Understanding The Creation 02
The first two chapters of Genesis are among the most familiar portions of the Bible; therefore, many Christians think that they understand them well. Although Genesis 1 and 2 are among the best known chapters in the Bible, but they may also be among the most misunderstood. Throughout church history many people have attempted to explain Genesis 1 and 2 through complicated and mysterious spiritual interpretations. In order to grasp the real meaning of these chapters, we have to find their meaning as intended by their historical author, Moses, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the text as we have today in the Bible. We believe that the meaning of the text is the same for us as it was for the original author. In the light of that understanding, we believe that “the beginning” in v.1 wasn’t a point of time but a period of time; and the universe age was unknown.
Last week, we discussed on the topic of the existence of the universe and planet earth took place before God performed His first creative period on our planet, which has been called day one of God’s creation. Some of you may have a challenged question in your mind but haven’t had any chance to speak out loud. The question generally like this: “If God did exist before the existence of the universe, then, when and how did He come into existence or who created Him?” Until today, the answer is no one knows. Mankind came into this world very late to compare with the universe age. God is Spirit and He had created time, space, and everything in the so-called universe; so, He is not restricted inside time and space that He had made, and what applies within the universe need not apply to God. We only know one thing, that is all humans are His creatures.
In v.3 we read that “And God said: ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” There is a problem concerning this verse as well. People who believe in six-day creation have used this verse as the proof of the start of the universe, because light must exist before anything else were made. But the Holy Bible states very clear that God is light (1John 1:5). So, what kind of light must appear in v. 3? It wasn’t His light. He didn’t need more light! If God had created the universe with all galaxies, stars, and countless of systems similar to our solar system, then, light already existed. Clearly, this verse didn’t constitute the start of the universe. It must mean something else. We will look back at v.2b “and darkness was over the face of the deep.” If the solar system was already existed along with the universe; then, why did the earth not receive the sun light but stayed dark?
V.2c said “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Since v.2 refers to the planet earth and describes its state at that moment, the whole earth must be covered by water. So, the meaning of darkness was over the face of the deep is that the whole earth was covered by thick cloud, which formed by the waters all around a very hot globe. Therefore, the earth could not receive any light from the sun. Now, in most English translations of the Bible, the words “let there” are inserted to make the translation read smoothly. These two words do not appear in the Hebrew. The “let there” is derived from the Latin Vulgate which uses a verb in the subjunctive, it is the form for command, hence “Let there be.” So, that sentence could be translated as: “And God said, light shall exist and light existed.” What had happened to make light exist on earth?
God gave the command, the thick cloud obeyed. No one knew how much tỉme did it take for the cloud to open for the sunlight to shine down to the face of the waters. V.3 continues “And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.” Because now we all knew that the planet earth revolves around itself; therefore, we are able to understand the separation of light from darkness means the earth had day time and night time since then. The line that separates day and night is now called “terminator.” We also understand that day and night only happen on planets that orbiting around their host stars. People who are living at this time in history with all the advanced knowledges of astronomy, are able to understand Genesis 1:3 pretty well; for we don’t believe the earth is flat.
Another problem comes up when we read the rest of verse 3 “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Why didn’t the Bible write “and there was morning and there was evening” instead of the evening came before the morning? Everyone of this generation as well as the people from 4000 years ago all knew real well that the next morning belongs to a different day. – Since the verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31 of Genesis chapter 1 all describe “And there was evening and there was morning” of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days, but there weren’t evening and morning on the seventh day. Therefore, we have to find out what is the real meaning of the creative days in this chapter of Genesis.
In this chapter, we found that the amount of God works on each day were not equal. If things must happen instantly when God commands them to be, then the things that happened on day one did not need much time. On the sixth day, however, God created a lot of creatures and mankind but it was only in one day. So, the six days did not have the same length of time. The Hebrew word YOM was translated as Day in English may not be 24 hours. The understanding of the creative YOM is very important for us to comprehend the creative works of God on our planet Earth. YOM has two common meanings: Day time and many long eras (or long periods of time). We believe that God can give command for things to be existed in a blink of an eye; He could also use long periods of time for His purposes. Therefore, in order for the thick cloud to open in obeying God’s command, the first YOM must be a pretty long period of time. It wasn’t a 24-hour day as now.
God’s works on the second YOM also weren’t a lot. Genesis 1:6–8 “And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.‘ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” Let’s pay attention to v.7 “And God made;” v.6 says “God said,” but v.7 says “God made.” Therefore, we can understand the word ‘said‘ actually means thinking or plan; because He said then He made. The expanse is now called atmostphere or firmament did not appear instantaneously. It took a whole YOM to become. Once again, another evening arrived before that next morning approached.
After examining these first 8 verses of Genesis chapter 1, we should have an idea on the length of time of the first two YOM. They were not 48 hours as some people think. They may be shorter or longer than 48 hours. We really don’t know. In the next session, we will examine the following YOMs, and then the reasons why God created His works in the order that He chose. Amen.
Rev. Dr. CTB