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—JANUARY 5.—GENESIS 1:1-31; 2:1-3.—
IN THE past, Bible students have not been sufficiently critical in studying God's Word. Today's lesson illustrates this. The Genesis account does not begin with the creation of the physical earth, as was once supposed. "The beginning" refers merely to the work accomplished by Divine Power in bringing the waste and lifeless earth into condition for man's use.
The earth was already in existence, and had been created by Divine Power before the time mentioned in the Genesis account. Read our text several times until this is clearly seen. Higher Critics (would go back millions of years to) discuss various theories respecting how the mass of earth was formed, and they attribute millions of years to this. Bible students may well content themselves with the record that the earth already was at "the beginning," of the Genesis account.
The Bible mentions days of various lengths; for instance, "the day of temptation in the wilderness"—forty years (Heb. 3:8,9); "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years" (2 Pet. 3:8); our Lord's "day," etc. (John 8:56). While God could have accomplished the great work of ordering the earth in six 24-hour days, or in [R5139 : page 372] six minutes, for that matter, there is no reason to think that such short days are meant, as we shall see later.
God arranged a great Week of Seven Days for His great work of bringing man to perfection. Six of these Days prepared our planet to receive Adam as its lord and earthly king, an image of his Creator. The Seventh Day, which there began, is not yet completed—it lacks a thousand years of completion. During that period, the Bible tells us, Earth will be brought to a Paradise condition and man will be restored by his Redeemer to God's image.
Six great Thousand-Year Periods or Days have passed since Adam was created, according to Bible chronology. We are now in the dawning of the great Seventh Day or Sabbath Day of human experience. God has promised that this Seventh Day of a thousand years will be very different from the preceding Six Days, in which mankind has experienced a reign of Sin and Death. The Seventh Day of a thousand years is Scripturally called the "Day of Christ," and by many it is styled the Millennium. In it Satan and Sin are to be overthrown, righteousness is to be established by the Redeemer, and mankind, purchased by the precious blood at Calvary; are all to have full opportunity for arising from present degradation to re-attainment of the image and likeness of God, lost in Eden by Adam's disobedience.
The Seventh Day of the Creative Week began with Adam's creation and has already lasted six thousand years, and is to be completed with the thousand years of Christ's Reign. The Seventh Creative Day will be seven thousand years long. Whoever sees this to be a reasonable deduction can easily suppose that the six preceding Days of the Genesis account were, likewise, seven thousand years each. Reckoned thus, the total period from the time that Divine Energy began to operate upon the waste Earth down to the time when the whole work of creation and Restitution will be fully completed, would be 7 times 7,000 years, or 49,000 years.
According to the Bible, that time will be a thousand years hence, when The Christ shall have accomplished His work for mankind to the full and shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. At that moment the fiftieth thousand-year period will begin, with every creature in Heaven and on earth ascribing praise to Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb, forever. How appropriate this will be, especially when we recall that in God's arrangement fifty is the greatest climax of numbers! In Bible usage the number seven is symbolical of perfection, and 7 times 7 represents a completeness of perfection; and the fiftieth or Jubilee following is climacteric.
We hold that the Genesis account is in full accord with all the facts known to science. There was no light in the Earth prior to the time when Divine Energy brooded on the surface of the waters. The account seems to suggest an electrical influence, and a light somewhat resembling the Aurora Borealis. The Earth was dark because shrouded with an impenetrable fog and an upper canopy of water, mineral water, etc. This thoroughly shut out the light of the sun, moon and stars, which did not shine in upon the Earth in any sense until the Fourth Day. The Jewish day, patterned after the Genesis account, began with the night. So the First Day of 7,000 years, under the Divine Energy, gradually increased this electrical light and prepared for the next epoch.
The work of the Second Day, or Epoch, was the establishment of a firmament, separating between the waters of the sky and the waters of the Earth. Doubtless the light had to do in a natural way with bringing about this secondary feature of the Earth's preparation. The establishment of the firmament began very slowly, but was completed with the end of the Second Day.
In the Third Day, or Epoch, under Divine direction earthquakes took place, mountain ranges were thrown up, and thus the waters of the Earth were gathered into seas, draining off a land surface in preparation for vegetation. Forthwith vegetation sprang up—grass, bushes, trees, with their seeds and fruits. The account does not say that God made so many different kinds of grasses and fruit, trees, etc. It declares that under Divine command the Earth brought forth these various kinds. Nothing in the Genesis account would interfere with an evolutionary theory as respects vegetation. Thus, under Divine supervision, the Third Day accomplished its purpose.
According to the Vailian Theory the Earth was once surrounded by rings and belts similar to those of Saturn and Jupiter, consisting of minerals and waters thrown off to a great distance when the Earth long previously was in a molten state. These rings, attracted to the Earth, approached her gradually, one by one. Held off by the firmament, they spread out like a great curtain, causing much of the darkness. Then, influenced by the motion of the Earth on her axis, they gravitated toward the poles, gradually becoming heavier. Finally they broke, one after the other, coming down as great deluges, burying vegetation, which later became coal beds, and depositing minerals of various kinds, which man has since been using.
Each successive deluge added minerals to the crust of the Earth and water to the seas, the weight of the seas creating further upheavals of mountains, etc. The last of these rings came down as a deluge in Noah's day. Previously, for centuries, it had been a great watery canopy. Through it the sun, moon and stars were visible, but not clear, as now. Under these conditions there were no storms, nor was there any rain. (Gen. 2:3.) The entire Earth under this canopy was like a greenhouse of equable temperature. This accounts for the vegetable and animal remains found near the poles, and long imbedded in ice, which formed instantly when the canopy collapsed as a deluge.
With the fall of several of Earth's "rings," the atmosphere became translucent, so that the luminaries of the sky could exercise their beneficial influences in respect to animal life about to be created. These luminaries have served mankind as a great clock, marking days, months and years. Thus the work of the Fourth Epoch-Day was accomplished.
On the Fifth Day the waters began to swarm with living, moving creatures. Next came fowl and great sea monsters. Here again a measure of evolution is suggested by the statement that "the waters brought forth abundantly" the various kinds, under Divine supervision. Only in the case of man does the Bible distinctly declare a personal creation.
The creation of land animals marks the Sixth Epoch-Day. Fish and fowl took precedence, as scientists agree. Again we read that "the earth brought forth," but we also read that the Lord directed the matter in the development of the different kinds or varieties.
It was at the very end of the Sixth Day that God created man. The earth did not bring him forth. He was created in his Maker's character-likeness, to be the king of Earth, to have dominion over the creatures of the land, the air and the sea. Another account seems to [R5140 : page 373] imply that Mother Eve was taken from Father Adam's side, to be a helpmate on his own plane, in the beginning of the Seventh Day, for this was the last feature of creation. We read that God finished His work on the Seventh Day and rested. He has rested or ceased from His creative work during this Seventh Day, leaving the finishing touches to be accomplished by the Redeemer during His Messianic Kingdom, which will complete the Seventh Day—49,000 years from the time God said, "Let there be light."