This blog contains notes from a year long Bible study I have planned with my lovely boyfriend! On the first day of study we read through Genesis 1, 2 and 3 together. Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts while reading Genesis 1.
Well first off, In the beginning God… Gen. 1:1 has to be one of the most powerful phrases in the Bible. It solves so many problems. I have spent so much time pondering the details of how our universe came to be, and how Biblical teaching compares with scientific discovery, and this phrase alone assures me that no matter how the details aligned themselves, God was in complete control of our existence from the very beginning and his control continues to this very day.
The Spirit of God is depicted hovering over an earth that is formless, void, and cloaked in darkness. It’s interesting to point out that …darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Gen. 1:2
This seems to perhaps imply that the Spirit of Elohim is hovering over the earth in an already existing universe, and that the earth is simply a watery planet on which the Spirit of God intends to employ his powers of creation.
This is not to say that He did not create the heavens and the earth, as Genesis 1:1 makes that clear. It’s just that verse 2 implies that the following scene is to take place over the watery surface of a dark, formless and watery earth. It sets the stage in the mind for what is to come.
The single-handed creation of the heavens and the earth already displays the power of our God, but verse three gives us a more clear understanding of the nature of that power. God simply speaks light into existence. His words alone are powerful enough to generate light in a universe of darkness.
This is but the first divine decree stated in the first chapter of Genesis. Through speech alone, the creator-God of the universe divides the light from the dark, places the firmament of the heavens between the waters of the earth and some watery place beyond the farthest reaches of space, gathers the seas together to allow dry land to appear, places the Sun, Moon and stars in the sky, and fills the earth with every kind of life imaginable. It is clear from these actions that our God is the ultimate power in existence and the supreme ruler of this universe.
Not only does the universe itself obey the words of God, but so also does the life he created. God blesses his creations, commanding life on earth to … Be fruitful, and multiply… and life obeys His commands.
When God created light on the first day, he saw that it was good, and separated it from the darkness. When He created the firmament on day two and separated water from water, God named the firmament Heaven but He did not call it good. On the third day God gathers the waters under the heavens into one place so that dry land can appear, and God sees that it is good. He also creates all plant life on this day and sees that it is good. On the fourth day God creates the greater and lesser lights and the stars, and he places them in the heavens and sees that it is good. On the fifth God creates all water life and the birds, and sees that it is good. On the sixth day, God creates all of the land animals and calls them good. However, when God creates man in his own image and completes the work of creation, he looks back and sees that his work is very good. It’s interesting to think about why God didn’t call the firmament good. Nonetheless, it was all very good in the end.
Creation can almost be divided into three days of creating an environment followed by three days of filling it up. There is a certain symmetry to the event.
Day 1: Light, Day, Night Day 4: Greater light, lesser light, stars
Day 2: Heavens, Separated waters Day 5: Water life, fowl
Day 3: Dry land, plant life Day 6: Land life, mankind
Another thing to note is the name for God used here: Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of the word for ‘deity’ in Hebrew, and can either mean gods, or be used as a plural intensification (in Hebrew) to mean ‘Almighty God’. The word Elohim is used here to indicate the power and might of the creator of the universe as we know it.
In the ancient far east a King would show his dominion over a land by naming it, and by placing statues of himself in the land. God creates, names, and places mankind on the earth in His own image. Elohim claims dominion over the universe he created by naming us and placing us here in his image and likeness, and as an extension of his authority grants us dominion over all of the earth.
Let’s look at each command God gives in the first chapter of Genesis, and the result.
1. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. Gen 1:3
God commands light into existence. The same light called into existence by Elohim is very visibly shining on our Earth today.
2. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And 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. And God called the firmament Heaven. … Gen. 1:6-8
God commands that a firmament exist between the waters. This firmament, called heaven, separates the waters above the firmament from the waters below the firmament. With this in mind, I’d like to call your attention to another scripture from this chapter. And 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. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. Gen. 1:16-17 This tells us that God placed the greater light, the lesser light, and the stars in the firmament of the heavens that divides the waters from the waters! This must mean that the firmament of the heavens is what we know as outer space and the rest of the universe, where the Sun and the Moon and the stars exist. A great watery expanse must exist beyond our known universe. Perhaps the energy generated in such a colossal event as the separation of waters across our universe is the same energy scientists use to support the big bang theory?
Regardless, the firmament of the heavens is easily visible by the naked eye from the Earth and remains to this day.
3. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let dry land appear: and it was so. Gen. 1:9
The voice of Elohim speaks, and the universe obeys. The waters under the firmament have gathered together into one place: Earth. The majority of our planet consists of water; the same water that has cycled through different states of existence in our world since its creation.
4. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. Gen. 1:11
Elohim speaks plant life into existence. The trees, herbs, and grasses that God called into existence at the dawn of creation have continued their circle of life into modern times. You can walk outside and see a blade of grass for yourself whose heritage would be traced back to the plant life formed by our creator. It is all around you, a constant reminder of God’s creative power.
5. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. Gen. 1:14-15
God speaks the Sun, the Moon, and the stars into existence. The Sun and Moon that hang in the sky over your world are the same greater and lesser lights called into existence by Elohim at the dawn of creation. These are everyday reminders of God’s creation.
6. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. Gen: 1:20
God decrees, and the universe obeys. The waters do abundantly bring forth life to this very day, and the birds of the air fly above the earth. The same fish and birds alive in our world today are all descendants of God’s original creation.
7. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. Gen. 1:22
God’s commands to the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air are strictly obeyed to this day. An observation of nature confirms that this decree is still in effect today.
8. And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. Gen. 1:24
God’s word alone calls life on land into existence. Every beast of the earth you find today is a direct descendant of the creatures God formed at the beginning of our world. Fun fact: the word ‘creature’ itself means ‘something created’.
9. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Gen. 1:26
With his voice alone, God calls mankind into existence in His own image. God commands that mankind rule over every living thing and all of the earth, and it is very easy to see that this hierarchy of dominion continues to this day.
10. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the see, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Gen. 1:28
Not only does God allow us a role of authority in His creation; God commands that we hold dominion over the earth and rule it. We are the appointed rulers of His creation.
11. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat and it was so. Gen. 1:29-30
God allows mankind to eat any of the vegetation of the earth. We were originally vegetarians! According to this statement, however, vegetation was also given to living animals to eat as well. This is interesting to consider. Were there no predators in God’s original creation? This verse implies so..
This goes to show that God’s commands given during the creation of the universe are in accordance with what we can observe about the world today. The heavens and the Earth are in constant obedience of the laws of Elohim, creator-God of the universe. You can draw a line from the beginning of creation to the world around you today, and hopefully this gives you a desire to learn more about this God who created everything around you and who commands you to rule over his creation in His likeness.
A final interesting note here is the first use of poetry in the Old Testament in the first chapter of the Bible. It’s clear here that the majority of this chapter is prose, but one poem is written here.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.
This is interesting because it seems to give extra reverence to this specific act of creation: the creation of us!