Genesis means ‘beginning’. But it’s interesting that in the beginning God was already there. Moses knew this when he wrote ‘Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God,’ (Psalm 90:2).
The God of the Bible, it is clear, had no beginning, has no end, and is all-powerful in that he is perfect and unchanging.
Through the Old Testament there are glimpses of the Trinity; the first one being Genesis 1:2 which shows us the Holy Spirit present at creation and another being Genesis 1:26 which has God saying ‘let us’, which shows that the Godhead were involved in creation together. The royal ‘we’ had not been invented at this point!
Just as the three members of the Godhead were involved in creating the Universe, they are all involved in the plan of salvation; God the Father chooses us, Jesus died for our sins, and the Holy Spirit seals us (see Ephesians 1:3-14).
Genesis zooms in; the first eleven chapters are concerned with humanity; then after this, after we hear of man’s descent into sin we hear in the remainder of the book, about God’s people Israel from salvation was to come, through whom all people would be blessed.
Although throughout the Bible God reveals things progressively, we also see the cyclical nature of human history, that is; generation, degeneration, regeneration and back to generation again, (G. Campbell Morgan came up with that one). Only God is able to pull us out of this degenerative spiral.
The Bible has a beautiful symmetry to it. The beginning and end of the Bible appear to mirror each other:
- Heaven and earth created in Genesis, in Revelation heaven and earth are regenerated.
- Genesis begins with a garden, Revelation ends with a garden city.
- Marriage is instituted in Genesis, marriage is fulfilled at the marriage of the Lamb.
- In Genesis, Satan begins his vendetta against man, and in Revelation Satan is dealt with forever by being cast into the Lake of Fire.
- Genesis has the origin of death, whereas Revelation sees the end of death.
- Babylon is built in Genesis and in Revelation it is finally destroyed.
- And last of all; the redeemer that is promised in Genesis fulfils the last of the prophecies in Revelation and begins his everlasting reign. The scarlet thread that begins in Genesis finds its end.
Genesis 1 tells us that the world was made by God, that nothing that exists was not created by God. At first the world was a formless void. As in the life of a believer, God turns disorder to order, and emptiness to fulfilment (Matthew Henry).
The Bible is a coherent whole, so it is not surprising that the opening of Genesis resembles the opening of John’s Gospel account. Both begin with ‘beginnings’ as does the Gospel of Mark.
Genesis begins with the clear declaration that God created everything that has ever existed. This is expanded on in the remainder of the chapter as we see in what order things were created.
Interestingly, in this chapter where God’s power and authority are so evident he is referred to as ‘Elohim’ which is a plural noun. It is rather less likely that there’s a royal ‘we’ in the original Hebrew and more likely that this is a reference to the triune God and the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit n the feat of creation.
The first thing God creates in the universe while it is still formless and chaotic, is light. This is interesting given the symbolism throughout the Bible that light often stands for God’s Truth. That light aids understanding. A second interesting thing to note is that God creates light before he creates vessels to bear the light, like sun, moon and stars (which are created on day 4). As this is the case, where did the light come from? From God himself. John tells us that God is light (John 1:5) but not only that; in Revelation 22 we are told about a time to come when the holy city will not need the heavenly bodies because it will derive its light from God. This is perhaps an early example of the ‘bookend’ nature of the Bible whereby that which is described in the beginning is reflected and fulfilled at the end. Whether the luminaries exist or not, life cannot be sustained without life itself. Right from the beginning of the Creation, God separates. He separates light from dark, an act which is used to explain the difference between order and chaos, between the evil of Satan and the good of Jesus Christ, between Truth and lies. It is important to note at this point that the Genesis formula; ‘There was evening and there was morning a ____ day’ is precise. Occasionally the word ‘day’ is used in the Bible to denote a time period other than a literal 24 day; however, when morning and/or evening is used in the same context elsewhere in the Bible it is always in reference to a 24 hour day.
On day 2, God separated the water, meaning there was an expanse on the earth and an expanse above the earth.
Day 3, involved God separating the water on the earth from dry land. This was also the time that God created the vegetation. God is clear that species are to reproduce according to their own kind; there is no accommodation for evolution theory.
On day 4, as previously mentioned, God created the sun, moon and stars. Again he applies more order to creation as he uses the heavenly bodies to mark off days, months and years.
The sun, moon and stars testify to God, they bear his light. However, it is sad that throughout history people have slipped all too easily into the worship of creation rather than the Creator himself.
Next God created living creations, birds and fish. Notice here that as well as pronouncing them ‘good’ he also blesses them. This is the first time the word is used in the Bible. God later blesses the first man and woman. Man was created last of all creation.
On the sixth day God created animals and insects, and earth-dwelling creatures, culminating in the creation of man. All earth-dwelling creatures are created on day 6, culminating in the creation of man. Interesting in this section is ‘let us make man in our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26) referring to aspects of God’s personality, but also possibly the theophanies of Christ. Man is the only created being in God’s image. This is the only creative act which is preceded by a consultation (Trinity).
Adam was made from the dust of the ground and God breathed life into him. God does not do this to any other creature. God ‘forms’ man out of the earth; it is interesting that this is later echoed as a metaphor for God shaping the characters of believers. ‘Adam’ means ‘taken from the earth’.
The Hebrew word ‘bana’ means to create something new, to bring into existence. It is this word that is used of God in Genesis 1.
The Hebrew word ‘ruach’ means breath or spirit and it is this word that is used to describe God breathing life into man.
With thanks to my spiritual uncles: Uncle Warren Wiersbe, Uncle Chuck Missler, Uncle Matthew Henry, Uncle Jacob Prasch and Uncle Arnold Fruchtenbaum.