THE SIX DAYS OF CREATION

GENESIS 1:3-31

The six days of creative work are topical in nature. This does not rule out a literal interpretation, but the topical nature should also be realized.

Unformed

Unfilled

DAY 1: Light.

DAY 4: Light-givers (Sun, moon & stars).

DAY 2: Water & sky divided.

DAY 5: Fish and birds.

DAY 3: Land & Vegetation

DAY 6: Land animals & man.

The outline for this structure can be seen in Genesis 1:2 where the earth was described as being unformed and unfilled. The first three days involve forming the earth while the second three days involve filling the earth.

The Jews delighted in this sort of parallelism - it was akin to poetry. This observation has led some to suggest that we are not meant to take the teachings of this chapter with a rigid literalness but rather as a poetic passage teaching us that God is indeed the creator of all things.

 

THE FIRST DAY

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5).

There is a specific formula that we shall see repeated in each of the six days. The same pattern is followed throughout this chapter.

Godís creative statement: And God said...

The fiat:"Let there be..."

The creative act: And there was light...

A declaration that the creation was good: God saw that it was good.

The time limits of that creative period: And there was evening and there was morning...

The numerical listing of that day: One day.

In verse 1 we saw the created activity of God described outright in the narrative, but are not given any details as to how that work was carried out. It has been described as creation ex nihilo -- creation from nothing. That is actually a misnomer as it is actually a case of creation from Godís power. In this verse, we see creation via the spoken word of God. We read that God says and then it comes to pass.

Hebrews 11:3 teaches the same essential truth -- that the worlds were made by the word of God. By faith we understand that the worlds [aiwnaV] were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

The object of creation on this first day was light (owr). This stands in contrast to the object of the fourth day of creation which would be the creation of light-bearers (maoroth). The first describes elemental light without any reference to the source of that light. The second describes the light sources.

 

THE SECOND DAY

Then God said, "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 which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. (Genesis 1:6-8).

The old King James Version translated the Hebrew (raqiya') with the English "firmament." New American Standard Version replaces it with "expanse."

Raqiya' is used 17 times in the Old Testament - most of those instances taking place in the first chapter of Genesis. Before looking at the other instances, let us look first of all at its use in this chapter.

Raqiya' is defined in verse 8 when "God called the raqiya' heaven" (note that the Hebrew is plural; "Heavens"). This seems to be further explained in verse 20 where God says, "...let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens" (It literally reads "...upon the face of the Raqiya' of the heavens"). A summary of the Raqiya' is given in the following observations:

(1) It took place in the midst of the waters (1:6).

(2) It separated upper waters from lower waters (1:7).

(3) It was called "heaven" (1:8).

(4) It had lights - the sun & moon (1:17).

(5) It was the place where the birds flew (1:20).

Any attempt to assign a specific meaning to Raqiya' such as "atmosphere" or "outer space" is doomed to frustration when we consider all of these observations. The problem is that we are inclined to try to read in a 21st century interpretation into an ancient Semitic text. But to understand it will not be difficult if we put ourselves into the shoes (or sandals) of the early Hebrew. He is not attempting to describe precise scientific phenomenon. Rather, he is describing the world from his own vantage point.

Have you ever gone out at night and looked into the sky? What did you see? Could you tell by looking where the atmosphere and the clouds ended and where "outer space" began? No!!! All you could see was the distinction between "down here" and "up there."

That is how the Hebrews described things. I am not saying that they were in scientific error, any more than you are in scientific error when you speak of the sun rising and setting.

Psalm 19:1 and 150:1 give us little help in further determining the nature of this "firmament."

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their EXPANSE is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1).

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary;

Praise Him in His mighty EXPANSE. (Psalm 15:1).

Ezekiel also mentions the Raqiya' in his first chapter. It is there that the prophet describes a vision of the throne of God. It looks like this:

Throne of God

Raqiya'

Four Living Beings

In spite of the vividness of this description, the Raqiya' itself is not described. It is merely understood without explanation. This leads one to conclude that it is a general term needing no specific explanation.

Up to this point, there is not a lot of help found in the actual uses of the word within the Old Testament. However, when we look to the root word, there is a possible clue. The root is Raqia' (only the yodh is missing). It seems that this word can carry a double meaning.

When used in the intensive stems (pi'el & pu'al), it takes on the idea of beating out precious metals, spreading them out over a wide area.

Thus, we are left with a picture of God as the Creator, spreading out the expanse of heaven, carefully placing each of the heavenly bodies in the dome of the sky, all designed to be seen from the earth below and to bear witness of His majesty and might.

 

THE THIRD DAY

Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth"; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. (Genesis 1:9-13).

There are two key events that take place upon the third day. First there is the appearance of dry land. Then there is the bringing forth of vegetation upon that dry land.

In Jonah 1:9, when Jonah was questioned by the sailors aboard the storm-tossed sea, He describes the God whom he worships as the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.

The Israelites in the wilderness to whom Moses wrote this book were well acquainted with this aspect of the identity of the Lord, for they had seen Him make dry land from the bottom of the Red Sea.

 

THE FOURTH DAY

Then 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; 15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so.

And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.

And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19).

God had already brought light into being on the first day (Genesis 1:3-4). But we are given no explanation for the source of that light. Now we are told that God gave a permanent source of light in the form of two light-bearers. Notice that these light-bearers had several varied purposes.

This is significant because Moses is writing to Hebrews who had just recently come out of slavery in Egypt. The Egyptians had worshiped Re, the son god, as one of their chief deities. They need to know that God and Re are not two different gods of a similar nature. Rather it was Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, who had created the sun and the moon and the stars.

The fact that the stars are mentioned in verse 16 is puzzling. Are we meant to conclude that the stars were not created until the fourth day? I do not believe so. The mention of the stars at this point might simply be a part of a topical arrangement. This is designed to have two effects:

 

THE FIFTH DAY

Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens."

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23).

The creative events of the fifth day correspond to that which took place on the second day of creation.

Day 2: Division between the waters and the sky

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Day 5: Sea Creatures and birds fill the sea and the sky

This is the first time that a command has been given to be fruitful and multiply. The command will be repeated in verse 28 where it shall be addressed to mankind.

Godís creation involves the intent to multiplication. From a single man and woman, He has brought forth all of humanity. This multiplication is seen in the animal kingdom, it is seen among humanity and it is also seen in the spiritual realm. We are called to that same sort of multiplication ministry.

 

THE SIXTH DAY

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25).

The creative events of the sixth day correspond to that which took place on the third day of creation.

Day 3: Dry land appears

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Day 6: Land creatures created

This time there is no specific reference to multiplication. Instead the emphasis is upon each of the animals of the earth being after their kind.

 

THE CREATION OF MAN

Though it is still on the sixth day, the crowning act of Godís creation is seen now in the creation of mankind.

1. The Divine Plan.

The God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27).

The creative work of God reaches a crescendo when it reaches the creation of man.

a. The plurality of the Planner.

Notice the use of the plural pronoun ("Let US make man in OUR image"). The Jews held this to be a conversation that the Lord was having with the angels. However, the fulfillment of the plan in verse 27 does NOT say that God created man in the image of God and the angels. Indeed, angels are nowhere mentioned in the first half of the book of Genesis.

This may be a foreshadowing of the doctrine of the Trinity. This is the view suggested by the Epistle of Barnabas. On the other hand, it may also be a literary device known as a "plural of majesty" or a "plural of deliberation." This same sort of plural usage will be seen in Genesis 3:22 and 11:7.

Several other uses of the plural of majesty in the Bible can be suggested:

Ezra 4:18 - Xerxes writes, "The document which you sent to US has been translated and read before me." The context in verses 11-13 shows that the document in question was sent to the king alone.

2 Chronicles 10:9 might be a plural of majesty - "What counsel do you give that WE may answer this people..."

Isaiah 6:8 goes back and forth between the singular and the plural: Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then said I, "Here am I; send me."

It is notable that the New Testament writers never pointed to this usage as evidence for the deity of Jesus. They DID point to Psalm 110 on several occasions.

b. In the image of God.

In what way was man created in the image and likeness of God? Some have suggested that it is in the area of free will. Others have tried to see in this statement a tri-unity within man - that he is body, soul and spirit (as a reflection of the Trinitarian God). Still another view postulates that God has a body.

But NONE of these views is supported by the context of Genesis. The context suggests only one way - the area of rulership. This is seen in the very next verse.

And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and RULE over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28).

As God was sovereign over all that He had created, so now man was placed into a position of relative sovereignty over all that was upon the earth.

c. There Are Two Separate Words for Man.

(a) Adam is the generic word for "man" or "mankind."

Notice that Adam's name was "Man" (a little like BOY in the old Tarzan movies). This name points to his origins. The related word is the Hebrew word for "ground." Genesis 1:27 indicates that refers to both the man and the woman.

(b) Ish indicates man as a male, in contrast to ("Woman").

d. The Purpose of the Creation Account.

We must remember that the creation account does not stand alone. It is a part of the larger book of Genesis, which is itself a part of the larger work of the Torah.

Therefore, the purpose of this account must be seen in terms of the covenant people of Israel who had come out of Egypt. They were to know that their God was no mere tribal god. He was the Creator of all the universe.

2. An Ordinance of Rulership.

God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28).

Man is given both the privilege and the responsibility of rulership over all life on planet earth. There is a sense in which he is to be Godís representative on the planet.

This is what it means for man to have been created in the image of God. He is in Godís place, the place of rulership, with respect to the rest of life on this planet.

Mankind was given the position of federal headship over the earth. It is because of this that manís fall was able to impact all of the rest of creation. When man fell into sin, the rest of creation followed suit because it was under manís dominion.

If mankind has been given the position of stewardship over the rest of creation, then it stands to reason that the Christian has an obligation toward the faithful stewardship of that with which he has been entrusted. The Christian has a basis for ecology that goes far beyond the pragmatic. He has been entrusted with the care of Godís creation.

3. An Ordinance of Food.

Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30).

This passage specifically mentions plants as having been given for food for both mankind and the animal kingdom. Some have taken this passage to mean that ONLY plants were originally to be utilized as food and that this did not change as a creation ordinance until Genesis 9:3 where God says, "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant."

4. A Declaration of Goodness.

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31).

The sixth day conclude, not merely with a declaration of goodness, but with the statement that is was very good. This is going to stand in contrast to the events that shall take place in Genesis 3.

 

LESSONS FROM GENESIS 1

  1. This world belongs to God, not to us. It is our Fatherís world. We have merely been made stewards of this world. And that means that we have an obligation to take care of his world. Christians ought to be ecologically minded, for we realize that to us has been committed a stewardship of taking care of Godís world.
  2. There is only one God and that is the God who created us. No matter what we may hear or read in the newspapers, we did not create God. That means that He is the God of every man, even if every man does not recognize Him as such.
  3. The God who created us has also remained committed to us, even when we refuse to be committed to him. He has not left his creation to run by itself, but has continued to be part of it.
  4. The God who created us desires that his creation be obedient to him. He is the one who has created the order and the rules, we are the ones who prefer to make our own.
  5. The God who created us is a pretty big God. He is the God of all of the heavens and the earth. He is sovereign and no one can tell Him what to do. It should not surprise you when the God of the universe cannot fit between your two eardrums.


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