looks toward its beginning, so appropriately, the beginning of each Creative day is referred to as the ‘evening’. To us the evening introduces the night, which is a time of darkness, and each of the Creative days did begin in a measure of obscurity and darkness. Not until the developments designed for each period were nearing completion did the light of the ‘morning’ reveal the purpose of the mysterious workings of divine power during that ‘day’.

The first Creative period is properly described as azoic, meaning ‘lifeless’. The main development of this ‘day’ was the appearance of light, how and from whence, our minds cannot comprehend. The simple statement that it was accomplished by the power of God is all that we can grasp. A dog can be taught certain things, but it cannot understand all that its master does. But the fact that the dog is so limited in understanding does not prove that the things which are beyond its mental grasp are not real, or do not exist.

The Second ‘Day’

“God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And 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. And the evening and the morning were the second day.” (vss. 6-8) Here is described the creation of the atmosphere surrounding the earth.

Life on earth cannot exist without air. Logically, therefore, the Creative work of this ‘day’ must precede the creation of life. And this marvelous arrangement of the water under the ‘firmament’ and the waters above the ‘firmament’ contributes to life through direct use of hydrogen and oxygen, in the form of water, by plants and animals. We see God’s wisdom and economy again displayed in the Creative work of this day in the arrangement for the cycles of life-giving waters from the oceans to the clouds, back to earth into the oceans, and again to the clouds, that the land might be kept properly moistened to produce the needed food for man and beast. See Job 38:25-28.

The Third ‘Day’

“God said, Let the waters under the heaven 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 the Seas: and God saw that it was good. And 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. … And God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.”—vss. 9-13

The Bible account of the work of preparing the earth for human habitation as it progressed during the third Creative epoch is corroborated by geologists. The waters under the heaven were ‘gathered together’ into oceans, seemingly by the buckling of the earth’s surface, forming deep depressions and hills. In a sense this is easily understood, but not actually so. The earth is a spheroid. We speak of countries on the other side of the globe as being ‘down under’. But really, which side of the earth is ‘down’ and which side is ‘up’? Actually we accommodate these terms to a situation which we cannot otherwise describe.

The fact that gravity draws objects to the earth from ‘down under’ as well as ‘up above’, so ‘down’ is toward the center of the earth from wherever one’s location on the planet may be. But what is gravity? Newton discovered the laws of gravity, but did not find out how these laws are made to function. Again we must revert to the information which God has given us; namely, that his Spirit, his power, accomplished all the Creative works. We can call it gravity if we wish, but actually it was the power of God that caused the surface of the earth to buckle, thus bringing about a separation of the sea and the land. See Job 38:8-11.

On the land left dry by the water draining off into the sea, the power of God was further exercised, and vegetation sprang forth. Findings of geologists indicate that in this early period vegetation was extremely rank compared with later times. It is reasonable to conclude, as geologists claim, that during this period the coal beds of earth were formed, the rank, carbon-laden vegetation being buried as the earth’s surface continued to buckle and tumble.

The ‘herb yielding seed’, and the ‘fruit tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, are both said to have been created ‘after his kind’. This is a statement of fact. It has never been proved wrong. Both in the vegetable and animal kingdoms there are almost endless varieties of every species of plant and animal, with new varieties continually being developed; but no new species have appeared since God limited them with his Word, ‘after his kind’. That this fact is stated in the first chapter of the Bible helps to establish the entire Book as being what it claims to be; that is, the inspired Word of God.

The Fourth ‘Day’

“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: 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.”—vss. 14-19

The chief development during the fourth epoch was the appearance of the sun, moon, and stars. The light prior to this was sufficient for the growth of the vegetation of the third day, such as grass, herbs, and fruit-bearing trees. The earth was then so densely surrounded with rings of vapor and gasses that sunlight could not penetrate sufficiently to make a clear distinction between day and night. It was on the fourth ‘day’ that the power of God operated to clear the atmosphere to make this possible.

As we have observed, Genesis 1:1 declares that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” indicating that the ‘heaven’, which would include the sun, moon and stars, had been created and were in existence previous to the developments which took place in the fourth ‘day’, or era. Verse 16 declares that God “made” two great lights, “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” While the Hebrew word here translated “made” (asah) is often used in the Bible to describe a work of creation, it has a much wider use which justifies the thought that what occurred on the fourth day was that the sun and moon, which had already been created, were ‘caused’ to rule the day and the night.

Here are a few examples of the broader scriptural use of this word: Referring to “strangers,” or non-Hebrews in the Land, we are told that Solomon “set [asah] threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of burdens.” (II Chron. 2:18) Solomon did not create these men, he merely appointed or ‘set’ them to their tasks.

Again, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set [asah].” (Prov. 22:28) The reference here is not to the creating of a landmark, but to its appointment, or establishment.

The same Hebrew word is translated “appointed” in Job 14:5. The text reads, “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed [asah] his bounds that he cannot pass.” Here the reference is to God’s appointment of the maximum time man, in his fallen, sin-cursed condition, is permitted to live.

II Chronicles 24:7 is another example. The text reads, “The sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow [asah] upon Baalim.” They did not create these “dedicated things of the house of the Lord,” but “bestowed” them.

These wider uses of the Hebrew word asah justify us in understanding Genesis 1:16 to mean that God caused, set, or appointed “two great lights”—two great lights, that is, which had previously been created—one to rule the day, and the other to rule the night. Not until this fourth epoch, or era, therefore, did time begin to be divided in units the length of which are determined by the sun. This is irrefutable proof that the Creative days are not twenty-four hour days, but long eras, or epochs of time.

The Fifth ‘Day’

“God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and. fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.”—vss. 20-23

The power of God continued to operate. In the fifth day, or epoch, his power, or Spirit, caused the waters to “bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth.” “Great whales” appeared during this era; and doubtless also it was during this time that the giant prehistoric animals were brought forth. Both fish and animals of all kinds were created ‘after [their] kind’.

Again let us remind ourselves of the great importance of this expression, ‘after his kind’. It is God’s way of saying that in the animal kingdom, even as he stipulated concerning the vegetable kingdom, species are fixed, and that no amount of tampering by man can change them. In all the annals of history there is no recorded instance of one species, either of plant or animal life, evolving into another species. The Apostle Paul knew this, and wrote, “All flesh is not the same flesh: there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” (I Cor. 15:39) None of these can be changed.

The record of the fifth ‘day’ says concerning sea life that the “waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind: and every winged fowl after his kind.” The spawning and hatching of fish, especially the larger varieties, requires a great deal more time than twenty-four hours. The same is true in the reproduction of birds. Yet these are shown as taking place within the fifth ‘day’. We mention this because we believe it shows clearly that these Creative periods were much longer than twenty-four hours.

“God blessed them,” the record states, “saying, Be fruitful and multiply.” In the great economy of God, all his sentient creatures receive his blessing. The capacity of the shellfish to appreciate life may be very limited; nevertheless to have life at all is a blessing. Thus from the very beginning of God’s revelation of his designs we note that he is benevolent, kindly, and that all his works reflect, not only his wisdom and power, but also his love.

The Sixth ‘Day’

“God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, 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 every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”—vss. 24-26

The sixth Creative ‘day’, or epoch, witnessed a further development of animal life. In this day the domestic animals were created, as well also as the beast of the field, and the creeping thing. In verse 24 we read, “God said, Let the earth bring forth,” which might suggest something less than an individual creation of the many species of animals and creeping things. The next verse, describing the same work, says that “God made the beast of the earth after his kind.” The important consideration is that life in any form does not spring forth spontaneously. From the shellfish, to man, every form of life was created by God, regardless of the methods which he may have employed.

The crowning work of the sixth day was the creation of man. Special emphasis is given to this, and more details. Indeed, it was in preparation for man that the work of all the other days of creation, including the beginning of the sixth day, was carried forward. Man was the highest order of God’s earthly creation—“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion.”

Man was created to be king of earth, and when the great design of the Creator concerning him is complete, the earth will be filled with perfect human beings, exercising their original God-given dominion.

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