Genesis: The Creation

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THE CREATION

 

Man likes answers; he does not like uncertainty.  Almost all people, from every race and from every corner on earth have, from time immemorial, been seeking answers to the same questions:

  • Where did I come from?
  • Why are we here?
  • Where are we going?
  • What is my purpose?
  • What does the future hold?

Philosophers, poets, scientists, and theologians have written uncountable books trying to answer those kinds of questions.  Preeminent among all that literature is the Bible, specifically the book of Genesis.  The title of the first book of the Old Testament comes from a Greek word, geneseos, which was the title given it by the translators of the Greek Old Testament, called the Septuagint.  It’s a word that has to do with “generations,” and “origins,” and the “source” of all things.  That is a very simple way to describe the book of Genesis:  the book of beginnings.  Really, everything in our material universe finds its beginning in Genesis:  the beginning of the universe and the world on which we live; the beginning of life on Earth; the beginning of people; the beginning of sin; the beginning of salvation; the beginning of God’s chosen people, Israel; the beginning of the Arabs, descendants from Ishmael; the beginning of all other nations on the Earth; the beginning of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants; and even the beginning of marriage.

As Christians, we are not materialists, believing that all created things are simply forms of self-generating and self-creating energy.  We are not pantheists, who believe the universe is God and that everything else is an illusion.  Christians are theists because we believe in a triune God who has existed from eternity past.  He created all things out of absolutely nothing.

1.  The heavens and the earth, Genesis 1:1—10

This group of verses answers the most profound question asked:  Where did life on Earth come from?  We can imagine that Moses wrote it in answer to that very question.  When you read these verses, you realize they are just as profound as the question, yet they are simple and concise.  They are not scientific, yet they do not shut out science.  They were written in plain language for any person to understand.  Moses simply states that God created all things.  He does not state how.

The universe, verse 1

God is the subject of the very first sentence of Scripture.  He is the dominant Character throughout the rest of the Book and even throughout the Bible itself.  We are not told where God came from or when He began, only that He has always existed and that “the beginning” refers to “the dateless past.”

In the dateless past, God is seen “creating” the material universe.  The word “created” comes from bara, meaning “to create,” “to make new,” “to bring into existence without the use of pre-existing material.”  This is clearly something the writer of Hebrews took literally, as he wrote what he did under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

By faith—by believing God—we know that the world and the stars—in fact, all things—were made at God’s command; and that they were all made from things that can’t be seen.  (Hebrews 11:3  TLB)

Bara is used almost 50 times in the Old Testament, and every time it used, perfection is implied.  That is, whatever has been created (bara), whether from pre-existing material or created out of nothing, the thing created is perfect.  This makes sense.  How could a perfect God create something imperfect?

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11  NKJV)

Earth’s initial state, verse 2

Did God really create Earth a chaotic mess?   Many Bible scholars believe not.  They believe the Earth became a shapeless, chaotic mess when a great catastrophe occurred.  They believe the Earth was originally created perfect, just like all of God’s work was.  They believe that a gap of an indeterminable amount of time exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2; that during that gap, the fall of Lucifer/Satan occurred and that his fall caused the Earth to fall into a ruined state.  Therefore, the Earth may be very ancient and what we read in Genesis 1 is not a creation but a “re-creation,” or a restoration.

The Gap Theory. Maybe, maybe not.

The Gap Theory. Maybe, maybe not.

Does this “gap theory” have merit?  Possibly; the notion of “created chaos” is itself a contradiction.  Those who hold to this “gap theory” also hold steadfastly to the notion that God is only Creator and that even in His acts of “re-creation,” He did so exactly as written in the Genesis account.

For Jehovah created the heavens and earth and put everything in place, and he made the world to be lived in, not to be an empty chaos. I am Jehovah, he says, and there is no other!  (Isaiah 45:18  TLB)

Light, verses 3—5

The creation of light was a spontaneous act.  God spoke and light appeared.  Not only did God create light, but the cycle of days and nights began at that moment as well.  The very fact that God named these aspects of His creation “daytime” and “nighttime” implies His absolute sovereignty, for to give a name is considered to be an exercise of sovereign right.

Firmament, verses 6—10

This happened on the second day.  What is a firmament (KJV), anyway?  It’s an old timey word meaning “expanse,” and as it used here refers to our atmosphere, which supports water as clouds, fog, and in other forms.

The work of the second day involved dividing water into its two forms, liquid and vapor and putting them in their proper places.  Curiously, this work is the only work God performed during Creation that was not pronounced as being “good.”  Scholars suggest three reasons:

  • Our atmosphere provided a place for Satan’s activities, Ephesians 2:2;
  • When the waters were separated, all the unclean spirits that had been trapped in the chaotic mess of the Earth were set free;
  • This work was not really completed until the third day.

2.  Heavens and Earth filled, Genesis 1:11—25

Plants, verses 11—13

On this third day, the seas and oceans were put in their places and the continents and islands formed.  God’s inspired Word tells us this all happened in a single day!  Scientists today would have us believe it took eons of evolution for this to happen.  The creative power of God is mind boggling.

There is enough water on the face of the Earth to cover its entire surface to a depth of over two miles.  Water covers approximately 71% of our planet’s surface.  That’s a whole lot of water to move around!

The growth of plants then took place.

“Let the earth burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant, and fruit trees with seeds inside the fruit, so that these seeds will produce the kinds of plants and fruits they came from.”  (Genesis 1:11, 12  TLB)

Did God actually create all that plant life?  The text is ambiguous.  Where did those seeds come from?  If the so-called “gap theory” is true, it might well be that the land already contained the fossilized remains of its past, including seeds.  During the process of re-creation, the Lord simply let the land and seeds do what they do best:  bring forth life.

Or, it may be that God simply told the land what to do, and it did.

Sun and moon, verses 14—19

The work of the first day—light—paved the way for the creative acts of the fourth day.  Heavenly bodies—the sun, moon, and the stars—are called in the original “light-bearers” rather than “lights.”  All these heavenly bodies had been created and hung in space back on the first day, but apparently were dark until now.  The book of Job implies that all these galactic bodies had been in space as the Earth was being prepared:

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined, and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?  (Job 38:4—7  TLB)

On this day, these planets and stars were made channels for the transmission of light, which had already been created.

This work is almost beyond understanding and staggering in its scope.  Light travels at the incomprehensible speed of 186,000 miles per second, and a light year is the time it takes light to travel in one Earth year.  Our solar system is just one of many that make up our galaxy, which is over 100,000 light years across, or about 600,000,000,000,000 miles.  Our galaxy is only one of over 100,000,000,000 galaxies we can see through powerful telescopes.

1750_20_the-milky-way-from-the-tooran-desert-in-iran

And out all that, there is only one you!

Fish and fowl, verses 20—23

On the fifth day, God created the birds of the air and all the animals in the sea.  Then God did an interesting thing:  He blessed them all.  God smiled on the birds and the fish.  They would flourish under His care and blessing.

Land animals, verses 24, 25

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.  And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (NKJV)

During the sixth day, God created all living creatures, from mammals to reptiles, from insects to worms and spiders.  The use of the phrase “according to its kind” kills the idea of evolution with its mutations and variants.

3.  Man created, Genesis 1:26—31; 2:7

The crowning glory of God’s creative efforts was man.  Everything up this moment was preparatory:  God had to make a world suitable for man to live in.  Imagine that!  This whole planet—in fact, the entire universe—was created for man.

Image of God, verse 26

God made man in His “image,” a word meaning to have some semblance to the reality but lacking its fullness.  Man was also created in God’s “likeness,” meaning man was created similar in some way to God, but he is not in any way an exact copy of God.  Man is not a little God, but he is related to God and was created to bear certain spiritual distinctives which set man apart from the animal world around him.  Man is not animal.  Man is created to be like his Creator, and God is no animal.

G.B. Williamson notes that in three ways man is made in God’s image:

  • Man is a spiritual being capable of immortality;
  • Man is a moral being bearing God’s likeness;
  • Man is a reasoning, intellectual being.

From the dust of the earth, 1:27; 2:7

God created all forms of life by merely speaking them into existence, except man.  Man he sculpted from the material our planet is made from.  The question we must ask is:  Why dirt?  Why didn’t God speak man into existence like the animals?  The answer only God  knows, but we may speculate.  Perhaps God wanted to make sure that man understood how different he is from the animal world—different and distinct in every way.  He therefore took time to fashion him carefully and precisely, yet making him out of the very “stuff” his world is made.  Man, God’s crowing achievement, is connected both to his Creator and to his world.

To exercise dominion, verses 28—31

Man was created to exercise dominion over his world, and in this man is eminently qualified since he was created in God’s likeness.  He was given the mental and emotional capabilities to do the job as well as his Creator.  As created by God, Adam and Eve were the only two absolutely perfect specimens of the human race, apart from the incarnate Christ.  While it is true that sin marred our divine likeness, we still have it deep down inside, and in Christ it is being regenerated.

Both Adam and Eve were given dominion over the Earth; this illustrates perfectly that mankind finds its full meaning and expression in man and woman together, not apart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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