googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Some Comments on the Creation Week: Conclusion

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Some Comments on the Creation Week: Conclusion

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
(Gen 2:1-4)

The six days of creation having been accomplished, God ends His creation with a Sabbath. Of course, God wasn't “tired” and in need of rest. Instead, He “rested” in the sense that He ceased His labor. We might compare it to a “rest” in a piece of music where the music pauses deliberately and not because the performer is tired.

While the 7th day is marked by no work, there is still a lot we can glean from this passage. As I've done in previous posts, I'm going to break this passage down verse by verse.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

The clause, “and all the host of them,” is significant. Everything that exists in heaven and earth was created in the six preceding days. The “host” - meaning the stars, the sun, the earth, the seas, the plants, the animals, man, and every other created thing – came to be in the span of those six ordinary days. There is no room for millions or billions of years.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made;

This verse says God ended His work. This wasn't just a pause (as in my musical analogy); God “ended” His work. The universe He intended to create had been accomplished and God is no longer creating. This conforms nicely with the 1st Law of Thermodynamics that roughly says no new matter/energy is being created. It's a sort of prediction being made by the Bible. God created natural processes and the universe continues largely under their divinely appointed rules. Of course, Jesus performed creative acts, such as the multiplication of the loaves and fish or the turning of water to wine. It is precisely because we know new things don't naturally appear that we can be certain these acts were supernatural.

Conversely, the fact that God ended His work contradicts the theory of Theistic Evolution. According to TE, God continuously created from the moment of the Big Bang to the creation of man billions of years later. According to evolutionists, stars are still being created (even though we've never seen it happen) and they say animals continue to evolve (evolution by definition) so God's creative work has never really ceased.

and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

God could have created the universe in as short or as long a period of time that He wanted. He could have created it instantly. He could have created it over the course of billions of years. It's not a question of what He could have done but rather what He has done. He deliberately chose seven days.

Perhaps one reason He chose the seven day week was to set a precedence for us to follow. In Exodus 20:8-11, we read the following:

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.

God has purposefully established our seven day week to mirror the seven day creation week. This would make sense only if these were seven, ordinary days. The passage is unambiguous. Everything in heaven and earth was created in only six days and the LORD rested on the seventh. Again, there is no room for millions or billions of years.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

Before I conclude, let me highlight an amusing aside. Note the use of the word “day” in this passage: “in the day that he LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” In this context, the word covers the entire week of creation and not just a 24 hour period. Theistic evolutionists often argue that since “day” has several meanings, it could mean millions or billions of years in Genesis 1. We see here an example of such a use where the word day clearly means more than 24 hours. However, young-earth creationists never argue that “day” can only mean 24 hours. Instead, we interpret the Bible according to a plain reading of the text. The context here clearly shows the meaning of the word. In Genesis 1, it clearly means a single evening and morning (i.e. – a single rotation of the earth). I've wondered before why it is that seemingly bright people can understand the meaning of the word “day” every other time it is used in the Bible except for Genesis? //RKBentley scratches his head//

Moving on....

The narrative of the creation ends with the labeling, “these are the generations of the heaven and earth.” The inclusion of the title at the end of the chronology rather than the beginning like we might expect had stymied scholars for centuries. The “book of the generations of Adam,” for example, which details Adam's creation, the Fall, the Curse, the murder of Abel, and the birth of Seth, begins in Genesis 2:5 and ends in Genesis 5:2. Perhaps this is what led to the confusion that Genesis 2 was a second creation account; that is, people believed it was introducing a chronology rather than concluding one.

So there they are. The generations of the heavens and earth as clearly told to us in Genesis 1. Time, space, matter, sea, air, land, plants, animals, and man – all created in six ordinary days with God resting on the seventh. One week. No mystery. No ambiguity. And no billions of years.


Steven J. said...

Bible interpreters generally decide whether a given passage should be interpreted figuratively based on whether a literal reading yields an absurdity. Problems arise because different interpreters have different notions of what constitutes an "absurd" reading.

A classic example is Jesus' remark that he is a "the door" is taken (universally, I think) as figurative inasmuch as there is no indication that Jesus would miraculously transform into architectural fixtures, and because a God Who is spirit could not be separated from us by a literal door in any case.

So you regard references to, e.g. the "windows of heaven" as figurative, because you know the sky is not the sort of thing that can literally have hatchways in it. But it would not have appeared obviously figurative to, e.g. Flavius Josephus or the authors of the book of Enoch. Passages that to, e.g. Martin Luther obviously indicated that the sun orbited the Earth are obviously, to you, references to how things appear rather than to how things actually are.

But there are of course plenty of people to whom the evidence for an ancient Earth with a succession of ecologies and biospheres is equally and unambiguously evident from the data of geology, paleontology, and other sciences. To such people, it is every bit as obvious that Genesis 1, if true, must be figurative as it is that mention of God walking atop the sky and the clouds being the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3) must be figurative. Please note that there is no reason that the passage in Nahum has to be figurative -- as far as we know, even the Greeks, much less the Babylonians and Egyptians, in 600 BC thought that the Earth was, in fact, a flat disk surmounted by the inverted colander of the sky, which an anthropomorphic deity could have walked on. In such a context, the verse isn't obviously figurative (note the order of words: I did not say "is obviously not figurative; since other passages in the Bible connect clouds with rain, Nahum may indeed have thought it obvious that whatever clouds were, they weren't just dust).

The seven-day week corresponds to the seven "planets" (Mercury, Venus, the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) visible to naked-eye early astronomers (you will note that to this day, the days are named after these bodies or their corresponding pagan deities), and furthermore is approximately one fourth of a lunar orbit around the Earth, or the time from one lunar "quarter" to the next.

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

The ordinary use of language is not a difficult thing to understand. When two people speak with each other, there is usually an expectation that the other person will understand both literal and figurative statements without any explanation. A father, while camping with his son, might say, “We'll start fishing as soon as the sun comes up.” The father is making a statement of fact even while he uses a figurative description of the sun. He expects the son to understand when they will fish. If the son, because of the ignorance of his youth, believed the sun truly rises, it doesn't change the truth of what the father said. Likewise, if the ancients believed “stars in the sky” literally meant the stars were pinned inside a dome which was the sky, it doesn't change the truth of what the Bible says.

I could see there might be times when a sentence is ambiguous. If I read, “Sally is a dog,” I wouldn't immediately know if Sally is literally a dog or if Sally is just very unattractive. If the next sentence were, “We rescued her from the pound,” then I would know she literally is a dog. Context, then, usually dispels any ambiguities. In your example from Nahum, there IS a reason to believe the subject sentence is figurative – namely, we can read it in context. Do you believe the mountains literally “quake” from the fear of God (v. 5)? Or that His wrath is literally “poured out like fire” (v. 6)? Is He literally a “stronghold” in whom we can “take refuge” (v. 7)? You cannot seriously argue that an ancient might really believe clouds were the dust of God's feet because of this passage. In the context of Genesis 1, it should be obvious that the Bible is speaking of seven, literal days.

There are also certain literary cues present whenever literary devices are employed. Two unlike nouns linked with an equative verb (like “is” or “are”) makes a metaphor (my car is my baby, my daughter is a princess, the clouds are dust under His feet). The presence of the words “like” or “as” identify simile (he runs like the wind, He pours out His wrath like fire). Assigning human attributes to inanimate or abstract things is personification (jealously rears its ugly head, mountains quake because of Him). What devices like these are present in the Genesis account of creation?

Besides that, if we assigned the label of “figurative” to any part of the Bible we disagreed with, then no part of the Bible need be literal. How do I know how long Jesus was in the tomb? “Three days” could mean anything! And maybe Jesus didn't literally raise from the dead because we know scientifically that's impossible. When you get right down to it, if Adam was merely a literary character, then perhaps Jesus wasn't even a real Person!

I may not be a scholar but I can read. I know you are able to read too and I suspect deep down you understand clearly the plain meaning of the words in Genesis. There may be some parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand but most of it is clear and I put the creation account of Genesis in the “clear” category. Even a simpleton can read it for what it says. I agree that some people will use their own judgment when determining which parts of Bible they intend to take literally. They will substitute their own wisdom in place of the clear meaning of the words of Scripture. I say they are doing this at their peril.

Thank you for your comments. God bless!!