A Matter of Days

Ten times in this chapter we read this phrase, “And God said.” This points us to one of the most important and striking features of this account: God makes things with His words.

Chris Hutchison on April 18, 2021
A Matter of Days
April 18, 2021

A Matter of Days

Passage: Genesis 1:3-25
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“How was your week?” It’s a question we often ask each other on Sunday mornings, especially if we haven’t seen each other in a week. You know how we usually answer. “Oh, it was pretty good.” And then we’ll often give a bit of a summary of what we did.

It’s interesting to think about what we need to accomplish for it to feel like it was a “good week.” I know one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn as I’ve grown older is just how short a week is. As a child, a week feels like a really long time. As an adult, the weeks seem to just fly by and before you know it it’s another Sunday and someone else is asking you, “So, how was your week?”

We all know what it’s like to have bad weeks. We all know what its like to have good weeks, weeks where we feel like we just nailed it.

But no matter how good your best week has ever been, you have never had a week like the week that we just read about. You’ve never had a week where you accomplished that much or made that much of a difference. You’ve never had a week where you did so much that left such a lasting impact.

Today’s passage shows us how, in a matter of days, God formed and filled the world He had created. And we’re going to begin by just walking through the passage and pointing out some of the important truths that it is teaching us.

Then we’re going to switch gears and step back and ask some background questions about this whole thing, like, are these six literal days? And what about science and evolution?

And after that, we’re going to come back to the really big idea in the passage which, as I hope you’ve guessed by now, has more to do with the main character of the story than anything else.

Forming and Filling

Let’s start by just reminding ourselves of the pattern we see in this passage. We considered this last week so this shouldn’t be brand new. It’s this pattern of forming and filling.

Remember how Genesis 1:2 says that “The earth was without form and void”? It was shapeless and empty. And what God does in the first three days of creation is give shape and form to the earth and the rest of creation.

In day one He separates light from the darkness, like verse 4 says. On day two, He separates the waters to create the expanse of “sky” or “Heaven,” which we see in verses 6-8. On the third day, in verse 9, He gathers the waters under the sky together, making dry land appear. And then, in a prelude to the next three days, He covers that land with plants and trees.

In the first three days, God has separated and made space and given shape and form to that which has no shape or form. And then, in days 4-6, He fills that space with the things that He has made. He has formed, and now He fills.

So, on day four, in verse 14, He puts “lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night” (Genesis 1:14). See how day one is connected to day four? Day one is separating day from night, and day four is the sun and the moon being set in the expanse to fulfill that role.

On the fifth day, which begins in verse 20, He fills the waters and the skies with living creatures. Once again, this corresponds to day two when He separated the waters and created the sky. Now He’s filling them with living creatures.

And on the sixth day, in verse 24, He fills the land, which He created in day 3, with animals. And we’re going to pick up on the rest of day six next week.

Like we saw last week, in these six days of creation God makes beautiful things and He makes them in a beautiful way in this systematic pattern. And by the time we get to the sixth day, the earth is no longer formless and void, shapeless and empty. It has shape and it’s full of the things God has made.

1. God’s Word Is Powerful

So what are we really seeing here? What’s here for us to learn? There’s so much, but I want to point out four aspects in this passage that show us and teach us about the Creator.

The first truth is that God’s word is powerful. We see that right at the beginning in verse 3: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

Ten times in this chapter we read this phrase, “And God said.” And this is one of the most important and striking features of this account: God makes things with His words.

He speaks and it appears. He creates with His words. And we get so used to this, but this should just blow us away. God makes things just by saying them. And this is not the only time we see this in the Bible. In fact, this is a pattern we see all over the Bible: God says something, and by saying it, He makes it happen.

Think about John 11:43-44: “When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’” And what’s the very next phrase? “The man who had died came out.” Jesus tells a dead man to come out of His grave, and by those very words He make it happen.

God’s word is powerful. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host… Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” says Psalm 33:6, 8-9.

This is important for us today for many reasons, and I’m going to point out two. First, think about this one: we hold God’s word in our hands. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

God’s word is powerful. It is breathed out by the same mouth that breathed out the stars. And it’s enough to equip us for all that we need.

This is why I preach God’s word the way that I do. This is why you hear us encouraging you to spend time with God’s word yourself throughout the week. God’s word is the most powerful force in the universe.

There’s another reason this is all so important. We’ve seen that God makes things with His word. And with that in mind, consider John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (c.f. Colossians 1:6, Hebrews 1:2).

There’s some mystery here that we can’t fully wrap our heads around. The Old Testament says that God makes things with His word, and the New Testament shows us that this Word is a person. Distinct from God, and yet also God at the same time. The second person of the Trinity.

And that’s the wonder of John 1:14 which says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The spoken Word of God is a person called Jesus. And if you’re asking, “How does that make sense? I can’t wrap my head around that,” then let me remind you that this is God we’re talking about. There’s a reason we worship Him.

And we could spend all morning unpacking this, but let’s just sum up this first point again by remembering that God’s word is powerful. And that includes God’s spoken word, God’s written word, and God’s living word, Jesus Christ.

2. God’s Work Is Good

The second truth we want to notice is that God’s work is good. Did you notice, as we read that passage, how after each day’s work of creation, we hear that “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, see also 1:3, 1:12, 1:18, 1:21, 1:25)?

God made a good creation. Until the world was broken by sin, what He made was good. One reason this is important is that you and I should not feel guilty about enjoying this world that God has made. He made it good.

1 Timothy 4:4 speaks about false teachers who forced people to not get married and to not eat certain kinds of food. And Paul responds to this false teaching by saying that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4).

Now there are some things we need to think more carefully about, and consider how they affect us. These days, people might hear this and ask, “So I’m allowed to smoke weed?” And my short answer is that yes, you’re allowed to smoke weed if you also rub your entire body down with poison ivy afterwards.

But in general, if something is not harmful, our starting place should be that God made it good and we should receive it from Him with thanksgiving.

3. God’s Authority Is Absolute

The third truth we want to highlight is that God’s authority is absolute. God is not merely a creator who makes stuff and then lets it run by itself. Rather, He makes things and then rules over them as king.

Gordan Wenham put it this way in his commentary on Genesis: “God is more than creator, he is law-giver. He divides the light from darkness and the land from sea, and he names them. He appoints the stars for signs and for fixed times. The animate creation is told to be fruitful and multiply. Man is to subdue the earth, and the seventh day is hallowed. God sets bounds for the natural order and specifies the roles of the species within it.”1Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 38.

Let me sum that up: Genesis 1 shows God exercising authority over the things he’s made. And, as Wenham goes on to say, this means that “all creatures will fulfill their divinely appointed role only if they adhere to God’s directive.”2ibid.

This is another way of saying what we saw last week. God calls the shots because He made us. His loving authority is absolute.

4. God’s Power Is Above All

Finally, number four, God’s power is above all. Now I think this should be obvious, given everything we’ve already seen. But there’s even more here for us to see, things that would have been much more obvious to the first readers of Genesis.

Do you remember last week how we heard about the creation myths were the creator god had to fight against the great sea monster? Great sea creatures were seen to be powerful gods, deities, in the ancient world. And yet verse 21 talks about God making the “great sea creatures” along with everything else. Instead of being gods, they’re just created beings.

The same goes for the sun and the moon and the host of heaven. The sun and moon and the planets were worshipped as gods by much of the ancient world. Back before electricity, your whole existence depended on the patterns of the sun and the moon. It’s no surprise they were worshipped, and it went on for a long time.

There’s a reason today is called Sunday. It’s from the time when people worshipped the Sun as a God. Tomorrow will be Moon-day, and in almost a week we’ll have Saturn-day. This was a big deal for a long time.

And yet here, in verse 16, we see the one creator God just making the Sun and the Moon by His word along with everything else. Notice also how they come in to the picture three days after the creation of light. Some people think that’s a problem in this passage—how can you have light before the sun? But this is actually a very important feature of the passage. God is deliberately putting the sun and the moon in their place. He’s showing how unimportant they really are. He doesn’t need them; He can make light without them, just like He’ll do again in Revelation 21.

The sun and the moon are His servants, His creations, just like us, just like everything else that he made. And this would have been a huge deal in the ancient world. And the point is summed up in Psalm 96:4: “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.”

The point is that instead of worshipping these other things, we should be worshipping the person who made them. If there was a main point in this passage, that would be it. God, as the creator, deserves our worship—not the things that He has created.

Were These Six Literal Days?

So, four truths about God: His word is powerful, His work is good, His authority is absolute, and His power is above all. And in many ways, that’s the sermon right there. That’s a summary of what’s here for us in Genesis.

But we are in the year 2021. Most people these days aren’t worshipping the sun and moon; instead, they’re asking questions like, “You seriously believe God made the world in six days? And what about evolution? Don’t you care about science?”

So we’re going to shift gears and answer some of those questions for a few minutes before we finish. In some ways, this next part feels like a second message. But I think it’s necessary for us to really grasp Genesis 1.

So let’s start with a key question. God really make the world and everything we see in six literal days? Is that really what Genesis 1 is teaching?

Some people today seem to think that this is a settled question, and that up until Charles Darwin invented evolution, everybody assumed that God made everything in six literal days, 6,000 years ago.

The truth is more complicated than this. Throughout church history, many theologians recognized that Genesis 1 is perhaps not the most straightforward passage of Scripture, and not everyone agreed on how to interpret it.

Augustine, a great theologian from the 5th Century, did not believe that these were six literal days. He thought that God made everything all at once, and so these six days were a symbol.

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon, writing a few years before Charles Darwin published his book on evolution, wrote that "We do not know how remote the period of the creation of this globe may be—certainly many millions of years before the time of Adam. Our planet has passed through various stages of existence, and different kinds of creatures have lived on its surface, all of which have been fashioned by God."3A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, June 17, 1855, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

Spurgeon was no liberal. He went to His grave fighting for the truth of the gospel as revealed in Scripture. But he and Augustine are just two examples of brilliant, godly men who loved the Bible and believed that God created everything, but didn’t believe He did it in six literal 24-hour days.

Now, before some of you get upset with me, let me make my position clear. I don’t agree with Augustine and Spurgeon. I believe that the author of Genesis does want us to understand that God made all things in six actual days. That’s why he says “evening and morning” with each day. I can’t imagine why he’d say that if this was all just a symbol.

I think this comes out pretty clearly again in Exodus 20, when the Ten Commandments are being given to Israel. “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the event day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God… For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:9-11).

That makes no sense unless God wanted the people to think that He really did make all things in six days.

So that’s where I land. But the reason I bring up Augustine and Spurgeon is to point out that throughout church history, some of the good guys have disagreed about this issue. And that makes me conclude that this is not an issue that Christians should fight over. This is not a hill that I’m willing to die on.

Now some of you right now might be upset because it sounds like I’m going soft on this whole creation issue. And if you keep listening, you’ll see that this is is not the case. Next week I’ll talk about Adam and Eve, and you’ll hear me say that a literal Adam and Eve is a hill that I will die on.

And again, I believe these are six literal days. I think that’s the best way of interpreting Genesis 1. But for myself, I think that this particular issue is one that godly people can disagree about and still be united together. Let me put it this way: if Charles Spurgeon came back from the dead and wanted to join our church, I hope that we’d welcome that.

Now on the other hand, some of you might be cheering right now because you don’t believe in literal six-day creationism. And I would just ask you to make sure that you’ve come to your position because you think that it’s really what the Bible teaches. Many people want to get rid of the six days before they are embarrassed about what the Bible teaches, and they don’t want to look dumb in the 21st century.

And I would just remind you that we worship a man who came back from the dead. We believe in miracles. We will never be able to make the Bible acceptable to the gatekeepers of modern science.

And so, whatever position you have, make sure you start with God’s word and interpret it as best as you can. And if it’s doesn’t match with what get’s called “science” these days, then so be it.

What About Science?

Now that brings us to the second question we’re going to ask. What about science? How does Genesis 1 connect with modern science? How can anyone believe this stuff anymore? Do Christians not care about science?

And I want to answer that question I’d ask an even bigger question. What is science? Just because someone is a scientist and they say something doesn’t make what they said “science.” So what is science?

Science is the process or activity of learning things by making observations and conducting experiments.

Maybe you learned about the “scientific method” in school. It starts with a hypothesis, which is an educated guess about something. And then you do experiments to test that hypothesis. You collect data, and then you analyze that data and you see if it confirms or denies your original hypothesis or educated guess.

Now this whole scientific method, science itself, is based on several assumptions about the universe. It assumes that the universe is an orderly place. That things keep working the way that they’ve always been working.

I drop a ball and it falls at a certain speed, and I go to bed and wake up the next morning and drop that exact same ball in the exact same place under the exact same conditions, we all assume that it’s going to fall at the same speed that it did yesterday.

We’re not worried that the laws of science are going to change from one day to the next. We’re not worried that the universe is going to stop working the way it always has.

But notice I’ve used the word “assumption.” That’s where it begins. Science has to start with this assumption that the universe is an orderly, systematic, consistent place. You can’t prove that; you have to assume it in order to prove anything else.

And where does this assumption come from? The fathers of modern science all believed that the universe was orderly and understandable. Where did they get this from?

The answer is the Bible. Or, more specifically, Genesis. Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton—the guys who gave us science—all started with a belief in a creator God who made this world just like Genesis tells us.

They expected the world to be orderly and organized, because an orderly and organized God had made it.

Isaac Newton, the man who described gravity and the laws of motion wrote, “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being… This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all.”4Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton's Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H.S. Thayer, Hafner Library of Classics, NY, 1953.

Did you learn that in science class?

Copernicus, the man who discovered that the sun is at the center of the solar system, wrote about “the mechanism of the universe, wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator… the system the best and most orderly artist of all framed for our sake.”

Did you learn that in science class?

Now at some point along the way, modern science decided that, with all of our knowledge about the world, we don’t need God anymore. Scientists were learning so much about the world and they forgot where all of this came from. And that’s why many scientists today will say things like, “We don’t need to believe in God, because we have science.”

But that’s kind of like you saying, “I don’t need gasoline, because my car has an engine. The engine makes it go.” Um, yes, but what makes that engine go?

And if you go back to where modern science started, 500 or so years ago, you’ll see that the engine of science ran on the gasoline of Biblical truth.  If they believed that this universe was just a place of pure chance, there would be no science as we have it today.

So we shouldn’t be embarrassed by science. And, in fact, we need to remind ourselves of where a scientist’s tools came from in the first place. Genesis is not threatened by science because Genesis created science.

What About Evolution?

Now let’s move on to the third question in this section, which is, what about evolution? Hasn’t evolution provided an explanation for the origins of what we see today? So isn’t it silly to still believe in God?

Well, not so fast. Let’s review a bit of what evolution actually is. Evolution is a theory that all life around us, while appearing to be designed, actually came to be through a long process of random mutations and pure chance.

When our cells replicate, sometimes there are mutations in the DNA. Evolution says that some of those mutations create positive changes, and that those positive mutations, over millions of years, have created all of the complexity that we see today. So this world looks designed, but it’s really one big accident.

Now here’s what we need to understand about evolution. Darwin’s first book on evolution, published in 1859, came at a time when the world had already grown skeptical of the Bible. The universities and institutions of the world had been running rampant with doubt and disbelief about God for well over a hundred years already. Churches were already awash in liberalism and false teaching.

So I’ve heard some creationists who talk like the world was this nice Christian place and then evolution came along and wrecked everything. That’s simply not true. Evolution was a symptom of a bigger problem, which was that everybody already thought they knew better than God.

But what this also means is that Darwin’s theory was developed in a time when people were already wanting to get rid of God. Darwin himself had been deliberately trying to explain things without God for at least 20 years before he published his book.5https://evolutionnews.org/2013/10/darwin_and_the/, http://links.org.au/node/903, https://www.equip.org/article/is-darwinism-atheistic/ This is why his theory was such a hit and evolution took such a hold. Darwin explained design without a designer, and that made everyone happy because they didn’t want to believe in a designer.

And when we look at evolution itself, we see that it’s got a load of issues. When Darwin was developing his theory, nobody had any idea how complex life was. They had no idea how complicated our cells are. They didn’t know about DNA and how much information is stored inside our DNA and how intricate it all is.

Do you know that in each cell in your body, your DNA stores enough information that would fill hundreds of books if it was written all out? And all of that information is so specific. If you get one little bit wrong, things falls apart.

You can think about our DNA is like a computer program. I’m not sure if any of you have ever done any programming on a computer. Even if you haven’t, you probably can guess that if you introduce random changes into a computer program, it generally doesn’t make things work better. It almost always breaks things. Computer programs work because they were carefully designed.

And we see this in real life. Random mutations don’t make things better. Evolutionists are hard-pressed to show one single case of a random mutation that provided benefit by adding information to a cell’s DNA.

And if this all sounds complicated, it is. And here’s the deal: Darwin didn’t know any of this. He was way out of his depth.

And this is why, in recent years, more and more scientists are rejecting Darwin’s theory of evolution. They are studying the cell and all of its complexity and they are saying, “There is no way all of this information could have come together in such an organized way by chance.”

And very often, those scientists loose their jobs and have their Wikipedia pages erased.6https://pjmedia.com/faith/tyler-o-neil/2017/11/21/wikipedia-erases-record-of-accomplished-scientist-censored-for-his-intelligent-design-position-n101002 The scientific establishment works very hard to make everybody think that all the smart people believe in evolution, but that’s simply not true. The more we know about the complexity of life, the more scientists are saying “evolution doesn’t cut it; there has to be an intelligent designer.”

Now I’m trying to sum things up here. I haven’t talked at all about all of the evidence from geology that our world is a lot younger than they say. I haven’t talked about the way the universe itself is designed and fine-tuned to support life here on earth, and how, from the microscope to the telescope, we are surrounded by evidence that we were designed by an intelligent creator.

If you want to explore some more of this, I’d point you to documentaries like “Is Genesis History?” or “The Privileged Planet,” or “The Information Enigma,” all available for free on YouTube.

Back to the Main Point

With all of that being said, let’s go back to Genesis 1 and the big ideas we considered earlier. God’s word is powerful, God’s work is good, God’s authority is absolute, and God's power is above all.

Our world is full of people who see God’s handiwork all around them and yet suppress that truth in unrighteousness, like Romans 1:18 says. And if there’s a chance that that’s you today, I invite you to repent and turn back to your Creator for forgiveness and salvation. Look to His son Jesus, who died for our sins when He was nailed to one of the very trees that He designed.

If you do know God today, then I invite you to know and experience God as you see His work on display all around you. Here in Nipawin, we live in one of the most beautiful places around, this means that we should be some of the most worshipful and godly people around.

When you’re out in the woods, or out on the river, or watching a prairie sunset south of town, do you ever stop and remember the person who made this all, and give Him the glory that He deserves?

We should be amazed, over and over again, that God made all of this in a matter of days, and He lets us live here to enjoy it all.

So here’s an idea for you this week. Pick a time this week when you’re outside, and you’re not in a rush, and just stand there for a few minutes and look around. Look at the sky. Look at the things around you which are growing, or at least will be growing soon. Look at any animals you see, even if that’s just the crows flying overhead.

And think this thought about everything that you see: “I know who made that.” Look down at the grass. “I know who made that.” Look up and see the sun or the moon and stars and think “I know who made that.” Look at the trees around you and think, “I know who designed those.” Look at your own body and think, “I know who designed this. I know who built the eyes and brain and nose and ears that are letting me take all of this in right now.”

And then talk to that Person who made it all. Tell him how much you enjoy what He’s made. Tell Him how amazing it all is, and how amazing He is.

That’s what praising God looks like.

And then make that a habit. Don’t do it just once. Train your soul to rejoice in God through the things that He has made. And not only will God be glorified by this, but I promise you that you’ll get a lot of joy out of the experience as well.

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