What happened on each day of the creation week? What can we learn about the world from the Book of Genesis?
In the Beginning
The fact that God is the Creator is simply stated as fact in Genesis 1:1 which says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” There is no explanation of how it was done but just that it was. We either believe God and the Bible or we call God a liar. There are no other alternatives. The word used for “God” in Genesis 1:1 is “’elohiym” and is plural and means more than one God. The Hebrew language has another word for dual or two so by their using the word “’elohiym” it is implied that there is more than two. This makes sense of the plural use of God as God is Three Persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit…altogether they are “’elohiym.”
Genesis 1:3-5 says “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” God saw that the light was good and since we know that Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) we know that He was in the creative process too just as the Spirt of God was (Gen 1:2b). In the creation of “the heavens and the earth” the light and darkness were divided on the very first day. The darkness being separated from the light could indicate that the perspective or vantage point from which these verses were written for is from the earth.
At first, there was only darkness (Gen 1:2a) but the created light overcame the darkness (John 1:5). This was “the first day.” The Hebrew word for “day” is “yowm” and is a literal 24 hour period and the context of this verse shows that the evening and morning were included in the first day. Yowm is also singular so it can’t mean more than one. Every single time a number is used with the word for “day” (“yowm”) it refers to a 24-hour period. The reason Genesis 1:5 says that the “evening and…morning” was “the first day” is because the Hebrew’s day started at sundown and ending the next day at sunset. God establishes the pattern of seven day weeks on the very first day of creation’s existence.
Genesis 1:6-8 records,”Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” Where the word “heaven” is used it is the same word the Hebrews used for “sky” so it is obviously that which man can view from earth. The Hebrew word for “expanse” is “canopy,” meaning perhaps the atmosphere or a canopy of water that was wrapped around the world. This served to filter out ultraviolet light and set up a greenhouse like covering over the earth and kept the oxygen from escaping into outer space.
In the third day “God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:9-10). Was this a time of tremendous upheaval on the earth where the water was still finding the lowest recesses of the earth to become the oceans? This enabled “vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit” (Gen 1:11) to exist and with that, “there was evening and there was morning, the third day” (Gen 1:13).
On the fourth day, “God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars” (Gen 1:14-16). These “lights” had already existed but the stars and moon were not simply created for beauty and of course for the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) but to establish times and seasons and allow mankind to mark time. It would also help them to navigate in the world’s oceans.
On the fifth day is when “every living creature that moves” was created “according to their kinds” (Gen 1:21). It does not say that every kind originated from one kind. Paul wrote that “not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish” (1st Cor 15:39) so apparently Paul was not a deist. He understood that there is one kind for birds and another for fish…not a kind for a fish that crawls out of the water to become a bird. God said each creature was created according to their own kind, not “out of one, the many!”
On the sixth day the remaining “living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds” (Gen 1:24) were created. When God looked at His work, He said “that it was good” (Gen 1:25c). Perhaps God’s greatest creation account is next for that is when mankind is created and God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26) and so “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). This, I believe, is the pinnacle of God’s creation because mankind is absolutely extraordinary and amazing in function and ability (Psalm 139).
Here is the only day that God created something by not creating something. God rested on the seventh day, not because of fatigue but to leave us an example so that we too might take one day in seven to rest, rejuvenate, and even recreate.
Just as in the beginning (Gen 1:1) Jesus is light and the Creator of light for “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5) and He is “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). If you are not in Christ, you are still in darkness and the darkness is your eternal destiny (Matt 8:12; 22:13, 25:30).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.