Calvin also said that he considered looseness with words no less a defect than loosness of the bowels! Now that’s lucid brevity!
When we turn our attention to the words before us this morning, we might think that the Lord took Calvin’s advice to heart. It is interesting to note that we are half way through the whole of the creation account. In comparison to other ancient accounts of the beginnings, the one that is before us is rather short. Typically, among the pagan religions, you find large tomes dedicated to elaborate stories of how the world came to be.
In contrast, the Christian account is rather short. It is a total of 70-80 verses. But despite its brevity, there is a great deal to be found in it. The text is rich with teaching; a veritable gold mine ready to be excavated.
And this morning, we are going to attempt to unearth just a few of the truths that may be found within the creation account. As you read this passage, you can’t help but notice that a few things stand out. There are a few lessons that God really stresses.
I. Creation’s God
There is one thing that would have really stood out to the Israelites when they heard these words. It probably doesn’t stick out as clearly to us, but it would have been blazingly clear to them due to their context. To them this passage would have been a definitive declaration that their God was the supreme God.
Each of these five days is an attack on the polytheism of Egypt. On day one the god of light and darkness is dismissed. On day two, the gods of sky and sea. On day three, the earth gods and gods of vegetation. On day four, the sun, moon, and star gods. Days five and six dispense with the ideas of divinity within the animal kingdom.
You might say that the creation account targets the gods of Egypt and picks them off one by one.
We used to play a little game when I was young. It was called King of the Hill. You started at the bottom of the hill and everyone raced to the top. Once you got there, a battle ensued. Your goal was to throw everyone else down off the hill so that you were the only one left at the peak of the little summit. In doing so, you were the king of the hill.
That’s really what we have going on here in these verses before us. God is showing himself to be King of the hill. None of the other god’s can come close to competing with him. He throws them down one by one so that all may see that he alone is supreme.
Of course, this emphasizes what we said in weeks past; that we owe all allegiance to God. But it also reminds us of our chief expression of allegiance we owe to him; that of our praise.
As we read this passage, we, like the Israelites, ought to be moved to adore our God as that Supreme creator. It should cause us to join the saints in singing,
You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created and have their being.
Besides telling us something about the God of creation, the passage also says something about the length of creation.
II. Creation’s length
Now when it comes to how long it took to create the world there is a great deal of controversy. There are people who hold to a young earth and those who would be considered old earth people. That is to say, there are some who would say that the earth is less than 10,000 years old, and then there are those who would like to say that the earth is a couple billion years old.
I personally am a young earth guy, and this is why: The passage seems to indicate that the Lord created everything in six 24 hour days. As we read, you heard the refrain, “it was evening and it was morning, the first day.” “It was evening and it was morning, the second day.” Etc.
I recognize that there was no sun or moon for the first three days, but the language that is used here seems to indicate a natural phenomena to which we are accustomed. And the passage gives us no indication that we should read it any way other than a normal day. Certainly the Israelites would have naturally taken it this way when they heard it. They would not have understood it to be long periods of time.
Now, I understand that there have been many solid Christians in the history of the church that have held to an old earth position. I was amazed this week during my study to find such men as BB Warfield, Charles Hodge, and Francis Schaefer to name just a few. And, there may be a few even in our midst who might hold to an old earth position.
Knowing that there can be disagreement on the issue among the brethren requires us to have a bit of charity to one another—just as we do when it comes to our views of the end times. We have a variety of views represented here when it comes to the end times, and we still are able to maintain good fellowship with one another.
At the same time, I believe it is important to express my concern about an old earth position. I believe my old earth brethren should be warned about their method of interpretation. I would suggest to you that those who hold to an old earth position violate the text in order to justify their position.
The process would go like this: An old earth person would say, “Modern science tells us that the earth is really old. We know that in other passages of Scripture the Hebrew word for “day” can sometimes mean “a long period of time,” rather than a 24 hour day. And the Bible does say that a thousand years is like a day to God. They then bring all that information back here and read the Genesis account in light of all that.
I would suggest to you that this is not the appropriate way of interpreting Scripture. The chief way we interpret Scripture is by letting the context decide the meaning of a word. Before we go outside the text, we must first consider if there is anything in the immediate context that would frame the way we should understand the words and phrases. And when it comes to the word day, it is qualified by the phrase, “morning and evening.” Meaning is already assigned to the word. So giving it another meaning would be a violation of the rules of interpretation.
Moreover, we should be very careful about having our interpretation of Scripture framed by what contemporary science tells us. We believe that the Scripture is to be the final authority for life and faith, not the speculated theories of modern scientists. We must remember that the evolutionary processes and the time tables given by modern science are merely speculations. There is no absolute proof that their guesses are correct. And those who advocate such things most certainly have their own religious bias that we must factor in.
Ultimately, I believe that the reliability of Scripture is what is at stake. The question must be asked, “Can God’s word here be trusted?” If the text does not mean what it says, then we have opened the door to throw doubt on the rest of Scripture as well. If we can question the plain teaching of what is said regarding creation, then we can question other parts of Scripture too, such as the virgin birth or the resurrection of Christ.
Now you see why I want to argue for a young earth position. I think that the text is clear, and that there are some grave dangers inherent in an old earth position.
I recognize that what I have said here may not cover everyone’s curiosity or questions. It is by no means meant to be exhaustive. There is so much information out there, and I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
Yet I think it is enough to say that the natural, and more probable reading of the text is six literal days. And we should not be ashamed to follow the text of Scripture as it is presented regarding the length of days, despite what the world today says.
Another thing that stands out in our text is the order of creation.
III. Creation’s order
Last week we looked at verse 2. And we saw there that God created the heavens and the earth, but it was formless and void. It is interesting that the passage before us shows us the forming and filling of the earth.
In the first three days he forms the different realms of the world. On the first day God gives us light. Then, on the second day, he forms something of an atmosphere by separating the watery spaces. The third day he forms land.
In the next three days he fills those realms. In the realm of light and darkness he puts the sun, moon and stars. Then on the fifth day he fills the sky with birds and the water beneath is filled with all kinds of sea creatures. Finally, on the sixth day, the land is filled with its little creatures.
So there is the order of forming and filling. But there is also the order that exists among the things that were created. As we read the text we find that each thing that was created was formed “according to its kind.” There is a designation of kingdom and species, so to speak.
Even today we still see the handiwork of God. We cannot avoid how orderly the creation is. And maybe, we are blessed to see it in greater detail. Through the advances we have in science we understand how exactly precise the creation has to be ordered.
It is said that the earth is tilted at an angle of 23 degrees. This is what gives us the seasons. And scholars say that if it were not at this exact angle, life on earth would be impossible. You know from your schooling that the tides are controlled by the moon. I’ve heard that the tides would daily deluge whole continents if it were any closer to the earth.
All this order reflects something of the nature of God himself. We read elsewhere in the Bible that He is not a god of chaos, but of order.
But most of all, the ordering of Creation is for our benefit. The forming and filling of the earth is for our enjoyment. I mentioned last week that the judgment of God is often shown to be the removal the form and fullness of the world. He strips the wicked of these graces. The opposite could be said here today. All this order is for our benefit. The beauty and stateliness of it is established so that we can delight ourselves in the works of God.
You know, my wife says that 90% of her job as wife is to clean up after me. I have to admit, it is true. I’m not the best when it comes to keeping things tidy. I can’t tell you how many times a day I lose my keys. My wife is to be commended for keeping our place in order. And I appreciate that, because her work in keeping things orderly allows me to enjoy it more.
That is something of the glory of God’s creation, and the blessing he has given us in it.
And ultimately, it points us to the orderly state of the final redemptive state. This is part of the reason why I believe Ezekiel’s vision of the temple is a vision of the end times. Ezekiel has a vision of a perfectly ordered temple. It is a perfect square and all the rooms are perfectly ordered within it. And I believe it emphasizes the point that there will be no deviations or abnormalities due to sin in the future world.
Whatever you may think of that, this is for certain: All creation will be restored to its rightful state on the last day. It will not be lacking in order. That, as we saw last time, is only an attribute of hell. Heaven is a place of perfection. And the future kingdom will be a place that is perfectly ordered. And we will have opportunity to enjoy all the glory of it forever.
As we look at our text we not only see something of Creation’s God, creation’s length, and creation’s order. We also should note that we see how things came into being. This is what I call creation’s instrumentality.
IV. Creation’s instrumentality
You cannot escape the fact that all of this happened at the command of God. God said, “Let there be…” and there was. God spoke it into being. It all happened by the power of his word. Creation is a testimony to the inherent authority of God’s word.
Many people will say that creation began with a big bang. But there is something much more explosive that is to be credited with the creation. The Word of God is powerful, and creation reveals its glorious nature.
I want to emphasize this because it should be something that orients us towards the word that has been given to us. God might not speak audibly to us, like he does here. But he does speak. And his word should have the same authority with us. We should give heed to it, just as the creation gives heed to it.
The voice that echoed through the universe is the same voice that echoes through the pages of Scripture. It is the same one that comes through this sounds system every week. And when God speaks, we should listen with the reverence it commands.
The next thing I want you to notice is the benediction that is repeated throughout the passage.
V. Creation’s benediction
As each day comes to a close we hear, “And God saw that it was good.” God gives his stamp of approval to everything that he created. It is his little way of showing the worth of what he had made and how much he delighted in it.
This little phrase directs our attention to the care that we ought to have for the environment in which we find ourselves. There is a big to-do made about being conscientious about the environment. Being “green” is all the rave. I recognize that a lot of it is insanely misguided. However, there is at least a speck of truth in it.
We ought to do our best to respect the world in which we live, and we as Christians ought to be the best when it comes to such things. As Christians, we should be some of the greatest caretakers of the planet. Because of what is said here, and because of what we know about the nature of the planet, we should know that we have a responsibility towards the created world.
You do know that the rest of the world has no grounds for doing so. To them, it is just a random product of evolution. It is just bunch of stuff that can be treated with the same disregard they have for an unwanted pregnancy.
However, to us it is the very handiwork of God. This vast creation is the resplendent craft of God; a piece of art that bears the Creator’s name. Each leaf, each rock, as well as every other nook and cranny is good. And because it is such we should understand that it ought not to be profaned. To treat it with disregard or with a flippant attitude is a blasphemous thing.
I mention this because I know that die hard Republicans like to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction, just to snub the so called “environmental wack-o’s.” I hear people say that they just want to cut down a nice big old Redwood, just to defy the tree huggers.
That, my friends, is sacrilegious. And we should not even joke of such things. That God created this world, and that he created it good, ought to be a reminder to us that we must treat our surroundings with the utmost reverence.
There is one last thing that I want you to note about this passage. We should not leave here without saying something about Creation’s redeemer.
VI. Creation’s Redeemer
We do live this side of Genesis 3. We live in a world that is under the curse of sin. And this creation is subjected to pains because we are sinners. But the God of this creation, has also become the redeemer of the world.
I mentioned that the graces mentioned here are for us and that God takes them away from those he condemns. We should remember that Jesus underwent that curse on our behalf. You may remember that while Christ was on the cross a thick darkness came upon the land. Though it was mid afternoon, and supposed to be the brightest part of the day, the sun was hidden and it was pitch black.
There in those moments Jesus lost the very first grace of creation. The wrath of God descended upon him. And just as a criminal is stripped of his privileges when he is sentenced, Jesus was stripped of the blessing of light.
We must remember that this was for us and for our salvation. That darkness was the curse that was due to us for our sin. Yet Jesus took it upon himself.
The Scripture promises that those who come to him will never have to suffer such. Instead they will have the right to enjoy the new heavens and new earth; a place where the light forever shines and there is absolutely no darkness at all.
 Hughes, Genesis. Crossway books. p. 26
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.