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Bible: What Does Genesis 1 Teach Us About God's Creation of the Universe?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Books of Moses

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Hen And Chicks


God Created the Heavens and the Earth in Six Literal Days


Genesis– (Gk., the beginning) or bereshith (Heb., “In the beginning”)—, the first book of the Older Testament, heads the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch).

Its initial chapter assumes God’s existence, and then asserts both His creation of the heavens and the earth (v. 1) and His subsequent work upon it (vv. 2ff).

Verse 2 indicates the earth’s status after creation: it is formless, empty, watery, and dark.

[The "gap" theory—that God had destroyed an earlier creation that has now taken on this desolate appearance—is an argument from silence].

God’s Spirit nurtures/watches over the "deep" (that is, the waters) just as a hen broods over her chicks (v. 2b).

Elohim then speaks His word into the darkness and creates light (v. 3; cf. John 1).

[One may argue for the triunity of God from this passage, as one sees all three Persons working together].

The Firmament Above



Designated "day," the light is, in God’s esteem, “good,” and He separates it from night, the darkness (vv. 4-5a).

In a surprising reversal of the “normal” order of time from man’s perspective, God states that night precedes the day. Thus ends the first day (v. 5b).

On the second day, God creates the firmament (“expanse”) which He names "heaven"; it divides the waters above from the waters below (vv. 6-8).

[“Heaven” here is not a reference to God’s abode, but to the earth’s environment.

At this time, a “vapor canopy” apparently exists above the earth’s surface].

The Creator performs two “good” works on the third day.

First, He causes seas (the water below the firmament) to form, and earth (dry land) to appear (vv. 9-10).

Second, God sets into motion the Earth’s internal energy to produce vegetation and fruit-bearing trees “according to their kind” (vv. 11-13).






Did God create the universe in six, literal, twenty-four hour days?

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Day four manifests God’s creation of “lights”: the “greater light,” “the lesser light,” and the stars in the “firmament of the heavens.”

For all three sources, He had at least as many good purposes in mind:

(1) to provide light on the Earth;

(2) to divide the day from the night; and

(3) to help a later creation, Mankind, keep track of time and direction (vv. 14-19).

[This “firmament of the heavens” is obviously not the earth’s environment, but what we term “outer space.”]

At the end of the New Testament, the Apostle John refers to a "new heavens" in which these bodies will no longer have their current purposes.

The Father and the Lamb will illumine the Earth, no night will remain, and time will not be important (cf. Rev. 21:23, 25).

On the fifth day, God creates birds “according to their kind” as well as great sea creatures and every living thing that moves in the waters. He commands them all to procreate without restriction (vv. 20-23).

[Perhaps the LORD created dinosaurs at this time, too].

The final day of creation, the sixth, finds God making various beasts from the ground, cattle and creeping things being first (vv. 24-26).

Then He finishes His works with His masterpiece, the being that bears His image: humanity.

Verse twenty-six mentions the plurality of God (“Let Us . . .”), and intimates the constitutive quality of this “image”: the ability to dominate the rest of creation.

The text also indicates that Mankind comes in two genders: male and female (v. 27).

As God permitted the other created “souls” to procreate, so He commands these beings to multiply and fill the Earth.

However, He also gives them a more significant purpose: to subdue and have dominion over it (v. 28).

[Having stewardship or management responsibilities seems to be a reasonable interpretation of this “dominion” idea.]

God gives the couple all the various herbs and trees for food; but to beasts, birds, and creeping things, He gives every green herb (vv. 29-30).

[This information indicates that God originally created man a vegetarian].

At the end of the sixth day, the Creator makes one final pronouncement over all of His work: “very good” (v. 31)].

[Discussing scientific questions regarding origins is beyond this commentary’s purview.

It is enough for the writer to say that he believes in a literal, six-day creative event.

He sees no incontrovertible evidence proving that the "days" were actually geologic ages, and he has no reason to disbelieve that God created everything with the appearance of age about six thousand years ago].

© 2012 glynch1


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