Question: "What happened on each of the days of Creation?"
The creation account is found in Genesis 1–2. The language of the Genesis account makes it clear that all of creation was formed from nothing in six literal 24-hour periods with no time periods occurring between the days. This is evident because the context requires a literal 24-hour period. The description specifically describes the event in a manner that a normal, common-sense reading understands as a literal day: “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:5). Further, each sentence in the original language begins with the word “and.” This is good Hebrew grammar and indicates each sentence is built upon the preceding statement, clearly indicating that the days were consecutive and not separated by any period of time. The Genesis account reveals that the Word of God is authoritative and powerful. Most of God’s creative work is done by speaking, another indication of the power and authority of His Word. Let us look at each day of God’s creative work:
Creation Day 1 (Genesis 1:1-5)
God created the heavens and the earth. “The heavens” refers to everything beyond the earth, outer space. The earth is made but not formed in any specific way, although water is present. God then speaks light into existence. He then separates the light from the dark and names the light “day” and the dark “night.” This creative work occurs from evening until morning – one day.
Creation Day 2 (Genesis 1:6-8)
God creates the sky. The sky forms a barrier between water upon the surface and the moisture in the air. At this point earth would have an atmosphere. This creative work occurs in one day.
Creation Day 3 (Genesis 1:9-13)
God creates dry land. Continents and islands are above the water. The large bodies of water are named “seas” and the ground is named “land.” God declares that all this is good.
God creates all plant life both large and small. He creates this life to be self-sustaining; plants have the ability to reproduce. The plants were created in great diversity (many “kinds”). The earth was green and teeming with plant life. God declares that this work is also good. This creative work takes one day.
Creation Day 4 (Genesis 1:14-19)
God creates all the stars and heavenly bodies. The movement of these will help man track time. Two great heavenly bodies are made in relation to the earth. The first is the sun which is the primary source of light and the moon which reflects the light of the sun. The movement of these bodies will distinguish day from night. This work is also declared to be good by God. This creative work takes one day.
Creation Day 5 (Genesis 1:20-23)
God creates all life that lives in the water. Any life of any kind that lives in the water is made at this point. God also makes all the birds. The language allows that this may be the time God made flying insects as well (or, if not, they were made on day six). All of these creatures are made with the ability to perpetuate their species by reproduction. The creatures made on Day 5 are the first creatures blessed by God. God declares this work good, and it occurs in one day.
Creation Day 6 (Genesis 1:24-31)
God creates all the creatures that live on dry land. This includes every type of creature not included on previous days and man. God declares this work good.
God then takes counsel with Himself, “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26). This is not an explicit revelation of the trinity but is part of the foundation for such, as God reveals an “us” within the Godhead. God makes man, and man is made in the image of God (men and women both bear this image) and is special above all other creatures. To emphasize this, God places man in authority over the earth and over all the other creatures. God blesses man and commands him to reproduce, fill the earth and subdue it (bring it under the rightful stewardship of man as authorized by God). God announces that man and all other creatures are to eat plants alone. God will not rescind this dietary restriction until Genesis 9:3-4.
God’s creative work is complete at the end of the sixth day. The entire universe in all its beauty and perfection was fully formed in six literal, consecutive, 24-hour days. At the completion of His creation, God announces that it is very good.
Creation Day 7 (Genesis 2:1-3)
God rests. This in no way indicates He was weary from His creative efforts, but denotes that the creation is complete. Further, God is establishing a pattern of one day in seven to rest. The keeping of this day will eventually be a distinguishing trait of the God’s chosen people (Exodus 20:8-11).