First Things First – How the World Came to Be
2. Fact or Fable: Was the World Really Created in 6 Days?
Genesis 1: 1 - 2: 3
These are exciting days to study the book of Genesis. There has been much new research in the area of science and the Bible. It’s always a good thing to focus on issues that really matter. Sometimes in the church we spend too much time nibbling around the edges when we ought to be tackling the core issues of life. It’s hard to imagine anything more fundamental to our faith than the opening chapters of the Bible. Here we find the answer to some very profound questions: Where did we come from? How did we get here? Were we created or did we arrive on the scene as the random product of mindless evolution? If we were created, who created us and how did it happen?
I don’t think I need to spend much time convincing you that these questions matter. Ideas have consequences. What you believe about where you came from will radically impact the purpose of your life. Creation leads in one direction and produces a particular worldview; evolution leads in another direction and produces a different worldview and a different set of values. There are not many ideas that matter more than how you view the opening lines of the Bible. Are they true? Did they really happen? Is this just an ancient myth that bears no relationship to actual history?
Despite generations of brainwashing by the media and the educational system, many people today simply don’t believe in evolution. I call it good, old-fashioned common sense. Not everyone has “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” We still have a sizable group of people who will hear our biblical words if we speak clearly and effectively.
If Genesis Isn’t True…
The question is quite simple: Can we take Genesis 1 literally and believe what it says about earth history? Was the world really created in 6 days? If so, what does that mean and what difference does it make? If Genesis is not true, then the whole Bible is suspect. If what is written in the early chapters cannot be trusted, then everything is up for grabs. That includes every miracle, story, psalm and prayer. If there was no Garden of Eden, how can you be sure there was a Moses, a Joshua or a David? If Adam and Eve never really existed, what makes you so sure that Daniel spent the night in a lion’s den? If there was no Noah, how can you take seriously the words of Jesus, “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”? The Apostle Paul tells us that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” If Adam is only a myth, how can you be sure that Christ is real? The story of the Bible is like one of those interlocking puzzles where every piece connects to every other piece. If one piece can’t be trusted, how can you be sure about anything else?
Creation leads to Adam and Eve - leads to the Serpent who tempts them and they fall. When they fall, sin enters the human DNA -ends up corrupting the whole human race. God’s solution to sin is to come to earth in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died in our place, bearing our sins, taking our punishment, that we might be forgiven, declared righteous, given new life and promised a home in heaven. There is a direct line that stretches from the Garden to the Cross. Take away the Garden and there is no need for the Cross of Christ. Take that away and Christianity ceases to exist.
Jesus and Genesis
Jesus and Paul both took Genesis literally. Jesus quoted from Genesis and referred by name to Noah. Paul compared Adam and Jesus. If the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul took Genesis as literal truth, we ought to think hard before we dismiss it as a legend.
It is not an exaggeration to say that every major doctrine of the Bible begins here. Here we find the foundations of the doctrines of God, man, sin, salvation, marriage, the family, civilization, judgment and the spread of the nations. When God starts his story, he starts with creation. If we cannot trust this part, how can we be sure about anything else? Genesis is as vital as Revelation. If we cannot trust the first pages of the Bible, how can we believe the incredible visions of the future that John describes in Revelation? If the first paradise was a myth, how can we be sure the last paradise is not a myth? If we aren’t sure there was a Garden of Eden, how can we be sure there will ever be a New Heaven and a New Earth?
No Final Conflict
We are told that evolution is a proven fact, so we assume it must be so. When all the facts are finally in, when the Bible has been fully understood and science has finally reached the truth of the universe, in that day it will be seen that there is no final conflict between the Bible and science. Since all truth is God’s truth, there can be no ultimate conflict between God’s Creation and God’s Word. The 2 go hand in hand. Science and the Bible are not enemies, but allies in the search for truth. I congratulate those Christians who have spent years pursuing degrees in the various fields of science. Some of you will do very important research that will benefit many people. Others will teach, some will practice medicine and others will make discoveries that will alleviate human suffering. Go forward with courage. You are doing God’s work. You are helping all of us understand the wonders of creation a little bit more.
1. The Sequence of Genesis 1
The absolute beginning of all things v. 1 The universe has not existed forever, it had a definite beginning and God personally created all that exists. It stands as the first sentence in the story of our salvation. We are here because God created us. We are saved because God re-created us in Christ.
The first stages of creation v. 2 When God began creating, the world as we know it was unformed and uninhabited. There is deep darkness, a vast ocean of water and no life. In this dark, watery world, the Spirit of God hovered like an eagle. God’s Spirit is about to give life where there is no life. Without the Spirit, nothing that is made will come into being. He is there in the beginning; he moves through the chaos and darkness; he protects the prenatal creation.
Day 1 - Light is separated from the darkness v. 3 - 5. This light comes from God, not from the sun, which is not created until Day 4. “God is light; and in him is no darkness at all.” The process of creation: God speaks and it happens. He commands and light appears. We can’t do this so we can’t imagine how God does it. The only word for this is miracle. No scientist will ever be able to prove or disprove Genesis 1. It’s most basic truth lies outside the realm of scientific investigation. That doesn’t mean that scientific investigation is useless or impossible, only that science has its limits. It cannot tell us how God said, “Let there be light,” and light came to be. We know that truth by faith in what God has told us.
Day 2 - God separated the sea and the sky v. 4 - 8It is suggested that the “waters above” refers to a vast vapour canopy suspended over the entire earth that created a kind of “greenhouse effect” and produced ideal living conditions. If that is correct, it may explain the extremely long life spans of the patriarchs who lived hundreds of years, and it may help us understand where some of the water came from for the great flood of Noah’s day.
Day 3 - Dry land appeared from beneath the waters v. 9 - 13 The continents were formed and the first vegetation appears.
Day 4 - God created the sun, the moon and the stars v. 14 - 19 Until this day, all light had come from God himself. The lights in the sky are meant to separate the day from the night, to mark the changing of the seasons and as signs for guidance.
Day 5 - God created the birds of the air and the fish of the sea v. 20 - 23
Day 6 - God created the land animals v. 24 - 31 3 categories: domestic animals - cattle and horses; small animals that crawl or creep on the ground; and larger, wild animals like bears and elephants. On this day God also created Adam and Eve in his own image. They represent the apex, the crowning jewel of creation. They are created to rule over everything else God created.
When God surveyed his work, he declared it was “very good.” On 6 other occasions God calls creation “good;” when it is finished, he declared it “very good.” As the universe comes from the hand of God, it is perfect and complete in every way. To use a modern phrase, this is a “turnkey” job. God created a mature, fully-functioning world and handed it over to Adam and said, “It’s yours now. Take care of it.” If the world is messed up today, don’t blame God. When he finished, it was just fine. We’re the ones who messed it up!
Day 7 – God rested 2: 1 - 3God rested, not because he was tired but because his work was fully done. He created the 7 day week as a pattern for us to follow. 6 days to work, 1 day to rest. 6 days in which God created all that exists and the 7th day as a Sabbath rest. The universe came into existence in a series of mighty miracles, all of it created out of nothing by the spoken Word of God.
2. The Message of Genesis 1
The creation week is rich with important themes -
A. God is the theme of Genesis 1 Creation is God’s work. He starts with nothing and creates all that exists around us. What starts as a mass of unformed material covered with water, in just 6 days is transformed into the beauty of the world around us.
B. Man is the apex of creationWhen God created Adam and Eve in his own image, he forever separated the human race from the animals around us. You can do all the DNA testing in the world and the conclusion will stand. Our genetic code may be similar to the chimpanzee, but we are not like them and they are not like us. We are not just “one of the animals” or the product of evolution. We did not evolve upward from the amoeba. We were created by the hand of God. Unlike all other creatures, we alone were given the capacity to know him, to love him and to serve him.
C. The fundamental unity of the human raceAll humans are descended from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. All of us are related to each other. You are related by blood to every other person on planet earth. Though we have divided into groups, clans, tribes and ethnic origins, and though we have different languages and cultures, and though we have different skin tones and different physical features, “he has made of one blood” the entire human race. There is no room for racial prejudice. We’re all in the same boat together—created by the same God, all fallen into sin and all able to be saved by the blood of Jesus.
D. Evolution fails as an explanation of our origin because it is biblically impossible10 times Genesis 1 contains the phrase “according to its kind.” This is God’s law of genetics. Everything in creation reproduces “after its kind.” Fish produce fish. Spiders produce spiders. Dogs produce dogs. Now you can have all sorts of fish and many different spiders and kinds of dogs. But a bird cannot produce a cow and a fish cannot produce a horse. Within the various kinds, there is room for infinite development and incredible variation. There can be infinite change on a small scale. But there can be no turning of one “kind” into another “kind.” God himself set the limits.
We can say it this way. Is there horizontal variation? Absolutely, and we see it everywhere. But vertical variation? No, God forbids it. That alone rules out evolution. Evolution suggests that the world around us arose from a single cell in the distant past evolving upward over billions of years, through a process of death, decay, violence and pain. This is not the picture we get in Genesis 1.
3. The Implication of Genesis 1
The origins of the universe are entirely miraculous.The universe comes into being by the Word of God alone. That is why you can have light before the sun is created. Why should that surprise us? God is light. Hebrews 11: 3 “By faith we understand.” Unbelievers will never fully grasp this truth because they can’t. They don’t know God so they will have a hard time understanding the world he made. Evolution is really the best they can do.
What shall we say about the “days” of creation? Are they literal, 24-hour days? That’s certainly the way the text reads. If you want to find billions of years in the creation week, you will have to go someplace besides the text itself to find it. It might be true, but it’s not evident in the words of the Hebrew text. The days appear to be normal 24-hour days. The text even says “evening and morning.” The only evening and morning we know anything about is the evening and morning of the 24-hour day. When God gave the 10 Commandments, he reinforced the commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy: “For 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.”
Many people believe in evolution because they need to believe in it. They dare not face the alternative. Evolution isn’t just a scientific theory. It’s also a worldview. The truly committed evolutionist doesn’t need God because he thinks he can explain everything without him. Romans 1 describes such people - “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”