Chapter 6: CREATION


Seventh-day Adventists Believe...

God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in

Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In

six days the Lord made "the heaven and the earth" and all

living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day

of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a

perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first

man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning

work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged

with responsibility to care for it. When the world was

finished it was "very good," declaring the glory of God.

--Fundamental Beliefs, 6

 

CREATION

The Bible account is simple. At the creative command of

God, the "`heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in

them'" (Ex. 20:11) appeared instantly. A mere six days saw

the change from "without form, and void" to a lush planet

teeming with fully mature creatures and plant forms. Our

planet was adorned with clear, pure, bright colors, shapes,

and fragrances, put together with superb taste and exactness

of detail and function.

Then God "rested," stopping to celebrate, to enjoy.

Forever the beauty and majesty of those six days would be

remembered because of His stopping. Let us steal a quick

look at the Bible's account of the Beginning.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

The earth was shrouded with water and darkness. On the first

day, God separated the light from the darkness, calling the

light "day" and the darkness "night."

On day two, God "divided the waters," separating the

atmosphere from the water clinging to the earth, making

conditions suitable for life. On the third day God gathered

the waters together into one place, establishing land and

sea. Then God clothed the naked shores, hills, and valleys;

"the land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according

to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it

according to their kinds" (Gen. 1:12, NIV).

On the fourth day God established the sun, moon, and

stars "for signs and seasons, and for days and years." The

sun was to govern the day, the moon the night

(Gen. 1:14-16).

God fashioned the birds and marine life on the fifth day.

He created them "according to their kind" (Gen. 1:21), an

indication that the creatures He created would consistently

reproduce after their own kinds.

On the sixth day God made the higher forms of animal

life. He said, "`Let the earth bring forth the living

creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing

and beast of the earth, each according to its kind'"

(Gen. 1:24).

Then, the crowning act of Creation, God made man "in His

own image; in the image of God He created him; male and

female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). God saw everything He

had created and "indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).

The Creative Word of God

"By the word of the Lord," the psalmist wrote, "the

heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of

His mouth" (Ps. 33:6). How did this creative word operate?

The Creative Word and Pre-existing Matter

The words of Genesis, "God said," introduce the dynamic

divine command responsible for the majestic events of the

six days of Creation (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24). Each

command came charged with a creative energy that transformed

a planet "without form, and void" into a paradise. "He

spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast"

(Ps. 33:9). Truly, "the worlds were framed by the word of

God" (Heb. 11:3).

This creative word was not dependent upon pre-existing

matter (ex nihilo): "By faith we understand that the

universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen

was not made out of what was visible" (Heb. 11:3, NIV).

Though at times God did use pre-existing matter--Adam and

the beasts were formed of the earth, and Eve was made from

Adam's rib (Gen. 2:7,19,22)--ultimately, God created all

matter.

The Creation Story

Many questions have been asked about the Genesis account

of Creation. Do the two Creation narratives the first book

of the Bible contains contradict each other or are they

consistent? Are the days of Creation literal or do they

represent large time periods? Were the heavens--the sun,

moon, and even the stars--really made only 6,000 years ago?

The Creation Account

The Bible's two reports of Creation, one in Genesis 1:1

to 2:3, and the other in Genesis 2:4-25, harmonize.

The first narrative recounts, in chronological order, the

creation of all things.

The second narrative begins with the words, "These are

the generations of..." (KJV), an expression that in Genesis

introduces a family history (cf. Gen. 5:1; 6:9; 10:1). This

narrative describes man's place in Creation. It is not

strictly chronological, but reveals that everything served

to prepare the environment for man.(*1) It gives more

details of the creation of Adam and Eve and of the

environment God provided in the garden of Eden than does the

first. In addition, it informs us of the nature of humanity

and of divine government. Only if these two Creation

accounts are accepted as literal and historical do they

harmonize with the rest of Scripture.

The Creation Days

The days of the Bible's Creation account signify literal

24-hour periods. Typical of how the Old Testament people of

God measured time the expression "the evening and the

morning" (Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31) specifies individual days

with the day beginning at evening, or sunset (see Lev.

23:32; Deut. 16:6). There is no justification for saying

that this expression meant one literal day in Leviticus, for

instance, and thousands or millions of years in Genesis.

The Hebrew word translated day in Genesis 1 is yom. When

yom is accompanied by a definite number, it always means a

literal, 24-hour day (e.g. Gen. 7:11; Ex. 16:1)--another

indication that the Creation account speaks of literal,

twenty-four-hour days.

The Ten Commandments offer another evidence that the

Genesis Creation account involves literal days. In the

fourth commandment God says, "`Remember the Sabbath day, to

keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In

it you shall do no work;...for in six days the Lord made the

heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and

rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the

Sabbath day and hallowed it'" (Ex. 20:8-11).

Succinctly God retells the Creation story. Each day (yom)

was filled with creative activity, and then the Sabbath

climaxed the Creation week. The 24-hour Sabbath day,

therefore, commemorates a literal week of Creation. The

fourth commandment would be meaningless were each day

stretched into aeons.(*2)

Those who cite 2 Peter 3:8, "with the Lord one day is as

a thousand years," trying to prove that the days of Creation

were not literal twenty-four-hour days, overlook the fact

that the same verse ends with "a thousand years" are "as one

day." Those who read into the days of Creation thousands of

years or large indefinite periods of millions or even

billions of years are questioning the validity of God's

word--just as the serpent tempted Eve to do.

What Are the "Heavens"?

Some people are puzzled, and understandably so, by the

verses that say that God "created the heavens and the earth"

(Gen. 1:1; cf. 2:1; Ex. 20:11) and that He made the sun,

moon, and stars on the fourth day of Creation week 6,000

years ago (Gen. 1:14-19). Were all heavenly bodies brought

into existence at that time?

Creation week did not involve the heaven that God has

dwelt in from eternity. The "heavens" of Genesis 1 and 2

probably refer to our sun and its system of planets.

Indeed, the earth, instead of being Christ's first

creation, was most likely His last one. The Bible pictures

the sons of God, probably the Adams of all the unfallen

worlds, meeting with God in some distant corner of the

universe (Job 1:6-12). So far, space probes have discovered

no other inhabited planets. They apparently are situated in

the vastness of space--well beyond the reach of our

sin-polluted solar system quarantined against the infection

of sin.

The God of Creation

Just what kind of God is our Creator? Is such an infinite

Personage interested in us--minute specks of life in a

distant corner of His universe? After creating the earth,

did He go on to bigger and better things?

A Caring God

The Bible's Creation account begins with God and moves to

human beings. It implies that in creating the heavens and

the earth God was preparing the perfect environment for the

human race. Mankind, male and female, was His glorious

masterpiece.

The account reveals God as a careful planner with a

concern for His creation. He planted a special garden home

for them and gave them the responsibility of cultivating it.

He created human beings so that they could have a

relationship with Him. This was not to be a forced,

unnatural relationship; He created them with freedom of

choice and a capacity to love and serve Him.

Who Was the Creator God?

All the members of the Godhead were involved in Creation

(Gen. 1:2,26). The active agent, however, was the Son of

God, the pre-existing Christ. In the prologue to his

Creation account, Moses wrote: "In the beginning God created

the heavens and the earth." Recalling those words, John

specified Christ's role in Creation: "In the beginning was

the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was

God....All things were made through Him, and without Him

nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1-3). Subsequently

in the same passage, John makes abundantly clear of whom he

was writing: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"

(John 1:14). Jesus was the Creator, the One who spoke the

earth into existence (see also Eph. 3:9; Heb. 1:2).

A Display of God's Love

How deep God's love! When Christ with loving care, knelt

over Adam, shaping this first man's hand, He must have known

that men's hands would someday abuse and ultimately nail Him

to the cross. In a sense Creation and the cross merge, since

Christ the Creator was slain from the foundation of the

world (Rev. 13:8). His divine foreknowledge(*3) did not stop

Him. Under the ominous cloud of Calvary, Christ breathed

into Adam's nostrils the breath of life, knowing that this

creative act would deprive Him of His breath of life.

Incomprehensible love is the basis of Creation.

The Purpose of Creation

Love motivates all that God does, for He is love (1 John

4:8). He created us not only so we could love Him, but so

that He could love us, too. His love led Him to share, in

Creation, one of the greatest gifts that He can

confer--existence. Has the Bible, then, indicated for what

purpose the universe and its inhabitants exist?

To Reveal God's Glory

Through His created works, God discloses His glory: "The

heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the

work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech

or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes

out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world"

(Ps. 19:1-4, NIV).

Why such a display of God's glory? Nature functions as a

witness for God. He intends His created works to direct

individuals to their Creator. "For since the creation of the

world," Paul says, "God's invisible qualities--His eternal

power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being

understood from what has been made, so that men are without

excuse" (Rom. 1:20, NIV).

As we are drawn to God through nature, we learn more

about the qualities of God, qualities that can be

incorporated into our own lives. And, by reflecting God's

character, we bring glory to Him, thus fulfilling the

purpose for which we are created.

To Populate the World

The Creator did not intend the earth to be a lonely,

empty planet; it was to be inhabited (Isa. 45:8). When the

first man felt the need of a companion, then God created the

woman (Gen. 2:20; 1 Cor. 11:9). Thus He established the

marriage institution (Gen. 2:22-25). And the Creator not

only gave the couple dominion over this newly created

world--but, with the words "`Be fruitful and multiply'"

(Gen. 1:28), He gave them the privilege of participating in

its creation.

The Significance of Creation

People are tempted to ignore the doctrine of Creation.

"Who cares," they say, "how God created the earth? What we

need to know is how to get to heaven." Yet the doctrine of a

divine Creation forms "the indispensable foundation for

Christian and Biblical theology."(*4) A number of

fundamental Biblical concepts are rooted in the divine

Creation.(*5) Indeed, a knowledge of how God created "the

heavens and the earth" can ultimately help one find his way

to the new heaven and earth John the revelator speaks of.

What, then, are some of the implications of the doctrine of

Creation?

The Antidote to Idolatry

God's creatorship distinguishes Him from all other gods

(1 Chron. 16:24-27; Ps. 96:5,6; Isa. 40:18-26; 42:5-9; 44).

We should worship the God who made us, and not the gods that

we have made. By virtue of His creatorship He deserves our

total allegiance. Any relationship that interferes with this

allegiance is idolatry and subject to divine judgment. Thus,

faithfulness to the Creator is a life-or-death matter.

The Foundation of True Worship

Our worship of God is based on the fact that He is our

Creator and we are His creatures (Ps. 95:6). The importance

of this theme is indicated by its inclusion in the call

extended to earth's inhabitants just before Christ's return,

to worship the One "who made heaven and earth, the sea and

springs of water" (Rev. 14:7).

The Sabbath--a Memorial of Creation

God established the seventh-day Sabbath so that we would

have a weekly reminder that we are creatures of His making.

The Sabbath was a gift of grace, speaking not of what we

did, but of what God has done. He especially blessed this

day and sanctified it so that we would never forget that,

besides work, life should include communion with the

Creator, rest, and celebration of God's marvelous creative

works (Gen. 2:2,3). To emphasize its importance, the Creator

placed the injunction to remember this sacred memorial of

His creative power in the center of the moral law as an

everlasting sign and symbol of Creation (Ex. 20:8-11;

31:13-17; Eze. 20:20; see chapter 19 of this book).

Marriage--a Divine Institution

During the Creation week, God established marriage as a

divine institution. He intended this sacred union between

two individuals to be indissoluble: The man was to "be

joined to his wife," and they were to "become one flesh"

(Gen. 2:24; see also Mark 10:9; see chapter 22 of this

book).

The Basis for True Self-worth

The Creation account states that we were made in God's

image. This understanding provides a true concept of the

worth of the individual. It leaves no room for a low

estimate of ourselves. Indeed, we have been given a unique

place in creation, with the special privilege of constant

communication with the Creator and the opportunity of

becoming more like Him.

The Basis for True Fellowship

God's creatorship establishes His fatherhood (Mal. 2:10)

and reveals the brotherhood of all humanity. He is our

Father; we are His children. Regardless of sex, race,

education, or position, all have been created in God's

image. Understood and applied, this concept would eliminate

racism, bigotry, and any other form of discrimination.

Personal Stewardship

Since God created us, we belong to Him. This fact implies

that we have the sacred responsibility to be faithful

stewards of our physical, mental, and spiritual faculties.

Acting in complete independence of the Creator is the

epitome of ungratefulness. (See chapter 20 of this book).

Responsibility for the Environment

At Creation God placed the first man and woman in a

garden (Gen. 2:8). They were to cultivate the earth and to

"have dominion" over all animal life (Gen. 1:28). This

indicates that we have the divinely bestowed responsibility

of preserving the quality of our environment.

Dignity of Manual Labor

The Creator asked Adam "to tend and keep" the garden of

Eden (Gen. 2:15). His assigning mankind this useful

occupation in a perfect world reveals the dignity of manual

labor.

The Worth of the Physical Universe

At each stage of Creation God said that what He had made

was "good" (Gen. 1:10,12,17,21,25), and when He had finished

creating, He pronounced the whole "very good" (Gen. 1:31).

Thus created matter is not intrinsically evil, but good.

The Remedy for Pessimism,

Loneliness, and Meaninglessness

The Creation narrative reveals that, rather than coming

into existence because of chance evolution, everything was

created with a purpose. The human race was designed for an

everlasting relationship with the Creator Himself. When we

understand that we were created for a reason, life becomes

meaningful and rich, and the painful emptiness and

dissatisfaction that so many express vanishes, replaced by

the love of God.

The Holiness of God's Law

God's law existed before the Fall. In their unfallen

state human beings were subject to it. It was to warn

against self-destruction, to reveal the limits of freedom

(Gen. 2:17), and to safeguard the happiness and peace of the

subjects of God's kingdom (Gen. 3:22-24; see chapter 18 of

this book).

The Sacredness of Life

The Creator of life continues to be involved in the

formation of human life, thereby making life sacred. David

praises God because of His involvement in his birth: "You

have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my

mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and

wonderfully made;...my frame was not hidden from You, when I

was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest

parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet

unformed. And in Your book they all were written" (Ps.

139:13-16). In Isaiah the Lord identifies Himself as the One

"who formed you from the womb" (Isa. 44:24). Because life is

a gift of God, we must respect it; in fact, we have a moral

duty to preserve it.

God's Creative Work Continues

Has God Finished His Creation? The Creation narrative

ends with the statement "Thus the heavens and the earth, and

all the host of them, were finished" (Gen. 2:1). The New

Testament affirms that God's Creation was completed at the

"foundation of the world" (Heb. 4:3). Does this mean that

Christ's creative energy is no longer in operation? Not at

all. The creative word still operates in various ways.

1. Christ and His creative word.

Four thousand years after Creation, a centurion said to

Christ, "`Only speak a word, and my servant will be healed'"

(Matt. 8:8). Just as He had done at Creation, Jesus

spoke--and the servant was healed. Throughout Jesus' earthly

ministry the same creative energy that brought life to

Adam's lifeless body raised the dead and brought new life to

the afflicted who requested His help.

2. The creative word today.

Neither this world nor the universe operate on any

inherent power of their own. The God who created them

preserves and sustains them. He "covers the heavens with

clouds," "prepares rain for the earth," and "makes grass to

grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, and

to the young ravens that cry" (Ps. 147:8,9; cf. Job

26:7-14). He upholds all things by His word, and "in Him all

things consist" (Col. 1:17; cf. Heb. 1:3).

We are dependent upon God for the function of every cell

of our bodies. Every breath, every heartbeat, every blink of

the eye speaks of the care of a loving Creator. "In Him we

live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

God's creative power is involved not only in Creation,

but in redemption and restoration. God re-creates hearts

(Isa. 44:21-28; Ps. 51:10). "We are His workmanship," Paul

said, "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10).

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation"

(2 Cor. 5:17). God, who hurled the many galaxies across the

cosmos, uses that same power to re-create the most degraded

sinner into His own image.

This redeeming, restoring power is not limited to

changing human lives. The same power that originally created

the heavens and the earth will, after the final judgment,

re-create them--make of them a new and magnificent creation,

a new heavens and a new earth (Isa. 65:17-19, Revelation

21,22).

Creation and Salvation

So, in Jesus Christ, Creation and salvation meet. He

created a majestic universe and a perfect world. Both the

contrasts and the parallels between Creation and salvation

are significant.

The Duration of Creation

At Creation Christ commanded, and it was instantly

accomplished. Rather than vast periods of metamorphosis, His

powerful word was responsible for Creation. In six days He

created all. Yet why did it take even six days? Could not He

have spoken just once and brought everything into existence

in a moment?

Perhaps He took delight in the unfolding of our planet in

those six days. Or perhaps this "extended" time has more to

do with the value He placed on each created thing or with

His desire to reveal the seven-day week as a model for the

cycle of activity and rest He intended for man.

But Christ does not just speak salvation into existence.

The process of saving people stretches over millenniums. It

involves the old and new covenants, Christ's 33 1/2 years on

earth and His nearly 2,000 years of subsequent heavenly

intercession. Here is a vast span of time--according to

Scripture chronology, about 6,000 years since Creation--and

people still have not been returned to the garden of Eden.

The contrast between the time required for Creation and

for re-creation demonstrates that God's activities are

always in the best interest of the human race. The shortness

of Creation reflects His eagerness to bring about fully

developed individuals who could enjoy His creation. Delaying

the completion of Creation by making it dependent on a

process of gradual development over long periods of time

would have been contrary to the character of a loving God.

The amount of time allowed for re-creation reveals God's

loving desire to save as many people as possible

(2 Peter 3:9).

Christ's Creative Work

In Eden, Christ spoke the creative Word. In Bethlehem,

the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14)--the

Creator became part of creation. What utter condescension!

Though no one witnessed Christ's creation of the world, many

did witness the power that gave sight to the blind (John

9:6,7), speech to the dumb (Matt. 9:32,33), healing to

lepers (Matt. 8:2,3), and life to the dead (John 11:14-45).

Christ came as the second Adam, the new beginning for the

race (Romans 5). He gave man the tree of life in Eden; man

hung Him on a tree at Calvary. In Paradise, man stood tall

in the image of God; at Calvary, Man hung limp in the image

of a criminal. On both Creation Friday and crucifixion

Friday, "It is finished" spoke of a completed creative work

(Gen. 2:2, John 19:30)--one Christ accomplished as God, the

other as Man; one in swift power, the other in human

suffering; one for a time, the other for eternity; one

subject to the Fall, the other in victory over Satan.

It was the perfect, divine hands of Christ that first

gave man life; and it is the hands of Christ, pierced and

blood-stained, that will give man eternal life. For man is

not only created; he may be re-created. Both creations are

equally the work of Christ--neither has come from within

through natural development.

Created in the image of God, we have been called to

glorify God. As the crowning act of His Creation, God

invites each of us to enter into communion with Him, daily

seeking the regenerating power of Christ so that, to God's

glory, we will be able to reflect His image more fully.

References

1. L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th rev. ed. (Grand

Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1941), p. 182.

2. Even considering that each day of Creation was a mere

1,000 years in length would cause problems. With such a

schema, by the evening of the sixth "day"--his very first

"day" of life--Adam would have been much older than the

total life span the Bible allots him (Gen. 5:5). See

Jemison, Christian Beliefs, pp. 116,117.

3. See chapter 4 of this book.

4. "Creation," SDA Encyclopedia, p. 357.

5. Ibid.; Arthur J. Ferch, "What Creation Means to Me,"

Adventist Review, Oct. 9, 1986, pp. 11-13.