Answer by John Mackay
Did you notice the question was not “what are the days?”, but why only 6 of them and not 600 or 6,000,000? It’s not a question we have ever had before so thank you to the ‘Asker’ for a real first.
Genesis 1 begins with the authoritative statement that God created. By the end of the chapter we learn that over six days God created everything, and made it all very good, which is defined in Genesis 1:29 – 31 as a world of vegetarians. No killers, and everything was fit. It was a non Darwinian world! Chapter 2 provides additional data – on the seventh day God rested (Gen 2: 2-3). But by the time we finish chapter 2 we are no wiser as to why God took 6 days instead of 60 or 600. In fact, Genesis 1 and 2 do not give us any reason as to why God did most of what He did at all. The exception being we are informed the sun and moon and stars were made for times and signs and seasons (Gen 1:14). Furthermore, by the end of the book of Genesis no additional help as to God’s logic or reasoning for the six days is revealed.
Perhaps the first clue is given in Exodus 20 – the section known as the 10 commandments where God revealed to Moses in His own hand writing, that because He made the world in 6 days and He rested on the seventh day, therefore His people of Israel will work for six days and they would rest on the seventh. (Ex 20 :9 -11) Does this suggest that this weekly six plus one work/rest regulation must be the reason – so mankind would know how to regulate time to our benefit and the Glory of God? However the law in Exodus given to Israel is never stated or used in scripture as the reason God created and rested across a seven day cycle. It is true that the seven day work/rest week is definitely phrased in terms of a being a legal consequence logically derived from Gods use of the six plus one days at Creation.
But it soon became evident that in a fallen world Israel could not always keep the seventh day as a day of rest. Remember when they went to war with the inhabitants of Canaan and they marched around Jericho for seven days, and marched seven times around it on the seventh day! (Josh 6:1- 5) One of those days had to be a Sabbath. When Israel was attacked during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Egyptians attacked on the “Day of Atonement,” the Yom Kippur Sabbath, thinking all Israel would be at rest. But not only were the Israelis ready, the war made a Special Sabbath rest impossible. Even today when you try to keep the seventh day as a day of rest – you find the same problem. Natural or manmade disasters sooner or later ruin the holiest of intentions to rest one day in seven. Living in neat time capsules in our fallen world seems to be infeasible no matter how hard we try.
So why six days? Why did an untiring God rest on one? He didn’t need to. One provable result is that when we know the Creator has made a law about time keeping and we find we can’t keep it, then it’s easy to say; ‘if it’s that impossible then such a rule doesn’t matter’. Such an argument has only one small flaw. The Creator doesn’t accept it. He says breaking His laws about murder or money, about Deity or days is sin and the wages of sin is death and His law is to work for six days and rest for one. The converted Jewish Rabbi Paul stated: “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal 3:24) But what would such a schoolmaster have to teach us to achieve this?
There is only one answer. The teacher called Law would have to give us lessons that convince and convict us that we are sinners who need a Christ – a Messiah Saviour. That was the purpose of all the commandments including God’s statute about days. Paul said it well when he wrote in Romans 7:7 “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” In other words once God has told us what is acceptable in His sight, then our soon following failure to keep His standards easily proves we can’t keep Gods law, so we are by His definition sinners, subject to “The sting of death(which) is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (1 Cor 15:56-57.) And worse news still – we are sinners who can’t rescue ourselves. We need a saviour! As young Timothy was instructed; “ … the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” (1 Tim 1:9-10) Did you realise that even in the New Testament the basic definition of sin is transgressing the law of Moses which starts with the Old Testament Ten Commandments (1 Jn 3:4, John 1:17). And since the New Testament is about Jesus Christ and why and how this Jesus died for mans sin, don’t be surprised that it emphasises how this man Jesus alone among men throughout history, kept the Law of God. This made him by definition – a man without sin and therefore acceptable to a righteous God as a substitute to achieve a sinful mans atonement.
The logic of Christs sacrifice is simple. Sin is anything which is unacceptable to the Creator God who declares that the wages of sin is death. But that also means if you don’t sin you shouldn’t die. Therefore, if you don’t sin yet you do die, you are dying for someone else’s sin! Have you got it yet? The sin of the first Adam was payable with the wages of sin, which is death, but the wages of sin could actually be paid via the substitutionary death of the sinless last Adam who is Christ. Which brings us to the broadest all encompassing reason ever given for creation which is expressed in Col 1:16 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” and the person under discussion is Jesus Christ.
The six days plus one in Genesis, and the commandment about a seven day week based on them, had to do with the Saviour Jesus Christ. So how and what and why? Have you remembered when Jesus was crucified? It didn’t just happen at any old time. It happened at Passover and his body was in the grave before the start of the special Passover Sabbath or seventh day. (John 19:31) and He didn’t rise from the dead until the first day of the week. Can you see it yet? The apostle Peter wrote the shedding of the blood of Christ was ordained before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:18-21) The six days of creation and the rest on the seventh occurred because God the Creator had a plan to deal with sin that would give salvation to His people and that plan was in place before the world was created, so the pattern in creation was designed to bring this sacrifice to bear, to make it acceptable and understandable. When Genesis says God finished his work on the sixth day you now know the reason Jesus kept all the Mosaic law without fail and having done so said “it is finished” on the sixth day. His work was done. The wages could be paid. He could rest now from his labours – in the grave – on the seventh day.
Jesus Christ kept the law in life, and in death, or he would not have been our sinless substitute and Saviour. Can you see now a much richer meaning to Jesus statement ‘the Sabbath was made for man’ (Mark 2:27) so that we could Salvation rest in His rest. And then joy of joys! This same Jesus rose again on the first day of the week and the light shone in the darkness of mans sin-laden heart, as Paul reminded us with “God who commanded the light to shine, (on the first day of the creation week) has shone in our hearts the light of the glory of God through the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6) Now we can know for sure that we too can be raised from the dead and given new life as His light shines in us. The six days of creation plus one day of rest are a great reminder of how our all knowing, all powerful and all present, God was not caught out by what man or Satan did in Eden. God already had options A-Z covered!
For a more detailed Bible Study on this topic see the article From Creation to the Cross available as a PDF here
Other useful resources on this topic: DVDs Biblical World View Seminar and Genesis Geology Audio CD set The Six Days of Creation Henry Morris’s classic commentary The Genesis Record All these available from the Creation Research webshop