In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
When some people think of the first day of the Creation Week, they only think of God creating day and night. We can see here there is actually a lot more going on. Let's break it down, verse by verse:
v. 1a, In the beginning...
First we can see that God created, “in the beginning.” The beginning of what? The answer is obvious but we seldom stop to think about the implication. This is the beginning of not only the universe but it is the beginning of time. So one of the first creative acts was God creating time. The things we ordinarily use to mark the passing of time will come later but God started the clock ticking here.
v. 1b, ...God created the heaven and the earth.
The term “heaven” can have several meanings depending on its context. It sometimes refers to the sky and other times to the abode of God. Here, I believe “heaven” clearly refers to space. Before God created everything, He needed a place to put it. Space isn't something that always existed and God simply put the earth and stars into it. Space itself was created. Before this moment there was no space.
Immediately after creating space (or perhaps simultaneously with it), God creates the earth. We know that the sun, moon, and stars are created later so, at this moment, the earth is the only matter in the entire universe.
We can see from this short, simple verse the very profound and fundamental creative act of God. He began the creation in a very logical and orderly way. He created time, space, and matter.
v. 2a, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The Hebrew word translated here as “without form” is tôhû (תּהוּ) which is a seldom used word – not just in the Bible but in Hebrew in general. We're not entirely sure what is meant by the term and Brown-Driver-Briggs says the primary meaning is hard to grasp (that is, it's hard to grasp the meaning; not that it means “hard to grasp”). The Greek word used in the Septuagint literally means, “unseen,” possibly a reference to the fact that it was dark.
Certainly the earth lacked any features. There were no mountains, no valleys, and certainly no living things. There was not even land. The wording here creates a distinct impression namely that the earth then was empty and did not resemble the present earth in any way.
We see from last sentence that the earth initially was only water. Since water can only exist at temperatures less than 100°C (212°F), perhaps we could assume that the initial creation was a “cool” event.
We also learn from this verse that God was actively involved in the creation. Yes, He spoke and it happened but He did not speak from a distance; He was there, hovering over the face of the waters. This is not a case of God nudging the universe in a certain direction and then letting physical laws take over.
v. 3, And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
For some reason, many people seem to think the creation of light marked the beginning of the creation. We have seen that much has already happened before this point. The first day began in darkness and now it is light so the day is about ½ over.
The Bible doesn't mention the source of this light. We know that it cannot be the sun since the sun will not be created until day 4. Some have suggested that God Himself was the light but I am skeptical of that claim; if God were the light, then where was the light just a few minutes earlier? The Bible does attest that in the new creation, there will be no more need of the sun because the Lamb will be the light (Rev 21:23). However, verse 25 tells us that there will neither be any more night so we cannot draw an exact parallel between this light and the light of the Lamb in Revelation. Since the Bible is silent on the source of this light, we cannot be dogmatic in our speculations. Suffice it to say this was a temporary source that God used to mark the passage of days until the sun was created on day 4.
It's interesting that God created a light that specifically is not the sun. Even the ancients understood that the sun gave light so if Genesis were truly the product of human imagination, it's rather incredible to believe someone would think to separate the creation of light from the creation of the sun. Some might argue this is evidence of a divine revelation for Scripture.
v. 4a, And God saw the light, that it was good:
Several times during the creation week, God pauses pauses to reflect on His creation. Each time, He sees that what has been created is “good.” The fact that God continuously affirms that each created thing is “good” flies in the face of theistic evolution (TE). According to TE, the world was created over billions of years of death and destruction. According to this belief, the world has been bad, bad, bad, on its way to finally being, “very good.” The Bible attests over and over that everything was initially “good.”
v. 4b-5a, and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
The presence of night and day indicate that the earth has already begun rotating. Therefore, we can be sure that physical laws – like gravity – have also already been created. Nobel laureate, Dr. Stephen Hawking, once said that because physical laws like gravity exist, then the universe could create itself out of nothing. It's rather laughable that such an intelligent person could make such a contradictory statement. How could there be any physical laws before the universe was created?
Physical laws are only our descriptions of the way matter behaves. Matter exhibits gravity. Just like matter cannot create itself, neither can gravity create itself. Science can only presuppose gravity existed in the creation; secular scientists really have no more explanation for the origin of gravity than they do for the ultimate origin of matter. They can only appeal to poofery.
v. 5b, And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Each day of the six creative days is punctuated by this phrase. Since God created light on the first day, we can know how much time has passed. It was an evening and a morning – an ordinary day. The presence of the term “morning and evening” leave little wiggle room for anyone wishing to reinterpret the word “day.”
God could have created the entire universe in a single moment. God could have stretched the creation out over billions of years. Yet for whatever reason, God chose to create the universe in the way He did – over six ordinary days.