Creation in Six Days
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 20:8-11; Ps. 33:6,9; 104; Heb. 1:10; 2 Pet. 3:3-5.
MEMORY TEXT: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:11, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The Bible teaches that both the habitats and the life forms of our planet were created by God in six literal, consecutive, 24-hour days. God celebrated this activity by resting on, blessing, and making holy the seventh day.
CREATION IN ONE WEEK! The lessons for this week and next will focus on a biblical teaching that is considered by secular science as incredible and naive at bestthat life on this planet was created by the Word of God in only six days, only a few thousand years ago. This particular biblical teaching, once commonly accepted, has been virtually rejected in the modern world.
There is no doubt that the challenges posed by secular scientists are many and difficult. That is not to say that there are not some possible viable alternate interpretations of the scientific data. However, our task here is to determine what the Bible does say on this matter. We will also want to learn what the Spirit of Prophecy can tell us about this subject, since the theory of evolution was already one of the challenges that our earlier pioneers had to face.
According to Genesis 1:1-2:3, how long did God take to create our present world and the various life forms that live on it? What clues do these verses give us that imply literal, 24-hour days?
The Hebrew word for day is yom. It is true that on occasion yom can mean an indefinite period of time (just like the word day in English). Some scholars have used this to propose that the six days of Creation were vast periods of time. They often cite passages like Psalm 90:4 in support of their position. However, the common usage of yom is for the 24-hour day. A basic rule in translation is for the common meaning to be utilized unless the context provides a clear indicator or sign that a different meaning is intended.
Such signs are missing in Genesis 1, and there are several indicators that point directly to a literal, 24-hour day. One is the way that the days are designated by ordinal numbers ("day one" "day two," etc.). This is done only when a 24-hour day is intended. Another is that the days are set off by the expression "and there was evening, and there was morning"(NIV). Again, this is done in Hebrew only when a literal 24-hour day is meant. There are several more technical arguments involving grammar and syntax that also support the 24-hour-day meaning for the word day. Most scholars believe that the writer indeed meant to convey the idea of a literal 24-hour day. However, many of them still do not accept what the text says, because it contradicts their understandings of the findings of evolutionary theory.
How did Ellen White view the days of that first week?
"I was then carried back to the creation and was shown that the first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week. The great God in his days of creation and day of rest, measured off the first cycle as a sample for successive weeks till the close of time. ... God gives us the productions of his work at the close of each literal day."Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 90.
What does it mean to you that God said what He meant and meant what He said regarding the six literal days of Creation? What does this say to you about the power of God and His character? What principles for keeping the Sabbath holy can you draw from Exodus 20:8-11?
Why do you think God created light on the first day of Creation? Gen. 1:3-5.
Students of the Bible have often wondered what the source for the light of day one was, especially since the sun is not mentioned until day four. Was the light of day one simply the phenomenon of light? (This seems unlikely since light surely existed in heaven and on other planets prior to the creation of our earth). Was it a diffused solar light that penetrated some sort of vapor canopy? (This assumes that the sun was not created on day four but was only "revealed.") Or, was it the light that emanates from God? The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 210 suggests the latter. The Bible often refers to God as light or as a source of light (1 John 1:5).
In ancient times, the sun, moon, and stars were seen by many as divine entities. The light that emanated from them would have been understood as the creation of these deities. By separating the light of day one from any of these heavenly bodies, the writer of Genesis 1 was in essence "depriving them of every creative dignity." The ultimate source of all light is only God.
What questions come to your mind about the firmament and its relationship to the water? Gen. 1:6-8.
The Hebrew word that is often translated firmament is raqia. An earlier generation of scholars thought this word referred to an inverted metal bowl or sheet that was thought to cover the earth. They also thought that it reflected the early Hebrews' naive view of the world, which they had borrowed from neighboring pagan cultures. However this interpretation has been shown to be false by Assyriologist Alan Millard. Raqia does not refer to a material substance; rather, it simply refers to an expanse. In this case it is something that includes, but is not entirely equated with, what we call the atmosphere.
The Hebrew synonym in Genesis 1:8 is shamayim, translated as sky" or "heaven" and refers simply to the expanse that exists above the line of the horizon. Some creationists have suggested that the waters "above the firmament" refer to a high-altitude vapor canopy that protected our planet before the Flood, but the more obvious understanding is that it simply refers to clouds. On day two God is creating the stage or areas for what He will create on day five the birds, fish, and animals.
Explain how the earth and the seas emerged on the third day of Creation. Gen. 1:9-13; Ps. 104:5-9.
The forces described here are enough to excite the imagination of any geologist, especially those who firmly believe in Scripture. Bible believing geologists have wondered whether any of this powerful activity can still be discerned in the geologic recordespecially since much of that record was altered at the time of the Flood.
What did the dry ground "bring forth"? Gen. 1:11-13.
After the dry ground emerged, God commanded the land to produce vegetationspecifically seed-bearing plants and trees that would produce fruits. An interesting question that some Creation scientists have asked is whether or not these plants would have had the appearance of age. If you would have cut down one of the trees created on day four, would it have had tree rings, which indicate the number of years of growth? Since the rings are necessary for life and support, many scientists assume they would have. This would give the trees an "apparent" age, much older than they really were. This type of process may explain why some things in nature appear older than they really are.
What does the expression "according to their kinds" mean? See Gen. 1:11, 12.
Some have seen the English expression that describes these plants as producing "according to their kinds" (NIV) as a way of affirming their fixitythat no new "kinds" have come into existence since God created the original "kinds." Actually, the probable intent of the Hebrew was to indicate that fruit-bearing plants were to be produced "in all their varieties." The expression does not deny or affirm fixity of species. In the larger picture of chapter one, however, it is clear that the Bible writer sees God as the only originator of all things on this planet. Neither pagan gods nor natural processes is allowed to usurp God's role as the Creator.
|Take some time to observe a blade of grass, smell a flower, or pick and eat a fruit you like. Write down the things that come to your mind. What does this teach you about the love and wisdom of God the Creator? Pause to thank Him.|
Why are the names of the sun and moon not given in Genesis 1:14-19?
Many scholars believe that the reason the sun and moon are not mentioned by name is that the Semitic names for them were seen by many of Israel's neighbors as names for deities. The author of Genesis wanted to leave no doubt that these lights were not gods but merely objects created by God. Thus, the proper names were carefully avoided in this verse. Moreover, the text makes it clear that their reason for existing was appointed solely by God.
Some students of Hebrew have noted that the Hebrew word for made," asah, is not the same word as that used for "create," bara, in earlier verses. Perhaps the intent is not to say that the sun, moon, and stars were created on day four but were rather "appointed" or "set" to their tasks on this dayGod was still ultimately their Creator. Light was needed the first day to mark off the daily cycle of light and darkness. However, the place where the sun and moon would reside had not been provided until the firmament had been created on day two. The sun, moon, and stars would begin functioning in their appointed way and place on day four.
Others believe that the best translation does mean that the sun and moon came into existence for the first time on day four. Even if the best translation of the text is that the sun and moon came into existence on day four, many scholars believe that the Hebrew suggests that the stars had already been created. Ellen White seems to indicate that other stars and even planets with intelligent beings on them were created prior to our own earthso some stars must have been in existence before day four. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 69.)
Describe the activities of days five and six. Gen. 1:20-25.
Continuing the pattern of Creation, where days one to three prepared the environments for the creatures made on days four to six, God, on day five, filled the stage He had prepared on day two. The conclusion of the symmetrical pattern of Creation comes on day six when all the animals are brought forth to fill the land that God created on day three. The variety of animal life is broadly inclusive.
|Jesus says to us, "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). How can Jesus be the greater light and you the lesser light in life?|
In what way was the climactic act of God's creative activity on the sixth day different from what had already preceded? Why did this happen at the end? Gen. 1:26-29.
"Here is clearly set forth the origin of the human race; and the divine record is so plainly stated that there is no occasion for erroneous conclusions. God created man in His own image. Here is no mystery. There is no ground for the supposition that man was evolved by slow degrees from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life."Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 44, 45.
Why is the historical accuracy of the story of Adam and Eve so important theologically? Gen. 2 and 3; Rom. 5:12-14, 18-20.
One of the clear teachings of Genesis is that humans came into existence directly as a creative act by God. This is clearly in contrast to the prevailing theory of the evolutionary origin of humankind. If all humans are not descendants from a literal, historical first couple who fell and needed redemption, then the essence of Christianity and our need for Jesus as a Saviour is seriously undermined. There have been those Christians who, in trying to find a compromise with evolution, have suggested that God used the process of evolution to bring humans into existence, stating that the Fall came as a result of groups of humans rejecting God as they became aware of their individuality. Besides contradicting the plain reading of Scripture, such a view raises more questions than it solves. However, the biblical view teaches that we are all made in God's image, descendants of Adam and Eve and brothers and sisters in need of a Savior.
But what does it mean for us to be created in the "image of God"? (Gen. 1:26, 27; Ps. 8:4-8). Does it refer to a physical or a spiritual resemblance? The Old Testament commentator Gerhard von Rad correctly realized that both are intended here. This view is endorsed by Ellen White. "Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance and in character. ... His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
|Because we are created in God's image and are therefore sisters and brothers by creation and redemption, how should we then treat one another?|
FURTHER STUDY: Read the Hebrew writers, even when writing historical accounts, often built poetry and symmetry into their literary structure. Compare the first three days of Creation with the last three days. How does day four relate to day one? Day five with day two? Day six with day three? During the first three days God made habitats; during the second three days He filled them.
"The sophistry in regard to the world's being created in an indefinite period of time is one of Satan's falsehoods. God speaks to the human family in language they can comprehend. ... When the Lord declares that He made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, He means the day of twenty-four hours, which He has marked off by the rising and setting of the sun."Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 135, 136.
SUMMARY: According to the biblical evidence, the writer of Genesis intended to describe the Creation as an event that took six literal days and that all things came into existence by the power of God's spoken Word.
Janoario and Raimunda Costa of Brazil are diligent Bible students. When Mr. Costa discovered the Sabbath truth, he asked his pastor why Christians did not keep the Sabbath. His pastor's answer did not satisfy him, so he and his family began studying the Bible together at home. They knew of no other Sabbath-keeping Christians until they met Francisco, a photographer and Adventist lay worker. He introduced the family to his friends Valerio and Florencio, who offered to study the Bible with the family.
Because Valerio and Florencio lived about 34 miles away through the jungle, they could not meet regularly with the Costa family. But when they did come, the small group spent many hours studying the Bible together. As they studied, Valerio and Florencio shared other Bible truths with them. After studying with the Adventist layworkers for a year, Mr. and Mrs. Costa and five of their children were baptized.
The family shared the gospel with others in their town. Because there was no Adventist church in the area, the Costas opened their simple mud house for the little group to meet on Sabbath. During the week Mr. Costa used the front room as a carpentry shop. On Friday the family cleaned the room and arranged the simple furnishings for a church.
Soon after the Costas were baptized, another Adventist family moved to town. It was not long before the families found one another. Others joined the branch Sabbath School, and soon they needed a larger place to meet. They built a chapel of mud bricks and palm branches.
The group continued to grow, and the conference sent a Bible worker to help the lay people establish a church there. Then one of the church members, who had been quite sick, promised God that if he recovered, he would build a proper church. Another member provided land for the church, and the little congregation joined hands to build their church. The group continues to grow.
The Costas have since moved to another town, where they are working to plant another church. Today, because of lay people such as Janoario and Raimunda Costa, Francisco, Valerio, and Florencio, who are playing the parts that God has assigned to them, the heavenly music that they produce is bringing souls to God's kingdom, and the church in northeastern Brazil is growing rapidly.
Mateus Barroso is a pastor in northern Brazil.
Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.
Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver
Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributor: Jack J. Blanco
Editor: Philip G. Samaan
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Editorial Assistant: Soraya Homayouni Parish
Art and Design: Lars Justinen
Pacific Press Coordinator: Glen Robinson
Copyright © 1999 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.
This page is Netscape friendly.
SSNET Web Site Home page.
Directory of adult SS quarterly Bible Study guides.
Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET
Last updated July 5, 1999.