Week One

Posted: January 4, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 1, “Week One”

Where to begin? According to the character Maria in The Sound of Music, we ought to start at the very beginning, for it is a very good place to start. The obvious question then becomes: the beginning of what? After all, everything has a beginning. Songs have a starting point for performance, and can be backed up to the point of composition. The composer has a starting point of his/her musical idea, then back to his/her musical training, then back to the beginning of his/her own life. It goes back through the generations of parents & ancestors, to the very first humans on planet earth. Earth itself has a beginning, being formed at a certain time and in a certain place in the universe…and even the universe has a beginning, being made of matter & basic atomic elements. All of it has a beginning…all except God. God is the creator & God is the ultimate beginning for everything that is seen and unseen. 

So if we’re going to start at the beginning, we’ve got to start with God. But how do we study God? How can we know the One who ought to be unknowable? After all, He is infinite in size, power, knowledge, and existence. Everything about Him goes far beyond our intellectual capabilities to comprehend. The idea that mere humans could “study” anything about God is almost ludicrous. As if we could put Him under a microscope, and peer into His being…it’s impossible! It would be impossible, with the exception of one thing: God wants us to know Him. The Almighty Creator God desires to have communion with His creation, and thus He has revealed Himself to us. In an act of sheer grace, God allows men & women to know Him as He is, in order that we might properly worship Him for all eternity.

All of that brings us to the Bible, and specifically to the book of Genesis. To know God, we have to study the revelation that God has given of Himself, and that means we need to study the Scripture. Not just part of the Scripture; all of it. We cannot read only the books of the New Testament if we want to know the fullness of our God, although we certainly see God in the pages of the New Testament. The glories of the Almighty are made clearest in the Person of Jesus: His life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection. But the gospels are the climax of the rest of the Book, the foundations of which are laid in the pages of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians that read only the New Testament shortchange themselves on their understanding and relationship with God. Do they know Jesus? Praise God, yes! But they would know Jesus even better if they just read the rest of His book.

Where does His book begin? With Genesis, the book of beginnings. In it, we see the beginning of the world, the beginning of the human race, the beginning of marriage, the beginning of sin & death, and the beginning of the gospel, as well as of the people group/nation that leads to its fulfillment. We see something very good become bad, tainted by sin – and it eventually leads to a point in the book of Revelation when it becomes incredibly good all over again. The book of Genesis not only provides a foundation for our understanding of God, but of the rest of 66 books of the Bible. We dare not neglect it!

What do we know about Genesis? For one thing, we know the author: Moses. That statement alone is highly controversial, as the Mosaic authorship of Genesis has come under grand attack from liberal theologians. Yet for thousands of years, the idea that Moses authored the entire Pentateuch (the 1st five books of the Bible) had been virtually unquestioned. Both the Old and New Testaments repeatedly refer to Moses as the author of the Law as a whole, and this has always included the book of Genesis along with Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. When summing up the teaching of the Old Testament law concerning Himself, Jesus often referred generically to the writings of “Moses,” (Mt 8, Mk 12, Lk 16, Jn 5) or “Moses and the prophets,” (Lk 24:44).

Yet the objection often is raised that Moses was not alive during the period of Genesis, so how could he have written it? Some go even so far as to suggest that Moses was not alive during a period of time when human writing even existed, thus discounting Moses (and the Biblical record) altogether. As to the second question, Moses lived in the 2nd millennium BC, during the age of the Egyptian pharaohs…there’s no question that writing was prevalent. The code of Hammurabi was written centuries prior to Moses’ birth, so writing isn’t a problem. As to the issue of time-separation, we need to remember two things: (1) Moses was instructed by God, and thus wrote under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, just as much as any other author of the Scripture, and (2) it’s quite possible Moses was the chief editor of the book, rather than the original author of the accounts of Adam, Noah, etc. It seems probable that each generation recorded the events of its day, and God gave those accounts to Moses, which he compiled & put together in the cohesive book that exists today. There’s some internal evidence of that through the various divisions of “generations” or “history” (Hb “toledoth” תּוֹלֵדוֹת) found in 2:4, onward. Regardless how Moses wrote the book, the evidence of the Bible is overwhelming that Moses did write the book. The only real reason for doubt is if someone doubts the inspiration of Scripture as a whole.

The fact that Moses is the author of Genesis tells us something important about its content: it is Hebrew-centric. Although the book of Genesis details the beginnings of every nation on planet earth, it ultimately isn’t about those other nations; it’s about one nation: the Hebrews/Israelites. This one nation will eventually bring forth one Messiah, who in turn will provide salvation for all the world. Thus although the book covers much, it really has a laser-focus. First it shows us what went wrong, and then shows us what God did to make it right. If we miss that, then we miss the whole point.

Of course, all of that comes later. It all begins at the very beginning: Week One (literally!). In order to know God, we must first know Him as our Creator. This world (and us specifically) are not the result of random chance – we are not the result of a series of games between competing lesser “gods” – we were specially created for a specific purpose: to know and give glory to our Creator. God is our Maker; worship Him!

Genesis 1

  • The beginning (1-2)

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

  1. Honestly, we could stop right there & have enough to ponder for months on-end. “In the beginning” = at the head / at the top. The same Hebrew root word used to name “Rosh Hoshanna,” the beginning (rosh) of the year (ha-shanna) is used to describe the beginning of the beginnings. בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית (Be-Roshit = In [be] the beginning [roshit]) At the chief of all things – in the beginning of all time – when the clock of the universe first started ticking…at that time, something was already going on.
  2. What was it? God was there. God pre-existed existence. At the beginning, nothing existed, with the singular exception of God. Nothing created Him, no one gave Him birth…God simply was. As the angelic cherubim & 24 elders of heaven say of Him, He is “the One who is and who was and who is to come,” (Rev 4:8, 11:17) – the exact same title Jesus speaks of Himself (Rev 1:8). He is everlasting – ever-existent. This is why He reveals His name to Moses as simply “I AM,” (Exo 3:14). Our names are given us by our parents, but God has no parent. He names Himself, and the most basic description He can provide is simply that He is. The covenant name of YHWH is basically the 3rd person version of “I AM,” roughly meaning the “ever-existent one.”
    1. Skeptics often trip over this aspect of God. After all, if everything has a beginning, then what was the beginning of God? They say that Christians (and Jews & other theists) assume faulty logic when they claim all things have a beginning with the exception of God. Yet the same argument can be turned back around to them. All things do indeed have a beginning, and that includes basic elements of matter. For those who claim an atheistic “big bang” beginning to the universe, then the material & gravity used in that “big bang” had to originate somewhere. To conceive of a material universe that simply exists as endless infinite cycles is to imagine an absurdity. In the end, the atheists are the one without an answer to the question “What existed before the beginning”; not Christians. We do have an answer: God. God existed before the beginning, and because He is God, He is unconstrained by natural limits.
    2. Ultimately, this comes down to our presuppositions. Everyone has some bias – everyone starts with at least some assumptions and preconceived ideas (Christians, Hindus, atheists, etc.). The questions are these: (1) are you able to recognize your presuppositions? And (2) are your presuppositions accurate? Only Christians can answer both questions affirmatively. Atheists have a collection of evidence, but no more evidence than any other belief system…they just choose to interpret it differently. In the end, they only have a theory, and it is unprovable on a cosmic scale. Other religions have a belief system, but no more proof than the atheist. Only Christians have a belief system and We have the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. How is it that we can know that the facts provided by Genesis regarding the creation of the universe is true? Because Jesus historically, factually rose from the dead. In doing so, He proved that He is God…and because He believes the account of Genesis, then we can know it is a fact.
  3. Back to vs. 1:1 – who is this “God” who created everything? Here, He is given the name “Elohim,” (אֱלֹהִים) – His covenantal name not to be used until Chapter 2. (Which is one more reason to affirm Mosaic authorship.) “Elohim” is the plural form of the generic word for God (“El”) – an argument often used to affirm the doctrine of the Trinity. While by no means can be said that the Trinity is explicitly taught through the use of “Elohim,” it certainly is not denied. Perhaps the best explanation of the plural form is the “plural of majesty” – but even that doesn’t discount the possibility for the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In fact, those ideas become even more plain through the rest of Chapter 1.
  4. The overall point is what this eternally-existent God was doing at the time of the beginning. There came a moment when the beginning actually ‘began,’ and God “created the heavens and the earth.” Question: Is that a summary statement of the rest of the chapter, or a singular statement of a specific act? There’s probably a bit of both. The actual formation of the heavens and earth is seen throughout Chapter 1, but there’s at least some action that takes place, because there is stuff for God to work with in vs. 2…

2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

  1. What was everything like in the very beginning? Genesis 1:2 tells us. God existed, He created all the matter in the universe, and it existed as unformed waters – not chaotic (though some scholars describe it that way), but definitely formless. It was “void,” empty of everything…a logical description, considering that nothing had yet been created. God created a bunch of stuff, and was preparing it for use.
    1. Because of the formlessness of the earth, some well-meaning Christians suggest a “gap” of time between verse 1 & verse 2. They suggest that 1:1 states that God created everything as He intended it to be, but something must have happened for it to be thrown into a formless, empty state. This Gap Theory suggests that this was the result of a cosmic battle between God and Satan, and this was the moment that Satan rebelled against God, and was cast out of heaven like lightning (Lk 10:18). His fall to earth (along with 1/3 of the angels) destroyed the creation of God & thus had to be re-formed in 1:2-19.
    2. It is an interesting theory, and it certainly would provide an explanation for when Satan did fall, and why he was already prepared in Chapter 3 to tempt Adam and Eve to sin, as he had done. It could also potentially explain the “millions of years” seen in various forms of carbon-dating. Yet there are (at least) two problems. (1) The fossil record is not explained at all, considering that the earth was “empty.” There were no dead animals to experience fossilization. (2) There is no grammatical indication of a break of any kind between vss. 1-2. In fact, the grammar indicates the opposite, as 1:2 begins with a conjunction (“and”), indicating a continuation of the previous thought. The Gap Theory (though well-intended) falls short, and actually provides more problems than answers.
    3. Do we know when Satan fell? No…but we know he did fall, and that is enough. We need to be careful in our Bible interpretation to be silent when the Scripture is silent, not inventing answers where there are none.
    4. Are there explanations for the millions of years proclaimed by carbon-dating and other forms of radiometric dating? There are fundamental questions regarding the assumptions used in formulating radiometric dating, including whether or not the nuclear decay rate of atoms are truly constant at all. If the assumptions are wrong, then the conclusions are wrong. For those interested, there is an abundance of scientific literature written from the perspective of Bible-believing Christians. Though these scientists are often marginalized, their arguments are worth heavy consideration. (Recommended resources: Answers in Genesis – answersingenesis.org, Institute for Creation Research – icr.org, Creation Evidence Museum – creationevidence.org)
    5. At a certain point, a simple decision needs to be made: Will we, or will we not, believe the Bible? What has proven itself true throughout the ages: the knowledge of man, or the revelation of God? Man’s knowledge & understanding changes with the times and cultures. At some points, it affirmed the Biblical record – at other times, it veered away from it. We’re now at a point in time when the culture is telling us that biological men aren’t necessarily men, nor are biological women, women. (Which camp denies basic observable science?!) Yet the Bible has been proven correct over & over. Given enough time & evidence, the Bible always proves true. Choose to believe the word of God! 
  2. So that was the state of the world as God prepared to fashion everything in the universe. What was the state of God? Genesis 1:2 tells us “the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.” We know that God the Father is invisible, being spirit (1 Tim 1:17, John 4:24). Yet the 3rd person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, sometimes appears in visible form – such as a dove, at the time of Jesus’ baptism. (When He again, came down over the waters in order to come to Jesus.) Here, God the Holy Spirit hovered in true presence, just prior to creation. Question: Where was Jesus? If God the Father is mentioned in 1:1, and God the Spirit mentioned in 1:2, where is God the Son? He may be unmentioned in Genesis, but there is no doubt that the Scripture shows Him as fully present in this moment. John 1:1–3, “(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” God the Father, Son, and Spirit were all 100% present at creation. One God, three Persons – all equal, unified in purpose, character, and power, yet eternally distinct in Persons. It is a mystery, but one from which the Bible does not shy away. If we are to know this God, we need to know Him as He is, and He has eternally revealed Himself as Trinity.
    1. The whole Godhead was fully involved in the act of creation, and He is just as fully involved in the act of salvation. Father, Son, and Spirit all have roles in our forgiveness & eternal life. We might not understand it fully, but we can still appreciate it & worship Him for it!

That’s all prelude. What follows are the six days of Creation – the seventh day (the Sabbath rest) is traditionally included in Chapter 2. God has set the preparations…now He works.

  • General creation (3-13); Day 1: light (3-5)

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

  1. Notice the Scripture has not yet mentioned any stars. From whence did the light come? This alone has caused some to question the Biblical account. Again, we have to start with a position of trust. If we can believe 1:1, then everything else is a piece of cake. If we believe the resurrection of Christ, then everything else is an absolute certainty! There are two primary explanations for the light. (1) Although stars are not yet mentioned, some suggest that God created the stars at this point; they simply cannot be seen upon the earth until Day 4. This is possible, and still upholds the Biblical account. Or (2) the light that is seen isn’t that of starlight, but God’s glory. This seems far more plausible. The Bible says that God dwells in “unapproachable light,” (1 Tim 6:16), and that in the eternal state of heaven that no sun nor moon will be required, for the light of the Lamb of God will be our light (Rev 21:23). God is so amazing, that glory shines forth from Him – enough to light up the whole universe if He so chooses! Whatever this light is, God still determines a cycle for it, showing a distinction between Day & Night.
    1. In the process, we get insight to the Hebrew understanding of days. The traditional Hebrew way of counting time is to go from evening-to-morning. Their Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday, and continues until sundown on Saturday – a full 24 hours, from evening on one day all the way through the morning and afternoon the next.
    2. This also helps us understand how the death of Jesus could be counted as 3 days. If He was crucified at 3pm on a Friday, that’s one day – Friday sundown starts day 2 – Saturday is day 3, and Jesus is risen from the dead prior to sunrise on Sunday.
  2. Upon the creation of this first thing, God decides that “it was good.” The word is “tov” (טוֹב ~ mazel tov = good fortune), an extremely common word referring to something good, pleasant, or desirable. It could refer to beauty or moral excellence. The context here (as in all the initial acts of creation) is that this was God’s perfect desire. God wanted it this way, and it was so. What God does is good, because God is good. He is the source of all goodness, and the very definition of it. We know what good is by looking to God. And the opposite is true as well. We know what is bad when we do what is contrary to God. When our lives look more like the world than they do Jesus, that’s bad – but when we are transformed by God’s word and God’s Spirit more into the image of Christ, that’s good. We ought to want what is good. (And if we don’t, we should pray that God would change our wants & desires!)
    1. The point here (which will be made repeatedly through the chapter) is that when God first made it, it was all good. This was the ideal – something that is sadly lost due to sin, but thankfully, something that will be recovered after Jesus’ glorious return!
  3. BTW – This was Day 1. Should we interpret these as literal 24-hour days, or day-ages (as in some contexts of the Day of the Lord)? Unless we have clear indication from the text otherwise, the strongest theological position is that of literal 24-hour days. Arguments can be made for other interpretations, but they include pretty big leaps and assumptions that aren’t driven from a plain reading of the text. The same wording in any other context outside of Genesis 1 would unquestionably refer to 24-hour days, so there’s no reason to interpret Genesis 1 any other way. (Again, it’s a matter of faith. We either believe the Biblical record, or we don’t.) Question: can someone still be a born-again Christian and not believe in a literal 6-day creation? Yes…but why would you want to? A Christian puts him/herself in a tenuous position when we start being the judge of when to take Scripture as literal or figurative. Properly speaking, the Scripture itself should be the judge! Context is clear as to when something is symbolic or narrative/historic…and there is little in this context that indicates anything other than literal narrative. We need to be careful to submit ourselves to the teaching of the Bible & not vice-versa.
  • Day 2: heavens (6-8)

6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

  1. What exactly is a “firmament”? This is a far less common word in Scripture, and often refers to a surface, expanse, or plate of some sort. In some contexts, it refers to a beaten metal plate, which (not by coincidence) was how the ancient world viewed the heavens above them. It was what hung in the air, in which the stars rested. Here, the Scripture is not saying that a large metal plate hung above the earth; Moses (by the inspiration of God) simply used the best word to describe the heavens to a people with rudimentary understanding of the far recesses of space.
    1. Some have theorized a type of sphere that originally surrounded the earth that eventually collapsed during the flood of Noah, helping to fully flood the earth. 6-7 certainly open the door to that possibility, but there’s no real way of knowing. The same word is used in Ezekiel 1:22-26 to describe the firmament above the heads of the living creatures seen by the prophet…thus, it was something still in existence beyond Noah.
  2. The best clue we have as what this firmament was is simply the text of Genesis 1 itself: God called it “heaven.” This isn’t “heaven” as in our eternal dwelling place with the streets of gold, and where there is no more crying or sorrow; this is “heaven” in terms of our atmosphere & beyond. This was the separation of the waters. The Spirit of God hovered over them on the earth, and the stuff of the sky was then separated. Why separate “the waters from the waters”? Because when speaking about the atmosphere of the earth, that’s a very accurate description of what exists in the sky versus what exists on the surface. After all, clouds are nothing more than condensation of water that already exists in the sky. Water (H2O) is an essential element of our atmosphere. The water cycle that results from it is part of what makes life possible on planet earth. (God certainly knew what He was doing in Creation!)
  3. The most important part of Day 2? God commanded it to be done, “and it was so.” God spoke, and it happened. Of course the same thing happened on Day 1, but this time the Scripture is explicit. God need not pick up hammer & nail to put something together; all that is required is His word & will. That’s what makes Jesus as God the Son so essential to the creation process. He is the Word of God – the very expression of His nature & will. The Father speaks as the Spirit is present, and the Son accomplishes the work. 
  • Day 3: land & life (9-13)

9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

  1. Again, this is an act God describes as “good.” Not only were the waters of the atmosphere separated from that of the earth, but the waters upon the earth had boundaries set as land rose and fell to create massive mountains & undersea valleys. Dry land appeared for the very first time in history – a necessary step if mankind was to have a place to live.
  2. Although God declared the work good at this point, He wasn’t yet done for the day. 11…

11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

  1. Sometimes we think that life appeared when animals appeared, but plant life is just as much a miracle as animal life. Nowhere else in the universe have plants been found (even basic spores, though the search is frantic for it). God declared life for planet earth, and life appeared. All grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees appeared. According to a British report in 2016, scientists estimate around 391,000 species of plants around the world (https://news.mongabay.com/2016/05/many-plants-world-scientists-may-now-answer/), not including things like algae, moss, etc. We live in an incredibly diverse world, where plant life is able to exist in regions we cannot (bottom of the ocean, middle of the desert), all of which are designed by God to help support animal life on earth through the process of photosynthesis. Without the plants, we would have no oxygen. Yet God ensured we would have everything we need for our survival. Truly this was “good”!
  • Specific creation (14-31); Day 4: stars, sun, moon (14-19)

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

  1. Light was created on Day 1, but either stars were created on Day 4 or at least they were finally seen. Interestingly enough, this was the first act of creation made with a stated purpose. “Let them be for signs and seasons…let them be for lights…” The stars do not sit in the universe at random locations as the result of mere chance; they were intended to be there, and to remain there by God. For thousands of years in cultures all over the world, the stars have been used for navigation and calendar purposes, exactly as God designed them to be.
  2. Of course “stars” are not the only lights in the sky. There are planets, meteors, comets, moons, and more. Two of which apply specifically to planet earth. 16…

16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

  1. The Sun and Moon are both in view at this point. The Sun is obviously the closest star to us, and provides not only light for the day, but exactly the right amount of heat and gravitation we need for life to exist. If the earth were much further from the sun, water would freeze; if it were much closer, water would burn up. Likewise, the moon is precisely located for our tidal system, vital for much of the life that exists in the seas.
  2. As with the other heavenly bodies, the sun and moon also have a God-given role: “” Apart from mankind, they are the only other things in creation with a Divinely-commanded dominion. Man has it over the earth; the sun & moon have it over the day & night. And in a very real sense, they do. We determine when night begins by “sunset,” and morning by “sunrise.” We have control over much on this planet, but we cannot control the earth’s daily rotation on its axis, nor its annual trip around the sun. God may have described it poetically to Moses in Genesis, but what is described is absolutely true.
    1. Consider the difference between Genesis & other creation accounts of other religions. This doesn’t describe a Hindu god that basically dissolved into everything living, nor of Greek gods driving the sun across the sky in a chariot. The account in Genesis is profoundly simple and logical. Does it go into every single scientific detail? No, but that’s not why it was given. It was given to point us to our Creator, and it does precisely that with scientific accuracy.
  • Day 5: sea creatures (20-23)

20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

  1. You might notice that the second half of the creation week parallels the first half. Whereas Day 1 saw the creation of light, Day 4 saw the creation of stars & heavenly bodies. Day 2 saw the separation of the waters; Day 5 sees the creation of sea creatures to fill those waters. (The same parallel will be seen with Day 3 & 6: dry land, and the creatures to live on it.)
  2. Here, it is the multitude of sea creatures and birds that is created. Of note is that (like the plants before them), each one is created “according to its kind.” This is absolutely and directly opposed to the theory of total evolution, which basically states that life came from nothing, and from one creature, everything else came into being. (“From goo-to-you.”) The Bible expressly teaches the opposite. God created all manner of life, each one according to its kind. That does not mean that adaptation (what some might term “micro-evolution”) does not exist. It certainly does, and is observable. In fact, it is downright Biblical. For example, from one family (Adam, to Noah), came every single family in human history. Yet how much variety of physical appearance is found among humans? Tall/short, stout/skinny, dark/light – if we were to classify people as we do pets, we would come up with a name for every single variety. 100% of that is evidence of adaptation – yet we are all We are all according to our kind: the human kind. Though we differ in appearance, we do not differ in terms that matter. (Which ought to do away with racism of all sorts!)
  3. This same sort of idea is what is taught regarding all life. God created each one according to its kind. He could create the first canine, and let adaptation run its course with all dogs – or in this case, with the fish & birds. There is marvelous adaptation found among fish & birds today, some of which was observed by Charles Darwin when he first wrote about his faulty theory of evolution (in regard to the Galapagos finches). Yet adaptation is not evidence against special creation; it is the result of God’s special creation. He created all life according to its kind, and He set life to flourish from that point forward.
  4. In fact, that much is commanded…

22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

  1. Although the sun & moon were created as rules for the day & night (1:16, “rule” is actually a noun in the Hebrew; not a verb), the first command spoken by God directly to His creation is to animal life. They were to “be fruitful and multiply.
  • Day 6: land creatures & mankind (24-31)

24 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. 25 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.

  1. What God did with the sea, God did also with the land, as He commanded the land animals to come forth. Again, each one was according to its kind, each one happened at the command of God, and each one was good. A quick Google search indicates that there are over 7.7 million species of animals on earth (surely inclusive of land, sea, and air) – a massive number. How that divides out into various “kinds” is something God alone knows, but He created each and every one. It truly is mind-blowing when we stop to think of it. The vast majority of the species on earth are insects (the “creeping things”), which scientists today estimate a number of 10 quintillion (a 10 with 18 zeroes following) alive on the planet, comprising the largest biomass of any other animal. (And out of all that, God still knows you by name & counts every hair on your head!)
  2. FYI: “cattle” (KJV & NKJV) is an all-inclusive term for animals as a whole. ESV & NIV says “livestock,” which is probably a better idea, though there’s no real distinction for domesticated farm-animal in this context. The general picture is that simply that if it lives upon the earth, God created it on Day 6.
  3. Out of all of this, there was one land-creature that stood out from the rest…one that was not created alongside other animals, but was created specially apart from them: Mankind. 26…

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

  1. Let it be said that Man is no mere animal! Evolutionary science would tell us that men & women are nothing more than a higher form of ape, and of no more value than a fish of the sea. The Bible shows us something expressly different. We are set apart from the rest of God’s creation, being made in the very “image” of God. The word “image” is interesting, in that it is sometimes used to refer to idols, as in an image that was made by men to reflect their idea of their false god. Here, it is God that makes the image, and God alone is able to make it rightly! Just as Jesus is the true image of God (Col 1:15), mankind is made in the image of God, according to His likeness. Of course Jesus is divine (something which we are not & can never be), but Jesus is the perfect expression of God. God’s original intent for us is that we would have reflected Him as well. Yet it is from that, which we fell.

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

  1. What is stated as a summary in 1:27 will be picked up in Chapter 2 in great detail. At this point, all that is said is that male & female were both created in the image of God (one not being of any more value than the other), but it is the idea of God’s image that is emphasized in repetition.
  2. People have value. All people, everywhere. There is not one race more valuable than another, nor one sex, nor one baby. All of mankind is descended from this original male & female (Adam and Eve), and just as they were made in the image of God, that imago dei has been passed down to us. The animals were made after their own kinds, but humans were made after the image & likeness of God. We are truly unique on this planet, and this is something we dare not forget. To do so encourages hatred, murder, abortion, discrimination, and self-mutilation. If men & women are not made in the image of God, what stops us from treating one another as any other animal might be treated? If we are not made in the image of God, what makes us better than any other animal, or deserving of more respect? To destroy the idea of the image of God in man is to destroy the very concept of humanity.
  3. On the proactive side, consider what this does to our notions of evangelism. Why is it we should strive to share the gospel with every man, woman, and child on the planet? Because each & every one of them was made in the image of God. How can we sit back casually and simply do nothing as fellow humans fall to an eternity of hell & torment? Each one of those individuals is a human created and beloved by God – and we have the good news that would save them! (Let us get to work!)

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

  1. Just as the sea & air creatures were commanded to multiply, so are the humans. Undoubtedly, within this is a command to the land animals, but the specific wording here is to the man & woman. They too were to “fill the earth,” but God had more in mind for them than simple population: He wanted them to have dominion. Whereas the sun & moon were given as rules for the day & night (noun), the man & woman are commanded to rule the earth (verb). They were stewards, into which God gave the responsibility of the planet & every creature on it. (Sadly, this was a responsibility largely abdicated after the fall.)
  2. This gives credence to some extent of sound environmentalism. Although we need to be careful of false claims from those who worship creation rather than the Creator, we ought to be careful to be good stewards of the creation given us by God. We can use the land, but we should abuse it. Animals are for our benefit, but not for our cruelty.
  3. How was the earth to be used? Much of it was for food…

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

  1. Interestingly, the original God-given diet for humans was vegan. And it wasn’t just for humans, but for all animal life. Even those animals we would automatically assume to be carnivorous (like lions and wolves) originally ate plants. Not that this should be surprising – the Bible tells us that something similar will take place during the Millennial Kingdom, as the lions will live with fattened calves, and wolves will lay down with lambs (Isa 11:6). What had been given in the Garden of Eden at the original creation will one day be restored.
  2. Is a vegan diet commanded today? No – It’s a matter of personal choice. Groups that compel it upon their followers ignore plain Biblical teaching that allows the consumption of meat after the flood. (Some might claim that was the one good thing to come out of the flood!) Even so, if we’re looking to how God originally created us, our original diet was vegan…something which proved to be extraordinarily healthy for Daniel & his three friends in Babylon. (Dan 1)

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

  1. Out of everything that God had declared was good, Day 6 sees a notable difference. Here, God saw that it was “very good.” ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד ~ Exceedingly good. At this point, God sees His work as complete, and He was totally pleased. This is what He had intended from eternity past, and it had now come to fruition.
  2. Good news & bad news. The good news is that it actually remains this way for a time; the bad news is that it was lost in Genesis 3. But there is still good news beyond that: it’s all coming back! Everything that was lost will one day be regained, and the new creation (new heavens & new earth) given by God will not only be populated by righteous people free from sin, but redeemed people freed from sin. And God will be glorified forever & ever!

Conclusion:

So much more could be said, but may what was said drive us to worship! That’s really the point of Genesis 1: worship. It’s not a chapter meant to divide, or to be endlessly debated. It’s a chapter meant to take us to the feet of Jesus in worship. This is the God who made us in His image, and declared us good. This is the God who prepared for us a home in which to live, and is preparing an eternal home for us in His presence. This is the God who gave us a responsibility on earth, and who has a glorious plan for our future. This is a God worthy of our worship!

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