Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Age Four (Day Four): Lights in the Sky (p. 41-46).
A. For many millions of years after light first pierced the dark shroud surrounding Earth, the sky would continue to resemble the heavy overcast of a stormy day. Certain atmospheric constituents, along with air temperature, pressure, and humidity, would have prevented any break in the cloud cover. Volcanic activity also may have contributed to this permanently overcast condition. The carbon dioxide level was substantially higher than the current level, contributing to high humidity. Fossil evidence affirms the existence of such conditions. Through time, changes in these various environmental factors – stabilization of air temperature and pressure, consumption of carbon dioxide by plants, and decrease in volcanic activity – would have brought about another major transformation of the atmosphere, this time from translucent to transparent. At least for some moments, probably only a few at first, the clouds would break.
B. A significant factor was the slowing down of Earth’s rotation rate. A slower rotating Earth means calmer wind velocities (much calmer – Jupiter with a ten-hour rotation rate has average wind velocities exceeding a thousand miles per hour). Calmer wind velocities mean significantly less efficient sea-salt aerosol production. (Sea-salt aerosols are produced as winds whip up ocean waves.) Since a new discovery establishes that sea-salt aerosols make up by far the largest fraction of cloud nuclei, Earth’s cloud cover would thin dramatically as its rotation rate slows down. C. Advanced species show the least tolerance for earthquakes and volcanoes; primitive species, the greatest tolerance. We can reasonably surmise that God created primitive life on Earth at the first opportune moment and created human beings near the last (and, thus, the most) opportune moment. He exquisitely designed the sun, Earth, and moon to maximize the proliferation and duration of life on Earth. In so doing, God endowed humans with abundant biological resources (for example, several feet of topsoil for farming, a trillion barrels of oil, hundreds of billions of tons of coal, quadrillions of cubic feet of natural gas, billions of tons of limestone and marble, millions of diverse species of life, and so forth to allow mankind to survive and thrive).
D. “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” Genesis 1:14 On Creation Day Four, the sun, the moon, and the stars were not created, but rather became distinctly visible from Earth’s surface for the first time.
E. “God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” Genesis 1:16 The Hebrew verb ‘asa, translated “made,” appears in the appropriate form for completed action. (There are no verb tenses in the Hebrew language to parallel verb tenses in English, but three Hebrew verb forms are used to denote action already completed, action not yet completed, and commands.) Verse 16 does not specify when in the past the sun, moon, and stars were made. However, the wording of verses 17 and 18 does provide a hint: God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.
F. Notice the echo of wording from Day One (verses 3-5). This verse tells us why God created the sun, moon, and stars and suggests that the sun was in place to fulfill its role on the first creation day. The shamayim wa’eres (heavens and earth) in verse 1 places the making of the sun and the stars before the first creation day. The moon, however, could possibly have been made during the first creation day.
Third-Day Divine Light Source (p. 44)? Because the verb “made,” in Hebrew, in verse 16 does not by itself specify when, within or before the first four creation days, God actually makes the sun and stars, some Bible interpreters insist on placing the birth of the sun and stars on the fourth creation day. As to how the third creation day plants survived without the light of the sun, these interpreters speculate that God sustained the plants during the third creation day with the light of His Shekinah glory (the same light that emblazoned Moses’ face on Mt. Sinai).
One of the problems with a fourth creation day birth of the sun, however, is that a lot more than the sun’s light is necessary to sustain plant life on Earth. Most critically, the gravity of the sun is essential to maintain the life-essential positions and orbits of the earth, moon, planets, asteroids, and comets. It also critically influences the earth’s rotation period. Such gravity implies that the “divine light source” sustaining the third creation day plants must manifest both the identical mass and position, relative to Earth, of the sun. Moreover, the light needed for plant survival must exhibit the same spectral response and effective temperature as the sun’s.
For all practical purposes, the hypothesized divine light source would be indistinguishable from the sun. This leads to two further problems. The first is how could life on Earth possibly survive the removal of the first sun and its replacement by the second sun? The second is how one can possibly force fit a two-sun interpretation into the various creation accounts of the Bible?
Thankfully, Genesis 1:1 relieves us of such concerns. In our opinion, it places the making of the sun before the six creation days.
Age Five (Day Five): Lower Vertebrates (p. 47-49). “And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” Genesis 1:20
A. The Hebrew nouns for the different animals mentioned in this verse are sheres, nephesh, and Sheres refers to swarms of small or minute animals. This same word appears frequently in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) with reference to all the smaller animals that are neither birds nor mammals. When used for land creatures, it usually includes insects, amphibians, and reptiles. When used for water creatures (fresh or salt), it usually includes mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and amphibians.
This Genesis passage mentions only the water-dwelling sheres and does not specify which kinds of sheres appeared in the water on this fifth day. Water-dwelling sheres are the most primitive creatures that require the visibility of the heavenly bodies to regulate their biological clocks.
B. What about the Dinosaurs (p. 48)?
Even individuals who feel no particular fondness for reptiles describe an almost irresistible fascination with dinosaurs. These large (and a few small) reptile species appear to have dominated Earth’s land and sea life from 250 million to 65 million years ago. Their creation probably belongs to the fifth creation day or age.
Perhaps because of their sheer enormity and the longevity of dinosaur species, the largest land animals God ever made, people have difficulty imagining that the biblical creation chronology would give them no special mention. However, we must take into account not only the theme of the text but also our own historical context.
The theme of the account, as I have stated before, is the preparation of Earth for Adam and Eve and their progeny. If we consider God’s purpose – to communicate a memorable report – short enough to be written on a single page of His creative work for all people of all time, the dinosaurs’ importance dims.
“Soulish” Animals (p. 49-53) “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21
Genesis 1:20-21 goes on to introduce some animal species radically different from any previously mentioned. These creatures are identified by the Hebrew noun nephesh. It has the following definitions: soulish creature; person; mind; land creature with the breath of life; creatures capable of expressing yearnings, emotions, passions, and will; and self-aware creature. The word nephesh appears many times in the Bible. Occasionally, as in Leviticus 11:46, the context connotes the broad definition, land creatures with the breath of life, meant to include nearly all “living” animals – reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, and mammals. Most of the time, the narrower definition, soulish creature or creature capable of expressing yearnings, emotions, passions, and will, is implied.
C. Anyone who has had much contact with birds and mammals realizes that such creatures are uniquely endowed with the capacity to form relationships – with each other and with humans. They have unique ways of expressing their understanding, their choices, and their feelings. Unlike other animals, birds and mammals can be trained to perform tasks that are irrelevant to their survival. They respond to human authority and personality. They show delight and sadness, anger and fear, among other feelings. They form emotional bonds with humans.
D. As the only creatures with the capacity to form relationships with humans, birds and mammals can be influenced (in ways that other creatures cannot) by human sin. For example, a pet dog treated with gentleness and kindness and showered with affection will tend to be friendly and affectionate; whereas a dog that constantly has been mistreated and abused by its owner will tend to be mean and vicious. By comparison, human abuse or affection bestowed upon a cockroach does little to affect that cockroach’s behavior. Because the behavior patterns of birds and mammals can be altered by sin, at times they alone, of all Earth’s animals, are designated to receive with humans the consequences of God’s wrath against profound wickedness.
E. Genesis 1 has been discredited by some paleontologists for placing the introduction of sea mammals (Day Five) before the introduction of land mammals (Day Six). A careful reading of the text, however, removes the basis for their criticism. The fifth creation day mentions the sea mammals generically; however, the sixth creation day narrows in on only three specialized kinds of land mammals. When the other land mammals are introduced we cannot say from the text. Scientific research will have to give us that information. The sixth creation day introduces just three recently created categories of land mammals (before introducing humans).
Age Six (Day Six): Specialized Land Mammals (p. 53-54)
A. The sixth day begins with God’s making (‘asa) three specific kinds of land mammals: “livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals.” This list does not purport to include all the land mammals God made. Rather, it focuses on three varieties of land mammals that would cohabit with and provide support for the human beings to come later.
B. The three Hebrew nouns used for these creatures are behema, remes, and chayya, respectively. Depending on the contest, these three Hebrew nouns can take on broad or narrow definitions. For example, though remes refers variously in Hebrew literature and the Bible to mammals and reptiles, just reptiles, or just mammals, the opening phrase of Genesis 1:25 makes clear that these are mammals. All the behema, remes, and chayya are nephesh. Both behema and chayya refer to long-legged land quadrupeds. The former group encompasses those that easily can be tamed or domesticated for agricultural purposes, and the latter, those that are difficult to tame but have the potential to become excellent pets. Remes refers to short-legged land mammals, such as rodents, hares, and armadillos.
Next Week: The creation of man.
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