Question 12b – What Is the Work of Creation?
“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.” – Gen 1:31 ESV 1
And God saw everything that he had made, Either all that he had made on the several six days of the creation, he took a survey of them, looked over them again, as workmen do when they have finished their work, to see if anything is amiss or wanting; not that anything of this nature can be supposed in the works of God, but such a survey is attributed to him after the manner of men, to show the completeness of his works, and the excellency of them. Picherellus limits this to what had been done on this day, with respect to man, who alone, as he thinks, was the subject of this day’s work; and so it respects the creation of man after the image and likeness of God; the forming of the woman out of his rib, and so providing a suitable helper for him; giving them dominion over all the creatures, and suitable food for the support of the animal life; and God reflected on this, and foresaw it would be good in the issue, as it was in itself,
And behold, it was very good; it had been said of everything else, at the close of each day’s work, excepting the second, that it was good; but here the expression is stronger upon the creation of man, the chief and principal work of God, that it was “very good”; he being made upright and holy, bearing the image of his Creator upon him, and in such circumstances as to be happy and comfortable himself, and to glorify God: the phrase may be expressive not only of the goodness of everything God had made, as it was in itself, and in its use; but of his complacency, and delight therein, every thing being made for himself and for, his pleasure, Rev 4:11.
and the evening and the morning were the sixth day; by that time all these works on this day were finished; the sun had gone round the earth, or the earth about that, for the space of twenty-four hours, which completed the sixth day, within which term of time God had determined to finish all his works, as he did. This day, according to Capellus, was the twenty-third of April, and, according, to Archbishop Usher, the twenty-eighth of October, or, as others, the sixth of September. Mr. Whiston, as has been before observed, is of the opinion that the six days of the creation were equal to six years: and the Persians have a tradition, which they pretend to have received from Zoroastres, that God created the world, not in six natural days, but in six times or spaces of different length, called in their tongue “Ghahan barha”. The first of these spaces, in which the heavens were created, was a space of forty-five days; the second, in which the waters were created, sixty days; the third, in which the earth was created, seventy-five days; the fourth, in which grass and trees were created, thirty days; the fifth, in which all creatures were made, eighty days; the sixth, in which man was created, seventy-five days; in all three hundred sixty-five days, or a full year. The first of the six principal good works they are taught to do is to observe the times of the creation. And the ancient Tuscans or Etrurians allot six thousand years to the creation; the order of which, with them, is much the same with the Mosaic account, only making a day a thousand years: in the first thousand, they say, God made the heaven and the earth; in the next, the firmament, which appears to us, calling it heaven; in the third, the sea, and all the waters that are in the earth; in the fourth, the great lights, the sun and moon, and also the stars; in the fifth, every volatile, reptile, and four-footed animal, in the air, earth and water, (which agrees with Picherellus); see Gill on Gen 1:25, and in the sixth, man; and whereas they say God employed twelve thousand years in all his creation, and the first six being passed at the creation of man, it seems, according to them, that mankind is to continue for the other six thousand years. And it is a notion that obtains among the Jews, that, answerable to the six days of creation, the world will continue six thousand years. It is a tradition of Elias, an ancient Jewish doctor, that “the world shall stand six thousand years, two thousand void, two thousand under the law, and two thousand, the days of the Messiah.”
And Baal Hatturim observes, there are six “alephs” in the first verse of this chapter, answerable to the six thousand years the world is to continue: and R. Gedaliah says, at the end of the sixth millennium the world shall return without form and void, (to its former condition, “tohu” and “bohu”,) and the whole shall be a sabbath: and very particular is another writer of theirs concerning these six days of the creation, who having spoken of the day of judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and the world to come, observes, that the six days’ work is an intimation and sign of these things: on the sixth day man was created, and the work was perfected on the seventh; so the kings of the nations shall be in the world five thousand years, answerable to the five days in which the fowls, and creeping things of the waters, and the rest, were created; and the holding of their kingdoms will be a little within the sixth millennium, answerable to the creation of cattle and beasts, who were now created on the beginning of it, the “sixth day”; and the kingdom of the house of David will be in the sixth millennium, answerable to the creation of man, who knew his Creator, and ruled over them all; and at the end of that millennium will be the day of judgment, answerable to man’s being judged at the end of it, “the sixth day; and the seventh millennium will be the sabbath”. And a like notion obtains among the Persian Magi; it is said that Zerdusht, or Zoroastres, was born in the middle age of the world, so it was told him from the age of Keiomaras (the first man) unto thy age are 3000 years, and from this thy age unto the resurrection are 3000 years. [Gill]
“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” – Heb 11:3 ESV
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, The celestial world, with its inhabitants, the angels; the starry and ethereal worlds, with all that is in them, the sun, moon, stars, and fowls of the air; the terrestrial world, with all upon it, men, beasts, &c. and the watery world, the sea, and all that is therein: perhaps some respect may be had to the distinction of worlds among the Jews; See Gill on Heb 1:2, though the apostle can scarce be thought to have any regard to their extravagant notions of vast numbers of worlds being created: they often speak of three hundred and ten worlds, in all which, they say, there are heavens, earth, stars, planets, and sometimes of eighteen thousand; but these notions are rightly charged by Philo with ignorance and folly. However, as many worlds as there are, they are made “by the Word of God”; by Christ, the essential Word of God, to whom the creation of all things is ascribed in John 1:1. And this agrees with the sentiments of the Jews, who ascribe the creation of all things to the Word of God, as do the Targumists, and Philo the Jew. And these are “framed” by the Word, in a very beautiful and convenient order; the heavens before the earth; things less perfect, before those that were more so in the visible world, or terraqueous globe; and things for men, before men, for whom they were; and it is by divine revelation and faith that men form right notions of the creation, and of the author of it, and particularly of the origin of it, as follows:
so that things which are seen: as the heaven, earth, and sea, and in which the invisible things of God, the perfections of his nature, are discerned:
were not made of things which do appear; they were not made from pre-existent matter, but out of nothing, out of which the rude and undigested chaos was formed; and from that invisible mass, covered with darkness, were all visible things brought into a beautiful order; and all from secret and hidden ideas in the divine minds; and this also is the faith of the Jews, that the creation of all things is מאין, “out of nothing.” There seems to be an allusion to the word ברא, used for creation, which signifies to make appear a thing unseen; and is rendered in the Septuagint version by δεικνυμι, Num 16:30 and καταδεικνυμι, Isa 40:26 to show, or make appear; and thus God created, or made to appear, the heavens and earth, which before were not in being, and unseen, Gen 1:1 and created to make, as in Gen 2:3 that is, made them to appear, that he might put them into the form and order they now are. [Gill]
Answer – The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
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1 Editor’s note: The catechism source (see works cited) used for this project listed all of Genesis chapter one as a reference. Editor has chosen to highlight verses 1 and 31 which specifically speak to the catechism’s answer.