Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Warren Vanhetloo’s newsletter “Cogitation.”
Read Part 1 and Part 2.
God’s work of creating all things other than Himself was accomplished over a six-day period. He could have brought into existence all things in their final form in a few seconds, but He didn’t. He could have taken great lengths of time to fashion or “evolve” various life forms. He didn’t. What’s important for us to know is that we don’t need to guess and theorize about what might have happened; God related what and how He brought about the heavens and the earth in clear, simple summary expressions.
The structure of the creation account in Genesis 1 suggests that God gave the information early to those faithful to Him. Then it was passed on orally from one generation to another through the centuries until finally it was incorporated into the special scrolls written either by Moses or at the time of Moses in the first five books of the Bible. The account is certainly a proper introduction to the history recorded in the book of Genesis.
The information God provided is not “scientific” or in a technical, incomprehensible language. It tells us what took place in a manner any man can adequately comprehend. What happened is far beyond our ability to fully conceive, yet what God did is fairly easy to understand from the clear way He related it.
The first day of creation included the bringing into being of all the “stuff” we now know as heaven and earth. Then it included creating light, which brought about an alternating of light and darkness throughout this newly formed mass. God called the light period “day,” and the darkness He called night (Gen 1:1-5). On the second day occurred a great division of the mass itself.
And God said, Let there be an expanse between the waters and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the expanse and divided the waters under the expanse from the waters above the expanse. And God called the expanse Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day (Gen. 1:6-9).
1. The totality brought into existence on day one was divided on the second day into what we know as sky and earth. The upper, heavenly portion of the watery mass seems to have been greatly expanded and “diluted.” The portion beneath, which we understand as the globe of the earth, remained a distinct, condensed unit.
2. The division, as explained, seems to be from man’s viewpoint. Clouds and everything above were later formed from this watery, diluted mass. The more solid portion, earth, was later divided into seas and dry land.
3. The above expansion, which God called “Heaven,” was not further modified until the fourth day. This above-expanding portion seems not to have assumed any now-discernible elements until the modifications of the fourth day.
4. The divine command, “Let exist” was carried out. That there is a recorded command and a separate indication of accomplishment of that command seems to stress that more was involved than just a creating. Presumably, this was an activity of the Holy Spirit moving to adjust the watery mass rather than a creating-from-nothing activity of the Son of God. It was definitely a work of God (not from within the mass itself).
5. The label of the “waters” above and the “waters” beneath stresses that, though divided, the great indiscernible mass created on day one was not yet greatly changed. Matter and energy permeated both; both saw darkness and light; but both were still a great “glob.” Both were awaiting further refinement to reach the stage of recognition we are familiar with.
|Warren Vanhetloo has A.B., B.D., Th.M., Th.D., and D.D. degrees. He served three pastorates in Michigan, taught 20 years at Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN), taught 23 years at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary (Lansdale, PA), and is listed as adjunct faculty at Calvary. Retired, he lives in Holland, Michigan. Since the death of his wife a year ago, at the urging of fellow faculty and former students, he sends an email newsletter called “Cogitations” to those who request it.|