The Genesis Chronicles: A Proposed History Of The Morning Of The World
Chapter 7: CREATION
This chapter covers the following topics:
The World Before Adam
" In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep." (Genesis 1:1-2)
What is not clear to the casual reader of Genesis is that the first chapter describes two creations, not one. Verse 1 says that God created the heavens and the earth in the very beginning, while verse 2 describes an earth that is a formless void--perhaps we should call it a destroyed earth. Arthur Custance devotes forty pages in his book, Time and Eternity, to discussing what the original author of Genesis meant by the words chosen for the first two verses. He concluded that the words in the original Hebrew always had a different meaning when used elsewhere. A more accurate translation might read as follows:
"In a former state God perfected the heavens and the earth. But the earth had become a ruin and a desolation, and the darkness of judgment was upon the face of it."
Dr. John Sailhamer came to a similar conclusion in a recent book, Genesis Unbound. He pointed out that the Hebrew words tohu and bohu, normally translated to mean "formless" and "void," do not mean some amorphous nebula--a cloud of gas (those of us looking for common ground with believers in stellar evolution would like to think so, though)--but a wasteland, a wilderness. To the prophets this meant any place that is unfit for man to live in, and brother, we have plenty of places which fit that description in our own solar system! Look at any of the other planets: all of them are too hot, too cold, or otherwise deadly to life as we know it. Under those circumstances an Earth that is "formless and void" could be any world that does not have the proper balance of land, water, atmosphere, temperature, and the other necessities of life.
We have to look extensively in the scriptures to get a glimpse of what happened in the gap between verses 1 and 2. We shall refer to the events in verse 1 and 2 as the First Creation and the Luciferian Flood to distinguish them from Adam's Creation and Noah's Flood.
The First Creation was perfect--no flaw could be found in the earth, the angels, or everything else that existed. Lucifer was one of the three archangels (chief of angels)--along with Gabriel and Michael--and probably the most impressive of all. The prophet Ezekiel described Lucifer as "perfect in beauty" and as "an anointed cherub that covereth"; his very name meant "light." In Ezekiel 28:11-19 the prophet makes a speech about one of his contemporaries, the king of Tyre, but the man he describes is like no human being who ever lived. The only possible candidate that fits this description is the devil before his fall. Some of the pre-fallen angel's qualities are as follows:
"How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.' Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, 'Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?'"
And so the rebellion began. Lucifer succeeded in persuading one third of the angels to follow him, presumably those that were under his authority as prince of the earth (Revelation 12:4). The battle in heaven between Michael and Satan in Revelation 12 presumably takes place at the end of history, but it may have mirrored an earlier conflict that took place before time. Both end the same way, with Satan falling "as lightning falling from heaven" (John 10:18). The created would not overpower the creator; the Kingdom of God would not become the "Angels' Republic of Heaven."
Once the prince of the earth was overthrown, his realm, that is, his refuge and base of support, had to be eliminated as well. No details on how this was done are available, but the flood which resulted was more destructive than the one Noah rode out; whereas the ark and its contents survived the second flood, in the Luciferian flood everything was destroyed: all life, all land, even the atmosphere! We get a glimpse of this in Jeremiah 4:23-26, where the prophet describes a devastation too complete to fit the one of Judah he predicts elsewhere:
"I looked on the earth, and, lo, it was without form and void; and on the heavens, and they had no light. And I looked on the mountains, and, lo, they trembled and all the hills were shattered. I looked, and, behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all its towns were destroyed at the presence of the Lord and before his fierce anger."
When God created man and woman, His first commandment was "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." The term replenish is another hint that a past catastrophe destroyed the earth, and that life was re-created to replace what had perished before. David Fasold also alerts us to the fact that Noah painted the ark with pitch (tar). We know already that fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas and by-products like tar) are formed when dead things are buried and subjected to great heat and pressure by the surrounding rock. No doubt most of today's fossil fuels were produced in the mass burials that accompanied Noah's flood, but Noah had to get his pitch from somewhere, so doesn't it make sense to suggest that he had access to deposits laid down by the Luciferian flood?(1)
To escape present-day problems, people sometimes look back to times they remember as simpler and happier--the so-called "good old days." We call this nostalgia. So it is with Lucifer, or as we now call him, Satan or the devil. When "New Agers" talk about Atlantis or some other lost land/ age when everything was perfect, I believe they are under the influence of the devil's propaganda, looking back either to the world before Noah's Flood or to the time before Lucifer's fall. This is not what God has in store for us! He may have gotten us started in a garden, but His plan is not for us to go back to the garden; instead we will finish history in a glorious city (Revelation 21 & 22). All I can do is apologize to those readers who think going "back to nature" is the answer to today's problems; sorry, but God never endorsed that solution. Though this work focusses on the beginning of the Bible, let the record also show that I have read the back of the Book, and we win!
Between the crust and the mantle is a line or crack which distorts seismic waves as they pass through it. We call this border the Mohorovicic discontinuity ("moho" for short), after the Czech scientist who discovered it in 1909. Another scientist, J. Tuzo Wilson, suggested in the 1950s that the "moho" was the original surface of the earth, and that everything on top of it has been added since. In The Genesis Flood, John Whitcomb and Henry Morris suggest that the core and the mantle were the "foundations of the earth" mentioned in Job 38:4-7 when God says to Job: "Were you there when the foundations of the earth were laid?" This means that God was the only witness of the original creation.
The earth's crust is the product of volcanoes spewing magma from deep inside the mantle, the accumulation of dust and rocks from meteorites, the uplifting action that created the mountains (orogenesis), erosion, and sedimentation (the gathering of sediments into geosynclines or alluvial plains and their transformation into rock). These activities happen on a relatively small scale today, but at the times of creation and deluge they must have happened on a scale that is unimaginable to us. Some of the evidence for a geological cataclysm is listed below:
1. Not even the largest of today's volcanoes can create a formation like the Columbian Plateau or the Canadian Shield. The Columbia Plateau is a lava flow in the states of Washington and Oregon, covering two hundred thousand square miles and is up to two miles thick in some places. This feature is not millions of years old, as evolutionists would like to suggest, for some of the old mountains poke their peaks through the lava bed. The Canadian shield is even ten times larger!
2. Wherever a major mountain range exists, like the Rockies, layers of rock have been uplifted thousands of feet, buckled, folded, and sometimes completely overturned. Conventional theory explains this as an extremely gradual process that takes millions of years to complete. How such a process can take place consistently for such a long time has not been explained, though.
3. When they enter the sea, several major rivers continue downwards toward the ocean floor, producing long submarine canyons and fan-shaped deposits of sediments. Some fine examples of this undersea erosion are found near the Mississippi, Hudson, and Congo Rivers in the Atlantic, and the Ganges River in the Indian Ocean. The erosion/currents needed for such results are far greater than those found in the ocean today, and the formation of these gorges and deposits is best explained by the tremendous runoff of water from the land following Noah's flood and the ice age.
Now that the Earth had been broken down to its fundamental elements, it was ready for a re-creation.
The first report in the thawing out of the ice planet comes from verse 2, when "the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." We can determine from other verses of the Bible what the effect would be if God hovered over a big ice ball. "For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire," (Deuteronomy 4:24); "the mountains flowed down at thy presence." (Isaiah 64:3) And when Moses asked to see God's face on Mt. Sinai, God warned him that no one can look at Him and live. All this suggests that the Lord is a tremendous source of energy.
While warming up the earth, the Lord made His first command in the creation process: "Let there be light." Now there was an intense source of heat and light on one side of the planet. The planet's rotation put the earth in a "barbecue" mode, where first one side of it, then the other, turned toward the divine energy. We know the earth did the turning because next we read, "And there was evening and morning, one day." Had the Holy Spirit done all the moving, or covered the earth, we would have had "day" only.
The fossil record shows that once the whole world had a tropical climate and no seasons. Often the most common plant fossils found are tree ferns and cycads (sago palms), both products of a hot, steamy environment. According to the fossil record, palm trees once grew in Alaska, and fig trees grew in Greenland! For such plants to be so abundant, the earth would either have to have no tilt on its axis, or an atmosphere much different from what exists today. Creationist writers like Henry Morris have suggested that a canopy of water or ice crystals once surrounded the earth, and this allowed not only a greenhouse effect but also greatly reduced the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth's surface. Atmospheric canopies aren't all that unusual. All four gas giants in our solar system (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) have them; so does Venus, though her clouds are not made of water vapor; even one of Saturn's moons (Titan) has one. I will go one step further and propose that before the flood the atmosphere was at least twice as dense as it is today, and that water vapor, instead of nitrogen or oxygen, was the main component of antediluvian air (50% or more).(2) If through some sort of "time machine" we could go back in time and meet our pre-Flood ancestors, I would expect them to make jokes about their new vaccuum-breathing friends, while we would complain about drowning in the thick soup they call air!
Genesis 2:6 says that there was no rain in that age; instead God caused a daily mist to rise up from the ground to water everything. This must have been something thicker than a typical morning dew; a heavy fog would be more likely. With all that water vapor the antediluvian world must have been a damp place, with humidity always close to 100% and temperatures never far from the dew point. Gen. 3:8 mentions God appearing in "the cool of the day"; presumably this was a time near sundown, when the daily temperature dropped slightly and the mist began to condense out of the air. Without rain, water would not have fallen into lakes and rivers, it would have "dripped." There would also be less erosion, meaning a typical landscape would be flat, without valleys or well-developed watersheds. This makes for an environment with many lakes joined by slowly-moving streams going in every direction, like we now have in northern Minnesota and Manitoba. In such a place a big river splitting into four rivers, as is described in Gen. 2:8-14, would be natural, whereas it is almost impossible to make rivers split apart today (in most cases they only do it in large deltas, near the sea).
In this "natural hothouse," temperatures would be more evenly distributed around the world, so there would be no icecaps and few (if any) deserts. Because differences in temperature cause winds, any wind stronger than a breeze would be rare, and coriolis storms like hurricanes and tornadoes would be unknown. People and animals would live an extremely long time, getting bigger as a result. Many animal fossils are of creatures much bigger than their modern-day equivalents: baseball-sized cockroaches, dragonflies with a 29-inch wingspan, 50-foot-long crocodiles, an eight-foot armadillo, a hornless rhino the size of a Mack truck, etc. And many of these creatures--particularly cold-blooded ones like reptiles--never stop growing when they get old, so a few hundred years should be plenty of time for a dinosaur to reach full size. It is possible that the "giants" mentioned in Genesis 6:4 were simply people who grew large because of the ideal conditions and diet.
With the Flood the atmospheric canopy rained out upon the earth, so that it was no longer there to smooth out extremes of temperature or to stop cosmic radiation. We'll see the consequences of that in Chapter 11.
"And God said, Let the waters be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear." (Gen. 1:9) By the third day the soil and crust of the earth began to thaw. Perhaps at this point, the hot radioactive rocks deep in the earth melted into lava, beginning a wave of volcanic activity. The result was massive orogenesis: volcanoes rose to become islands, and the heat-expanded crust of the earth opened up great cavities underneath, causing a great capillary action that sucked much of the water into underground aquifers (the "fountains of the deep" in Genesis 7). Sea level dropped, land levels rose, and dry land was born. "And God said, Let the waters be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear."
This is a good place to discuss a geologic theory proposed early in this century--continental drift. Around 1915 Alfred Wegner (1880-1930) noted that the Atlantic coastlines of Africa and South America are the same shape, as if those continents are two pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle. From that he got the idea that once the world's continents were all joined together, to form a super-continent called Pangaea (Literally "All the Earth"). In those days the Atlantic Ocean did not exist, but a world ocean surrounded all land. Then in dinosaur days Pangaea parted, splitting into the smaller continents of today. This theory explains the mechanism for earthquakes, which has the earth's crust divided into nearly two dozen plates; these plates float on top on the liquid mantle and move a little bit every year, occasionally scraping past or running into one another in the process.(3)
The mechanism that caused Pangaea to split apart was unknown until the International Geophysical Year (1957-58), when scientists discovered a vast underwater mountain range running down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The important detail is that these mountains fence in a great crack (fault) in the earth's crust, and that through a process called sea-floor spreaading, it is widening by a third of an inch every year. Iceland straddles this crack, so it is growing by the same amount, and Iceland has volcanoes, geysers and hot springs because the distance through the crust to the moho at this point is much less than normal. Likewise the Pacific is shrinking, and rimmed by trenches where the moving crust veers downward until it reaches the mantle and melts; that is why the whole Pacific rim has earthquakes and volcanoes to deal with (the so-called "ring of fire").
The place where this ties in with the Genesis narrative is the reference to the waters gathering in one place. If there was only one ocean, then there must have been just one continent as well, namely Pangaea. Apparently God was aware of continental drift, millennia before we figured it out. I believe that at the time of the flood continental drift took place, but at a much faster speed than the snail's pace of today.
The third day also saw the creation of plant life. The Bible only specifically mentions the growing of fruit trees, presumably because the creation account is centered on the making of a home for mankind. I believe that all other plant life--mosses, ferns, non-fruiting trees and shrubs, fungi, algae and kelp--were formed at this time too, to give food to the animals that would be created on days five and six.(4)
This is the most difficult part of the creation account to understand. Many creationists take this to mean that everything in the universe besides the earth was created on the fourth day. From an observational point of view this is impossible, because while I believe the earth is just several thousand years old, astronomers have measured the stars in our galaxy as being so far away that their light took many times longer than that to reach us; when it comes to objects beyond the Milky Way, what we see apparently happened millions, or possibly billions of years ago.
There are several arguments about what we might really be seeing, and how it affects the universe's age:
1. Our way of measuring distances outside our galaxy, based on the observed speed of other galaxies (Edwin Hubble's "red shift"), is all wrong. This is currently the most popular theory, since when the Hubble Space Telescope began taking pictures of intergalactic space, it found that the galaxies are flying apart twice as fast as originally supposed, which means the universe is only half as old as previously thought. There are also some observations out there that do not make sense if our estimates of time/distance are correct. Among them are those enigmatic quasars, objects no bigger than our solar system that shine with more apparent brightness than whole galaxies, and appear to be spewing out matter at speeds faster than light(!); blazars, objects so hot that their light contains no spectral lines (making measurements of distance and speed impossible); and barred spiral galaxies. Barred spiral galaxies are shaped in an S-curve, rather than the pinwheel swarm of regular spiral galaxies, and Kepler's laws of orbiting bodies requires that the hub of a galaxy must move faster than its rim. For a barred spiral to keep its shape for more than a few thousand years, the rim would have to revolve faster than the hub--a gravitational impossibility--yet there is no shortage of barred spirals out there for us to turn telescopes on. Astronomers are trying to find an evolutionary answer to this problem; the hypotheses they have come up with are bizarre, to say the least.
2. God created everything at the same time, and produced a universe that was already "full grown," just as He produced Adam and Eve as adults instead of as babies. All light was created at the same time, and some of it was put in deep space to travel to us, rather than spend millions of years on an intergalactic journey. All I can say about this is "Maybe."
3. The speed of light, upon which all our measurements of interstellar distance depend, may be decreasing. We automatically assume that because stars, galaxies, etc., are millions or even billions of light-years away, it must have taken that long for their light to get to us, so they must be at least as old as that. The alterative to this was put forth in 1987 by an Australian named Barry Setterfield. He pointed out that since the seventeenth century scientists have had the mathematical and astronomical tools needed to measure the speed of light, but the oldest measurements differ noticeably from ours. Of course this may all be because old scientific instruments were not as accurate as the ones we use today, but what if Sir Isaac Newton and company were right on the mark and the speed of light has actually changed? Setterfield has put together a list of measurements made between 1675 and 1976, and they show a definite decrease in observed speed:
And that's not all. Setterfield has traced these figures by graph and applied a mathematical constant. His conclusion is that while the speed has only changed slightly in our own time, in the past it declined exponentially. What this means to us is that while at present light travels at 186,282 miles per second, at some point in the past, it zoomed at almost infinite speed. This means that in the case of those deep space objects millions of light-years away, their light traveled most of the distance between there and here in a short time, giving an appearance of great age. Other implications are possible, since the speed of light is tied in to so many basic laws of physics. First we have more proof of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, since this implies that there is now less energy to drive light particles (photons) than there used to be. Radioactivity would also be affected; if the speed of light was once faster, radioactive elements such as uranium would have decayed into lead much faster than they do now, giving another illusion of age that isn't really there. Unfortunately for Setterfield, there are some questions about the reliability of the data he used, so creationists haven't accepted his theory wholeheartedly.
4. The universe is really as old as the scientists say it is. This answer supposes that Genesis only applies to the earth; everything else was made a long time earlier in preparation for us. This is the view Hugh Ross takes in his books. As with the others, this may be unprovable until we can travel to the stars and inspect them up close.
5. The most recent proposal is a variant of #1 and #4 above, suggesting that the universe is really billions of years old elsewhere, but only thousands of years old in our vicinity, because relativity causes time to move at different speeds in different places. So far all theories on the creation of the universe have not taken into account that time slows down under the influence of gravity. This has been tested on earth; an atomic clock at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, Colorado, located a mile above sea level, runs faster than an atomic clock at a sea-level location, by about five millionths of a second per year.
In his work Starlight and Time, D. Russell Humphreys proposes that in the beginning, the entire universe was compressed into one mass, about two light-years in diameter. Under the conditions we are familiar with, such an object would become a black hole, with a gravitational force so strong that nothing--not even light--could escape from it. Instead, Humphreys suggests that on the second day of Creation, God transformed this into a "white hole," causing it to spew forth its matter in a big-bang-type effect. As all this gas and dust moved outward, it formed into the stars and galaxies beyond our own. Because of the tremendous gravity in the central mass, only hours would pass inside it, while millions of years passed on the outside. However, the central mass would shrink as it lost its contents, and so would the "event horizon," the visible outer boundary of a black hole or white hole. On the fourth day, the event horizon would have passed the earth; when that happened, the stars would become visible, and time on earth would become nearly the same as time elsewhere. Since no evidence of a central mass has been found so far, it probably disintegrated completely, suggesting that our solar system and our galaxy are close to the center of the universe. Humphreys goes on to propose that "the waters above" mentioned on the second day are the chemicals that went into making the other stars, rather than a cloud canopy over the earth, and that an extremely strong magnetic field (see Chapter 2) would block enough radiation to allow the long lifespans listed in Genesis 5. I can see I will need to rewrite much of this work, if the theories of Humphreys turn out to be correct.
Another reason why people have a problem with the fourth day may be that the theory of evolution has been ground down so deeply within us that we cannot imagine the Earth being created before the sun. Dr. Ken Ham tells how when he teaches creation classes he sometimes takes six pictures, each representing one of the days of creation, mixes them up, and asks some adults to rearrange them in the proper order. More often than not they will put the picture of the sun and moon first, when it should be fourth. Many also ask, "How can there be light on the first day, if the sun wasn't there until the fourth day?" A few have imagined a cloudy solar system, where a nebula fills the space between the planets, and while the sun's light can get through it, nothing in space is clearly visible. From the point of view of somebody watching from Earth, nothing out in space would have existed. Then on the fourth day the sun's radiation ("the solar wind") blew away the nebulosity, and outer space cleared up; only then could we see the sun, moon and stars.
I once subscribed to this theory, and in fact there is no reason why it couldn't have happened this way, but now I have two problems with it. One is this: it makes evolution sound a little more reasonable, by allowing a place in the creation story for the "nebula" theory we talked about in Chapter 1. The other one is that there is a simpler solution: Why does the first light necessarily have to be sunlight? We make artificial light in our houses all the time, through light bulbs and candles; couldn't God have done the same before the sun was formed? Finally, we saw that God Himself could have been that light.
I believe that God had reasons for not forming the sun right at the beginning. One is that in the same verse He gives the purposes for objects in space: to mark seasons, days and years. In short, their purpose is for telling time. That wouldn't have been necessary until people came along, so creating the sun, moon and stars anytime on any one of the six days would have worked, so long as they were in place when Adam arrived. He also must have known we would get the wrong idea if He created the sun first. Some ancient cultures (e.g., the Egyptians and various American Indian tribes) worshiped the sun because they thought it created the Earth, and as we noted, today's evolutionary theories have the Earth come out of the same gas cloud that condensed to create the sun. Surely the Lord knew that such ideas would come along some day, and He is trying to tell us that man's ideas are not correct; He created both the sun and the Earth!
Finally, I want to briefly touch on a major surprise that I found when studying Genesis 1. For a long time I noted that the verse refers to a "greater light" ruling the day, and a "lesser light" ruling the night. If you're like me, you may have murmured, "Oh, that refers to the sun and the moon. Why doesn't He just say that's what they are?" Well, I went to my trusty concordance to look up the meanings of the original words. What I found out was that the Hebrew word for "lesser light" was owr, the same word that is now used for sun, while the word for "greater light" was maor. I don't know what this means to you, but to me it suggests that once there were two suns in the sky, and the dimmer of the two is the one we have now! The mysterious greater light appears in Jewish tradition as an object called the Shekinah, which was more brilliant than the sun and disappeared from the sky in the lifetime of Adam's grandson Enosh. When it disappeared, men first began to suffer from diseases and the deathrate rose dramatically.(5) Where the Shekinah is today, I do not know; Ginzberg said it went to Heaven, while Velikovsky suggested that it burned out and an ember of it became the planet Saturn.(6) Later Hebrew traditions speak of the Shekinah resting on Solomon's Temple or on the Tabernacle, but I believe this is a reference to an angel or the spirit of God, rather than an object in space. There may also be a reference to the missing sun in the ancient Chinese legend about the archer who shot down nine of the ten original suns in the sky because they were overheating the Earth. Rather than say any more, I'll let you draw your own conclusions on the matter--I know this is a radical idea.
This is a good place to point out that there is not as much similarity between the creation account and the evolutionary story as some (the "theistic evolutionists") believe. Some will look at Genesis 1 and say, "Look, we have here the atmosphere and water created before life, life in the sea before life on land, and people coming along last of all. Doesn't evolution teach the same?" Not really; note these fundamental differences:
1. As noted above, the sun, stars, and everything else in space came after the Earth, not before.
Whenever Genesis 1 is discussed somebody will invariably ask, "How do we know that the 'days' listed here are really 'days' as we know them? Couldn't they be a longer period, like a geologic era?" If they are Christians they will point to 2 Peter 3, where it says that "One day is to the Lord as a thousand years, and one thousand years is as a day." Here they take the verse out of context; the comparison between a day and a millennium is to show that God is both eternal and timeless; it has nothing to do with how long it took Him to create the world. The Hebrew word used for "day" in Genesis 1 is yom, which we generally interpret to mean either a 24-hour day or a 12-hour period of daylight. The only time yom is ever used to mean anything else is when it refers to an indefinite length of time, like "the day of the Lord" or "the day of judgment." It was not meant to be used this way in Genesis 1, because in Exodus 20:9-11 God tells Moses to follow His example; because He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, mankind should do the same. I read those verses as meaning, "Six days shall you labor . . . but on the seventh day you shall not do any work." I don't know of anyone who interprets that as "For six indefinite time periods you shall work, and on the seventh indefinite time period you shall not work," except maybe labor unions on strike.
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
"And God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so. Then God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and morning were the sixth day." (Gen. 1:24-31).
The sixth day was a busy one! On this day God created all land animals and man; according to the second chapter He also told Adam to name all the animals and created Eve before the day was done. Note that He said He would make man in His own image. The most godlike of the Lord's creations, man was created to rule over every other animal on earth. Some theologians have suggested that Adam "glowed" with the glory of God at this point, the way Moses later did when he came down from Mt. Sinai; that may explain why Adam and Eve did not pay attention to their lack of clothing at first. He was not created to be just another beast, but to be the highest member of God's creation.
That was the first Sabbath. Nothing was created on this day; God "rested," as the account tells us. It does not mean that God got tired after doing a lot of work, the way we do, because that would contradict the basic belief that God is all-powerful. He simply did nothing to show that He was done with His work.
Throughout the Bible we learn that the Sabbath was meant to be a unique and blessed day. In Exodus 20 the fourth commandment that God gave to Moses was "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." In Exodus 31 and Deuteronomy 5 additional laws were given for observing the Sabbath; the penalty for violating them was death. Today's Jews have added additional laws to make sure they don't come close to violating God's laws; e.g., they don't walk more than half a mile at a time ("a Sabbath day's journey"), use stairs rather than elevators, and walk rather than drive or ride (pushing buttons and handling a steering wheel is considered "work," but using one's feet isn't).(7)
God made the seventh day special to give man a day to rest and "recharge his batteries." Today we think of a seven-day week as the most natural way to work and subdivide our months, but in ancient times many cultures observed weeks of different lengths; the Maya had a five-day week, while the Egyptian week had ten days in it. Even among those who followed a seven-day week, like the Babylonians, we do not hear of them setting aside one of those days for rest. Only the Jews regularly took a day off every week; in fact, this made Judaism appealing to the Greeks and Romans when they first encountered it, since their only days of rest were holidays.
Jesus told us that "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27-28) Elsewhere He illustrates this point by telling us that if somebody's ox fell into a pit on the Sabbath day, he would not wait until the next day to rescue it. But this does not mean that one is free to use the Sabbath as one sees fit. It means that the Sabbath was meant to benefit us, rather than to be something to make legal issues about, as the Pharisees seemed to think.
The Sabbath was meant to be observed on the seventh day of the week, namely Saturday. Few Christians, however, do this; most do it on Sunday, which seems like an appropriate day of worship since both the resurrection of Jesus and the Pentecost miracle occurred on that day. Let it be known that God's laws were not intended to be replaced; Jesus said that we should still follow all of them to the letter; he had not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17-18). So if you want to worship the Lord on Sunday, go ahead; just don't say that God told you it has replaced Saturday as the Sabbath, because you don't have the scriptural justification to say such a thing. Personally I take the same stand regarding supposedly "Christian" holidays like Christmas and Easter; you can observe them if you wish, but you will look in vain if you search the Bible for a verse that tells you to do so.(8)
Finally, it looks like the purpose of the Sabbath is to give us an example of what things will be like in the future; the Millennium will be the "Sabbath" of the whole world. "Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." (Colossians 2:16-17, emphasis mine, C.K.)
This is the End of Chapter 7.
The Genesis Chronicles
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