The Creation Story: Summary and Study Guide

Find out what happened on each of the seven days of creation

Illustrated depiction of the seven days of creation.

LearnReligions / Hugo Lin

The creation story begins with the opening chapter of the Bible and these words: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (NIV) This sentence summarizes the drama that was about to unfold.

We learn from the text that the earth was formless, empty, and dark, and God's Spirit moved over the waters preparing to perform God's creative Word. Then began the seven most creative days of all time as God spoke life into existence. A day by day account follows.

1:38

Watch Now: A Simple Version of The Bible Creation Story

The Creation Day by Day

The creation story takes place in Genesis 1:1-2:3.

  • Day 1 - God created light and separated the light from the darkness, calling light "day" and darkness "night."
  • Day 2 - God created an expanse to separate the waters and called it "sky."
  • Day 3 - God created the dry ground and gathered the waters, calling the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters "seas." On day three, God also created vegetation (plants and trees).
  • Day 4 - God created the sun, moon, and the stars to give light to the earth and to govern and separate the day and the night. These would also serve as signs to mark seasons, days, and years.
  • Day 5 - God created every living creature of the seas and every winged bird, blessing them to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life.
  • Day 6 - God created the animals to fill the earth. On day six, God also created man and woman (Adam and Eve) in his own image to commune with him. He blessed them and gave them every creature and the whole earth to rule over, care for, and cultivate.
  • Day 7 - God had finished his work of creation and so he rested on the seventh day, blessing it and making it holy.

A Simple—Not Scientific—Truth

Genesis 1, the opening scene of the biblical drama, introduces us to the two main characters in the Bible: God and man. Author Gene Edwards refers to this drama as "the divine romance." Here we meet God, the Almighty Creator of all things, revealing the ultimate object of his love—man—as he concludes the stunning work of creation. God has set the stage. The drama has begun.

Garden of Eden
ilbusca / Getty Images

The simple truth of the biblical creation story is that God is the author of creation. In Genesis 1, we are presented with the beginning of a divine drama that can only be examined and understood from the standpoint of faith. How long did it take? How did it happen, exactly? No one can answer these questions definitively. In fact, these mysteries are not the focus of the creation story. The purpose, rather, is for moral and spiritual revelation.

It Is Good

God was very pleased with his creation. Six times throughout the process of creating, God stopped, observed his handiwork, and saw that it was good. On final inspection of all that he had made, God regarded it as "very good."

This is a great time to remind ourselves that we are part of God's creation. Even when you don't feel worthy of his pleasure, remember that God made you and is pleased with you. You are of great worth to him.

The Trinity in the Creation

In verse 26, God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness ..." This is the only instance in the creation account that God uses the plural form to refer to himself. It's interesting to note that this happens just as he begins to create man. Many scholars believe this is the Bible's first reference to the Trinity.

The Rest of God

On the seventh day, God rested. It's hard to come up with a reason why God would need to rest, but apparently, he considered it important. Rest is often an unfamiliar concept in our busy, fast-paced world. It's socially unacceptable to take an entire day to rest. God knows we need times of refreshing. Our example, Jesus Christ, spent time alone, away from the crowds.

The rest of God on the seventh day sets an example for how we ought to spend and enjoy a regular day of rest from our labors. We should not feel guilty when we take time each week to rest and renew our bodies, souls, and spirits.

But there is a more profound significance to God's rest. It figurately points to a spiritual rest for believers. The Bible teaches that through faith in Jesus Christ, believers will experience the delights of resting in heaven forever with God: "So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world." (See Hebrews 4:1-10)

Questions for Reflection

The creation story clearly shows that God enjoyed himself as he went about the work of creation. As noted previously, six times he stopped and savored his accomplishments. If God takes pleasure in his handiwork, is there anything wrong with us feeling good about our achievements?

Do you enjoy your work? Whether it's your job, your hobby, or your ministry service, if your work is pleasing to God, then it should also bring pleasure to you. Consider the work of your hands. What things are you doing to bring pleasure to both you and God?