Genesis 1

Genesis Timeline
・4000 BC Adam
・2000 BC Abraham
・1800 BC Death of Joseph (1804 BC)
・1500 BC Moses

In the Bible, Genesis is the book of beginnings. The opening words of the book invite us on a breathtaking journey of the beginning of the universe and the planet we call home. God, who existed before our beginning, is introduced as the One who brought the universe and everything in it into existence out of nothing.

Moses, the human writer of Genesis, made no attempt to prove God’s existence. He merely declared it.

The opening chapters of Genesis also give us important information about the beginning of human life and the entrance of sin and death into the world. Thankfully, we are also given the first hint of God’s plan to redeem His fallen creation in Genesis 3:15. Redemption offers each of us the opportunity to begin anew.

The Context
Moses, the human author of Genesis, described the creation of the universe, and more specially the earth, in Genesis 1. After creating the heavens and the earth, God began the process of shaping and filling what He had created. God shaped the creation over a three-day period. On day one He created light and separated it from the darkness (1:3-5). On the second day He separated the seas from the skies (1:6-8). And on the third day of creation, God formed the dry land, called earth, and added vegetation capable of reproducing according to their kinds (1:9-13).

After God shaped the creation, He began the process of filling or populating what He had created. On the fourth day, God filled the heavens with the sun, moon, and stars (1:14-19). On the fifth day He filled the oceans with sea creatures and the skies with birds (1:20-23). God then blessed the creatures He had made and commanded them to multiply and fill the earth (1:22). Finally, on the sixth day of creation, God made the animals and then made human beings in His image (1:26-29). God gave man dominion over the earth and its creatures and resources.

Once God had completed His work of shaping and filling the creation, He rested on the seventh day. This day of rest is later referred to in the Bible as the “sabbath” (Ex. 16:23). The word sabbath comes from the Hebrew word “shabbat.” This word is related to the Hebrew word for “seven” and means to rest or to cease from labor. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy (2:3) or set apart from the other days of creation.

1:1 In the beginning [marks the start of time on earth] God [(Heb. ’elohim) only God can create something out of nothing; God did not create everything simultaneously] created [(Heb. bara’); Latin ex nihilo means “out of nothing”; note comprehensive phrase that indicates the totality of the universe…] the heavens [the infinite space above the earth (includes sun, moon, stars)] and the earth [the world in which humanity exists].

The opening words of Genesis, the book of beginnings, take us back to the point when God brought the universe into existence out of nothing. This beginning marks the start of time. Prior to the beginning, only God existed. He had no beginning.

Elohim, the Hebrew term used for God, is a plural word that denotes strength, emphasizes God’s majesty, and alludes to the Trinity. The triune God revealed His power by creating the heavens and the earth, a comprehensive phrase that refers to the universe and everything in it. As Creator, He has dominion over all His creation.

These opening words of the Bible set the Lord God distinctly apart from all mythical deities in pagan creation stories (see Jer. 10:11).

1:2 Now the earth was formless [implies that the earth had not received its final shape; unformed] and empty [lacked contents; unfilled; no life on it], darkness [light had not yet been created] was [looks back at the state of the earth as created in 1:1] over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit [(Heb. ruah which means to breathe or blow)] of God was hovering [supervising His handiwork; root used in Deut. 32:11 of eagle brooding over its young to develop them] over the waters.

The story of creation immediately shifts from the universe to one of the smallest planets in the cosmos, the earth. The earth is important because it is the stage on which God’s redemptive purposes are revealed.

The initial condition of the earth is described as being formless and empty, not yet inhabited and not yet habitable for people — God’s crowning creation. However, all of that changed when the Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity, engaged in the creative process.

Like an eagle brooding over her nest to develop her young (Deut. 32:11), the Spirit of God was hovering over the undeveloped earth to bring order out of chaos and fullness out of emptiness.

1:3 And God said [these words mark off the stages of creation; note that God created by the spoken word], “Let there be light [essential element of life and growth],” and there was light [thus starting the flow of time as measured in days].

God demonstrated His power by speaking everything that is into existence. Some ancient creation accounts involve monsters and gods and cosmic struggles. Unlike ancient creation myths, Genesis presents one God who merely spoke creation into being and who is still in control of His creation.

The phrase “Then God said” introduces each new phase of God’s creative activity. God did not create everything simultaneously but instead in a specific order and with a specific purpose in mind. The command “Let there be light” are the first recorded words of God in Scripture. The Bible affirms that all of creation is the product of “the word of the Lord” and “the breath of His mouth” (Ps. 33:6).

The Creative Work of God
・Days 1 – 3 God shaped the creation
・Day 1: light (1:3-5)
・Day 2: water, atmosphere (1:6-8)
・Day 3: earth, vegetation (1:9-13)
・Days 4 – 6 God populated the creation
・Day 4: sun, moon, stars (1:14-19)
・Day 5: sea creatures, birds (1:20-23)
・Day 6: animals (1:24-25), man (1:26-29)

1:4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

God commanded the light to shine and saw that this creative act was good. The word good suggests something that was beneficial for everything yet to be created — plants, animals, and mankind. God knows what is good and is intent on providing what is good for the well-being of His creation.

Light is good because it is essential to the welfare of all living things. Light is also good because it restricts the influence of the darkness. Once He created the light, God separated it from the darkness. Light and darkness, a metaphor for good and evil elsewhere in Scripture, have nothing in common.

1:5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

God defined the respective functions of light and darkness and named them accordingly. He called the light day and He called the darkness night. Giving something a name indicates God’s dominion over that which He had named. The cycle of evening and morning became the first day. God’s creative activity took place over a period of six days and then God rested on the seventh day.

1:6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse [derived from a root that means “to beat out” or “to spread out” and denotes an extended surface (like a dome)] between the waters to separate water [surface water] from water [water in atmosphere].”

1:7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.

1:8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

1:9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place [surface water organized into seas], and let dry ground [would be inhabited by animals and humans, which would be created on day six] appear.” And it was so.

1:10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing [the means by which each plant and tree would continue to reproduce itself] plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed [the means by which each plant and tree would continue to reproduce itself] in it, according to their various kinds [solid, unbreakable unit that allows for varieties within the kind].” And it was so.

1:12 The 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.

1:13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to [three services the lights provide…] [1] separate the day from the night, and let them [2] serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,

1:15 and let them [sun and moon] be lights in the expanse of the sky to [3] give light on the earth.” And it was so.

1:16 [described from the vantage point of looking from earth out into space] God made two great [in comparison (size and significance) to the other heavenly bodies (including stars) viewed from the earth] lights — the greater light [sun] to govern [dominate] the day and the lesser light [moon] to govern [dominate] the night. He also made the stars [cf. Ps. 147:4].

1:17 God [not a big bang or some other cosmic event] set [purposefully and intentionally] them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth [cf. 1:15],

1:18 to govern the day and the night [cf. 1:14], and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good [because they provide the light and warmth needed to survive on earth].

1:19 And there was evening, and there was morning — the fourth day.

1:20 And God said, “Let the water [see 1:6] teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky [see 1:6].”

1:21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

1:22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”

1:23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

1:24 And God said, “Let the land [see 1:9] produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock [large four-footed beasts], creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind [solid, unbreakable unit that allows for varieties/mutations within the kind (but not transmutation or one kind becoming another kind)].” And it was so.

1:25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

1:26 Then God said, “Let us [personal (first person); contrast with the impersonal (third person) “Let there be…”; “a plurality in singularity of being” (Hobbs, “The Origin of All Things,” p. 28)] make [out of already created material (Gen. 3:19); no definite article before “man” — therefore could read “mankind”] man [from Hebrew adham, root for soil; term includes both man and woman] in our [“But to me the most satisfactory answer is the Trinity.” (Hobbs, “The Origin of All Things,” p. 28)] image [contrast with the creation account of each creature (“according to their kinds”); from Hebrew root meaning “to cut out or off” as in our expression “a chip off the old block”], in our likeness [or appearance; a more indefinite term than image; emphasizes that although man is like God, he is not God or deity], and let them rule [only man given dominion in God’s creation; to rule over in the sense of subduing, managing, and developing the potential; stewards of God’s creation; dominion over not evolved from] over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

God made man on the sixth day of creation. Man did not just happen or evolve from previously created forms of life. Instead, man is the purposeful and special creation of God. Unlike God’s previous acts of creation, the creation of man is introduced in a more personal way: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” God referred to Himself in the plural, a reference to the Trinity. The Scriptures affirm that both Jesus (John 1:3) and the Holy Spirit were involved in the creation of the world.

Unlike the animals that were created after their kind, God made man in His own image. The term image suggests a resemblance to God. Men and women are intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual beings that will never cease to exist. Man also has the capacity to know, to have fellowship with, and to worship God. The more indefinite term likeness emphasizes that although man reflects the divine nature, he is not divine. Sadly, the image of God in man was marred by sin after the fall of humanity.

Being made in God’s image has profound moral implications. All human life, including life in the womb, is sacred and should be treated with dignity and respect. The belief in the sanctity of human life is ultimately rooted in the understanding that all human beings bear the image of God. The sixth commandment prohibits murder (Ex. 20:13). This prohibition is grounded in the belief that life is sacred because we are created in God’s image. Because of the sanctity and inherent worth of life, we should cherish and protect this precious gift from God.

Mankind is the crowning point of God’s creation. While God charged the animals to be fruitful and multiply, He gave man the additional responsibility and privilege of having dominion over His creation. God expects man to exercise responsible stewardship of the earth and all of its natural resources.

1:27 So God created [definite article included in Hebrew, therefore indicating that God began with one man, Adam] man [term includes both man and woman; sexuality makes it possible for them to reproduce after their kind] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female [cf. 2:18,21-24 re: details as to how woman came to be] he created them.

Humanity is not the product of a cosmic accident or blind forces. We learn from the first chapter of Genesis that a loving God created man as part of a wonderful plan. The words “so God created” indicate that creation was the intentional act of God.

The Hebrew word man is “adam,” which is also the name given to the first man. This word can also be translated “mankind” and includes man and woman. God declared that mankind and all that He had made was “very good” (1:31). However, the creation of man and woman is the pinnacle of God’s creative activity. David marveled that out of all that God had created, He crowned man alone “with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5).

God created man in his own image while He “made the wild animals according to their kinds” (1:25). The phrase “in his own image” does not refer to physical likeness, for God is Spirit (John 4:24). Rather, it means that, like God, we are spiritual beings with the capacity to love, communicate, and have fellowship with God and one another.

The truth that each person is created in the image of God is the primary reason for individual worth and responsibility. Our individual worth is not grounded in our abilities, skills, achievements, resources, or possessions, but in the fact that we are created in God’s image. Human life is sacred because God created man and woman in His image. Because human life is sacred, all people should honor and protect it.

When God created man in His image, He created them male and female. The next chapter of Genesis provides additional details about the creation of the first man and the first woman. Because both male and female bear the image of God, there are no qualitative differences between them. They are equal in dignity and worth and share the responsibility of dominion over God’s creation.

1:28 God blessed [the blessing is primarily “posterity”] them [male and female] and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule [invested authority, dominion] over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God blessed the man and the woman He had made and gave them the same charge He had given to other living creatures: be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth. Sexuality is an important part of God’s design for His creation and essential for being fruitful and multiplying in order to fill the earth.

The Bible again emphasizes that God assigned humans the responsibility of subduing the earth and ruling over every creature. This command does not give humans the right to abuse God’s creation but instead the privilege of promoting the well-being of the planet and all of its inhabitants and resources. Our own welfare is ultimately linked to the welfare of the planet.

1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

1:30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God graciously made provision for the dietary needs of His creation. Humans and animals must have nourishment in order to survive. God therefore gave man and all the wildlife of the earth access to the vegetation He had created on the third day. In the beginning, humans were vegetarians, surviving on plants and fruit. Only after the flood did humans begin to consume the flesh of animals. According to Isaiah 11:7, after Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom on earth, carnivorous animals will again return to a vegetarian diet.

1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning [note Heb. method of reckoning time from sunset to sunset]—the sixth day.

After the creation of man, God surveyed the totality of His creative work and declared that it was very good. And indeed it was. At this point there was harmony in creation. All that God had created supported all life forms. The world was not yet marred by sin and its consequences.

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