I’ll never forget, soon after I was justified in March of 2001, my then pastor’s wife told me: “Now that you are a Christian, you must now believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old.” I was like, “Okaaaaaay.”
It’s interesting how sensitive the brethren are regarding Genesis 1-2:3 and the age of the earth. Just go through the debates on YouTube between Ken Ham and Hugh Ross, or just go online and Google young earth vs old earth, or check out a group on Facebook. Everyday, brethren are fighting over how old the earth is. If you have ever been part of such discussions, whatever side you may be on, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a sensitive subject, to say the least. However, wherever you stand regarding this topic, it’s important to recognize what Genesis 1-2:3 could actually be highlighting: Jesus Christ and the Gospel, and possibly not so much the age of the earth.
This past summer, I read a fascinating book written by John Lennox. It’s called, “Seven Days that Divide the World”. In it, Lennox offers what’s called the idealist view of Genesis 1-2:3. He points out that there is a logical order revealed in this portion of the text, and not a chronological order regarding the first six creation days. Lennox illustrates that during days 1-3, God creates realms, and in days 4-6, God fills those realms. What’s interesting is that God fills each realm in the same order that He created them:
Realms created, days 1-3:
Day 1: universe
Day 2: sea and air
Day 3: land and plants
Realms filled, days 4-6:
Day 4: luminaries created to fill the universe, which was created on day 1
Day 5: sea creatures and birds created to fill the sea and air, which where created on day 2
Day 6: land creatures and man created to fill the land and eat of the plants, which were created in day 3
What blew me away was the connection and parallel between the first triad (days 1-3) and the second triad (days 4-6). You can’t ignore it. I had never noticed that days 1-3 were for creating realms, and that days 4-6 were the filling of those realms, and that the realms were filled in the same order as they were created. Pretty neat!
After finishing the book, though, several things suddenly struck me which Lennox did not touch upon…
God had brought into being different aspects of the physical realm each of the six days. On day seven, there was nothing left to add. The creative process was over. God rested from creating.
But, does this mean that God stops working in every way on the seventh day or “Sabbath”?
After being persecuted by the Jews for “breaking” the Sabbath by working, John describes what happened next…
John 5:16-18 (HCSB)
“Therefore, the Jews began persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus responded to them, ‘My Father is still working, and I am working also.’ This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
The “work” in view here was healing…
John 5:1-15 (HCSB)
“After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the sick—blind, lame, and paralyzed [—waiting for the moving of the water, because an angel would go down into the pool from time to time and stir up the water. Then the first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had].
One man was there who had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to get well?’
‘Sir,’ the sick man answered, ‘I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.’
‘Get up,’ Jesus told him, ‘pick up your mat and walk!’ Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk.
Now that day was the Sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘This is the Sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick up your mat.’
He replied, ‘The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’’
‘Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?’ they asked. But the man who was cured did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
After this, Jesus found him in the temple complex and said to him, ‘See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.’ The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
God no longer creates on the Sabbath, but He still heals on the Sabbath.
Day seven does not have an “evening and morning.” All the other six days do. Day seven is not bound. There is potentially, a perpetual quality about it.
Think of it this way…
If healing is permitted on the Sabbath, and it is not bound by what usually constitutes a day, then everyday has a Sabbath quality about it. The writer of Hebrews brings out the perpetual reality of the Sabbath (rest) and also the healing (belief) which takes place on this day (I underlined for emphasis)…
Hebrews 3:7-4:11 (HCSB)
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
and saw My works for 40 years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation
and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known My ways.’
So I swore in My anger,
‘They will not enter My rest.’
Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. As it is said:
Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
For who heard and rebelled? Wasn’t it really all who came out of Egypt under Moses? And who was He provoked with for 40 years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And who did He swear to that they would not enter His rest, if not those who disobeyed? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Therefore, while the promise to enter His rest remains, let us fear that none of you should miss it. For we also have received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith (for we who have believed enter the rest), in keeping with what He has said:
So I swore in My anger,
they will not enter My rest.
And yet His works have been finished since the foundation of the world, for somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in this way:
And on the seventh day
God rested from all His works.
Again, in that passage He says, They will never enter My rest. Since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, again, He specifies a certain day—today—speaking through David after such a long time, as previously stated:
Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.”
The seventh day or Sabbath is that which Jesus Christ is specifically labeled as the Lord of…
Luke 6:1-5 (HCSB)
“On a Sabbath, He passed through the grainfields. His disciples were picking heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Haven’t you read what David and those who were with him did when he was hungry— how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat? He even gave some to those who were with him.’ Then He told them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’”
What does this all mean?
God is no longer creating as He did during days 1-6. He is no longer bringing into existence anything physical, but He has not stopped filling the last realm. That last realm is not the land… it is MAN.
What happens when an elect person hears the Gospel?
Ephesians 1:13-14 (HCSB)
“When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.”
It’s so beautiful!
So, where do I now stand regarding young earth creation and old earth creation? I still don’t know.
Could it point to the age of the earth?
Sure, but I’m just not confident enough to say so.
However, I do know one thing: When I read Genesis 1-2:3, I don’t see how old the earth is.
What I see… is Christ.
Genesis 1-2:3 (HCSB)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and He called the darkness ‘night.’ Evening came and then morning: the first day.
Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters, separating water from water.’ So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse ‘sky.’ Evening came and then morning: the second day.
Then God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land ‘earth,’ and He called the gathering of the water ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.’ And it was so. The earth produced vegetation: seed-bearing plants according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Evening came and then morning: the third day.
Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years. They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night—as well as the stars. God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. Evening came and then morning: the fourth day.
Then God said, ‘Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.’ So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So God blessed them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.’ Evening came and then morning: the fifth day.
Then God said, ‘Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’
So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.’ God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.
So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.”
Godspeed, to the brethren!