In the Beginning
1:1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
So begins the first book of the Bible. We call it “Genesis” (which means “beginning”), and appropriately so. For Genesis not only recounts the beginning of the creation in which we live, but it introduces, whether explicitly or in type, nearly all the major doctrines and themes of the Bible. Indeed, it introduces issues that, throughout the ages, have confronted mankind: the existence of God, the fall of man, spiritual warfare, faith, providence, obedience, accountability, judgment, grace. Yet, Genesis is written in simple language that a child can understand. It is basically the story of six men and their families: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. How appropriate that the Bible, whose theme is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (a message that can be understood by a child, yet has the power to save), begins with a book that can be understood by a child, and yet, introduces the most important issues that confront man.
Genesis begins with an account of the creation of the universe in which we live. The account is very simply written by Moses (the human author of Genesis), barely filling two pages of text. Moses did not have the “benefit” of modern science, but he has written an account of the creation that has withstood the test of time. Countless libraries of books concerning the origins of the universe have been written through the ages but, ultimately, the validity of each of these countless books stands or falls on whether it agrees with this two-page explanation of the creation. It has proved to be an accurate account, although there have been innumerable explicit attempts to prove it wrong. Thus, in the first two pages of the Bible, we are faced with the realization that the Bible, in itself, is a miracle. This account of the creation could only have been inspired by the Creator Himself.
“In the beginning” speaks of the beginning of our creation. God, of course, had no beginning and will have no end. The creation, as affirmed here, did have a beginning. This is also borne out by scientific observation, much to the chagrin of those who would like to think that there is no God. You see, a “beginning” implies an infinite Creator. This can be proved simply:
(1) Out of nothing comes nothing.
(2) Since there exists something (namely, the universe), statement (1) implies one of the two following possibilities:
(a) The universe always existed or
(b) The universe was created by a Creator that always existed.
(3) By observation, namely, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, we know that the universe did not always exist. (The Second Law of Thermodynamics states, in summary, that after any energy exchange or reaction, one is left with more “disorder” than one started with. Since the universe is not infinitely disordered, it cannot be infinitely old).
(4) Thus, the universe was created by something that always existed: an infinite Creator (since statement (3) nullifies statement (2a), making statement (2b) true).
Thus, by what we observe, we can prove the existence of an infinite Creator (whom we call “God”). To refute this proof, one has to reject one of the basic laws of science, the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In other words, it takes more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God (cf. Rom. 1:20). Admittedly, this proof does not tell us much about the nature of God (except that He is the Creator and He is infinite); the rest of the Bible expands on the nature of God.
So, the universe did have a beginning. Before this “beginning”, however, important decisions were made in regard to us. Among them: we were chosen to be saved (Eph. 1:4) and Christ was chosen to die in order to save us (I Pet. 1:20).
The words “God created” are significant to everyone who has existed and ever will exist. By them, all are made accountable to a higher being. As the elders say in the book of Revelation: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things” (Rev. 4:11). In itself, the fact that God created the heavens and the earth makes Him worthy to receive our praise.
Evidence that an intelligent being created the universe is inescapable. One cannot help but notice that everything in the universe, from the largest galaxy to the minutest particle, was designed. A design, in itself, implies a designer. Design does not occur by accident. This is intuitive to all. One cannot look at the inner workings of a watch without realizing that it was designed. It would be absurd to claim that the watch just came together by chance. The eye itself that examines the watch has a much more complex and beautiful design than the watch; yet, despite its design, some would claim that the eye came together by chance.
Now, the existence of a design implies a purpose. A designer of a watch designs the watch for the purpose of keeping time. Likewise, our Creator has designed us with a purpose. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10). We are more beautifully designed than the watch in that we have free will to decide for ourselves whether to fulfill the purpose for which we were designed. We can choose to seek God’s will for us, or we can choose to follow our own desires. Consider this though: a watch, if it fails to keep time properly, will be discarded. Similarly, the extent to which we fulfill or ignore our God-given purpose will determine our destiny. Thus, just as a design implies a designer, and a designer implies a purpose, so too, the existence of a purpose implies a destiny.
“God created the heavens and the earth”. “The heavens” are significant in that they are the dwelling place of God within His creation. God could have chosen to create the universe and live outside it. Our God chose to be a part of His creation. This reflects His care and direct interest in the goings-on in the universe. Many who would affirm the existence of God would deny that He takes an active interest in His creation. This is refuted implicitly by the fact that “God created the heavens”. It is also refuted by reason: why would God create a universe and then turn His back on it? But, alas, it is more comfortable for someone to believe in a God that has no concern for His creation, because belief in an impersonal God leaves one accountable to no higher power.
“The earth”, of course, signifies our dwelling place. And so, God begins by creating His own dwelling place, and then ours.
2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The creation started in chaos and disorder, thus, “formless and empty”. During each day of creation, God brought the creation to a higher state of order. After the seventh day, the creation was at its highest state of order. Then, the fall of man occurred and the Second Law of Thermodynamics began to take effect. At that time, the creation started its “bondage to decay” (see Rom. 8:21).
However, the creation will be renewed to order again after Christ returns. Then, the new heaven and new earth will be created. Peter says in Acts 3:21: Christ “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything”. Jesus, Himself, calls the time when He reigns on earth “the renewal of all things” (Matt. 19:28). For those in Christ, this renewing has already begun (praise the Lord), as Paul states: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16).
Initially, the creation was “dark”, thus “darkness” is linked to disorder. Darkness in the Bible is, of course, a symbol of sin and evil. Fallen man loves darkness (John 3:19), but “God is light” (I John 1:5).
“The Spirit of God”, which was “hovering over the waters”, participates in the creation. Jesus, the Son, also participates, as noted in Heb. 1:2; John 1:3; Col. 1:16, et. al. Thus, all three persons of the Holy Trinity were involved in the creation.
The First Day: Light
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night”. And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
God’s first direct quote in the Bible is “Let there be light.” With these words, He demonstrates the power of His words: they have the power to bring forth light to conquer the darkness, just as now His words bring forth light to a dark world.
Some would have a problem that the “light” was created before the “light-bearers” (such as the sun and the stars), which were created on the fourth day. Those who are puzzled by this have two questions: (1) From where did the light emanate?; (2) Can observations in science support the proposition that light came before the light-bearers?
To answer these:
First, the light emanated directly from God. The Creator of the universe certainly had the ability to be an ongoing source of light until He created the light-bearers. Interestingly, the New Jerusalem in the new earth, similarly, will be lit directly with God’s light (Rev. 21:23).
Second, from a scientific point of view, it is intriguing that “light’ was created first. You see, observationally, the one absolute in the world of science is the speed of light. Thus, scientifically, it makes sense that light was created first. Also, each day of creation can be scientifically viewed as bringing the universe to a higher state of order. So we see, in the seven days of creation, the universe going from the highest state of entropy (or disorder) to the highest state of order. Pure light is pure energy, unordered into matter and thus, at the highest state of disorder. So, for the creation to progress from disorder to order, light would necessarily have to be created before the light-bearers.
Note that God “separated the light from the darkness.” This is God’s desire: that light not mix with darkness, that the children of light keep away from the deeds of darkness, that the saints be holy and not conformed to this world where, indeed, darkness still is “over the surface of the deep.” Note that God did not eliminate the darkness with the light, but separated the light from the darkness. Originally man, in the light and fellowship with God, was separated from the darkness. But darkness indwelt the serpent; then, when man fell, darkness indwelt man. Thus, the external separation between light and darkness became an internal battle between light and darkness, and has remained so ever since.
The Second Day: Separation from God
6And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7So God made an expanse and separated the waters under the expanse from the waters above it. And it was so. 8God called the expanse “sky”. And there was evening and there was morning—the second day.
Here God creates the earth’s atmosphere, separating the waters that are to be formed into the land and seas from the waters that form the earth’s atmospheric protection.
It seems, however, that God is less pleased with this day of creation. This is the only day of creation that God did not bless by pronouncing it as “good”. Why not? Symbolically, the “waters above” separate the earth from God. God desires, above all, fellowship with His creatures. He has gone to great lengths to maintain a relationship with His creatures, even though we have consistently and universally turned our backs on Him. It should come as no surprise, then, that He does not bless the separation of the earth from His wonderful light.
The Third Day: New Life
9And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry ground “land”, and the gathered waters He called “seas”. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Here God creates the land. Scientists have observed that the continents once formed one great land mass. This matches the implication in these verses that there was one sea and one mass of land. Once again, observation supports the creation account. Interestingly, science is, in the last few hundred years, starting to catch up with what the Bible has stated all along! Unfortunately, the goal of many scientists is to develop scientific theory specifically to disprove the existence of God and to refute the Biblical account of creation. Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists (unfortunately, not a professing Christian), acknowledges this when he describes the motives of many scientists to refute the Big Band theory (a theory that supports the existence of a Creator): “Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention...There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang.” (A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, pp. 46-47).
Note that God says, “Let the land produce”. So, as early as the third day, God allows His creation to self-succiently carry out His work, albeit under His direction. The majority of the time, God chooses to do His work through His creation, rather than to directly intervene. He, in fact, forbids us to depend on His direct intervention when there is a more natural way to proceed: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matt. 4:7, cf. Deut. 6:16). Note that God had ordered the days of creation so that the land could produce and sustain plant life: there was light, there was atmosphere, there was water. So too, in our lives, God orders our development to prepare us to do His work and bear fruit to His glory. As cited above, “...we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). Of course, though we carry out His work, God still plays a role in our fruit-bearing: He prepares us for it; He makes a way for it to happen; He supports us through it; and, if done right, He receives the glory and praise resulting from it.
Heavenly Father, our perfect Creator, give us an appreciation for the beauty of Your creation; give us an awe for Your power as Creator; give us an understanding of You as Creator so that our faith may be strengthened and that we may glorify You for what so many would attribute to chance. We ask these things in Jesus' name, through whom You created all things, Amen.
To contact us: