Dr. James J. S. Johnson
What were the “days” of Creation Week?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1
In trying to think about origins—of the cosmos, of Earth, of animals, and of people (like us)—many have tried to blend or harmonize the Bible’s teaching with unbiblical teachings, such as ancient myths (such as the Viking Prose Edda’s Gylfaginning ) or modern myths (such as Darwin’s animistic evolutionary fantasy).
However, the Bible’s first book, GENESIS, describes Creation Week as true history that is clearly and deliberately measured in “days” (Hebrew: yôm singular, yâmîm plural), not in long ages of time, such as the billions of years that many modern secularists propose as the age of the cosmos and of Earth. Although the ancient Hebrew language has other words to denote long timeframes (such as ancientness or ages not easily quantified), God chose to supernaturally direct Moses (the human author of Genesis’s Hebrew text) to report the historic timeframe of Creation Week in “days”, specifically six days, followed by one day of rest.
DAY # 1
On Day 1 God created (bâra’ = invented new from nothing) heaven and earth. In other words, in the beginning of all beginnings, God commanded watery physical stuff (matter/energy) to exist, plus God divided it into light and dark.
DAY # 2
On Day 2 God separated the waters by a “firmament”, that is, a heavenly space (râqîa‘ ) of stretched-out thinness or expanded emptiness. These firmament-separated waters were made from the vibrating waters energized by the Holy Spirit on Day 1.
DAY # 3
On Day 3 God changed Earth so that dry land separated from sea-waters, plus God commanded plants of all kinds, to sprout, to produce all those plants (reproducing trees, grasses, etc.) already containing their own kinds of seeds and fruits.
DAY # 4
On Day 4 God located light, and its transmission, into what we call the sun, moon, and stars. God purposed those lights to give (nâtan = transmit, transfer) and regulate light to Earth, so heavenly light traveled speedily to Earth then.
DAY # 5
On Day 5 God created (bâra’ ) again, this time creating animals living in sea-waters and to fly in air, having physical bodies and non-physical “life” (nepeš, meaning life-soul). God commanded these moving creatures to reproduce according to their own kinds.
DAY # 6
On Day 6 God created (bâra’ ) again, creating land-dwelling animals, plus one last land creature—mankind. Originally consisting of Adam and Woman/Eve (with physical bodies and non-physical spirits/souls), mankind was uniquely made in God’s image. God declared His creation “very good”.
DAY # 7
On Day 7 God rested from His works of creation and construction, with all its many life-forms, including Adam and Eve. God blessed Day 7 as holy; it should always remind us that God (through Christ) is our glorious Creator.
The Lord Jesus Christ is more knowledgeable and better informed than any human He created. Christ relied upon and endorsed the historical accuracy of Genesis, in referring to Adam and Eve (Mark 10:6-7 affirming Genesis 1:26-27 & 2:24; John 8:44 affirming Genesis 3:1-5), and to other events in early Earth history (Luke 11:50), such as the worldwide Flood (Matthew 24:38-39 & Luke 17:27 affirming Genesis chapters 6—9).
Regarding the importance of believing the books of Moses (including Genesis), Christ once said: “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for He wrote of Me” (John 5:46-47; see also Exodus 20:11).
Still many strive to bend and stretch the Genesis account of origins, and God’s choice of vocabulary in Genesis, to somehow force-fit popular (yet unbiblical) theories of origins, often arguing that the Hebrew word for “day” (or “days”) can mean something other than the diurnal time that elapses when Earth completes one rotation (i.e., spins on its axis), during which 24 hours Earth completes a cycle of nighttime followed by daytime (i.e., recurring “evening” and “morning”, as repeatedly reported in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
Although many argue, there is no clear-cut example of Moses ever using yôm (singular for “day”) or yâmîm (plural for “days”) to indicate any timeframe other than a normal day or days.
Therefore, despite some shying away from Genesis’s authoritatively accurate account of origins, to “go with the flow” of secular thinking (John 5:44), we do better to trust the words of the only reliable eye-witness to Creation Week, the Lord Himself (Luke 24:25; John 1:10-12 & 17:17).