The Bible makes frequent and important use of the word “day.” It is a word often used to distinguish one strategic event from another. In these cases, no particular time duration is attached to the word “day.” There is no way of telling how much time went by, just a period of time. We’ll say more about this when we return to the creation account later on.
For now, lets look at Genesis chapter 2:
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, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up. . . . 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
Notice how the text talks of a day when the Lord made the earth and heavens and spans a time frame shown in Genesis chapter one as 2½ or 5 ½ days. It says that before creating mankind, God was busy with other creative activities. How long did those activities take? The word used is “day.” Thus, a “day” in chapter two represents at least 2½ days from chapter one, or perhaps 5 ½ days.
It seems apparent, then, that the word “day” in the opening chapters of Genesis does not have a specific meaning of “24 hours.” All Scripture is saying is that “during the time the Lord God made the heavens and the earth.” The length of time is not quantified. It is immaterial. Time is not the issue.
However, who and why are critical. If we miss that, we have missed everything. You see, time-wise, it could have been thousands or millions or even billions of years in terms of human perception. God was not in a hurry! But we’ll say more about that later.
Is “God Time” Different from Human Time?
Now let’s go back for a moment to your dream–you were dreaming you are God. And you are thinking, dreaming about what you are going to “do.” As you decide to do something, you also determine when that “time” will arrive. As God, do you really need a clock to let you know when seconds, minutes and hours pass by? Hardly! So, how long does it take to complete what you have planned? That only makes a difference if you (God) are running by our present day 24-hour watches. But since you are God, you aren’t. Time doesn’t matter.
We all agree that eternity in the future (in human terms) is a limitless time dimension. We will also discover that God is going to do away with “time.” Did you know that? There will be no “time” duration in eternity to come. Just so with eternity past: To place a “time limit” on the Creator God into the past is just as meaningless as placing a limit on God for the future. In your “God dream” you had just as much “time” prior to your creation activity as you will have after you have finished creating. After all, you are supreme, all-powerful and eternal. There is no rush.
Can you feel the tension between an endless eternity past and an endless eternity future? A future eternity is easier, perhaps, than contemplating an eternity past. But that is God’s history. So as God looks at what we consider days and months, years and centuries, minutes and millenniums—all are immaterial to him. So back in eternity past, God looked forward to the time when he would “create the heavens and the earth.”
Wisdom Helps Explain “God Time”
So, just how long was God planning? When did he start? How long did it take? And are those the questions on which God really wants us to concentrate? Read what a wise man, centuries ago, told us in Proverbs 8:22 – 31.
22 The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth— 26 when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master worker and I was daily his delight rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
Yes, Wisdom, speaking as an observer from ages past even before the foundation of the earth, was awestruck and delighted by God and his creative activities. No one was watching a clock. There were no stop-watch calculations. That is a magnificent picture! It was a deliberate, thoughtful process, going from one stage to another, “before the beginning of the earth.”
God Almighty was planning and thinking about putting together a universe where his complete character and being would be displayed to an audience this is now 14 billion light years across. He was never in a 24-hour day sprint. And way back then, as “Wisdom” looked over his shoulder, God was also planning for other days and times when he would unveil additional realities that already existed in his mind.
Planning for Creating the Earth and Everything In It
At an earlier time in history, mariners thought the earth was flat. To their understanding, they believed that if ships sailed towards the horizon they were in danger of going off the edge of the world to certain destruction. They were going on the information they had—eyesight from the edge of land. That’s all they could see.
Now, have you given thought to how God might have done the design work for creating the earth and everything in it? True, we don’t have any information about that and we might be just like the ancient mariners—falling off the edge because we can’t see that far. But lets give it a try on just a few items we can consider, drawing a little on our imagination from “Wisdom.”
Let’s keep in mind that right away in Genesis 1, God tells us that he is not just one person. Lots of conversation was going on in God’s ‘design room” from eternity. Here is the announcement from Genesis giving us that information and reinforced later by other scripture:
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26, 27.
God is not a singular person. Later on in the Bible, God is identified as being three persons: One God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. So these three Individuals are having a planning session about creating humankind. It probably was not like three engineers sitting at a drafting table at some manufacturing plant; but maybe it was. We don’t know if they had clay models so they could visualize what they were thinking about or if that was even necessary.
In Scripture, God is often described as “seeing,” even in the first chapter of Genesis. For example, after some creative action is complete, the record states: “And God saw that it was good . . .” Right away, they knew that this “person” they were crafting should have the ability to see. So now they are thinking about human eyes—one or two? What are the pros and cons? How do eyes see things?
Well, we know today that with only one eye, we would not have depth perception—a person can’t easily tell whether another object or person is close by or in the distance. Once deciding on the two-eyes model, God realized that the two eyes they were thinking about took in a “picture” of what was out in front and turned it upside-down in the eyes–another problem. Got to turn things right side up.
So they drew in some “electronic wires” from the back of the eyes and attached them to the back of the brain they were working on. “We can’t allow ‘sight’ to be controlled by the eyes—would really be confusing.” So with the new wiring installed, they were able to turn everything “up-right.” Never mind that human sight was not “created” in the eye, but came from the brain. Pretty clever! And a good thing to have the “pictures” in the brain—there humans could store memories of what they had seen. What a concept!
What To Do About Waste Products
At another time at the “drafting room” God was talking about how to deal with “waste products.” That seems to be an up-to-date issue today, but God was thinking and working on it way back in eternity—before earth or waste even came into existence. So, they had these great plans for “live plants” and animals roaming around, maybe eating the plants and then producing a waste product. What to do about that? And what if these plants and animals die?
Well how about some little guys running around looking at waste as food rather than waste? So on the drawing board went sketches for some beetles. Actually, it seems they figured there would be lots of waste, so they kept working on solutions for quite awhile. It ended up they saw the need for over 300,000 different species of beetles. Lots to talk about here, but we’ll just take one species out of that large number.
Let’s remind ourselves again, time is not a problem. The “Big Bang” has been doing its intended work. After that first explosion, we figure they had about 10 billion years before they had to start working on the earth and the other satellites circling the star that we call the sun. But back to our beetle story–the one species we’re checking out.
This beetle guy will have a nasty job. But it’s an important job and somehow he’s got to be protected. You see, he’s not the fastest player on the team and might be an easy target for larger four-legged animals or even spiders and ants to attack. So God figured out a special spray that our slow-footed beetle could use—a spray sure to discourage any hungry lizard or insect sized creature. Today we call this guy the “bombardier beetle” because his “weapons” are so effective. You can read about them on the Internet.
At only about ½ inch in length, he has two chambers in his abdomen, each containing a potent chemical. When mixed together, they create an explosive spray almost reaching boiling temperatures. Through special insulated tubes, this spray is directed at unwanted or dangerous visitors. Now somebody had to figure this all out before the beetle was a beetle. You see, anything but a carefully controlled explosion would immediately put the beetle out of the waste business.
Read up on this fellow—he’s got quite a story. It’s a story that first appeared on God’s drawing board when the conversation turned to “waste management” for the planet earth. Here are a couple of websites where you can see the results of God’s creative planning: http://youtu.be/Pib9qT-pccI and http://youtu.be/lKM9yoQ3Wug
Oh, but God was also interested in making the earth a beautiful place to live. So lets talk some about butterflies and how they are built. When we first see a butterfly in the making, it can be pretty ugly. Some are not only ugly to look at, but they carry some pretty potent poisons that, like our beetle friend, protects them from becoming a meal for a larger animal. We are here talking about caterpillars—those wiggly and some times furry critters that move about through plants and trees.
What happens to these crawling creatures is defined by a long word—metamorphosis. God planned for these sometimes-repulsive “worms” to go through a baffling process that ends up as one of the most delicate yet beautiful creatures in all creation. Its colors can be dazzling, created by an avalanche of very small scales that require a magnifying glass to see and examine.
However, rather than trying to describe the processes and mechanisms that bring all of this beauty to our earth, enjoy some research on the subject of butterflies. There are a host of websites with information that give you not only a wide display of these insects, but in video photography, portray the processes that make it all happen. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the adventure.
These three are just samples out of thousands that could be called on revealing the unmistakable hand of the Creator God in action. They can be seen live and in color. Then for an added adventure, look into the material that has been photographed by one of our satellite telescopes like the Hubble. From the insect world, to the human brain, to the universe at large we see the hand of the God of creation. Have you seen the majesty? Have you heard the music? Here is how one writer described it:
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
From Psalm 19, by David, the Shepherd King of Israel.
Here King David uses the Hebrew word, “yom,” Day to day pours forth speech. The use of the word “yom” repeated indicates an ongoing, daily or continuous outpouring of speech that can’t be stopped. We have come to these verses as a time to explain the use of the word “day” (yom) as found in the Old Testament.