Day1 of Creation

What was actually created on the first day of creation? Was something here (chaos etc.) before Day 1? What about darkness?

Before we attempt to answer these questions from the inspired word, let's quote from the SDA Bible Commentary on Genesis 1:1. "...nothing is gained by speculating as to when the matter constituting our planet was brought into existence. On the time aspect of the creation of our earth and all upon it, Genesis makes two statements: (1) "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (v.1). (2) "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made" (ch. 2:2). Related scriptures add nothing to what is set forth in these two texts regarding the time involved in creation. To the question: When did God create "the heaven and the earth"? we can only answer, "In the beginning." And to the question: When did God complete His work? We can only answer, "On the seventh day God ended his work" (ch. 2:2)...

So while not making this a test of faith, it seems important to study about this, especially since part of the first angel's message which is to be given to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" includes the phrase: "and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Rev. 14:6,7 If we aren't sure, as far as has been revealed, about when and how these things were done, how will we be able to give the first angel's message?

First, definitions of a few terms by Chambers 20th Century Dictionary:

Chaos (without form and void)
  1. The shape of matter before reduced to order
  2. Disorder, confusion
Indebted to
  1. Being in debt
  2. Obliged by something received
And 2 Hebrew words which are relevant to our study: (from SDA BC)
Tohu & Bohu
  1. Nonexistence
  2. Nothingness
  3. Confusion
  4. Emptiness
With one Greek word
Ex nihilo
  1. Out of nothingness
All true SDA's believe that God made the world in 6 literal days of 24 hours each and rested on the seventh. Without believing this basic fact there is no point in calling yourself a Seventh-Day Adventist. However, even among those who are true SDA's, there seem to be 2 opinions regarding what was created on the first day:
  1. God started on Day 1 by speaking into existence chaos, darkness, and water.
  2. Chaos, darkness, and water were already here and God worked on that.
The following is a pertinent quote from the SDA Encyclopedia p. 311: "SDA's have always affirmed belief in creation ex nihilo - that God was not indebted to previously existing matter when He brought the earth into existence. They have generally taken it for granted that it was on the first day of Creation week that He brought into existence the matter that composed the earth and that He proceeded immediately with the work of the six days. However, almost from the first, some SDA's have allowed that the Genesis account can be understood to mean that God spoke into existence the substance of the earth sometime prior to the events of the six literal days of creation. For example, as early as 1860 The Review and Herald reprinted a selection from The Bible True, in which appeared the statement that there is not -
anything in revelation which forbids us to believe that the substance of the earth was formed long before it received its present organization (Review and Herald, 16:49, July 3, 1860).
On the other hand, J.N. Andrews declared in 1861:
On the first day of the week God created the heavens and the earth. The earth thus called into existence was without form and void (ibid., 19:1, Dec. 3, 1861)."

"Pre-existing chaos and darkness" theory

First let's examine the "pre-existing chaos and darkness" theory. Probably the most famous inspired word supporting this theory is found in TM 54: "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace". If God isn't the author of confusion, he couldn't have created "confusion". Like all quotations, let's examine the surrounding passages. This quote is in a section called "The remnant church not Babylon". This entire section is about people who are , p.53:" denouncing the church as Babylon, are neglecting their God-appointed work, are in opposition to organization, in opposition to the plain command of God spoken by Malachi in regard to bringing all the tithes into the treasury of God's house, and imagine that they have a work to do in warning those whom God has chosen to forward His message of truth." It's obvious that the type of confusion involved is one of dis-order; tearing down an orderly church structure. This quotation should be seen as having NO BEARING on creation.

The phrase - "Without form and void", "tohu and bohu", is used twice in the Bible. The instance in Genesis is the one that everyone is familiar with, but the one found in Jeremiah 4:23,24 is not as well known: "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly." Since he saw mountains, it's obvious that these words don't have the meaning of "emptiness" in this case. Instead, everything seems to be in confusion, unordered. In the Genesis account, dry land doesn't appear until the 3rd day, so these two instances of the use of the same words cannot be made to refer to the exact same condition although it is intriguing about what was the exact state of things seen. More than any other, this verse supports the "pre-existing chaos and darkness" theory.

1John 1:5 talks about light and darkness like this: "...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all". A little below that it says: "if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." This is in the context of spiritual light.

Echoing the same "light" theme is the chapter called "The Light of Life" in Desire of Ages p.463-475. P.464: "In the manifestation of God to His people, light had ever been a symbol of His presence. At the creative word in the beginning, light had shone out of darkness. Light had been enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, leading the vast armies of Israel. Light blazed with awful grandeur about the Lord on Mount Sinai. Light rested over the mercy seat in the tabernacle. Light filled the temple of Solomon at its dedication. Light shone on the hills of Bethlehem when the angels brought the message of redemption to the watching shepherds. God is light; and in the words, "I am the light of the world," Christ declared His oneness with God, and His relation to the whole human family. It was He who at the beginning had caused "the light to shine out of darkness." 2Cor.4:6. He is the light of sun and moon and star. He was the spiritual light that in symbol and type and prophecy had shone upon Israel."

This passage has 3 pertinent quotes. "In the beginning. light had shone out of darkness." "It was He who at the beginning had caused "the light to shine out of darkness." "God is light". Everywhere you look in inspired writings and see the term "in the beginning", what is it referring to? Does it mean when God began? No, God didn't begin. The most logical answer is when time was created for this world. No one knows for sure though. Does causing light to shine out of darkness mean that the darkness wasn't created first? No. If God is light though, doesn't it mean he can't create darkness? This is a valid question that will be answered in the following "Day1 creation of chaos and darkness" theory.

"Day1 creation of chaos and darkness" theory

This theory, while admitting God can't do some things like lie, cheat, steal, or other things that are against his character, says that God can make ANYTHING. This theory's 'proof' quotes are found in 8T 258, Ps 104:20, and PP111-116.

8T 258 under the large heading "God in nature" and the small heading "The work of creation": "The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to preexisting matter. On the contrary, all things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, are not only the work of His hand; they came into existence by the breath of His mouth." This one quote alone seems powerful enough to answer any question about "something" being here before Day 1. For a few more - "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." Hebrews 11:3.

"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth... He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." Psalms 33:6-9
"God does not annul His laws, but He is continually working through them, using them as His instruments. They are not self-working. God is perpetually at work in nature. She is His servant, directed as He pleases." P.259.

For a few texts on "darkness" let's turn to Psalms 104:20 - "Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth." Isaiah 45:7 - "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." Psalms 139:12 - "Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.". And Job 38:8,9 - "Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,". These texts raise some side questions to our discussion, but make it plain that God creates darkness. Just because God is light, does not mean that he can't create darkness. When His Son died on the cross, the Father came down and "There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour... In that thick darkness God's presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed." DA 753,4. When we see Jesus coming in heaven, we will know it's Him because we will see a "small black cloud" in the east that gets brighter and brighter as it comes. With all these supporting quotes, it's easy to see that God can make everything - including darkness - to perform his good pleasure.

The entire chapter called: "The Literal Week" in Patriarchs and Prophets is a good reference also on this subject. Here is just one portion found on page 113 - "Just how God accomplished the work of creation He has never revealed to men; human science cannot search out the secrets of the Most High. His creative power is as incomprehensible as His existence."

In volume 5 of the Testimonies p.312 it says: "There are evils which man may lessen but can never remove. He is to overcome obstacles and make his surroundings instead of being molded by them. He has room to exercise his talents in bringing order and harmony out of confusion." Perhaps God showed man through creation how we are supposed to work.

Conclusion

The preponderance of evidence is heavily on the side of the "Day1 creation of chaos and darkness" theory. Maybe it's the word "chaos" that is the reason some continue to believe in the "pre-existing chaos and darkness" theory. Chaos is usually seen as something bad. This is because we usually think of something going from an orderly condition to a disorderly one. But can't it just mean an unorderly state also? If bricks, nails, and wood are laying around after a tornado, we say it looks like "chaos". However, if we see a plot of land with a foundation laid, even if someone just dumps the materials around, we say "looks like someone's going to build something". To give a better example - language. Just putting the letters "html" together 20 years ago held no meaning for anyone. It was "chaos". But now, with the World Wide Web, these letters have the very orderly meaning of "HyperText Markup Language". What appears as "chaos" now, may not be at some point in time.

We need to take the entire Bible and Spirit of Prophecy statements, and not rely just on a cursory reading of Genesis 1 when looking at what God did and didn't create on Day1 of creation. With God, nothing is impossible. Of course, we can never delve fully into God's ways, but we can be sure that nothing exists that God didn't create or allow His created beings to do, and that the "chaos" that He made is part of His plan.

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