Chapter One of Genesis.
The one thing we all know about the Bible account is that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. Today’s reading gives us a puzzling account of what God did on the first four days.
First Day. The account says that at first the earth was a “formless wasteland.” I hadn’t known that, I had thought God just created the world out of nothing. But no, our account follows the creation stories in all the world’s regions. They all portray the creation act as being one of bringing order out of chaos. (Our present phrase of a “formless wasteland” translates the original Hebrew that was “Tohu-Bohu” which sounds like clothes tumbling around in a dryer.)
Second Day. Before he created sun or moon, or any source of light, God said, “Let there be light!” So, the point is just that God wanted to see what he was doing. Next. Since only the parents of a child or the inventor of new process can give their creation its name, Genesis, in telling us that God gave names to night and day, is telling us they belong to him.
Further, on that second day, God was said to have created sky as a hard dome, capable of supporting a complete ocean above it. (Chapter Seven of Genesis will tell us that in Noah’s time God brought on the deluge by opening floodgates to let that upper ocean pour through.)
Third Day. God created all kinds of vegetation, including seeds with future generations of vegetation in them. God saw everything he created as good. (From the Persian prophet Zoroaster in the sixth century B.C down to the Cathars a thousand years later we had to contend with people who insist that there is a second creator of everything evil.)
Fourth Day. The idea that the heavenly bodies are put up there “to mark the fixed times” is a clue to the human authorship of this First Chapter. It was composed by the priests who valued fixed seasons for their religious observances.