What did God create on the first day of creation week?

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day" (Genesis 1:1–5).

The first day of creation introduces us to far more than we may realize at first glance. We are introduced to God, who speaks things into existence that don't exist (Romans 4:17). We are introduced to the eternal nature of God (Genesis 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20). We are introduced to the world in a state of readiness; it was "void," lacking in form and substance. We are introduced to light and dark, and we are introduced to day and night. These first words of the Bible introduce us to the power, dominion, glory, and perfection of God (Romans 1:20), and they introduce us to aspects of the creation that are beyond dispute. Here, we will briefly explore "what" was created on the first day of creation.

The most obvious aspects of the first day of creation are "the heavens and the earth." The English gives the plural rendering of "heaven" which can cause confusion. In short, "the heavens and the earth" implies the entire universe, including our planet (Psalm 33:6; 148:5). We are told that "the earth was without form and void," meaning that it was both formless, but also empty. There was nothing present on the earth; what we see today, like vegetation and animals, came later. The text will go on to describe the ordering and filling of the earth over the next several days.

With earth waiting formless and void, we are told that "darkness was over the face of the deep." We know that "the deep" is water for two reasons. First, because the next phrase tells us that God's Spirit was "hovering over the face of the waters." We also know this because God never says, "let there be water." God separates the waters in two different ways, which are discussed in our articles on creation days two and three.

As darkness covers the waters, the stage is set for the most famous words from creation, "Let there be light." Here God speaks and there is instant obedience to His command. He commands the light to be "and there was light." Here we have the third "thing" created on the first day, that is light, which is immediately in contrast to darkness. God "saw that the light was good" and there separates the light from the dark. He calls the light day and the darkness night, and we have the conclusion of the first day.

Yet, a careful reading of the text reveals that there is much more created here on day one than just the heavens, earth, and light. God separates light and dark, calling the light "day" and the darkness "night;" in doing so, God creates both day and night. These do not exist prior to God separating them; indeed, until God speaks the light into existence, there is only "darkness over the face of the deep." And even still, there is more to the first day of creation. After God calls the light day and darkness night we read, "there was evening and there was morning, the first day." And here we have the final two (yes two) "things" created on the first day.

Here in the final verse for day one of creation we have the creation of time, and we have the creation of the "day" as we know it. We don't often think about it, but time is part of the creation. God exists outside of time (Psalm 90:4; 102:24–27; 2 Peter 3:8). This is what "eternal" actually means: something that has no beginning or end. God is the only true eternal being that exists (Psalm 90:2). As Christians, we will live on for "eternity" but this is not the same as God's eternal nature. We have a beginning, but no end.

Though a "day" is an obvious aspect of time, it is an important distinction for the Christian, especially in light of modern views of earth's history. Here, the word used for "day" is יוֹם (yôm). The word is used twice in verse five to represent both the period in which the light is present ("God called the light Day") and to represent the full cycle of light and dark as a completion of one "day" ("And there was evening and there was morning, the first day"). This is an important distinction because we are being shown that God is going to create the earth and everything on/in it—all of the animals, fish, birds, plants, and mankind, along with everything that exists in our universe—in just six, normal, 24-hour periods of time (six days). In case we question whether the length of time is different during creation than after, consider Exodus Chapter 20. God says: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work… 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 20:8–11, emphasis added).

There is no confusion about what God is saying to the Israelites here. They are to work for six days and rest on the seventh, because that is what God did when He created the heavens and the earth, and the sea and everything that is in them. The word used for "day" is the same word used in Genesis 1:5. God created everything we see and know about, and many things we don't know about or see, in six, literal, 24-hour days. The last thing He created on day one was the "day."


Related Truth:

What did God create on the second day of creation week?

What did God create on the third day of creation week?

What did God create on the fourth day of creation week?

What did God create on the fifth day of creation week?

What did God create on the sixth day of creation week?


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Truth about Creation


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