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Understanding Genesis 1: In the Beginning

Updated on July 10, 2015
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You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, read online (blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com) or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it asking questions and try to make sense of it.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. Genesis 1:1-5

Godhead United in Purpose

The story of God doesn’t begin in Genesis 1. They existed before time began. “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:8 The story of human’s relationship with God begins in Genesis 1.

Our universe was just a black void, but the Holy Spirit was hovering (verse 2), and God spoke creation into existence. The Light on verse 3 is His presence in our world. "And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light." Revelation 21:23 In Heaven, there is no need for the sun because God will light our way. God brought that light into our universe and separated the darkness with His presence.

Verse 26 uses the plural form (let us/our image) to indicate that the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father are united in this endeavor. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 Jesus uses this unity, as an example of how as His followers should be united. He prayed: "I [Jesus] am in them and you [Father] are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me." John 17:23

They co-existed in perfect harmony and purpose that they were One God.

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. And the evening and the morning were the second day. Genesis 1:6-8

"Heaven" and Heaven of Heavens

God separates the waters and creates the atmosphere/sky/heaven (different words depending on different translations). The heaven referred in verses 7 and 8, isn’t the location that most Christians picture after resurrection. "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is." Deuteronomy 10:14 "Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee." Nehemiah 9:6 “Heaven” isn’t above the clouds on our planet. The Heaven of Heavens where God and the heavenly hosts dwell is beyond our known universe.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 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. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. 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. 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, 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. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 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. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Genesis 1:9-23

Logic and Order in Creation

When you read the process of the Creation, you can see God’s logic and order. He created land to rise up from the ocean floor, for the grasses and trees, and then created the Sun/Moon to oversee the photosynthesis, lunar tides, and other natural processes of the planet. Then he created all the living creatures that would live on the land, sea and air. He prepared the earth before bringing his creatures in existence.

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. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 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. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:24-27

Created in God's Image

God created humans in His image: with the ability to think, create and capacity to love. In verses 26 and 28, God creates humans to “subdue” all creatures, but our human understanding of dominion has been so perverse that we don’t adhere to God’s will. If God rules over us, we are to emulate His ruling: with love and protection. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11 God instructed Adam and Eve to take care of our planet, but through sin, we’ve abused our responsibility.

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 sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Genesis 1:28

Marital Love

God encouraged procreation and designed for the husband and wife to enjoy pleasure while making love. When there is emotional love and commitment, it’s manifested in physical love. But sin has broken this gift, and the marital act is seen as dirty, forbidden or not to be spoken of. It’s no longer making love, but sex. Pre-marital and adulterous sex is common. The deep emotional connection while making love is often missing, so serial one-night stands or transient sexual encounters are prevalent in hopes of filling that void. The specialness of making love that God designed for us to have is so common, that it’s now just…sex.

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. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:29-31

Herbs and Fruits

In verses 29 and 30, God gives all herbs and fruits as our food. Even the animals were to eat the herbs and fruits. There was no death, and no animals were killed for sustenance. There was no food chain or survival of the fittest. In Heaven, there will be no death and herbs and fruits will be our food again. "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:2

It may seem impossible to see how humans could survive on fruits alone, but gluttony, diabetes, anorexia, heart failures are prevalent and unfortunately western problems. Our bodies are so deteriorated from God’s creation, that modern illnesses are becoming rampant.

The Word

God knew from the beginning what would happen in Chapter 3, with Satan, with Jesus’ death, the wars and deaths. But He still went ahead with the creation of the world. "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" Isaiah 46:10 God knew what would happen and Jesus planned to die on our behalf. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 He would rather give us life than for us not to exist.

He cannot take back his thoughts; he cannot choose not to create something in his thoughts, because he is. His thoughts become the words that he speaks, and they just exist. "The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:" Isaiah 14:24 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:1-3 The Word is Jesus, and the Word created the world. “God said…”—His thoughts are His words.

You were in His thoughts and you were created. Your life and your salvation is a gift that God has given you. "Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God." Isaiah 66:9 "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Isaiah 49:15 God loves you so much that Jesus died to save you. Learn about Him and have a relationship with Him. Love Him.

To get a deeper understanding of the Bible, read along with Patriarchs and Prophets, written by Ellen G. White. The book is available on AdventistBookCenter.com and amazon.com

Do you have any questions about Genesis 1?

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