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The first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week. The great God, in his days of creation and day of rest, measured off the first cycle as a sample for successive weeks till the close of time. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.” God gives us the result of his work on each of the days of creation. Each day was accounted of him a generation, because every day he generated, or produced, some new portion of his work. On the seventh day of the first week God rested from his labor, and then blessed the day of his rest, and set it apart for the use of man. The weekly cycle of seven literal days, six for labor and the seventh for rest, which has been preserved and brought down through Bible history, originated in the great facts of the first seven days.
When God spoke his law with an audible voice from Sinai, he introduced the Sabbath by saying, “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” He then declares definitely what shall be done on the six days, and what shall not be done on the seventh. He next gives the reason for thus observing the week, by pointing us back to his example on the first seven days of time. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it.” This reason appears beautiful and forcible when we understand the record of creation to mean literal days. The first six days of each week are given to man in which to labor, because God employed the same period of the first week in the work of creation. The seventh day God has reserved as a day of rest, in commemoration of his rest during the same period of time after he had performed the work of creation in six days.
But the infidel supposition, that the events of the first week required seven vast, indefinite periods for their accomplishment, strikes directly at the foundation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. It makes indefinite and obscure that which God has made very plain. It is the worst kind of infidelity; for with many who profess to believe the record of creation, it is infidelity in disguise. It charges God with commanding men to observe the week of seven literal days in commemoration of seven indefinite periods, which is unlike his dealings with mortals, and is an impeachment of his wisdom.
Infidel geologists claim that the world is very much older than the Bible record makes it. They reject the testimony of God's word because of those things which are to them evidences from the earth itself that it has existed tens of thousands of years. And many who profess to believe the Bible are at a loss to account for wonderful things which are found in the earth, with the view that creation week was only seven literal days, and that the world is now only about six thousand years old. These, to free themselves from difficulties thrown in their way by infidel geologists, adopt the view that the six days of creation were six vast, indefinite periods, and the day of God's rest was another indefinite period; making senseless the fourth commandment of God's holy law. Some eagerly receive this position; for it destroys the force of the fourth commandment, and they feel a freedom from its claims upon them.
Bones of men and animals are found in the earth, in mountains and in valleys, showing that much larger men and beasts once existed. Instruments of warfare are sometimes found; also petrified wood. Because the bones found are so much larger than those of men and animals now living, or that have existed for many generations past, some conclude that the earth was populated long before the record of creation, by a race of beings vastly superior in size to men now living. Those who reason in this manner have limited ideas of the size of men, animals, and trees, before the flood, and of the great changes which then took place in the earth.
Without Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of a state of things differing in many respects from the present. But the time of their existence can be learned only from the inspired record. It may be innocent to conjecture beyond this, if our suppositions do not contradict the facts found in the sacred Scriptures. But when men leave the word of God, and seek to account for His creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a boundless ocean of uncertainty. Just how God accomplished the work of creation in six literal days, he has never revealed to mortals. His creative works are as incomprehensible as his existence.
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.”
“Which doeth great things, past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.”
“Which doeth great things, and unsearchable; marvelous things without number.”
“God thundereth marvelously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we can not comprehend.”
“Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?”
The word of God is given as a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path. Those who cast his word behind them, and seek by their own blind philosophy to penetrate the mysteries of Jehovah, will stumble in darkness. A guide has been given to mortals whereby they may trace his works as far as will be for their good. Inspiration, in giving us the history of the flood, has explained wonderful mysteries that geology alone could never fathom.
It has been the special work of Satan to lead fallen man to rebel against God's government, and he has succeeded too well in his efforts. He has tried to obscure the law of God, which in itself is very plain. He has manifested a special hatred against the fourth precept of the decalogue, because it defines the living God, the maker of the heavens and the earth. Yielding to his devices, men have turned from the plainest precepts of Jehovah to receive infidel fables.
Man will be left without excuse. God has given sufficient evidence upon which to base faith, if he wishes to believe. In the last days, the earth will be almost destitute of true faith. Upon the merest pretense, the word of God will be considered unreliable, while human reasoning will be received, though it be in opposition to plain Scripture facts. Men will endeavor to explain from natural causes the work of creation. But just how God wrought in the work of creation he has never revealed to men. Human science cannot search out the secrets of the God of Heaven.
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” Men professing to be ministers of God, raise their voices against the investigation of prophecy, and tell the people that the prophecies, especially of Daniel and John, are obscure, and that we cannot understand them. Yet some of these very men eagerly receive the suppositions of geologists, which dispute the Mosaic record. But if God's revealed will is so difficult to be understood, certainly men should not rest their faith upon mere suppositions in regard to that which he has not revealed. God's ways are not as our ways, neither are his thoughts as our thoughts. In his providence men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, were buried at the time of the flood, and thus preserved to prove to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things in the earth should establish faith in inspired history. But men, with their vain reasoning, make a wrong use of these things which God designed should lead them to exalt him. They fall into the same error as did the people before the flood—those things which God gave them as a benefit, they turned into a curse, by making a wrong use of them.
Reprinted in Signs of the Times, 5:90, March 20, 1879, and in Spirit of Prophecy (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald, 1884), vol. 4, pp. 85-89 from Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts (Battle Creek, Mich.: Steam Press of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1864), vol. 3, pp. 90-96.