Monday, June 11, 2018

Genesis 1 - The God of Creation

By Tim Miller
Pastor
First Baptist Church of Roxana



This is a biblical theology of the text of Genesis 1. It is not meant to be a defense of literal six day Creation or a refutation of the other theories of Creation. I have merely examined what the chapter says about God and about His Creation. This is not an exhaustive analysis, but a representative summary of the theological themes of this chapter. This article was written after a series of sermons through the book of Genesis from September 2017 to June 2018. These sermons can be found here. We are continuing in our study through the Bible on Sunday nights at 6:00 PM (except for the 3rd Sunday of the month) at First Baptist Church of Roxana.

The blessed Scriptures open with a simple assertion of the existence and works of God. The Bible does not argue for God's existence, but simply states that He is. It does not spend a thousand pages describing the character of God, like many have attempted to do in collating the Bible’s information to systematically present who God is. Rather, Scripture opens with a striking presentation of who God is: the eternal, almighty, Creator of heaven and earth who is dependent on nothing, who is the standard of goodness, and who is the source of all blessing. Scripture opens with the famous words:

1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

It could not have been stated more simply. He created the heavens and the earth. Yet from subsequent verses, we learn that He did not bring the heavens and the earth into being in their fully completed state. Instead…

 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

God will spend six days fashioning the ‘formless and void’ earth into a perfect paradise that He will be absolutely pleased with. It starts with darkness over worldwide ocean with the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the waters. 

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

By simply speaking, God calls light into existence. He evaluates His work, and He deems it to be good. He brings order by separating the light from the darkness, creating day and night on the earth. God asserts His possession and authority over the light by naming the light portion upon the earth ‘day’ and the dark portion upon the earth as ‘night.’ So by going from a period of darkness to light, there was evening and there was morning on the first day of Creation Week.

6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

On the second day, God spoke the atmosphere into being. Imagine the power of God, separating the ocean of water by lifting water high up above the earth to form the great floodgates of the sky that would be opened at the Flood. God named the expanse (sometimes translated firmament) ‘heaven.’ Today, we refer to this as the atmosphere. Evening and morning are already establishing the pattern for ‘days’ that will continue throughout the existence of the earth.

9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day.

God continued to bring the earth into a suitable state for mankind to live upon it, by bringing the dry land out of the ocean. He named the dry land ‘earth’ and the gathered waters ‘seas’ showing His possession and authority over them. On the same day, He called all of the kinds of vegetation and trees into existence. He made the vegetation and trees to only reproduce according to their kinds. God deemed all that He had done so far to be good. This completed the third day.

14 Then 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; 15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

On the fourth day, God spoke the permanent lamps, the sun and the moon and the stars, into existence, placing them in the sky to (first) separate the day from the night, (second) to function as signs and seasons and days and years, and (third) to give light upon the earth. It happened just as God said that it would. From the perspective of the earth, God put two great lights in the sky: one to rule by day and the lesser to rule by night. He also made the stars. What an economy of words that the Bible uses, telling us so simply that God made the trillions of stars that we can see and placed them in their locations. He did all of this in one day, and He deemed that it was good.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” 21 God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

The earth was finally habitable for living creatures. So on the fifth day, He proclaimed that He would bring the sea creatures and the birds into existence. And He fulfilled His word, creating every creature of the sea and of the air, commanding them to reproduce and fill up the waters and the skies. We continue to get a sense of the power of God, for He is the creator of the great sea monsters that put fear into the hearts of men. This was all accomplished on the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Now God proclaimed that He would fill the land with different kinds of living creatures that could reproduce according to their kind. And it happened just as He said. He made them all, and deemed that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

The apex of the creation week was the creation of mankind. Here, we are suddenly brought into the counsel of God. God speaks, saying, “Let Us make…” There have been many theories as to who He is speaking to. The only antecedent in the text is the Spirit of God in verse 2, already giving us a hint at the mysterious Trinity, God three-in-one. In later revelation, we find that the Son of God, the Word of God, was also present and active during Creation.

The object of discussion within the Godhead was the creation of man, thereby setting mankind apart from the rest of creation from the very beginning. More details are given about the creation of man than any other creature. God made man according to His image and His likeness, and as a ruler over all of the other creatures of the earth. In some way man is the representation of God, being able to think and reason and love. Both man and woman were thus made in the likeness of God to rule over the earth.

God, the great provider, supplied all that man and beast would need upon the earth. And so it all happened as God said that it would. God looked upon everything that He created, and deemed it to be very good. Everything He made was extraordinary. And this ended the sixth day of Creation Week.



Conclusion

So God has been revealed as the powerful, methodical, orderly, knowledgeable, perfect Creator whose every word is fulfilled to the letter and whose every act is deemed very good. Man was created in God’s likeness, to rule over the earth as a sort of vice-regent to God. Men and women are to multiply upon the earth and subdue the earth and rule over its inhabitants as God’s representatives. This mandate given to mankind by God has often been termed ‘the Creation Mandate.”

Of course, mankind sins in chapter 3, bringing the curse of sin into the world so that everything is subjected to futility and death. Yet God set in motion His plan of redemption, bringing salvation to all who will believe. This salvation is looked forward to in the Old Testament, and it is brought about by Jesus Christ, who willingly died upon the cross to take away the sins of all who believe in Him. One day He, the perfect likeness of God, will return and fulfill the Creation Mandate, and we who believe will rule with Him. 

What a magnificent God is here presented! Let us worship Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul. He alone is deserving of worship. To God alone is all the dominion and power and glory forever. Amen.

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