Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. – Genesis 2:1-4
I believe that God created the world in what might be best understood as six 24-hour days. He could have taken six seconds to do the work and still have it be very good. I have no need, either to lengthen the “days” spoken of in Genesis 1 to epochs or eons of time: six trillion years, for example. I am intrigued, nonetheless, in the use of the word, “day” in 2:4. Here it seems to refer not to a 24 hour period of time, but to an event or work in a fixed moment.
Again, just to be clear, I believe the days of Genesis 1 refer to six 24-hour periods of time. But more important to me than fixing the number of hours or the length of the days, is the fact that God created the earth and the heavens. This is his world. We are living on his turf. If he wants to, he can say – like Harrison Ford in the movie Air Force One – “Get off my planet!” He is the creator. We are the creature. We are accountable to him.
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
12 I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host. – Isaiah 49:9-12
I think of Job hearing from God,
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? – Job 38-4-7
This is no fairy tale. This is not a fanciful fable. “These are the generations of…” is a significant term that sets the stage of the whole book of Genesis. These “generations” are headings or sometimes footnotes to peoples and events recorded in Genesis that vividly [reveal] the cultural scenes and historical accuracy of the narrative. They also clearly illustrate the development of writing and the written preservation of events and transactions (The Generations of Genesis).
Most faithful, Bible-believing Christians will not bristle at these issues. We believe that the Bible’s accounts are true and reliable. And these generations provide a clue to the various epochs and narratives that form the narrative accounts of this book. The care, rhythm, planning, and clear purpose for creation that is provided for us will point us to the God who has made us and all that exists and still cares for us from day to day.
This day has been an object lesson of that reality. From a power outage that started at 2:30 AM during record-breaking freezing cold, to frustration’s relief when I was able with God’s help and Diane’s encouragement, to start our generator, to relief and appreciation for electricity that is now restored: I was reminded not to take things for granted – whether it is turning on a light, or turning up the temperature. All this ultimately goes to God’s design of an orderly universe that suffers when evil intrudes.
But this is also the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Who knows what it will bring?