The Seventh Day. Wow.

Here is the last in Christopher Smith’s creation week devotional series. Enjoy.

The Seventh Day

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:1, 2).

As the afternoon of the sixth day waned in the sky, God surveyed all that He had created—all that He would create for this earth. He knew He had finished His latest work, every facet of life had been put into place: light, sustenance, diversity, prosperity, and purpose. God had provided all for His newest world; His work here was done.

But God did not simply leave His finished product. He didn’t pack up His tools, tuck away His hard hat, and ascend back to His heavenly throne. Instead, God watches over His creations—He and Adam had a busy day of naming beasts and birds, of teaching and learning how to work the grounds, of noticing the lack of and creating a partner. God lingers.

I see Adam and Eve yawning, eyes drooping, then laying down on a bed of grass and moss, one that God has prepared just for them. He speaks to them as they hold one another, soaking in His words, the moonlight, the twinkling stars, and they fall asleep in the same way they awoke: to His voice.

With the sun down, evening has come and it is a new day. But God does not let this new hour, this new day pass by unnoticed. He watches its coming, this seventh day.

“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:3).

While much of the world sleeps, God walks across His world—through the thick forests, the fields of waving grass and wheat, and across the waters—and He continues to pile on the blessings. He has blessed all at their creation, but He knows that life will only continue with His words, His blessings. So He gives the sun and moon and stars, the waters and land, the birds of the air and fish of the sea and beasts of the fields, and man, God gives everything a special day, one in which there is nothing to do but commune with Him, to rest, to heal—ourselves and others—to set aside everything we’ve done in the past six days and focus on one thing and one thing alone: Him.

As dawn breaks and Adam and Eve stir from their slumber, they awake to the morning sun and God’s face smiling down upon them. I see Adam stretching, eager to learn more about this world that he and his wife have just been named caretaker of, and asking “What’re we doing today?”

And I imagine God taking both Adam and Eve by the hands, lifting them up beside Him, and saying, “Come. Let me show you the world that we’ve created for you. Let us guide you. Let us be your all. For this day has been created to build our relationship with one another.”

Then they walk and eat and talk the day away, Adam and Eve drawing nearer to one another, both of them drawing closer to God, and starting their lives on the right foot by spending their first full day, together with God.

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The Sixth Day, Part 2

The Sixth Day Pt. 2, by Chris Smith

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’” (Genesis 1:26).

Notice the difference in what God says here. On the other days, He says “Let there…” and “Let the…” These are commands to the items themselves. God calls directly to the light and darkness, the waters, the land and plants, the birds, fish, insects, and animals. He does not reference Himself. God is not simply musing over what the day will bring, what He will create and shape out of His words. No. He commands the light to separate from the darkness. He commands the waters to part, the earth to rise, the vegetation to grow. He commands the hearts of whales and worms and wrens and wolves to start beating, to pump the blood and let them flow. But God starts this day out differently. He does not command His creation; He commands Himself.

He says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Already He refers to the trinity. While He is the only one of them to be referenced thus far, He does not say: “Let me make man…” or “I will make man…” He says, “us” and “our.” There is more than one that has been watching the creation, the Godhead, the Trinity, has been a part of all—for each are separate but one in the same.

And God says to the others—I doubt He is commanding, but is suggesting as one might say, “Let’s go to the park today”—“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

In this moment, God is so excited about His creation that He cannot even give the words to His scribe. He’d spent His previous days forming the world from nothing, speaking every beam of light, plant leaf, flowing river, and leaping frog all in preparation for this moment. This one act where everything that has come before—short as it was—has built up for—and where everything after will point back to. God creates man. And not simply another creation, but one that echoes and rhymes God’s own self. We were made in His image, because that is how He wanted it to be. And He is so excited about His newest creations that He skips the details of how He made us and saves them for another chapter, another verse.

For now though, He blesses man, as He did with the animals before Him, and as He would later bless Abraham. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so” (Genesis 1:28-30)

God not only blesses us, but He also gives us two gifts: a domain and sustenance. Even from the very beginning, right after Adam took his first breath, God already had His plan to sustain each and every one of us, and give us a purpose in life: to rule over the animals. What’s more is that this blessing extended beyond us to the birds and beasts as well: God provides for all and uses all of His creations to His will.

He steps back, perhaps even hovers back into the expanse He called sky, and soaks it all in. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Things are not just good this time. God smiles even wider today, for He knows His work is complete. And this work needs a modifier, because it exceeds the simple, lonely form of good. It is very good.

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

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The Sixth Day, Part 1

The Sixth Day Pt. 1

(by Christopher Smith)

Now with the coming mornings, there is more than the rising sun, the separation of darkness and light, the drowsy flowers and stretching trees, there is bird song that fills the air—and even the ocean claps with the sounds of breaching dolphins, whales, and sharks.

God probably could have watched His creations for the rest of the day until another evening and morning had past without Him uttering so much as a single syllable. But again, He spoke, knowing that He had even more to bring into existence.

“And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to it’s own kind.’ And it was good” (Genesis 1:24).

I can’t help but notice a split here, between verses 24 and 25. God speaks in verse 24, but He seems to actually create them in verse 25: “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1: 25).

As before, I hear Him calling each bounding doe into the clearing, every Komodo dragon swaggering into the sun, each tromping elephant to trumpet across the plain. Though it would be their offspring that would come to Noah’s ark in pairs, I believe God created these in pairs, too. Male for female and female for male, two of each to breed and spread throughout the world, fulfilling His design by fertilizing the earth, scattering seeds throughout the land for new trees and new blossoms that will feed the cubs and kids and colts. And us, too. God saw we would need help with planting. He saw that we would find companions. He knew the lessons we could—and should—learn from the beasts: balance with nature, living out one’s purpose, caring for another’s life.

Right from the beginning, He knew that there would be those animals to serve man, those animals to be independent of man, and those that would scuttle along the ground—almost unnoticed by man. God created the cows and sheep and dogs and cats to help with the planting and care of the land and to be a companion of man. God created the hundreds of thousands of insects to pollinate—bees buzzing from flower to flower—to break down the fallen leaves and fruit—ants marching across the land—and to keep the ground tilled and soft, ripe and ready for new seeds to be pushed within—the worms wriggling through the earth. And God made, oh my, the lions and tigers and bears to roam the forests and jungles, along with the giraffes and koalas and orangutans.

I can only imagine what it must’ve been like on that first day, the animals sprinting into existence, not fearful of the other—mice sitting on the heads of cats, tail-wagging dingoes panting beside an impala after a quick race through the trees, and weasels waiting patiently beside hens—not for their eggs, but for God to reach out, scratch their chins, the scruff of their necks, their bellies, blessing them, naming them, calling them His own. And though He would—and will always—remain their creator, God would give them a ruler, one in His own image, one that would be His greatest creation on earth and His biggest heartbreak: man.

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As the Creation Week Continues

The Fifth Day (by Chris Smith)

The moon shines full and bright. The sun has set and signaled the start of a new day. Waves now ebb and flow with the pull of the heavenly bodies, and God listens as they roll in and out, in and out, sounding like a rush of wind through the trees. This place—that was once so empty—is now almost full; there are only a few ingredients left to finish the recipe.

“And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.’ So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:20, 21).

As the last echo of His voice fades, a new sound is born: tweets and twitters, the chirping and caws of thousands of birds. Like a chorus of bells, or wind chimes blown in a breeze, the birds rejoice in their new life, their new wings, the expanse of sky that God has given them to fly in. They sing for the trees that will act as a roost. They praise God for the blossoms He’s given them so that they might drink of the nectar and eat the sweet fruits. Again, I imagine God calling each of them by name, His creations flying up to meet His gaze in pairs, two by two, side by side, giving their thanks with bird song. I see Him painting each one with the brush of His touch: this one to echo the sky, this one to echo the trees, this one to echo the roses, and this one to preclude the rainbow’s color and splendor.

Then a puff of water shoots into the sky as a blue whale breaches the sea’s surface. Dolphins play nearby, as octopi crawl along the ocean floor, exploring the coral and waving away the clown and angel fish. God sees them, too, with His powerful eye and through the unpolluted, crystal waters. These He watches, His own private aquarium, and gently brushes their skin with the back of His fingers, calling them by His names, and marking them with His love.

“God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth’” (Genesis 1: 22).

A precursor to His covenant with Abraham, God blessed the flyers and the swimmers to spread out in the world, find a place to call their own, a path to roam, and multiply. He would provide for them, and they would do their part, too. The birds would eat the fruit and seeds, then spread them over the earth as they flew, planting more trees, producing more fruit, and filling the skies with song. God also knew that His prophet, Elijah, would need feeding—so the ravens obeyed God’s command. And another prophet would need some prodding and travel arrangements, and God provided Jonah with his big fish. Because of God and His blessings, everything—even the birds of the air and the fish of the sea—has a purpose.

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day” (Genesis 1:23).

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More on The Beginning…

Fourth in the series of Chris Smith’s Days of Creation

The Fourth Day

Here is the world, with the pine green trees mixed with the cobalt waters and white sands and chocolate earth. The trees have slept through the night. The flowers still wait to bloom, wait for the light of morning to stretch, open, and flex their petals. Without the light breaking every morning, they would shrivel, wither, and fade—much the same as we would. Without the light, we could not survive. Without the distinct shift from darkness to light and back again, we could not mark the days as they pass, count each one down as we move closer to His return.

So God studied His handiwork, how the darkness and light He’d created three days before flitted through the universe, still marking evening from morning, but otherwise free to bounce and float, free as the soon-to-be-created birds.

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth; And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars” (Genesis 1:14-16).

He has already separated the light from the darkness, but He has not set them into forms. He speaks, and there is an implosion of light, the rays and warmth balling up by unseen hands, the beams weaving tighter and tighter, like a spool of yarn. I imagine God taking the bulb of a sun between His fingers, then pulling out a pebble for the moon, carving out tiny shards of light with His thumbnail to act as stars. Then He grabs the darkness—a swath of black silk—by the edges and spreads it over the expanse of sky. He stretches and pulls and folds the darkness in place, prepares it to cradle His sources of light.

Next, God positions the sun at a perfect distance from His creation, to keep the world from burning, to keep it from freezing. He screws the moon into place, then gives it a flick to set it into motion. And the stars… The stars He flings out like handfuls of birdseed at a wedding, letting them stick where they fall—to shine and blink and twinkle, gifts of diamonds for His son’s future bride.

“God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:17, 18).

Whatever the time, whatever the place, we would have light. God ensured that there would always be a beacon for us to latch onto, a reminder of hope, that dark as the world may seem, there is always a tiny flicker—even from the most distant of stars—of light.

“And there was evening”—this time with moon and stars—“and there was morning”—this time with sun—“the fourth day” (Genesis 1:19).

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“The Beginning”….continued

Continuation of Chris Smith’s guest blog. Just couldn’t stop with the first day! Here are days 2 and 3, for your enjoyment.

The Second Day
The first day had passed. Time clicked and ticked forward. And God came back to His latest creation and spoke, His voice so calm and gentle, but loud enough for the entire world to hear—and obey.

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.’ So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse ‘sky…’” (Genesis 1: 6-8).

Here again, God spoke, and the water—like the light and darkness—obeyed, splitting off from itself, perhaps perfectly divided in two, even right down to the last molecule of Hydrogen. Half of the waters lifted above the other, higher and higher, until the space between them was exactly as God had imagined it: Room for the future land to occupy, sky for the future birds to fly, leftover waters for the fish to swim, and space for His people to grow and expand and fill.

I’ve always wondered about this day, why He would encapsulate the world in a layer of water. It seems odd, yet scientifically, it makes sense. The clear waters allowed the light to pass through, to find every nook and cranny that needed light. And, like a costal city, the water probably made the entire earth temperate, not too hot, not too cold, the perfect place for paradise, a place that would be self sustaining—had we not sinned. Science aside though, the layer of water made sense for His plan, too. He knew the world would soon spiral out of control, and He knew something must be done to renew His creation, scrub it fresh and clean and let everything start again. He prepared for the time when Noah, his family, and the thousands of creatures would be cooped up in an oversized ship, waiting for God’s word to come true. After seven days, it would.

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11, 12).

God put the waters in place for the future of this planet, these people, His people. He held the waters up, held them above the sky to give the world its chance for living and communing with Him. But even after we fell, He waited. He did not let these waters converge once again, He held them apart, waited, waited, waited, until the world had so spoiled that He cracked open the seals that held the water below and punctured the floodgates that held the water above the sky, so that the two might meet once again, to rinse away the sin that had spread, faster than any disease, across His creation.

But He did not dwell on these things, these heartbreaks and disappointments, because He already knew the outcome, how it ends. Instead of scraping the whole project, He simply separated the waters, carved out a hole called sky for us to breathe and dream in.

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day” (Genesis 1:8).

The Third Day

The waters are still, crystal clear and reflecting the azure sky, the whole world a blue pearl, a sapphire, a ball of polished turquoise. God returns with a smile on His face: Today will be fun.

“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so” (Genesis 1:9).

A great grumbling sounds from the water’s core, as the waves begin to churn, to build and break and build again. The whole world becomes one giant whirlpool of rushing waters and chopping waves that move, not with the lulling back and forth motion one finds on a boat, but the waves move with a purpose. They need to get out of the way. They need to make room. For, here, now, pokes up the first sparkling grain of sand.

The dry ground waits for the waves to relocate then presses up through the empty space. Higher and higher the ground raises, smelling of fresh rain, clean and bare, soil and sand spread out for as far as the eye can see. And God’s eye can see the entire earth, every inch of the new creation. “God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10).

Unlike the previous days, where God separated one thing from another—the light from the dark, the dividing of the waters—then stopped. Today, He was not content with simply separating the water from the land. Not on this day. He had other things on His mind. Green things. Leafy things. Flowering things.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:11, 12).

I’m sure He could summon every tree, bush, fungi, flower, and cacti by simply saying, “Plants, grow.” But where was the fun in that? We have already seen that God loved to name His creations, to set one apart from the other, so why would He use generic terms now? I picture Him surveying the land, calling up the grasses to carpet the ground. I hear Him sounding out the roll call for every pine, every aspen, every willow, palm, and oak. I smell the fruits as they blossom and grow, name by name: apple, orange, avocado, and lemon. I see the bushes pop up to fill in the gaps between the trees. Then the flowers—lilacs and roses and lilies—yawn open, woken by the sound of His voice. Each and every unique plant is called by name, hears, and obeys.

Of course, God probably has His own names for each of these things, but He later allowed Adam to name them for the rest of us. He let us make our mark—however insignificant—on His creations. Because that is why He called them from the earth in the first place: as gifts for us.

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day” (Genesis 1:13).

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“The Beginning” – Guest Blog by Chris Smith

This morning, in worship, Outlook‘s editorial assistant Chris Smith announced he was trying his hand at devotional writing, and read his take on The Beginning, in Genesis. I liked it, so I thought I would share it. Who knows, there may be many more to come.

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Imagine a space of emptiness, a place so utterly void of everything that not even light exists. This is the absolute nothing, the space of non-existence. Yet here is God, hovering over “the face of the waters,” hanging over our formless, empty place, where liquid exists—not the oceans and rivers we know, but a shapeless mass that shifts—without form—like a giant glob of Mercury that beads and flexes. And here is God, watching over this mass, knowing what He is about to do, what He is about to say, knowing that this world will fail, knowing each and every life that will spark, flicker, and fade before His eyes, yet He speaks nevertheless. He says, “Let there be light.” And there was light.

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

I picture Him peeling a ball of darkness like an orange, tearing the rind away in a single, coiled strip that reveals the life-giving light that explodes to every corner of the universe. I picture Him pulling the strands of light from the darkness, as if He were fishing for glow worms. But it was probably closer to Him saying, “Good morning,” and the light beaming back at Him, bright and full, and whispering “Good Morning” in reply—before He ever took His next breath.

Like all things that are loved, God named His latest creations. “He called the light Day, and the Darkness he called Night.” He already began to show His love for unique creations, for equal and opposite forces, and He started with the biggest contradictions of them all—as the saying goes, “They were different as night and day.”

As any good father would, God took the time to watch His creations, to soak them up, to appreciate them with His full and undivided attention. His mere words brought them into existence. How much easier would it be for Him to complete His work with a few more simple sentences? The world might have been created in moments—with one long and complex sentence, full of commas and dashes and even a semicolon or two—instead of days; but God was in no hurry; He knew the outcome, and He had a plan. So instead of rushing on to the next portion of His creation, I picture Him holding back, waiting, playing with the rays of light, bending and flexing the individual beams to make rainbows between His fingers. I picture Him pulling every colored beam from the darkness, making the darkness darker and the light lighter.

I realize that I’m merely playing with my own ideas and images here. He may not have done any of these things, and maybe He did all of these things. In heaven, we will be able to ask such questions, and find out what He did as He waited through the evening and the morning, and spoke into existence the first day.

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