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Genesis study & commentary

Genesis 1

By Doug Ford
The creation

Genesis

The Hebrew word 'ray-sheeth' has been translated 'In the beginning' to open the bible.  The name Genesis comes from this same word.  It means "origins".  The word comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint). 

           

Genesis is our history, not God's or the history of the earth.  It's the beginning of the story of humanity.  The bible tells the story of our creation, rebellion, redemption, salvation and glorification.  It goes from garden to garden; from fellowship with God, to broken fellowship and the process of restoring that fellowship.

 

Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking, who has been called "the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein," says in his best-selling A Brief History of Time that our galaxy is an average-sized spiral galaxy that looks to other galaxies like a swirl in a pastry roll and that it is over 100,000 light-years across—about six hundred trillion miles. He says, "We now know that our galaxy is only one of some hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes, each galaxy itself containing some hundred thousand million stars."19 It is commonly held that the average distance between these hundred thousand million galaxies (each six hundred trillion miles across and containing one hundred thousand million stars) is three million light-years! On top of that, the work of Edwin Hubble, based on the Doppler effect, has shown that all red-spectrumed galaxies are moving away from us—and that nearly all are red. Thus, the universe is constantly expanding. Some estimates say that the most distant galaxy is eight billion light-years away—and racing away at two hundred million miles an hour. Finally, the fact of the expanding universe demands a beginning, though Hawking now doubts that a Big Bang was its beginning.21[1]

 

An unbelieving world looks at the vastness of heavens and uses it to argue against creation.  With so many solar systems, so many planets and so much out there; there must be more life. Whether there is or isn't, doesn't change the curiosity or desire to know where we came from from. 

John Haldone, a scientist, once suggested to Monsignor Knox that in a universe containing millions of planets it was inevitable that life would appear by chance on one of them. "Sir," said Knox, "if Scotland Yard found a body in your Saratoga trunk, would you tell them, 'There are millions of trunks in the world—surely one of them must contain a body'? I think they still would want to know who put it there."264[2]

 

Indeed, how did we get here?  Deep down, every human wants to know.

 

Introduction

I really want to focus on what God did and who He is as we study this book.  However, the idea of a big bang and evolution have been so widely accepted and taught as viable, scholarly and scientific explanations of our beginnings, that we have to at least speak to it.  Malcolm Muggeridge wrote:

"I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially to the extent to which it has been applied, will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity it has."[3]

 

One would have look far and wide to find something so thin that is so widely believed.  The theory is more likely believed as a more acceptable option than accepting the idea of an Almighty God.  We know from the bible and know it of ourselves, our natural state is sinful and rebellious.  It is quite normal for man to reject God and accept an easier alternative.  Many find it easier to accept that nothing went bang and created everything.  The very idea is preposterous that order and design, function and purpose evolved from disorder and a 'bang'.  Some find it easier to believe that aliens brought life to this planet.  This sounds more logical to them than a creative God.  Yet they stumble when asked where the aliens came from.  There are many other theories and thoughts and machinations, all in an effort to explain our origin without God.   In fact, among the top theories of the origin of life, God doesn't make the list.  It's simply not considered (yet, the idea life may have been brought here from another planet did make the top 7 ideas!)  The extent to which mankind goes about this task of writing God out of the picture is very creative in itself (reflecting the God whose image they are made in).  There simply has to be a beginning; a moment in which it all began.  This is the beginning, the moment after which there was nothing. 

 

Nothing!  We struggle with the idea of nothing.  If we attempt to understand nothing; no time and no matter, we begin to picture something – be it darkness, a void, etc.  But when you picture anything it ceases to be nothing.  To picture anything previous to 'the beginning' means there was something, as opposed to nothing.  I love the quote, "Nothing is what rocks dream of," most often attributed to Aristotle.  Purpose will never be found in contemplating 'nothing' and trying to understand it.  It's like wondering if Adam and Eve had belly buttons.  The meaning, purpose and substance of life is found in seeking and understanding the One who exists eternally.  Before time, before matter, God was – He is 'I Am' the 'ego eami' – the self-existent One.  His existence didn't rely on matter, time or creation.  He didn't have to create; His existence eternally didn't rely on any other thing.  In the beginning, God.

 

God exists eternally and the word translated to God in verse one is plural, Elohim, the God we know is three persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  In this first verse, we discover Jesus:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:15-17)

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-3)

 

God created the heaven and the earth; that is every spec of dust on every planet in every solar system of a hundred thousand million galaxies of the universe.  Every atom used to form every molecule was called into being, set in place, with function and purpose.  The idea of 'heaven and earth' is called a merism; a statement of two opposites used to describe totality. 

 

With all this said, there are primarily two ways the opening phrase can be translated and understood.  One is a specific and absolute beginning of all time and things.  The other is nonspecific and general beginning of God's creative work.  The two variations might sound like:

  • When God began to create the heaven and the earth – the earth being unformed and void….

Or

  • In the beginning when God created the heavens and earth, the earth was a formless void….

 

Both are valid translations of the opening phrase.  The first implies the absolute beginning; prior to this, there was nothing.  The second makes it sound like there was an earth but without form.  This second translation and understanding leads to the idea that there was something before the beginning.  If that were true, then it wasn't really the beginning.  

 

It may be we are trying to draw too much meaning from a verse that was just meant to be introductory. 

 

God 'created' the heavens and the earth.  This word for 'create' is 'bara' and is only used to speak of what God does.  The idea of creating was that there was nothing, then God called forth, or made, something.  This is a divine act of making something from nothing.  In addition, this process wasn't just creating, but creating with a purpose, a design, order and function.  We often hear the Latin phrase 'ex nihilo' referring to this idea.

 

The bible simply tells the story of our beginnings.  It makes no attempt to convince the unbeliever or to sway the doubter because it doesn't fit their science.  The faith to believe that this is God's word and that He did create the heavens and earth is faith, but not complete blind, baseless faith.  When we look to the vastness of heavens, we see how small we are and without being a mathematician we understand the how insignificant we are in the cosmos.  The only thing that makes us significant is that we are created in the image of the creator of the cosmos.  The heavens declare his glory, even to those who deny God.  The creation itself makes the best argument that there was a creator.

 

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning

Genesis is the beginning of God creating and then revealing himself to his creation.  For us, it is the beginning of the answers to our deepest questions.  Who are we?  Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  Where are we going when we leave?  So, we are introduced to our solemn creator from the outset.  A decision must be made if you believe in this eternal, creative God.  Many refuse to believe.  

 

A story is told of students in one of Albert Einstein's classes:

The students had decided there was no God. Einstein asked them how much of all the knowledge in the world they had among themselves collectively, as a class. The students discussed it for a while and decided they had 5% of all human knowledge among themselves. Einstein thought their estimate was a little generous, but he replied: "Is it possible God exists in the 95% you don't know?" 

 

To make the claim to be an atheist is a claim to know all 100% is void of God.  To know all that is to claim you are a god (all-knowing).  When considering it this way, there is no such thing as an atheist; either you believe in God, or believe you are a god.  In fact, any right-thinking person would agree God could exist in the knowledge they don't possess.  However, we aren't right-thinking.  There is an agenda behind the denial of God.  It's an agenda, in fact a downright conspiracy, that we'll hear more about in the next few chapters. 

 

The bible delivers raw truth, the good news and the bad news.  Facts are neutral, it delivers the facts whether we like them or not.  Yes, we are expected to believe the creation story, the story of a flood and a man who built an ark, a prophet swallowed by a whale and a Jewish carpenter who was resurrected on the 3rd day!  He's a big God and from the beginning we have to begin to stretch our understanding.  The fact is, our brains aren't capable of understanding just how big and awesome and amazing He is.   

 

What God created was all inclusive in the creation period of 6 days.  These days were "evening and morning" and were 6 literal 24-hour periods.  This doesn't seem to be arguable with a literal interpretation of scripture.  To believe otherwise seems to be force a non-literal interpretation and a picking and choosing of what to believe all the way through the word.  This 6 day of creation and 1-day rest became the pattern for the world, it became our week. This is just one of many patters of seven found in creation (musical scale, colors in a rainbow, seven seas, seven continents, etc.).

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  But before we move on, we need to discuss the "gap theory".  This theory says God created the heavens and the earth in verse 1 and then there were millions of years.  And then later, the formless and void of earth was improved on.  This is a "theory" used to make the text fit our science.  They say a fossil is millions of years old and that is why they need a gap theory.  The problem with that is death came through Adam as a result of sin.  Adams generations are 6000 years.  There was no death, prior to the fall of man.  The first animal death would have been to cover the sins of man.  There are more arguments for a young earth all the time.  The discovery of human footprints and dinosaur footprints together shattered many theories.  It seems science is a mere infant, owned and operated by men who can only dedicate fifty to sixty years to it before passing on.  To take new technology with sixty years of science and knowledge and extrapolate that to sixty million years of hard facts is big stretch.  Agenda's turn theories into facts; agendas create new theories that draw new grants to discover new 'truth'.  (Note: for instance, the Hadron collider seems to have been created and operated to prove there is no God.  The discovery of a 'new' particle, the Higgs boson, god particle.) 

 

God created us in His image.  We are created to discover, invent, climb mountains, look into the stars and peer into the deep.  The science and the passion to pursue truth and answers reflect out creator.  When these things are used to investigate God's creation, it becomes a means of worship.  God is seen in every corner, every depth and every microscope; He is glorified. 

 

In Isaiah 40, the passage most remembered for the question "Do you not know? Have you not heard?" also brings us a thought regarding God and His creation:

 

25 "To whom will you compare me?

Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one

and calls forth each of them by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing.

 

Genesis 1:2

The earth was without form, and void.  Hebrew for this is Tohu and Bohu.  One commentator put it this way:

Just as the potter, when he wishes to fashion a beautiful vessel, takes first of all a lump of clay, and places it upon his wheel in order to mould it according to his wish, so the Creator first prepared for Himself the raw material … with a view to giving it afterwards order and life.… It is this terrestrial state that is called tohu and bohu. (Cassuto)

God created matter, the building material of creation.  In its first state it was without boundary, definition and form.  There was darkness, adding to the idea of void, calamitous, chaos.  This darkness stood as a contrast to the Spirit of God, the beautiful and glorious light hovering above it all.  He called it into being and then began to give it form, perfection and purpose. 

 

At times 'tohu' and 'bohu' speak of a chaos because of judgment (Jerimiah 4:23).  Those who believe the gap theory use this argument to say something went on prior to verse 2 that resulted in the Tohu and Bohu. 

 

Does the darkness over the surface of the deep mean that the evil of Satan was present?  Was Satan resisting the creation process.  We don't really know when Satan cast out of heaven?  The word used for darkness in verse 2 is Choseck - this is not the word normally used for darkness.  This is an unnatural darkness, its bleak, implying misery and destruction.  This is just the thing we associate with Satan.  The "deep" is the primordial waters of chaos.  The same word translated 'deep' is used for the pit or the dwelling place of evil spirits.  This is the abys. 

 

See Isaiah 14:12

12 "How you are fallen from heaven, O [fn2] Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

 

Ezekiel 28:12-15

"You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.

 

One theory is this Tohu & Bohu – the formless void filled with this unnatural darkness was from Satan being cast to the earth.  That this judgment brought the earth to this chaotic state where God recreated it.

 

Genesis 1:3-5

Sunday – the first day

God said it; creation was ordered with the spoken word.  He didn't work at it or strive – He spoke light into existence.  God said, "Let there be light" on day one; with a few words He dispelled darkness.  The greater & lesser lights (sun and moon) were yet to come on day 4.  What was the source of this light?  This is the light of God:

"I Am the light of the world" (John 8:12)

This is the light of the glory of God pushing back the dark of nothingness.  It is the word 'tov' which is a light conducive to life, salvation, joy, knowledge and righteousness!  It's interesting to note that the ancient belief was that the sun and moon weren't really the source of light.  This is the light of the presence of God, of being, of something where there was once nothing.  History begins with this light apart from the sun; it ends the same way. 

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.     (Revelation 22:5)

 

God saw the light and determined it was good.  When God says it is good, it means it serves the purpose for which it was created.  The word is translated in other places as beautiful, prosperous, right, fine, better, best, pleasing, favorable and gracious, among other things.  That which God declared good had been given meaning, function and purpose.  God separatedlight from darkness.  The light dispelled and pushed back the dark.  From this point on, light became associated with good, pleasant and safe while darkness was harbored bad, wicked and frightening things. 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

 

There was evening and morning the 1st day.  This is the first 24 hr time period that God called a day (yom).  There is no reason to believe this is anything but a literal 24 hour day.  It would come to be known as a Sunday, the first day of the week.  It was this same day of the week that the sun would one day rise and shine on an empty tomb.  It is because of this empty tomb that Jesus is the light for our dark, sinful spirits.  In this light we can see that hope, salvation and everlasting life.

 

Genesis 1:6-8

Monday – the second day

The ancient understanding of the universe was different than what we know it to be today.  They pictured the sky like a shiny, crystal dome (Job 37:18; Ezek 1:22) which separated the heavens from the earth.    On this side was stars, moon, clouds and sky; on the other, the waters of the heavens.  For all our science and technology, our understanding hasn't changed all that much.  God created this firmament (or expanse) as a space between the waters on the earth and the waters in the air.   It is believed by many that God originally created a canopy of water over the earth.  This is thought to have created a terrarium effect that filtered UV and provided a mist or water vapor that created ideal growing conditions on earth.  In addition, this would greatly increase life spans of mankind.  God called the expanse heaven, or the sky. 

 

God spoke it, it was so.  There was evening and morning on the second day.  It's interesting that the sky was not called 'good' by God.  We know if God did it, it was for His purpose and it was good (even if it was a Monday).  There are many speculations regarding the fact there is no declaration of 'good'.  None of them seem to be very good.

 

Genesis 1:9-13

Tuesday – 3rd day

God gathered the waters to specific places and made dry land appear.  Again, we see the separation; the land from water.  The 'dry land' is a word implying a safe and stable place to stand in contrast to the chaos of the water.  The upheaval of mountains caused deep places that became the sea. 

 

Psalm 104:6-9.

5 You who laid the foundations of the earth,

So that it should not be moved forever,

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;

The waters stood above the mountains.

7 At Your rebuke they fled;

At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.

8 They went up over the mountains;

They went down into the valleys,

To the place which You founded for them.

9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,

That they may not return to cover the earth.

 

God said it, it was so and it was good. 

 

With the presence of land, God created vegetation and plant life.  This is the beginning of life on earth.  Without seed the vegetation was called into being.  These plants would then bear seeds for the repeated growth cycle.  It was so, and it was good.  We a separation, a setting apart of species and kinds of plants so they are distinguishable and distinct in meaning. function and purpose as well as beauty.  Everything is beautiful, it its own way.  Trees and plants brought forth fruit, each plant and tree according to its kind (as opposed to evolving from on species).  God is a God of variety and order.  All this plant life was created prior to the creation of the sun but creation thrived in the light of God. 

 

Day three was a good day; it would become known as a Tuesday.  The separation of land and sea was declared 'good' as well as the plants reproducing according to their kind.  This is the only day with two blessings. 

 

 

Genesis 1:14-19

Wednesday – the 4th day

In another creative act of separation, God created light to separate night and day.  The word used for light of day one is a more general, all-encompassing light.  The word for light here is more specific and speaking of the source.  It's as if light was given to the world, then a source was given to the light.  The great source of light by night and light by day were distinct and separate, even though sourced from a same place.   Much of the ancient world worshiped these lights as deities.  The lights were created to 'govern'; that is to have dominion over night and day.  These lights were present as if to watch over every day and every night.  They would always be present, bringing stability and remind us of the Almighty Creator and His creation; in them we can see the stability and repeatability God built into His work.  The greater and lesser lights were not called the sun and moon for fear of them being associated with the gods (separating the creation account from the mythical beliefs of the ancient world).  The sun, moon and stars were created by God to serve the creation, not the other way around.

 

While the focus of the passage is on the sun and moon, it almost seems to be a byword when the text says, "He also made the stars."  When we consider that there are an estimated 10 billion galaxies (as far as we can observe) and you have to estimate 100 billion stars per galaxy then you arrive at a billion trillion stars (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000); that's a one and 21 zeros!  That's just in the observable universe. 

He determines the number of the stars

and calls them each by name. (Psalm 147:4)

 

These are the same stars God invited Abraham to look at, and count if he could.  He likened Abraham's offspring to the innumerable stars.  It's not hard for us to imagine ancient man being awed at looking up to the stars, after all we still do it today.  The clear message was that God made the stars, they are there to serve the Creator and His creation. 

Praise him, sun and moon;

praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you highest heavens

and you waters above the skies. (Psalm 148:3-4)

 

They are not gods, they are not magical and mystical in and of themselves.  Moses warned the people of this very thing in Deuteronomy:

And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)

 

The ancient world was tempted to worship the stars as if they were gods, they made the stars and their movement far too important in their lives.  They were used for sign for days, years, and seasons. These celestial signs marked off seasons and sacred times of festivals.  All the stars, along with the greater light of the sun and lesser of the moon, were a reminder of the glory of Creator God. 

When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

human beings that you care for them? u (Psalm 8:3-4)

 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1-4)

 

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20) 

 

Do you see God's glory when you look at these pictures for the Hubble Telescope?  The latest pics come from the New Horizon spacecraft where we saw the snowman shape rock called Ultima Thule.  This rock is 4 billion miles away at the edge of our solar system.  These things have never been seen by man before.  Why did God create them so beautiful?  Was it not for us when we finally are able to see?  How disappointed and offended God must be when we account for these things by some scientific explanation or theory that omits God.

 

By the end of Day 4 we have Earth with mountains and valleys; lakes and oceans with crashing waves.  We have vegetation, trees and grasses, fruits and vegetables.  The sun is shining by day and the moon & stars are visible at night.  Imagine what this must have looked like with no manmade light to spoil it.  (Will there be instant replay in heaven?)

 

The seventeenth-century mathematician and philosopher Sir Isaac Newton had a mechanical replica of our solar system made in miniature. At its center was a large golden ball representing the sun, and revolving around it were smaller spheres attached at the ends of rods of varying lengths. They represented Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the other planets. These were all geared together by cogs and belts to make them move around the sun in perfect harmony. One day as Newton was studying the model, an unbelieving friend stopped by for a visit. Marveling at the device and watching as the scientist made the heavenly bodies move in their orbits, the man exclaimed, "My, Newton, what an exquisite thing! Who made it for you?" Without looking up, Sir Isaac replied, "Nobody." "Nobody?" his friend asked. "That's right! I said nobody! All of these balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together, and wonder of wonders, by chance they began revolving in their set orbits and with perfect timing." His friend undoubtedly got the point. The existence of Newton's machine presupposed a maker, and even more so the earth and its perfectly ordered solar system.[4]

 

God saw His work of the 4th day and it was good; full of meaning, purpose and function, for His creation and glory.

 

Genesis 1:20-23

Thursday – Day 5

As the fourth day paralleled the first, so the fifth day parallels the second.  God "said" and He filled the waters and air with living creatures; all kinds of birds and fish.  In His creation, He included the 'great creatures of the sea'.  This word is 'tannin' and means sea monster, serpent or dragon.  The word actually occurs in Canaanite mythology to describe a great sea creature that served the god of Yam who warred with Baal.  Yam was understood as a leviathan, a great sea creature causing chaos in the deep.  When God said He made the 'great creatures of the sea', He is claiming superiority over these other so-called gods.  In this message is a hope that Yahweh brings these dark fears of the deep into submission.  He shows repeatedly His authority and sovereignty over all of creation. 

 

Great and small the fish and birds were created, each of the specific kind.  God distinguished one species from another, each kind to its own.  Birds were birds and fish were fish; there were then all kinds of birds and all kinds of fish.  Birds didn't evolve to from anything nor will they evolve to anything.  Fish won't grow arms and legs and learn to build computers.  Creation was orderly.  God saw that it was good. 

 

We see a new action by God in day 5, it is the phrase "God blessed".  This is the first use of the word 'blessed' in the bible.  This is the creator giving divine favor towards this part of his creation.  In day five we see a new kind of life present on the earth and God blessed this life.  They were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 

Sea life is home of teeming forms of life, from microscopic floating plants to the largest mammal—the whale, which can weigh over one hundred tons. Among its dwellers are over 40,000 species of mollusks and over 20,000 kinds of fish.[5]

 

The largest known bird is the North African ostrich, weighing up to 345 lbs and growing to 9 feet tall. However, it is flightless. The smallest bird is the bee hummingbird of Cuba—2 inches long with a 1.1-inch wingspan.[6] There are about 8,600 kinds of birds in the world. And of all the known creatures on earth, only birds and men sing.[7]

 

There was evening and morning on Day 5.  Imagine the earth covered with mountains and valleys, lakes and oceans with crashing waves and beneath the surface they were teeming with fish and sea life.  The land was covered with vegetation, trees and grasses, fruits and vegetables.  The sun was shining by day and the moon & stars were visible at night.  The skies with filled with all kinds of birds.

 

Genesis 1:24-31

Friday – the 6th day

On the 6th day God created the creatures of the land.  The word used for 'creatures' is the same used for birds and fish and even mankind.  It is an all-inclusive category of living things.  God brought dry land on day 3 and day six parallels it when He created the animal life of the lands.  He created three kinds:

  • The livestock or beasts – from rabbit to Buffalo.
  • The creatures that move along the ground were rodents and reptiles.
  • The wild animals were another general category of those undomesticated animals. 

These are general categories but specific enough to say that each was created and reproduced by its own kind.  The wild animals didn't evolve to something else, the rodent didn't evolve legs and begin to walk.  What God created was good and didn't need to be improved on in any way. 

 

27 All creatures look to you

to give them their food at the proper time.

28 When you give it to them,

they gather it up;

when you open your hand,

they are satisfied with good things.

29 When you hide your face,

they are terrified;

when you take away their breath,

they die and return to the dust.

30 When you send your Spirit,

they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:27-30)

 

This happened in the first part of day six, after this God said again.  God said, "Let us make mankind in our image."  This is different from all the other days.  Who is the 'us' of verse 26.  There are several theories, most of which just don't make sense.  The 'us' share the image of God from which man will be likened.  This quickly narrows the possibilities.  Some would still say the us could be the heavenly beings of the council of God.  But there is no indication these created angels were created in His image.  The best explanation is found in the trinity of God; the 'us' is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the One God, Yahweh, creator of heaven and earth.  This idea of the trinity being 'us' is sometimes discarded because it is believed that Moses and the people would not yet have had that understanding.

 

In His crowning creative achievement, God created mankind.  Mankind was created in God's image.  This sets mankind apart from anything else created.  While everything else was 'good' it was not created in God's image.  Inherent in our humanity is the image of God, believer and unbeliever alike, good or bad; regardless of any other moral of physical quality.  The 'image' of God is His likeness, kind of like the idea 'like father, like son.'  To be created in His 'likeness' is His character.  We share a similar mental and spiritual faculty with our creator; we can reason and can logic, we have intellect and wisdom, we have a will, both to do or not do and we have emotion and feelings that bring joy, dread, fear and courage. 

 

Being created in God's image does not mean we share in His divinity, we are not gods.  We stand as His representatives here on earth.  At creation, man was moral and sinless, so these qualities were used correctly for God's glory prior to the fall.  Mankind was made for close relationship with God.  We were created to speak to Him as well as hear Him when He spoke to us   In His image we were created to rule and reign over creation (v.26 & 28).  At the fall, this relationship was damaged and all but lost.  We now struggle to hear over the noise of a sin-fallen world.  We have been blocked from the garden of God.  Our ability to rule and reign is hampered by sin and pride. 

Donald Grey Barnhouse has pictured what happened as a three-story house that was bombed in wartime. The bomb had destroyed the top floor entirely, the debris of which had fallen down into the second floor, severely damaging it. The weight of the two ruined floors produced cracks in the walls of the first floor so that it was doomed to collapse eventually. Thus it was with Adam. His body was the dwelling of the soul, and his spirit was above that. When he fell the spirit was entirely destroyed, the soul ruined, and the body destined to a final collapse.[8]

Our only hope is in Christ who restores that relationship by purchasing our redemption, paying for our sin and imputing His righteousness to us.  He doesn't patch up what's been destroyed, we become a new person.  We are justified by His work on the cross granting us access to the lost relationship. 

 

As an image bearer, there are a few things we should know:

  • God's image is functional in our lives and this world.  When we bear His image as we walk and work and live in His creation, we will be as close as we can be to the original design of man.  Adam and Eve were in close fellowship with God, keepers of His garden. 
  • Our right to reign was relinquished at the rebellion.  Satan is the ruler of this world, for now.  Our loyalty, however, is toward Christ, our King, now and eternally.  He redeemed the creation at the cross and He's coming back to claim His creation and rule and reign over it. 
  • We are not excused from the responsibilities of bearing God's image bearers because of our fallen nature.  We are called to be holy, set apart for His service.  We are still called to fellowship and obedience.
  • Bearing the image of God is the source of our true worth.  We stand apart from the other animals because we are image bearers.  We are valuable to Him. 

 

(Read Psalm 8)

 

Dr. Carl Sagan was a famous astronomer and author.  He also denied the existence of God and didn't believe the bible.   Yet, he was awed at the complexity of the design of creation.  In his book called The Dragons of Eden, he described the complexity of a chromosome:

A single human chromosome contains twenty billion bits of information. How much information is twenty billion bits? What would be its equivalent, if it were written down in an ordinary printed book in modern human language? Twenty billion bits are the equivalent of about three billion letters. If there are approximately six letters in an average word, the information content of a human chromosome corresponds to about five hundred million words. If there are about three hundred words on an ordinary page of printed type, this corresponds to about two million pages. If a typical book contains five hundred such pages, the information content of a single human chromosome corresponds to some four thousand volumes. It is clear, then, that the chromosome contains an enormous library of information. It is equally clear that so rich a library is required to specify as exquisitely constructed and intricately functioning an object as a human being.263[9]

 

Creating man was the crowning achievement of our triune God's creation.  Mankind was created to have dominion over God's creation.  We are God's representative on the earth, to rule on His behalf.  We are blessed by God, given His favor and divine mandate to rule and reign and subdue.  We were to be fruitful and fill the earth.  Both man and woman were created in His image, there is no greater status, though each is mandated different roles.  God clearly created men to be men and women to be women, any deviation from that is not from God.  Together, as representatives of God, they were to be fruitful and multiply.  They were to 'subdue' the earth.  This is to rule over it as God's authority.

 

Mankind was given every plant yielding seed and every tree with fruit yielding seed to eat (we didn't eat meat in the beginning).  All the animals and birds also ate only plants, fruits and nuts.  They were given every green plant for food (just green). 

 

God saw all that He made, it was complete and it was very good!  He was pleased with His creative work.  It was perfect in every way. 

 

In God's creation:

  • There are seven declarations of 'good' – none on Monday, two on Tuesday, one each other creation day.
  • There are 10 'God said' in the creation days.  God expressed Himself into creation. 
  • God created, said, saw, separated, called, made, set, blessed and then rested.
  • He only blessed on day 5 & 6 at the creation of the nephesh, animals.

 

But more importantly, you were on His mind.  Thousands of years ago, before creation when there was still just nothing, God knew you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:3-4)

 

©2019 Doug Ford

 

[1] Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 84). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[4] Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[5] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 446). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[6] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 198). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[7] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 197). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[8] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 92). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[9] Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 84). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.