There has been quite a debate over the creation of the world for more years than I have been alive. This post is not an attempt to cover the science aspect (you can find that from Creation Science Evangelism, Answers in Genesis, Exploration Films or any number of other places). Here I aim to explore what Scripture says.
With Genesis 1:1, we have the establishment of time:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Somebody who is very observant would notice that the rest of the chapter is tied together with the word “and.” There are very few words that could be used to imply that something happened and God reacted to it. That begins to happen in verses 26 and 27:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
The first word of verse 26 does demonstrate that each “and” means that the next action happened afterward. Here we have God speaking of all of the other creatures that he formed. If in doubt, read the next four verses also.
Not only does the word that ties this chapter together indicate that this is a defined sequence (ie. God created dry land and then caused grass to grow on it) but we also find that it is organized into days:
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
8 And God called the firmament [sky] Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And so it continues through the sixth day in verse 31.
Some people claim that each day is representative of an age and that the various periods overlapped. The overlapping is necessary for their view because the plants were created (verse 11) before the sun (verse 14). As silly as that might sound, it is not a problem for the way that it is literally written.
There was light before the sun was created. It was, from my understanding, consolidated on the fourth day. If we look at this from an evolutionary point of view, we have problems with the plants being able to sleep as they do now. If you have constant light, there is no reason to close up for the night. It is a minor issue but it would be there.
Let us step back just a moment. Logically, if these were not equal periods of time we could work six days then take an hour break before getting started again and not break the Sabbath that was commanded in Exodus 20:8-11:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
I did do some more research on the word “day” before writing this. The Strong’s Hebrew number for “day” (3117) is also used to define periods of time; however, when I looked up the passage in Hebrew (Aleppo) and did a word search, those verses did not come up. It is a different form of the word that is used as Strong’s deals with word roots. I could see that that would be confusing since my understanding of Hebrew is not very deep either.
There is also the problem of death in the world. It is recorded that every day (except the second), God looked on what he had made and saw that it was good. On the final day of creation, we find this:
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
If everything was good, was death considered to be good?
Before the flood, we didn’t have permission to kill men who had killed others. Killing of animals was not for food because permission was granted for that after the flood, explicitly. Genesis 9:3:
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
Animals were killed for sacrifices only, unless people were doing it contrary to command. Every death was a very strong reminder of what their sin was.
The plants were given for food and sustenance to repair our bodies as they were worn down by our work. Yes, decay existed at the first (I believe) but it was also balanced to allow immortal physical life before the fall.
In the OT, physical and spiritual death are generally linked closely. I believe that the spiritual death occurred instantly when they sinned. They were severed from the communion they had enjoyed with God and wanted to instead hide from him. They were also cut off from the Tree of Life. In fact, God said that if they continued to eat from it, that they would live forever. Death is clearly a punishment.
With the church today, we often neglect the physical. Remember communion. Christ’s body was broken for our healing; his blood was spilled for our forgiveness. The theme was carried from the Old Testament to the New. 1 Corinthians 11:24,25:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Animals were punished by our sin. God cursed the ground because of Man. In Romans 8:22, Paul said:
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
The animals certainly did not have to worry about thorns or starvation before Adam sinned and caused the ground to be cursed (Genesis 3:17-19). There is no scientific reason that they could not live forever like man could.
All of nature groans because of the actions of mankind. This is not because of man’s existence (as many claim) but because he has failed to do as God has prescribed. God’s law is not written to keep us from enjoying life. It was put in place because it is the only way that we can live with each other and not destroy ourselves. Rejection of God’s commands automatically turns society toward the worst.
If, on the other hand, many of these so-called consequences already existed before the fall then aligning ourselves against God’s commands is nothing major. It is certainly not worthy of what we find in Nahum 1:2:
God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
I think we wrecked things.