What a dramatic start to the creation week. We have an earth, in its unformed shape, under water and the initial darkest has been dispersed by light shining on its waters, with the spirit of God brooding upon the face of the water and the earth rotating, all in preparation for the next steps.
The first day. The numbering of the days which is such a feature of this chapter is more complex than would appear from the AV and most translations. Unlike the other days, this first one is termed in the Hebrew, Day one, rather than Day first. The rest follow with ordinal numbers, with subtle difference in days 6 and 7 as shown in the box.
What is the significance of this? There had been no day before this one. God has always been but He is not bounded by time as the world that He created. The length of it was set by God by the speed of the rotation of the newly formed earth. Its length being set by the time for a particular spot on what, at this stage, was a featureless and water covered earth, to move back into darkness again having turned through a period of darkness, followed by light. This is a period of 24 hours. Interestingly it was defined not by the light from the sun but by the Light from God and the speed of rotation upon earth’s axis that He chose. The 24 hour day and the seven day week were appointed by God, not by “natural” laws.
Having defined the measure of the length of a day (the evening and the morning), this was indeed Day one. Those that followed were of the same length and thus became Day second, third, etc… Why the subtle emphasis on Day the sixth and Day the seventh? These were two very special days in God’s work of creation. The sixth day was the climax of the work, with the creation of man in the image and likeness of Elohim. And the 7th day was the first day of instruction and worship for Adam and Eve. A pointer to the coming day of rest (Heb. Ch 4) which will be the climax of God’s work with mortals; for beyond the time of the Kingdom, mortality will have gone for ever.