Creation and Numerology

By Rick Brunson
The story of the earth’s creation is not only the story of the earth’s creation.  It is also the story of mankind and our progression through life. According to Orson Pratt, “there is…a similarity in the process of creation between the earth and its inhabitants.”[1]  In other words, the earth, which went from being “without form, and void” (Moses 2:2) on day one, to being “sanctified” (Moses 3:3) on day seven, resembles very closely the journey that mankind must take before our sanctification and exaltation.  What is more, each numerical day of creation has much to teach us about this journey.

Day 1 (Moses 2:1-5)

For example, anciently, the number one represented God.[2]  Therefore, that which was created on day one teaches us who our creator is.  According to the Moses account,[3] day one of the earth’s creation process begins as follows:

And the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water (Moses 2:2).

Of all the verses in the creation account, this one is perhaps the most confusing of any.  What does it mean to be “without form, and void”? What is “the face of the deep” exactly?  And is this term synonymous with “the face of the water”?  

Before we can understand what is going on in this verse, we must first understand that this earth was created in a similar way to man; that is, through a physical birth process.  Sound strange?  Maybe.  However, Elder Orson Pratt explained:

“There is…a similarity in the process of creation between the earth and its inhabitants. The earth when created, according to the accounts we have, was covered with a flood of waters…by and by emerging from the waters.  This was the birth of creation, the same as we are born here into this world, from one element into another.”[4]

When our physical bodies were created, our spirits passed “from one element into another” through the birth process, and according to Elder Pratt, our earth did the same.  But this concept is only strange until we remember that every living creature has the ability to reproduce in some capacity.  Mankind begets mankind, animal begets animal, plants produce plants, and now we know that a living resurrected earth can beget another living earth.  When Elder Heber C. Kimball was asked where our earth came from, his response was that it came from its “parent earths.”[5]  In other words, our earth had a mother planet, and according to Elder Pratt it emerged from the womb of this mother planet through a birth process of some sort.  Many believe that this planetary womb is none other than the “the face of the deep” and “the face of the water” (Moses 2:2) where the earth was originally created.  In his book, Earth in the Beginning, LDS Scientist Eric Skousen wrote:

“Moses recorded that it was early in the “first day” [of creation] that a planetary globe…was assembled within its watery parental womb…. 
“The gestation and embryonic development of [the earth] occurred within a vast body of water called “the deep.” God told Moses that initially,

the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water. (Moses 2:2).

“Although this verse does not disclose where “the deep” was located, it is reasonable to assume that these nurturing waters resided on the resurrected parental planet of the earth.  Within this watery womb… the Lord enveloped the embryonic waters with darkness while his Spirit “moved upon the face of the water.”  Note that the Lord was required to create this unnatural darkness that temporarily encompassed the earth’s water womb.  This suggests that the regions outside the embryonic environment were fully illuminated.  

“After [the earth] was delivered out of the waters of the deep and the master planetary intelligence of the earth had assumed control of it, God commanded his power of organization, or “light” to shine upon it:

And I, God said: Let there be light, and there was light.  And I, God, saw the light, and that light was good. (Moses 2:3-4)

“This entire creation process was similar to our own creation…. At this point…God permitted it to emerge from its spiritual womb out into the light.”[6]
Previously we mentioned that the story of the earth’s creation is the story of our creation, and on day one, we have our first similarity with a birth process.  And we do not have to look far to find the second similarity either. Right after the earth was born, we read:

And I, God said: Let there be light, and there was light (Moses 2:3-4).

Just as the earth received light at birth, so too did we receive the light of Christ at our births:

And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world (D&C 84:46).

And again:

The [Light] of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil (Moroni 7:16). 

Day 2 (Moses 2:6-8)

After the earth was born and received the light of Christ, we read:

And again, I, God, said: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water…and I said: Let it divide the waters…yea, the great waters under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so even as I spake (Moses 2:6-7).

According to Earth in the Beginning, on day two, the earth is completely removed from its mother’s “embryonic waters from which it had been born”[7] via a firmament which the Lord had created for this very purpose. Scripturally, the number two represents opposition.[8] For example, Nephi taught us that “there are two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil” (1 Nephi 14:10). Therefore, day two of the earth’s creation teaches us that from the moment we are born, we are going to face opposition in life. “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11).

Day 3 (Moses 2:9-13)

On day three, dry land emerges from the earth’s waters:

And I, God, said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and it was so; and I, God, said: Let there be dry land; and it was so (Moses 2:9).

Dry land emerging from the waters is symbolic of us emerging from the waters of baptism and thereafter being “founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:25).  In fact, this rock is so important, that “in the biblical tradition,” according to LDS scholar John Lundquist, “the first ground to appear after the waters of chaos had receded…became the mountain…of [Solomon’s] temple.”[9]  Hugh Nibley agreed:

The temple…was the beginning place of the world, the rock where other things are founded.”[10]

In the words of LDS Scholar Alonzo Gaskill:

“The first rock that emerged from the waters became the temple because the tip of the mountain was the place upon earth that was closest to God.”[11]

The point of this is that day three of the creation has a strong connection with the convents we make here on earth.  In fact, scripturally, the number three represents the Godhead and their priesthood power,[12] which they have delegated to man to perform ordinances such as baptism.  After our baptism, we have the opportunity to grow and develop in the gospel, and as we do, according to the Psalmist, we will be “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psalms 1:3).  Interestingly enough, this is exactly what happened to the earth at this point of our story:

And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind…and it was so even as I spake (Moses 2:11).

Again, we find ourselves following the pattern originally set by the earth during its creation.

Day 4 (Moses 2:14-19)

On day four:

And I, God, made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the greater light was the sun, and the lesser light was the moon; and the stars also were made even according to my word (Moses 2:16).

After the earth’s symbolic baptism, it was given “the greater light to rule the day,” which is representative of the greater light that we receive after baptism, which is the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Scripturally, the number four represents the earth in its entirety.[13]  
Day 5 (Moses 2:20-23)

On day five, God created fish and fowl:

And I, God, said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl which may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven (Moses 2:20).

Before we can understand how day five relates to us symbolically, we need to understand that scripturally, the number five represents not one, but two concepts: God’s grace, and fallen man.[14] When combined, these two concepts teach us that God’s grace is able save fallen man.  For example, Christ fed 5,000 (represented fallen man), with five loaves of bread, (represented the bread of life, or God’s grace), teaching us that God’s grace saves fallen man. 
There are many additional examples of this concept in the scriptures.[15] Consider the following:

·         Before David attempted to slay Goliath, he picked up “five smooth stones” (1 Samuel 17:40), which may have been a plea for the grace of God to assist him in his fallen state. 

·         Another example is Samuel the Lamanite, who “prophesied to the people that in five years the ultimate grace of God would be manifest in the birth of the Messiah,” which would save them from their fallen state (see Helaman 14:2).[16]

·         In the parable of the ten virgins, five were recipients of God’s grace, and five chose to remain in their fallen state.

·         Similarly, when the prophet Nephi prophesied of the murder of the Chief Judge, he sent five men to verify his prophesy. These five men represented an unbelieving fallen man.  In fact Mormon even emphasized that they “fell to the earth” (Helaman 9:4) once they learned of their sins.  Eventually however, these five men were became converted, which shows us that God’s grace is able to save fallen man.

·         Of the Ten Commandments, the first five teach us about our relationship with God,[17] and the second five teach us about our duty to our fellow (fallen) man.

·         The number five was a main theme of the Israelite Tabernacle/Temple.  For example, there were five types of offerings, five types of animals that could be sacrificed, and the alter of sacrifice was 5 x 5 cubits.  This emphasis on the number five was to teach the Israelites that if they performed these sacrifices in similitude of the Lord’s sacrifice, they could be the recipients of God’s grace.

This theme, God’s grace saving fallen man, also shows up on day five of the creation account.  The fowls in the heavens are a representation of God’s grace, and the fish that are created in the waters of the earth are a representation of fallen man.  On day five, we are reminded of both.  We are reminded that after baptism (day three) and after the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost (day four), we are put on the path that allows fallen man to be the recipient of God’s grace. It is a reminder to endure to the end, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). 

Day 6 (Moses 2:24-31)
Day six teaches us a similar concept:

And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind, and it was so (Moses 2:24).

On day six, the animal kingdom is created which includes the “beasts of the earth.”  Interestingly enough, six is the only number between one and seven that carries with it negative connotations.  LDS scholar Alonzo Gaskill said of the number six:

“Its meaning is…imperfection, or failure to attain completeness….One numerologist reasons that since six falls short of the numerical perfection found in the number seven, it symbolizes incompleteness.”[18]

Interestingly enough, the “beasts of the earth” may represent something similar.  Reference the mark of the beast in Revelation 13:11-17, which is to be placed on all those who follow Satan in the last days.  Similarly, according to John the Revelator:

The number of the beast… is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six [666] (Revelation 13:18).

Thus, both the number six and the “beasts of the earth” represent the sins of man which causes us to fall short of perfection. It is for this reason that Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:

“So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!”[19]

In other words, all which has been created so far on day six represents the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19), who is otherwise incomplete on his own, even after baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  And unless something changes, man will remain incomplete and will not be able to receive an inheritance in the highest degree of the Celestial kingdom.  In order to receive this inheritance, man must first into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage with his wife:

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into…the new and everlasting covenant of marriage; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it (D&C 131:1-3).

Just like the number six teaches, man will be incomplete and forever short of perfection until he has been sealed for time and all eternity with his spouse.  Thankfully, the Lord has provided a way for us to do this very thing, which is evident by the next thing the Lord created:

And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them (Moses 2:27).

Once sealed, mankind is now prepared to enter into the rest of the Lord, which is represented by day seven of the creation.

Day 7 (Moses 3:1-3)

And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work…and I rested on the seventh day…and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good; And I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it (Moses 3:2-3).

The number seven represents perfection,[20] and just as the earth was “sanctified” on day seven of the creation, so too can we be sanctified on our day seven.  And just as the Lord rested from his labors on day seven of the creation, so too can we “enter into the rest of the Lord” (Moroni 7:3) on our day seven. 

Until They Were Obeyed

It is said that we learn and progress “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). What is interesting about this concept is that the earth’s progression from day one two day seven was done in a similar manner.  The Lord, according to the Book of Abraham, gave commandments to the earth on each day of creation, and then waited for the earth to obey:

 And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed (Abraham 4:18).

Once the earth had shown obedience to the Lords commandments, it was able to progress one day closer to perfection.  The Lord was then able to give the earth additional commandments, which again, moved the earth one day closer to perfection.
So it is with us. When we keep the commandments the Lord has given us, we progress towards perfection, which increases our desire to keep the higher commandments the Lord has given. If we are able to keep these higher laws, we again move closer to perfection. 

The Temple and Creation

Interestingly enough, the Lord invited ancient Israel to follow the earth’s faithful example during the creation process. This was done by modeling the Israelite tabernacle after the earth and its creation.  LDS scholar Jeffery Bradshaw wrote:

“The tabernacle…is a similitude based on Moses’ vision of the creation.  According to this view, the results of each day of Creation are symbolically reflected in temple furnishings.”[21]
For example, the basin of water placed outside the tabernacle might represent the waters the earth emerged from on day one. The light created for the earth could represent the seven-branched candlestick called the menorah. The great divider that the Lord put in the heavens on day two might represent the veil of the Tabernacle hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The birds created on day five may represent the two cherubim with outstretched wings that were embroidered on this veil.  The “beasts of the earth” might represent the animals that were placed on the altar for sacrifice. And the High Priest who is given dominion over the tabernacle was a type for Adam.  Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, this High Priest, on Israel’s behalf, would pass through this tabernacle and into Gods presence, the Holy of Holies, which represented day seven of the creation.  By so doing, the Israelites were symbolically taking the same steps the earth took during creation, which enabled them to enter into the Lords presence, and we can learn the same from the endowment!


[1] Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 16:314.
[2] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 113.
[3] This article will reference the Moses and Abraham creation account, as opposed to the creation account given in the endowment.  For an explanation why these creation accounts differ so dramatically, see Brunson, “Understanding theCreation.” 
[4] Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 16:314; emphasis added.
[5] Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 6:36
[6] Skousen, Earth in the Beginning, p. 48-49.
[7] Skousen, Earth in the Beginning, p. 51.
[8] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 114.
[9] Lundquist, “What is Reality,” By Study and Also By Faith, 1:429-430.  See also Gaskill, Sacred Symbols, p. 99-100.
[10] Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, p. 284; emphasis added.
[11] Gaskill, Sacred Symbols, p. 99-100.
[12] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 115-17.
[13] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 119.  For example, there are said to be “four quarters of the earth” (Revelation 20:8), four seasons, and four cardinal directions.
[14] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 120.
[15] Many of the following examples are cited in Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 120-122.
[16] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 121.
[17] While the fifth commandment is to “honor thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12), it could be argued that this is referring to your Heaving Parents.
[18] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 122.
[19] Maxwell, “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995, p. 66.
[20] Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 124.
[21] Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Book of Moses, p. 54. See also Bradshaw’s source for this quote: Barker, Revelation, pp. 24-25.