The Doctrine of Creation, Days or Periods

Concluding our discussion of the question whether the “days” of Genesis 1 are periods or days of twenty four hours, we wish to ask the question: “What does the Scripture reveal to us concerning this work of God?” And we may certainly say that the Word of God does, not leave us in the dark in regard to this truth. 

In our preceding article we already called attention to the fourth commandment. And because this commandment is incorporated in the Heidelberg Catechism, one of our confessions, the significance of this should be apparent. This means that our confessions maintain the truth that the days of creation are ordinary of twenty-four hours. And to this we may add that our confessions nowhere speak any other language. This means that the concordistic theory may not be taught in any Christian school. Fact is, teachers, as well as ministers of the gospel, are bound to the Reformed confessions. And they have no right to teach anything that militates against these confessions. The proper procedure to which they are committed is clear. Let them voice their objections to the proper authorities, but they certainly have no right to militate against the confessions publicly in their classes. 

Now we again ask the question: “What do the Scriptures reveal to us concerning this truth?” And then we observe, in the first place, that there are passages in the Word of God which speak to us of God’s omnipotence in the work of creation. We read in Isaiah 40:26-28: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.” What a majestic utterance! What a far cry from the theory of evolutionism, or of theistic evolution, which would have us believe that the Lord did create the “original lump”, but that, for the rest, creation developed of itself. Here we read that the Lord calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, and that it is He Who brings out their host by number. And in Amos 4:13 attention is also directed to this Divine. omnipotence, and we read: “For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.” What a far cry this is from the evolutionistic or concordistic conception of the origin of the world! 

Secondly, there are the passages which point to God’s exaltation above the works of His hands as the great and infinite God. We read in Ps. 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” In Ps. 102:25-27 we read: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” And in Acts 17:24-25 we read: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” 

Thirdly, we may refer to passages that speak of the wisdom of God in the work of creation. Is. 40:12-14 reads as follows: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed him the way of understanding?” What a majestic. passage this is, extolling the greatness of our God! Compare with this the conception that thousands and millions of years were required in the forming of the heavens and the earth and all the things that are therein! And what shall we say of this passage, Jer. 10:12-16: “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Every man is brutish in his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name.” Of significance is also the passage of John 1:1-3, and we quote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” It is true that, according to verse 14 of this chapter, this Word is our Lord Jesus Christ. But this only emphasizes that our Lord Jesus Christ is none other than the eternal Son of God. And the text declares emphatically that all things were made by Him, and that without Him was not anything made that was made. So, all things owe their existence to the almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth. 

Fourthly, God’s sovereignty and purpose in creation are also held before us in the inspired Word of God. Isaiah speaks of this in Is. 43:7: “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, yea, I have made him.” And in verse 15 we read: “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.” And in Romans 1:25 the apostle Paul declares: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” 

Beautiful is this passage from the Word of God, Col. 1:15-17: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” 

In addition to the Scriptural passages already quoted, many more passages can be quoted. How majestic is this passage, Nehemiah 9:6: “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” What a passage this is! God is the Lord alone; He made heaven and the heaven of heavens, and all their host; He made the earth, and all things that are in the earth; He also preserveth them all. Surely, nothing is left here to the creature; God alone is the Creator and the Sustainer of the Universe and all the things that are in that universe. What a far cry this is from the modern evolutionistic or concordistic theory of the origin of the world! And what a far cry from this text is the space-crazed man of our modern day and age, as he proudly speaks of the Great Society which he hopes to accomplish and realize! 

Of the Divine Creator of the heavens and the earth, the prophet, Isaiah, speaks in Is. 42:5: “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh, out of it; he that giveth bread unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.” Please note that we read here that it is the Lord that created the heavens and the earth, and that which cometh out of the earth. How sublime and majestic is the language of the Word of God! Isaiah also mentions this truth in chapter 45. This chapter begins with an introductory reference to Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, who believed in dualism, a god of evil and a god of good. Centuries before his appearance, he is told that he is the Lord’s anointed, and he is also told, in verse 7, that it is the Lord who forms the light and creates the darkness, who makes peace and creates evil. And in verse 18 of this chapter we read: “For, thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.”

Familiar, of course, is Scripture’s reference to this Divine work of creation in Ps. 33:6-9: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For, he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” This does not sound like the concordistic theory, does it, that the days of Genesis 1 were periods extending over thousands and thousands of years? Here the creation of all things is ascribed to the word of the Lord and the breath of His mouth. 

This same presentation of the Lord’s almighty and creative power is also held before us in the New Testament. Turning to the New Testament, the apostle Paul declares in Col. 1:16: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” In Hebrews 11:3 we read: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Is it any wonder that the wicked world, devoid of faith, does not understand this tremendous and sublime truth of the Word of God? It is only through faith that one understands that the worlds were framed by the word of the Lord! But, having faith, and therefore united with the living Creator of the heavens and the earth, one must hold to the truth of the Word of God, that the Lord is the almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth. And in Rev. 4:11 and Rev. 10:6 we read: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. . . . .And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.” 

What, now, is the conclusion which we may and must draw from Scripture’s account of creation, in Genesis 1and throughout the Word of the Lord? Surely this: if the concordistic theory of periods be correct, Scripture is in error. The Word of God does not teach the theory that the days of Genesis 1 extended over thou sands and millions of years. One cannot harmonize the concordistic theory with the language of the Word of God. But, if Scripture be in error, then we have no infallible Word of God. And if the Word of God be in error in its account of creation, it may be in error throughout. Who, then, will determine what is truth and what is error? And, if we have no infallible Word of God, we have nothing. Only the Word of the Lord is a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path. However, thanks be to God that the Scriptures are the infallible Word of God. That Word is surely a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path.