Genesis – Part 3

So, now we’ve covered all the technical aspects of our text. I think it’s been shown that the author, whom I still hold firmly to be Moses, wrote this part to state just what it states – the Creation of the Universe and the Earth in a literal 6 days. He didn’t prepare it as poetry or an allegory, but as a straight forward account. Where does that bring us now? Was this the only point behind his telling of what happened, or is there more purpose behind it? Come and let’s read over the account once more and see what we see:

The Scripture

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its 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 birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Gen 1:1-2:3, ESV)

Let’s Dig In

So, what do we see here (outside of the obvious that we’ve already discussed)? Maybe we can take it one day of Creation at a time, and let’s pick it apart and bombard it with questions.

The first day – what’s happening here? From first glance, we have God creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing. It seems to have been a rough creation, but nonetheless, it was the first act on the first day. Quickly, He followed this by saying “Let there be light”. Interestingly, there was light immediately after He said it. I only say that in comparison to the other days of creation where God said something, and then the text says He made it. Here, God simply said it and there it was. (There are other examples of this as well, but it did stand out to me). What was this light? It cannot be the sun or stars, because they were not created until the 4th day. So what was this light? To be honest, we don’t know. The text doesn’t tell us. What does it tell us? It tells us that light was created – but it does not say what the source was nor does it say that there was no source. We cannot read into it what isn’t there. Light is light – it is energy. Could this just be the creation of the energy of light, perhaps the creation of the electromagnetic spectrum? I don’t know. Even science believes that everything derives from stars – even you and I – and that there was energy before there was mass (such as the sun, moon, and stars). So, technically this does not contradict science to believe what the text states in that light was created before the sun and stars were created (on day 4).

The second day – This is the creation of our atmosphere (the entire atmosphere with all of its layers). The troposphere is indeed a separation from the water which will become the seas on day 3. This is the layer of our atmosphere which contains the water cycle and our weather – so yes, the water was separated. Notice here, though, that this begins something different from the 1st day of creation. On the 1st day, God simply said let there be light and there was light. Here, God said let there be, and then it says He made. Every day from now on has God speak the act of creation followed by the actual act of creation. Day 1 only has Him speak it and it is there.

The third day – Interestingly two events occur on this day. 1st God created land and the seas, then He created all the vegetation. I like how this has the phrase “And God saw it was good” – as did day 2 and so on. What does this mean? Did God do something and take a step back to make sure it was good, or was He just admiring it? The Hebrew here seems to have a feel that God wasn’t looking at it to make sure it was good, but rather displaying that it was good because He made it. I could be wrong, I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but it does have that feel to it.

The fourth day – here we have the creation of the “great lights” and the host of the heavens. There are many who hold the theory that God simply cleared the dust away from the atmosphere to reveal the sun, moon, and stars. This violates the Hebrew here, though. The text clearly states that these were created new on this day – not simply revealed.

The fifth day – Again, I’m just making quick observations over these days because we covered most of the text in previous posts. The one thing that really stood out to me about day 5 was God’s blessing to the fish and birds – exactly the same as given to man (minus the dominion part). God actually commanded the fish and the birds. It just stands out to me, because so often have I heard it said that God’s first command was to man – obviously the text says otherwise. It also gives some substance to the belief that all Creation worships God and obey God. (They probably would still have no problem with it if we hadn’t drug them down with our act of pride).

The sixth day – What I really want to focus on here is the whole made in the image of God, as well as God’s statement of “in OUR image”/”Let US”. We’ll begin with what the verse beings with, the statement of God saying “Let us make…” This kind of takes us aback if not so rooted into our beliefs of the trinity. There are many theories out there to explain what is going on here, especially by those that deny the trinity, but none argue the fact that it is plainly seen that God is now speaking to someone. Before, when He created, He simply said “Let there be” and then He made it. Now, it seems that God steps back for a moment after creating the animals (livestock, creeping things, and beasts of the earth) and begins to consult someone. Who is He speaking to? Some have said that He is speaking to the hosts of heaven, or even to the earth. Personally, this makes me scratch my head. Would God really consult that which He just brought into existence, something He just created, about creating the next thing? Would He consult angels about creating something in an image that He shared with them? Are we now saying that the angels or the stars or beasts or fish or birds are so close in image to God that He consults with them about creating something in the image of them as well as Himself?

I’m going out on a limb here and saying…no. First, it doesn’t fit the text, second, it doesn’t fit with any definition that anyone has of God. First, the Hebrew for image here is tselem which means a shadowy comparativeness to something. Would God give man, the shadowy copy of what He just created, dominion over the more true creation? Again, I’m going to say no. It can only leave one thing, God consulted with Himself. He referred to Himself in the plural here (as echoed also by the Hebrew use of ‘elohiym for God here, which is the plural form of the word. To me, the text plainly is a reference to the trinity – though it only clearly states a plurality in the Godhead.

So, let’s get to that “image”. What does it mean to be made into the “image” of God? Since God is spirit and not physical like you and I, can it mean that our substance – the way we look and our form – is made in His image? Since image means a shadowy comparison to something, it could…but that would be a stretch.

Again, there is a lot of theories and speculation about what is meant here. Especially when we consider the word “likeness” which follows closely behind – and is the Hebrew demuwth which often is used simile to compare something is like as something else. Some scholars say there is a difference between the two, a distinction that should be made here, but I think John Calvin is right in stating that the Hebrews liked to repeat an idea of something by using a different word. Also, as Calvin points out, “likeness” is left out in the next verse where “image” is repeated twice when speaking of the actual creation of mankind. Calvin concludes that “image” is wrapped up in the mind and heart. I’m not completely sold on that, but I am sold on the idea that there are attributes of God that He transferred to mankind. Systematic Theology goes into great deal about the communicative and non-communicative attributes of God…but I’m not going there right now. Suffice to say that there are attributes of God that He bestowed on mankind and mankind alone. That is why we were given dominion over the rest of creation.

And last , God called all of His creation very good – not just the creation of man as many seem to think the text states, but it doesn’t. Man is set apart from the rest of creation, true, but the text states that God looked on all that He had created and saw that it was very good.

Finally, Day 7 – I think this is pretty straight forward. God finished His creation, and then rested. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart as Holy. We’ve discussed this in more depth in other posts.

So, we’ve come to the end of our look at Genesis 1:1 – 2:3, and what does it mean to us? Was the author’s original purpose to tell an origin story to rival those of surrounding cultures? Was the focus on God assuming His throne of glory?

I think the original author intended his original audience to read this and believe it to be a straight forward account of how things came to be. No doubt the focus is still God – He is creator, He is the one who bestowed His blessing on creation and gave it to mankind…whom He created in His image alone, apart from the rest of creation. I believe it was meant to give God glory and honor and praise, but it is still a historical accounting of the origin of the universe and all of creation. It was not an apologetic, just a history lesson. I believe that’s what the text tells us, and it is now our choice to believe it or not.