Great Days in History (Part 1): The Day of Creation

Great Days in History

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4).

In this first lesson, we are going to go all the way back to the beginning – to the day of Creation. What happened on that day? What lessons do we need to learn from it?

The Background

God is eternal – If we begin with the Creation of the world, how can we go back further than that? When it comes to the history of this world, there is nothing further back – this was the beginning point. However, while this was the beginning of the creation, it was not the beginning of the Creator. God existed prior to the creation of the universe.

Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2).

Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2).

When Jesus prayed to the Father, He said, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). Later in the same prayer, He said, “For You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). While the creation had a beginning point, God Himself has no beginning. When He appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He said, “I AM WHO I AM…Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). He identified Himself as “I AM.” This means He simply exists. He has always been and will always be.

God had a plan – The creation of the universe was not a spur-of-the-moment decision or an off-the-cuff type of endeavor. God determined to have a people for Himself and this determination was made before He began creating the heavens and the earth. Paul wrote, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4).

In fact, God even knew that having His own special people would require His Son to have to die on the cross. Jesus was described as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8, NKJV). We are God’s people after having been redeemed by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7). Even before the world was formed, the scheme of redemption had already been planned in the mind of God.

A point to remember – Keep in mind that the “day” of Creation includes the entire Creation week. While the text of Genesis 1 indicates that the days were literal, consecutive, 24-hour days, the term was used differently in the next chapter: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4). In this verse, the “day” of Creation includes all six days of the Creation week in which He made the universe and everything in it. So we are not just looking at “Day 1” of creation; instead, we are considering all that God did in creating “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The Events on That Day

God spoke the universe into existence – One of the remarkable facts about the Creation is that everything that was created was made when “God said” they were to be made (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). The psalmist emphasized this:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6-9).

When John began his gospel record, he began with the same words as the author of Genesis: “In the beginning…” (John 1:1; Genesis 1:1). John started by introducing Jesus as the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3). Jesus was credited with creating all things. Paul wrote, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). This one who created all things, who spoke all things into existence, was “the Word [who] became flesh” (John 1:14). When the Scriptures discuss the Creation, an emphasis is placed upon the power of God’s word.

God created the world in an orderly manner – The first chapter of Genesis explained what God created on each of the six days of Creation. However, it was not just that He made something different on each day; there was a pattern to the six days.

  • The creation of light on the first day (Genesis 1:3-5) corresponded to the creation of the lights on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19).
  • The creation of the sea and sky on the second day (Genesis 1:6-8) corresponded to the creation of the sea life and birds on the fifth day (Genesis 1:20-23).
  • The creation of land and vegetation on the third day (Genesis 1:9-13) corresponded to the creation of land animals and man on the sixth day (Genesis 1:24-27).

God could have created everything instantly, yet He created the world in stages. By doing this, He showed Himself to be a God of order and patterns. This is why, even today, God expects His people to worship “properly and in an orderly manner” (1 Corinthians 14:40) and to “hold fast the pattern” that is found in His word (2 Timothy 1:13, NKJV).

God finished His creation – After the six days in which God created the heavens and earth and everything in it – which comprised the “day” of Creation (Genesis 2:4) – God’s work in Creation was “completed” (Genesis 2:1). He then provided the basis for the Sabbath law (Exodus 20:8-11) that would be given later: “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3). God was able to rest from His work because the Creation was completed.

This is significant because it shows us that God’s work of creation is not ongoing. God is not out creating new species that did not previously exist, crafting new features into the earth that were not there before, or forming new men and women in the way that He did with Adam and Eve. His work in creating the universe was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). It did not (does not) need to be redone.

Key Lessons

God’s power – The psalmist indicated that the physical creation serves as a witness to the existence and power of God: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). Paul made a similar point in his letter to the Romans:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

For all of man’s knowledge, wisdom, and technological advancements, no one is out creating new universes. No one can come close to matching God’s “eternal power” that was on display in His creation of the world. Furthermore, none of it was done by accident. He had a plan and perfectly executed that plan. The creation followed a particular order and when He was finished, it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

God’s providence – The fact that God’s work in creation could be finished highlights His providence. After discussing Jesus’ role in creation (Colossians 1:16), Paul wrote, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The Greek word translated “hold together” or “consist” (KJV) is the same word that is translated “formed” in 2 Peter 3:5 – “For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” God “formed” this world and because of the perfect way in which He formed it, everything is held together as it needs to be.

In this perfect creation, God’s providence is ongoing. The psalmist made this point: “Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, for all things are Your servants” (Psalm 119:90-91). Because God’s word is “forever…settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89) and this word was used to bring about the physical world around us (Psalm 33:6-9), His faithfulness continues to be on display for all to see. This was what Paul meant when he told the residents of Lystra that God “did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). God’s ongoing providence is a witness to His existence and care for mankind.

After the flood, God made Noah this promise: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). To this day, God’s promise is still being carried out. Even the mockers in Peter’s day acknowledged this, though they failed to appreciate the significance of it: “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). These mockers were citing the fact that “all continues just as it was” as the reason why they doubted the promise of Christ’s return. In other words, they saw the ongoing providence of God but completely missed the point. God was keeping His promise that the earth would continue in its regular seasons and cycles; therefore, they (and we) could be assured that He will keep His promise that Christ would return. “All continues just as it was” (2 Peter 3:4) because that was how God designed this world to function. It will continue to work this way as long as “the earth remains” (Genesis 8:22).

God’s image – Man was made in the image of God: “Then 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.’ 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 fact that we have been made in God’s image means that humans have a spiritual nature. Notice what the wise man wrote:

For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21).

As the wise man focused on life “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9; 2:17; 3:16; et al.), he described the similarity between men and animals – both live and die and their bodies return to the earth. However, there is a significant difference between them – at death, man’s spirit (breath) “ascends upward” while the animal’s “descends downward.” From an earthly perspective, there is no perceivable difference between the death of men and the death of animals. However, after death there is a difference. In the case of humans – beings who have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) – our spirits “return to God” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

This makes man unique. We are not highly evolved animals as the evolutionist believes; we occupy a special place in the Creation. David wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty” (Psalm 8:3-5). Because we have been made in the likeness of God, He cares for us in a way that goes far beyond how He cares for the rest of His physical Creation. It extends into eternity after our lives on earth are over.

Conclusion

God created this world and all of the good things to enjoy in it. This shows us His power and His care for us. However, this world and our lives in it are only temporary. So God made a plan whereby we could be with Him eternally. In order to take advantage of this, we need to be sure we fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

As this world stands “according to [His] ordinances” (Psalm 119:91), we must continue to obey His instructions today.


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