What happened on each of the six days of creation?
In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 there is an account of how God created everything that exists. This is called the creation account. On each of the days of creation, God made something different. The entirety of creation took God six 24-hour days to accomplish. Some have postulated that these days each represent a longer span of time, but there is no real reason to believe this, given the language used in the passage. The Bible is clear: there were six, literal, 24-hour days. "And there was evening and there was morning, the first day" (Genesis 1:5). In Hebrew, beginning a sentence with the word "and" is proper, and is used in situations where the author is intending to communicate consecutive events. The use of the word "and" repeatedly in the creation account is evidence that the author intended these days (an evening and a morning) to follow one another in a literal week.
On the first day of creation, God made the light and the darkness (Genesis 1:3–5). Light and dark were separated from one another and given names: "day" and "night." This made possible the first evening and morning, the first day.
On the second day of creation, God made the sky, and placed it between the waters which were on the face of the earth and the precipitation that existed above the earth. This was the creation of the atmosphere. God called the expanse of sky "heavens" or "Heaven." This also happened on one literal day (Genesis 1:6–8). The word "heavens" in this passage (and also in Genesis 1:1) is the Hebrew word shamayim which refers to that which is above and beyond the physical ground, literally "aloft" or "lofty." It includes the place that contains the sky, the atmosphere, outer space—everything that is not the earth.
On the third day of creation, God created the dry land. Heretofore, it seems, the earth was a body of water, but now there were continents and islands and ground, which would be the place where plants would grow, and the home of the animals—not yet created. God then called the dry places "land" or "Earth" and the water "seas" and said that everything He had made was good (Genesis 1:9–13). The third day also saw the creation of all plants that grow on the earth, and bear fruit and seeds.
On day four of creation, God made the stars and everything that exists in the universe above, in the expanse that is shamayim. God created two large heavenly bodies—the sun and the moon—one to watch over the day and the other to watch over the night. The stars and all the things in the heavens were put in motion, to mark seasons and times and to provide signs (Genesis 1:14–19).
On day five of creation, God made some living creatures: birds in the sky and sea creatures in the sea. Why He created birds and sea creatures apart from land mammals and other land-dwelling creatures is not known. God blessed these creatures and told them to "be fruitful and multiply" and fill up the waters and the sky with their kind. "And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day" (Genesis 1:20–23).
On the sixth day of creation, God gave life to all the beasts and "creeping things" and livestock that exist on the dry land. He also made man, who was created in the image of God Himself, and was given authority over the rest of the creatures. The word used here is "dominion" which in Hebrew is radah, a word that indicates subjugation. Man was to be the ruler of nature, but by no means an unkind or cruel ruler. There is every indication that his relationship with the animals, and their relationship with one another, was entirely peaceful. God gave the plants to man and the animals for food. There was no killing, nor was there any predatory instinct (Genesis 1:24–31).
"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:31).
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