Genesis 1-2, the Six Days of Creation
In Genesis 1:1, there are two possible translations of this first verse that are equally possible. It could say, when “God set about to create the heaven and the earth”, or it could say, when “God created the heaven and the earth”. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but what is at stake is whether there was preexisting material that God used or did He create “ex nihilo” meaning out of nothing. It seems to me since the word used for create in Hebrew is “bara”, and it is only ever used for God creating, then the best translation is that the creative act of God was ex nihilo. Remember Romans 4:17, “God calls into being that which does not exist.” Yet I must be honest and admit bias because the liberal ivy leaguers say God began with an already created mass, so I must be on the other side (just kidding).
Another question concerning verse 1 is when was the beginning? If you used the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, the earth is about 6016 years old, but if you go by the scientist’s radiocarbon dating it is 4,500,000,000 years old, so it looks like to me we need to be flexible on that issue. I recently read another guy who says life forms just exploded on the earth about 500 million years ago (called the Cambrian Explosion), so put that in your pot and stir it up. The sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record does great damage to evolutionist theory of gradual evolution. What is important is to realize that when God created, it was the beginning of time. God has eternally existed outside of time, but here in Genesis 1:1-2, God created the space-mass-time continuum. When it says God created the heavens, the author used the Hebrew word “shamayim” which can be translated either heavens or heaven depending on the context. It means space or atmosphere, as opposed to our contemporary use of God’s heavenly abode. In verse 2 we read that the earth at that time had no form to it, which I take to mean that God created all the elements of the earth, but had not formed it yet as we now know it. Therefore, in verse one and two, God created time, then space, and then matter. God had not yet energized it, but in v.2 we read that the Spirit of God was moving over the creation, and in v.3 He spoke light into being.
The activity of the Holy Spirit was “moving” or better translated vibrating, so the first energy in the universe was by the vibrating of the Holy Spirit. It is possible that at this point the gravitational forces were activated so that water and earth particles could come together to form the great sphere that would be earth.
A whole lot of smart people have labored over the years trying to figure out the answer to the “When?” question, and the fact that they all disagree reveals the problems are serious and the answer is yet to be settled. Some of the unknowns include: the length of the ancient calendar year, the possibility of missing generations in the genealogies, the controversial and inexact science of radiocarbon dating, and the lack of detail in the biblical account. Nevertheless, we have the definite answer in great detail of the “Who” question—God created. The first two verses have described the creation of the basic elements and the initial energizing by the Holy Spirit, and now we are ready for the six days of creation.
Creation Day One (Genesis 1:1-5)
Before we get to the events of creation of the earth, it is interesting to speculate on when the angels were created. Job 38:4-7 indicates that they were created before God created the earth, and they observed His work of creation. The stars and sons of God clearly refer to the angels who “sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” who joined in praise as God created the earth. In Genesis 1:2, God had created the space-mass-time continuum, but at that point it had no form. It was a watery formless mass suspended in darkness.
Then God spoke light into being, not the sun yet, but just light. God separated light from darkness, in the sense there would be a regular time of light called day and then a regular time of darkness called light. God had not yet created the sun, so this was not a 24 hour day, but just a period of light and a period of darkness.
Creation Day Two (Genesis 1:6-8)
On day two, God divided the watery mass that would become earth. He “hammered” out a space or expanse (also called the firmament) between two bodies of water. God named the expanse “space” or atmosphere, which your translation may call “heaven”. The waters below the expanse were liquid water, and the waters above which formed kind of a dome were a vapor canopy. This canopy was transparent to let the light in, but would have protected the earth from the destructive UV rays of the sun, which may help explain the longevity of life in Genesis 5. This would have caused a global greenhouse effect of tropical conditions which may explain the discovery of fossils and bones in arctic areas. According to Genesis 2:5, there was no rain in the beginning, so the vegetation created on day three was watered by springs.
Creation Day Three (Genesis 1:9-13)
On this the third day another division occurred which seems monumental in scope. The watery mass below was divided into land and oceans. Again this was accomplished by God’s spoken word. I can’t even imagine the chemical reactions that occurred for the elements to come together to form a land mass we call solid earth. I’m no expert, but I’ve read that it has a crust, a mantle, and a core. This solid earth appeared above the waters. Then again God spoke the vegetation into existence. All the plants, and fruit trees bore seed and fruit to reproduce after its own kind. It’s interesting that God made provision for all the plants and trees to replicate, but only “after their kind”. I think God programmed the DNA genetic code in each plant to reproduce its own kind.
Creation Day Four (Genesis 1:14-19)
The creation on the fourth day involved the luminaries in outer space, or the celestial sphere of the stars and planets. God created light on the first day, but here on the fourth day God created the sun and moon to give off light in the day and lesser light at night. In verses 14, God said “Let there be light givers”, so God had already created light but now with the sun and stars He created generators of light. It appears that God created the light givers as fully mature and having the appearance of age. The creation of the sun and moon was complete with established rotation and orbit so as to mark passage of time in months, seasons, and years. The earth rotates around its own axis taking 24 hours to complete a rotation. The tilt of the earth towards or away from the sun causes the seasons, and earth’s orbit around the sun takes 365 days to complete a full revolution. Meanwhile the moon revolves around the earth as it revolves around the sun, taking about 30 days. All this makes for a nice tidy calendar, all of which is certainly according to God’s plan. Consider that the sun is 93 million miles away, and if it were any closer we’d burn up, or any further away and we’d freeze. The earth rotates 365 times a year, and if it were fewer it would be too hot, or greater and it would be too cold on each side. The earth tilts on its axis 23 degrees which gives our seasons of the year else weather patterns would be too severe. The earth’s atmosphere is made of 21% oxygen—any more or less wouldn’t support life. Therefore when you consider the creation you have to ask—Is it possible to have such a plan without a planner? A thought without a thinker? A design without a designer?
Creation Day Five (Genesis 1:20-23)
The creation of all the water creatures and birds in the sky was not gradual but instead they suddenly swarmed in the oceans and flew in the sky. God had previously created the perfect living conditions and now spoke them into existence. Again, they are all made to reproduce only “after their own kind”. I think when it says repeatedly that “God saw that it was good”, it means that it was perfectly according to His plan, and everything was in perfect ecological balance.
Now God directed His attention to the animals that would inhabit the solid earth with all its abundant vegetation. This is by far the longest creation account of any of the days, which tells us day six was the crowning achievement. Verses 24-25 deal with the land animals both small and large, but verses 26-31 give a special status and a distinction to the human beings. The land animals are grouped into three categories: the domestic stock animals, the small crawlers like mice and insects, and the larger game and predatory animals.
The last and greatest of God’s creation is man. The man and the woman have special status as being created in God’s image to have a special relationship with God. This is reinforced by telling us that God gave them a “dominion mandate” to subdue and rule over all of God’s creation. Man is a higher and more complex form of life as the climax of creation. In fact, when God made everything else He said it was good, but when God made man He said “it was VERY good”. Made in the image of God no doubt includes intellect, emotions, will, a moral sense, reasoning ability, ability to communicate, and an eternal spirit; but God made man special to have a loving relationship with God and each other. Therefore our problems in life occur when we seek meaning and purpose independent from our relationship with God, because God created us to love Him and serve Him. People today are so concerned with all the temporal issues that they miss the essence and purpose of life to seek God.
We should all step back as the Psalmist did and proclaim how awesome God’s works are, “O Lord, how many are Thy works! In wisdom Thou has made them all; the earth is full of Thy possessions.” (Ps. 104:24-25) The last event of the creation account involved a sort of consultation within the Godhead, “Let us make man in our image”. God formed us out of the elements of the ground as if we were a work of art in His omniscient and all powerful hands. We study the human anatomy now and are amazed at the complex organism God designed and made and gave life to. The physical matter God used came from the ground, but the human soul and the eternal life God created by His word. Therefore, we can say confidently that we are not just some higher form of life that was a product of natural events as we evolved up the evolutionary ladder. We were especially created in God’s image to have a special relationship with Him. Therefore He gave us personality, emotions, wills, and an inner spiritual soul that enables us to know Him and worship Him. We were also created to serve God according to the dominion mandate as God’s stewards on earth. Unfortunately, sin damaged the relationship, and sin damaged the dominion mandate so that we now live in a world that has lost it’s bearing, and lost its meaning and purpose.
Therefore, God has again intervened out of love to restore the relationship, and restore meaning and purpose by sending His Son Jesus Christ to atone for all the wrongs done. Jesus on the cross overcame all the damage so that once again God’s people can “reign in life through Jesus Christ” (Rom.5:17). We should stand amazed at God’s love as David did in Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that God is so mindful of him? Yet God has crowned him with glory and majesty!” Our Creator deserves our worship, praise, and obedience.