In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The opening account of the creation in Genesis 1 is surprisingly non informative when it comes to the creation of the heavens. On the fourth day an aspect of the first heaven is mentioned – sun, moon and stars – but there is no mention at all of the second and third heavens (2 Cor. 12:2). The emphasis in Genesis 1 is almost entirely on the earth.
In v. 3 Light is spoken into being and that is that as far as the first day is concerned. The chaotic and dark substance that everything earthly will be created from is water. Water is not spoken into existence but just seems to be there when God created the heavens and the earth. Time starts with the first day.
Water is such an important substance that Day 2 is taken up with separating it into two and thereby creating the air and sky and nothing else.
On Day 3 the waters are gathered together into one place and by that action the dry land appears. It is as if the land was always there but just needed to have the waters moved out of the way for it to be seen. Another way of looking at is to see the original ball of water as having suspended in it all the dust needed to produce the earth (and perhaps also the other planets). Once a lot of the water is put into the clouds on Day 2, the ball of water and soil is less diluted. When the waters are gathered into oceans and seas on Day 3 the muddy material is sufficiently coalesced to form dry ground and to bring forth the vegetation that appears to have been scattered through it in the form of seeds which now sprout.
When it comes to understanding this in the light of our knowledge about the structure of the earth, I think it is helpful to think in very large terms. There is no sun at the centre of this ball of water vapour and the other planets are not mentioned so they could all have spun out of this earthly creation process. In Second Peter chapter 3, he says: “God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.”
On Day 4 God creates the sun, moon and stars which establish times and seasons and festivals. Light was there before the sun which seems strange but perhaps if the sun, moon and stars were extinguished we might be surprised at how much light was still present (cosmic background radiation perhaps?). Also the planets could have been formed on this day since they were always understood to be wandering stars.
On Day 5 God creates the sea creatures of all sorts and sizes and the birds. Amazing imagination.
On Day 6 God creates all the land animals and man. This seems to have been a busy day since, unless Eve was created after Day 7 which seems unlikely, Adam gave names to the animals that day also.
And on Day 7 God, satisfied with His work, rested.
Resting in light and water is nearly everyone’s idea of a holiday.