The Six Days of Creation

Genesis 1

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
September 2014

Last week, we began our study of Genesis.  We looked at Genesis 1:1.  It is not only the first verse in the Bible, it is one of the most important verses in the Bible.  It is short.  It is only ten words but is very powerful.

This week, we will look at most of chapter one.  Last week we learned many things about God from Genesis.  Genesis 1 is not just a revelation of creation; it is a revelation of the Creator.  Today, we want to look at what God did when He made the world in six days.

We saw last week that the one who created the world was Jesus.  The same one who created the world is the same one who redeemed the world and one day will judge the world.  He will not just judge unbelievers, he will judge us.  Paul said, “We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” and he was talking to Christians.

Creation According to Genesis 

What does Genesis actually say about origins?  What is the biblical view of origins?  Before we look at what God made on each day of creation, I want to look at the big picture first.  I want to share with you six things that stand out to me about this chapter.

1) The Genesis account of creation is a divine process.

One of the best ways to find out what a key theme in a chapter of the Bible is to look for key words.  It is an important rule in Bible study.  Let’s read Genesis 1:3-8 again and see if we see a key word.

 “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he 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. And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.  God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.”

What word is repeated?  God.  God is not only emphasized in the first verse (“In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth”), He is emphasized all throughout the chapter.  God is all over this chapter.  He is mentioned 30 times in 31 verses.  In fact, I do not know of any chapter in the Bible which mentions God more than this one. The biblical view of origins, not only has God in the process, He is central to the process.

God’s Activity in Genesis 1

1) God CREATES things

He created things on earth, in the sky, in the water and in outer space.  He created living things and non-living things.  Each day of creation, He created more than one thing.

2) God NAMES things

He not only made things, He named things.  We see this in the first three days.  God names day, night, sky, land and seas.

3) God SEPARATES things

He also separated some things. There are three separations during the first three days: a separation of light from darkness, sky from water and land from sea.  Apparently, God likes to separate things.  All throughout the Bible God separates things.  He separates clean and unclean foods in Levitical Law.  He separates the righteous from the wicked.

Jesus is the greatest divider in history.  He said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” (Matthew 10:34-35)

4) God BLESSED things

God not only created things, He blessed the things He created. Genesis 1:21-22 says, “So God created great sea creatures …and every sort of bird…And God saw that it was good. Then GOD BLESSED THEM, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

Genesis 1:27-28 says, “God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them…THEN GOD BLESSED THEM and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.” (NLT)  What does it mean that he blesses them?  He blessed them with reproduction.  Reproduction is God’s blessing.

2) The Genesis account of creation is a supernatural process.

Because creation is a direct act of God, it is a supernatural process.  It is not a natural process.  It is one of the greatest miracles in the entire Bible when God spoke the world into existence and instantly it appeared and obeyed his command.  It came out of nowhere and out of nothing.  The secular view of origins views this process in a naturalistic or materialistic way based on natural laws.  The biblical view sees it as a supernatural process.  It is not based on natural laws.  God creates the natural laws.  It definitely is not a materialistic process.  Matter did not even exist until God created it.  He did not use matter to create the world.

3) The Genesis account of creation is a short process

It took less than a week for creation to take place. It started on a Sunday.  Sunday is the first day of the week.  The six days of creation started on Sunday and ended on Friday with the creation of man and on Saturday God rested.  The day that Jesus rose from the dead is the same day that He created the world.

Creation took place in six literal days.  The days of creation were twenty-four hours long.  How do we know? Genesis 1:5 does not say, “After a million years was the first day”. It says, “evening and morning was the first day”.

The only days that have an evening and morning are twenty-four hour days. We would say “morning and evening.” Our days start in the morning but the Jewish day started in the evening. It started at night. It went from sundown to sunset. They said “evening and morning”. That was the Jewish way of saying “a day.”

The words “evening and morning” do NOT refer to a long time period.  The beginning of a long period of time is not called an evening and the end of a long period of time is not called a morning. It only applies to a twenty-four hour day.

Now, the word “day” in Hebrew does not always mean twenty-four hours (“call unto me in the day of trouble” or “the day of the Lord is coming”) but in those cases it is qualified (THE day of the Lord, THE day of trouble).  When it is not qualified, it always means a literal twenty-four hour day, especially when each day has an evening and a morning and when the seven days make up a week.

Some Day-Age Arguments 

There are many who believe that the days were not twenty-four hours long and could not be twenty-four hours long.  They might have been millions of years long.  They are called progressive creationists.  They believe in the Day-Age Theory.  They have some interesting arguments.

1. The seventh day is eternal.

Genesis 2:2 says, By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Is the seventh day is eternal? The argument is that God rested on the seventh day and is still resting.  If the seventh day is eternal, perhaps some of the other days are eternal as well.

The Bible speaks of the seventh day in the past tense. God RESTED (past tense) on the seventh day. The Bible does NOT say that God “is resting” (present tense) on the seventh day. Even if God is still resting from creation, that does not necessarily mean that the seventh day is eternal. As Jonathon Sarfati says, “If someone says on Monday that he rested on Saturday and is still resting, it in no way implies that Saturday lasted until Monday.”

2. No solar day without the Sun.

Others argue that the first day could not possibly be a solar day because the Sun was not created until the fourth day, so there is no way that it could be a twenty-four hour day.  Is that argument valid?  No.  God does not need the sun to make light and He does not need the sun to make a day.

To have a day, you have to have two things – a rotating earth and light coming from one direction.  As Jonathon Safari points out “a day-night cycle needs only light plus rotation.”  You do not have to have the sun.  In this case, we have light from an independent non-solar source.   We know they were days because the text mentions that there were evenings and mornings for those first three days (1:5, 8, 13).

3. God’s days are a thousand years.

II Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (NIV)  Doesn’t this verse show that God’s days are long?  Does a day equal a thousand years?  Even if you take it literally, it would say a thousand years, not millions of years but there are several problems with connecting II Peter 3 to Genesis 1.

The first problem is that II Peter 3:8 is NOT talking about the days of creation.  The context is dealing with something completely different.  He is dealing with false teachers who said that Jesus is never coming back.  It has been a long time since He was here.

The second thing to note is that II Peter 3:8 does NOT say, “a day IS a thousand years”.  It says that the days are LIKE a thousand years.  It is a simile.  It tells us how God views time.  He views it differently than we do.  A thousand years seems like a long time to us but seems like a very short time to God.  It tells us what time from God’s perspective is like.  It is not talking about how long the days of creation lasted.

4) The Genesis account of creation is an orderly process.

Creation was methodical and orderly.  The days of creation are divided into two parts. The first three days were days of FORMING.  They gave form to the formless.  Rivers were created.  Oceans were created.  Dry land was created.  Outer space was created.  The atmosphere was created.

The next three days were days of FILLING.  They filled what was previously unfilled.  They solved the problem of it being empty.  The sea was empty.  The sky was empty.  The earth was empty and the sea was empty.  Fish were created for the sea.  Birds were created for the air.  Animals and man were created for the dry land.  The sun, moon and stars were created for outer space.  God prepared the place first and then populated the place.

It is very orderly.  It follows a pattern.  Living things are said to reproduce after their kind.  Ten times in just five verses Genesis says that God created things to reproduce “after its kind” (1:11-12, 24-25). That is another phrase that is repeated in the chapter.  Living things reproduce after their kind and not after some other kind.  Dogs produce dogs.  Cats produce cats.  Roaches produce roaches. There are two hundred varieties of dogs but they are all one kind.  Each one based on their DNA is a dog. They have the same chromosome count and no dog ever gave birth to a cat.

5) The Genesis account of creation is very selective

This is very clear in Genesis.  It stands out as you read it.  There are a lot of things that Genesis does not tell us.

  • Genesis doesn’t mention anything about angels being created but they were. Colossians says that Jesus created angels.  He created things visible and invisible.  Genesis doesn’t tell us everything.
  • Genesis says that God created the earth but does not tell us how old the earth is. It just says that He created it “in the beginning” whenever that was.
  • Genesis does not say anything about God creating planets other than the earth.  It just mentions the sun, moon and earth.  There are eight or nine planets in our galaxy (depending on whether you count Pluto) and there are eighteen hundred planets outside our galaxy which orbit another star besides our Sun.  They are called extra-solar planets. Some of these objects are massive.  You could fit a million earths inside the sun and there is another star that is a million times as big as the sun.  You would not know that from Genesis.  It is selective.
  • Genesis mentions stars but doesn’t say anything about galaxies.  There are a hundred billion stars in our galaxy and a billion other galaxies in the universe.  The Bible mentions constellation of stars (a pattern of several stars that make a picture).  It mentions the Orion and the Pleiades (Job 9:9; 38:31-32) but it does not mention the galaxy.
  • Genesis does not mention the dinosaurs.  Some of these were over a hundred feet tall and weighed a hundred tons.  They are not mentioned at all in Genesis.  If you put them in the framework of Genesis, they would have had to have been created on the sixth day.   Dinosaurs and man were created on the same day.

What is the lesson here?  The Genesis account is not exhaustive.  It was selective.  Genesis was not intended to be a textbook on science.  It is not a textbook on astronomy or biology.  It is not a textbook on geology or physics.

6) The Genesis account of creation is an inspired account of origins.

The last thing that you need to know about this chapter is that it is divinely inspired.  Paul said that “all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable” and that includes Genesis 1.  Why is that important?  God was the only one who was there when creation took place.  He is the only one who knew what happened and the Bible gives us an inspired account of those events.  Genesis is not myth or allegory.  It is divine revelation.

Day One (1:1-5)

What was the first thing God created?  The heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1 mentions the first act of creation.  The first verse mentions God creating the heavens and the earth. The second verse of the Bible explains what the earth looked like immediately after creation.  It was formless and empty (tohu wa bohu). It was dark.  It was also wet.  There was water everywhere and no dry land.

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”  That is interesting.  The surface of the earth was covered with water from the beginning, according to Genesis.  The second verse mentions the deep.  It mentions the waters.  Apparently the earth did not begin as a hot molten ball of lava.  Right after the earth was created, the planet was wet, not hot.

Now there is a view that used to be very popular.  It is called the Gap Theory.  This theory says that there is a gap of millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  That explains how we ended up with an old earth.  It explains what happened to all the dinosaurs.  This theory translates Genesis 1:2 “Now the earth BECAME (not was) formless and empty.”

It was popularized in the 19th century by the Scottish scholar Thomas Chalmers, who actually lived before Darwin.  It later found acceptance in the Scofield Reference Bible.  Many very famous Bible teachers taught this view.  It is a rather strange interpretation.  With the Gap Theory, you can believe in an old earth and literal twenty-four hour days of creation.  Is the Gap Theory correct?

There are many problems with the Gap Theory.[1] The main problem is that it reads all kinds of things into the text that are not there.  After God created the world in Genesis 1:1, they believe that that Satan fell, the earth became ruined, all of these pre-Adamic men died, the dinosaurs died and millions of years took place before we get to Genesis 1:2.

None of those things are mentioned in the text.  You have to read them all into it.  One of the rules of Bible interpretation is that if the plain sense of Scripture makes sense, seek no other sense.

The simplest way to read this is that Genesis 1:1 mentions the first act of creation (creation of the heavens and the earth) and Genesis 1:2 explains what the earth looked like immediately after creation.  It doesn’t look anything like the earth we are familiar with.  Immediately after creation, the earth was completely dark.  There was no light.  It was wet.  The whole planet was covered in water.  There was no land.  It was not suitable for life.

The first thing God did was solved the problem of darkness.  He said, “Let there be light”.  The first thing you do when you are going to work in a dark room is to turn the lights on.  That is what God did, although He did not turn them on so He could see.  God can see in the dark.  Psalm 139:12 says that darkness is as light to God.

He created light first because light is vital to life.  Plants need life to survive.  You need light to have photosynthesis.  Jesus was the Creator.  He is the Light of the and one of the first things He created was light.  Light emanates from God.  It is part of his nature.  The Bible says that God is light.  He is the one who creates natural light and the one who creates spiritual light.  On the first day, God created time, space, matter (the heavens and the earth) and light.

Day Two (1:6-8)

On day one, the earth was just a round ball of water.  On the second day, He separates water from water and creates a space in between. God took some of the water that covered the earth and put them up in the sky and made clouds.[2]  God created the basic hydrological cycle on this day, although it was a little different in the beginning because there was no rain.

God created the earth’s hydrosphere and atmosphere on the second day.  The atmosphere does not seem like anything to us.  It has no color, smell or taste but it is actually an ocean of gas.  The two main gases in our atmosphere are oxygen and nitrogen. That was important because God was going to create humans with lungs and they need oxygen to breathe.

Day Three (1:9-13)

On the third day, God created two things.  He created dry land for the first time.  He also created plants.  God first created dry land and then He creates plants which all of the sudden came up out of that dry land.  God said, “Let there be vegetation” and all of the sudden the earth was covered with all kinds of green things.  It instantly became covered with grass, plants, trees, shrubs, rainforests and jungles.

Genesis only mentions two kinds of vegetation – seed bearing plants and trees.  Botanists estimate that there are about 400,000 different kinds of plants on earth.

What God made on the second day may not seem too exciting but it was very important because that was what animals and man ate at first.  It was their food source.  God made food before he made animals and man.  Plants give man both food and oxygen. Plants create oxygen through photosynthesis.

Let’s review what God did in the first three days of creation.  During this time, God created several things: He created time, space, matter, planet Earth, outer space, dry land, fertile soil, air, oxygen atmosphere, water, food, lush vegetation and light.  That was all created on the first three days.

Day Four (1:14-19)

The second three days solved the second problem of the earth being empty.  God could not fill the earth until He first formed it.  He formed it and now He is going to fill it.

On the fourth day, God fills an empty universe.  He created the sun, moon and stars.  The sun replaced the temporary light He made for the first three days of creation.  God created two great lights – the sun and the moon. They are lights in two different ways.  The sun emits light and the moon just reflects light.  The moon just reflects the light of the sun.  If you take the sun away, the moon would be pitch black but they are both lights (one for the day and one for the night).

Why did he create them?  Genesis 1:14 gives us three reasons for creating the sun, moon and stars.  He created them to give light on the earth during the day and at night.  He also created them to mark time.  They serve as a cosmic clock.  They tell us when a day is and when a year is.  We would not know how old we are without the sun or when to go to work. There are several reasons the sun, moon and stars were NOT created.  They were not created for habitation.  He did not create these heavenly objects, so we could live on them.

He also did not create them for astrology.  Many Christians read their horoscopes.  Astrology is a completely pagan practice.  It began in ancient Babylon.  Babylon is credited with the birth of astrology.  Never confuse with astronomy with astrology.  One is a superstition and one is a science.

Astrology says that the planets determine our destiny.  The planets predict the future and can tell you about yourself.  The planets do not predict the future.  Only God can do that.  They have no influence on your character.  Astrology is a form of divination and the Bible prohibits divination (I Samuel 15:23; II Kings 17:17; 21:6; II Chronicles 33:6)

Some have argued that the sun was not created on the fourth day.  It was created on the first day but only made visible until the fourth day (so Ross, Archer) but that will not work because all of the other days involved creating things, not revealing things.  God says on the fourth day “Let there be” which is used throughout the chapter for creating things, not revealing things (1:3, 6, 11, 20, 24)

Day Five (1:20-23)

On the fifth day, God created two things: birds and fish.  He created animals of the water and the air. And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” (1:21) God did not create two fish in the water which reproduced.  There are 10,000 species of birds.

Marine life all at once exploded in the waters and teemed with fish all over the oceans.  It went from nothing in the waters to the waters filled with many different kinds of fish.  We have only explored five percent of the ocean.  There are over 17,000 different species of life in the ocean where no light penetrates the ocean waves.  Genesis mentions “giant sea monsters”.  Did you know that there are giant squids in the oceans that are two stories tall? They were never observed on camera until 2004.

Day Six (1:24-31)

On the sixth day, God created two things: land animals and man.  The sixth day is the longest day of creation.  More time is devoted to the sixth day than to any other.  Next week, we will look in more detail at the creation of man.


[1] It is refuted by Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 which says “in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”  It does NOT say that God created the world in one day but renovated it in six.  It is refuted by the words “very good” at the end of creation (1:31). The Gap Theory accepts all kinds of evil, death and disease in the world prior to this.  The theory is based in part on Isaiah 45:18.  That verse is not talking about the initial state of creation but the purpose of creation.  It does not deny that the earth was once empty (tohu) but states that God created the earth to be inhabited.  It is possible to translate hayah in Genesis 1:2 “became” but the word normally means “was”.

[2] Some believe that the earth’s atmosphere was covered with water in the form of a vapor canopy which collapsed and fell to the earth, causing a worldwide flood, but Psalm 148:4 says, “Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.”  According to this passage, the waters above the sky long after the Flood took place.

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