Creation and Restoration
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is no statement in all of literature that can stand up to that opening verse in Genesis. It is in the opening chapter of Genesis that we have displayed for us all of the glory and grandeur of creation. In that chapter God is the subject of almost every verse. He is the one who creates and restores the universe and the earth, and all that is in them. It is this chapter that forms the foundation for the book of Genesis. In turn, Genesis forms the foundation for the rest of the Bible. That is why Genesis chapter one stand in the bulls eye or the target for those who are hostile to the Bible, those who are in rebellion against God, and those who would assert human autonomy and try to free man from what they think are the shackles of religion and Christianity. Satan and all the forces aligned against God and the Bible know that if you can discredit Genesis you can discredit the rest of the Bible. And if you can discredit Genesis 1-11 you can discredit the book of Genesis. And if you can discredit Genesis chapter one, then you can discredit Genesis 1-11, all of Genesis, and undercut the Bible.
Over 200 times Genesis is either directly quoted or indirectly referenced in the New Testament. In fact, every book in the New Testament except for Philemon, 2 & 3 John reference Genesis. Twenty-five times Jesus directly refers to Genesis, quoting from Genesis chapters 1, 2, 3 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 17, 19, 28. Notice the heavy emphasis on 1-9. Of those first eleven chapters He doesn’t quote from 8, 10, or 11 but He quotes from all of the others, indicating that He accepted them as written, that He interpreted them literally and did not have some sort of allegorical understanding of them. And He based doctrine on what was in those chapters. So if what happened in those chapters didn’t happen as literally portrayed then the doctrine based on those is not true. Twenty-four times in the New Testament Genesis chapter one is either directly quoted or alluded to. Genesis one is foundational not only to Genesis but also the entire New Testament. The veracity of those first eleven chapters of Genesis is so important that if they are not true then nothing else in the Bible is true; you can’t rely on anything else in the Scriptures. So this is not some secondary issue, some side debate. The New Testament is grounded on Genesis 1-11. Furthermore every doctrine, and not just major doctrine but every secondary doctrine as well, has its origin in Genesis 1-11.
It is in Genesis 1 that we are confronted with the God who stands unique among all of the gods devised by human imagination. In fact, Genesis one is written in such a way that it takes a sort of back-handed slap at all of the other religions that were popular that that time. There is an undertone of polemic (an argument against something) in Genesis one against the world religions at that time, especially the religions the Jews were going to meet when they came into Canaan. The reason to point this out is that there are so many Christians today who say we should not get involved in some sort of debate with human viewpoint, with some form of controversy with false systems of thought. The Bible at its very core is an assault on all false systems of thought. To say that we don’t need to do that is to say that the Bible and the Holy Spirit were somehow wrong in the way they approached the revelation of God’s truth. God’s truth is always juxtaposed to the error, the human viewpoint of the day.
So in Genesis one we have a portrayal of God’s creation. It is a magnificent portrayal of everything that God did. It is simple. If we read through the chapter we are struck with the simplicity of the narrative. It doesn’t go into excessive detail but once you start probing what is there we realize how detailed it actually is. There is a sublime characterization of the creation that comes across in the simplicity of the narrative. The emphasis in the chapter is always on God. He is the subject of every verse. The emphasis is on His majesty, His omnipotence, and His sovereignty. And it is in Genesis chapter one from the first verse that we meet the God who stands apart from the creation and everything else in the universe. This was revolutionary in the ancient world. All of the other religious systems had a god that was generated by the universe itself, and then in turn those gods generated other gods and creation. In all other mythologies and cosmogonies the gods are part of creation that in turn gives birth to man.
To properly understand Genesis chapter one we must begin with an overview, a summary of the entire chapter from 1:1 down to 2:3. We must try to recapture in our minds the original context in which this was first written and first read. Moses penned this book to provide the foundation for the nation Israel. Origins are important. To know why we do something we must know why we came into being in the first place. So Genesis was written to ground the creation of Israel and the existence of Israel in the sovereign work of an omnipotent God who planned, executed and sustained the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Too often when we come to Genesis we want to look at it in the light of the modern issues of science and the Bible—evolution versus Darwinism. We will eventually come to that but before we address those issues, which are really application, we need to examine this chapter as a whole in terms of its overall structure and the doctrines that are contained here. Then we want to exegete the passage verse by verse. Finally, when we have taken everything that we can from the text, then we will analyze what we have learned in light of ancient and modern myths of origins. Modern origin myths is exactly what modern science has provided for us in Darwinism and modern theories of evolution: modern science from its theories about the age of the universe, the age of the solar system the age of the earth, the age of man, to its theories about the origin of the universe, the evolution of life on the planet. It has built an elaborate and detailed technical cosmogony, reinforced by a sophisticated scientific superstructure and explanation in order to explain the origin and development of the universe apart from God. It is that presupposition that God is not in the equation at all, that does not exist, that God did not create, that reverberates in every single statement that modern science makes about the origin of the universe and the origin of man. Somewhere in every statement they make about origins there is a theological presupposition that God does not exist, and that is a religious statement. It is a religious statement to say that God exists; it is a religious statement to say that God does not exist. So modern evolutionary theories are just as religious as any other religious statement, which they claim to reject. So everything that modern science has, from its dating schemes to origin schemes, falls apart once they are examined closely. They are simply a modern myth constructed to explain the origin of a Godless race.
In 1406 BC there were between a million and a million and a half Jews in the Moab desert on the verge of war to conquer the land, to take the land away from the Canaanites. It involves an invasion against a more numerous people, against giants, against walled, fortified cities. In most cases the technology of warfare that the Canaanites had is superior to the technology that these wandering Jews had. Because the Jews had spent the past 40 years in the desert they are not operating from any kind of industrial base or any kind of strength. They have minimal equipment, minimal training in terms of military techniques. So this is a time when it is conceivable under just a human viewpoint look at the circumstances when chaos may erupt. It is a time, which from the human viewpoint standard seems uncertain. And yet Moses is reinforcing for them the doctrine that the God who began history controls history, that the God of the universe who sustains it is the same God who created Israel and will sustain them in the conquest. This God who spoke all things into existence from nothing, is the same God who is going to guarantee their victory over the Canaanites.
In this whole chapter there are three major doctrines that are emphasized in relationship to God. The first is the power of God over creation, i.e. His omnipotence, that He creates everything, that there is nothing in the universe that was not created by Him. The second major doctrine that is emphasized is the sovereignty of God over human history; that God is the ruler of that which He has created, and everything in that creation should be subordinate to Him. He controls history and will work history out to His ultimate purpose. The third doctrine covered here is the authority of God over all His creatures, especially the human race and every human being, because He as the creator has the right to be followed as the ultimate authority of every one of us. Psalm 89:11, “The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them.” Because God has created everything He has the right to run it according to His will.
The first major doctrine related to the power of God over creation is what is called the creator-creature distinction, and this is fundamental to understand and to apply in all of our thinking. In Genesis 1:1 because God creates the universe we see that He is completely distinct from His creation. He is not part of creation; He is beyond creation. Whereas we can learn many things truly through empiricism we cannot understand absolute truth or origins, that which goes beyond our senses, other than through revelation. That is a contrast. It is empiricism versus revelation and only the creator who was there can reveal to us what happened. What we have with modern science is men who were not there telling us on the basis of what they find today what happened ten-million years ago or ten-billion years ago. They weren’t there, nobody was there, but we believe that we have the Bible, written by the omniscient, omnipotent God who was there, who is absolute veracity and cannot lie, and He has told us how He created things. So He is completely distinct from His creation. That means that when God created the havens and the earth, if you back it up five minutes before that instant, there were no physical laws, no scientific laws; there was nothing except God existing in the Trinity. All His absolutes that we have revealed in Scripture, while they may reflect His character, did not come into being until after creation. You can’t come along and say that before creation there was such and such a law that God had to follow. There was no law; there was just God and His righteous character. So we see in the creator-creature distinction that God is completely distinct from His creation, that He is the one who makes everything, He is creates all matter, all energy, He is the creator of time and space. He is the creator of all physical laws and He stands above those physical laws and uses them and shapes them to His end. Thus we must conclude that scientific laws are not eternal absolutes but they are subject to the control of God and may be shaped and modified by Him at will. This is how miracles take place.
Since God made everything and man is in God’s image it is foolish, then, to make an image to God because He is distinct from the creation. So implicit in Genesis one is this polemic against the gods of the Gentiles and all of their idolatrous systems. As they seek to make images of God what they fail to understand is that they themselves are the image of God.
Though little is said in Genesis one about specifics related to polytheism, pantheism, monism, and other religious systems, this is mostly because they did not develop until some later time. Most of the world’s religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, did not exist in the Old Testament period. However, by the time of Moses the worship of god’s was identified with the forces of nature. They did have polytheistic gods. They identified them with the forces of nature; they identified them with the stars, the moon, and the sun. They specifically identified their gods with fertility, and in doing so these gods were often represented by water, storms, rain, thunder, lightning. So it is at the very beginning that we see this God who creates all of those things, that those things are not the gods but it is God Himself who creates the stars, the sun, and the moon. And there is not even in the initial earth rain or thunder or storms. Furthermore, water as described in Genesis 1:2 is “the deep,” the uncontrolled water, is under God’s control and power. So it is a slap in the face to the religious thinking of those cultures that surrounded Israel. 1 Chronicles 16:26, “For all the gods of the people [Gentiles] are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” Nehemiah 9:6, “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven [angels] worshippeth thee.” Thus, if God is sovereign then the gods of the nations pose no real threat to Israel. That is the point. If God created everything, God created the heavens, the sun, the stars, God is in charge of fertility, then why are you afraid of the gods of the Canaanites? They have no power.
A second major thing that we see here is that God reveals Himself, that the God of Israel is not only a God of power but a God who speaks and reveals Himself to His people. He is the one who speaks, just utters a word and all things come into existence. For there was nothing; absolutely nothing. God speaks and something is there. It is God’s Word which has power, and it is that same Word which comes to Israel through Moses and the prophets in terms of direct revelation. Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
We see that God restores life. This is another major theme and doctrine in the first chapter. God restores life where there is death. This demonstrates that He is the one who takes this barren, chaotic earth in Genesis 1:2 which is under divine judgment, and is able to bring forth life where there is no life. He is the one who restores order where there is chaos. He is the one who brings forth dry land when all there is is a watery mess. This is a major theme of Genesis. Ultimately it foreshadows the redemption solution that God can bring life where there is death, but it also shows how God can bring forth life in Israel where there was once death and chaos. It is the same theme that you have with the barren women, the matriarchs who give birth to Israel. God is demonstrating He has power to bring forth life where there was death.
Thus Genesis chapter one shows that God is the unique and distinct creator. He is the sovereign over the universe, the sovereign over man and over each individual, and thus He speaks to man with power and truth, and He is the only one who has and can provide a redemption solution.
The structure of the chapter. The section goes from 1:1 to 2:3 because we have a tolodote in 2:4, “This is the generations of the heavens and the earth.” That begins a new section in the book. The first thing we note that each day includes a statement about God speaking, “And God said.” The first day begins in verse 3. In the structure of the Hebrew this indicates sequential action. We have a formula, “And God said,” and then there is a statement of the results of His speech, “Then there was; it was so.” Then there is an evaluation, “It was good.” And then there is a time frame, morning and evening. There is a clear pattern in each and every day. Each element of this formula would be understood at face value. Thus just as the statement “God spoke” was understood literally, so too the phrase “evening and morning.” If any of those are taken in a non-literal way then it would break up the whole formula. The seventh day has a distinct pattern. You don’t have God saying or creating anything on the seventh day. Instead, the emphasis is on a completion that fits perfectly with God’s design or blueprint. The very structure of the text in the Hebrew highlights this theme. There are 35 words in the Hebrew text of those three verses, a multiple of seven. The three middle clauses found in 2a, 2b, and 3a in the original have seven words in each clause. Each clause also has within it the adjective “seven.” So you have glaring at you just from the very structure and literary formation of the text itself this emphasis and re-emphasis on seven, and seven is the number of perfection and completion in the Bible. So the reader is delivered a reinforced statement that the seventh day is a day of completion. God said on the sixth day that it was very good, which is a statement implying that it was exactly as He intended. Therefore, perfect creation came from the hand of God—not a moral perfection but a creation that was perfectly in line with what he intended it to be and for His purposes.
There is a debate over the relationship of the first two verses to each other. It has been debated for years whether or not there is a time gap between the first verse and the second verse, whether the first verse is merely a topical sentence or not, whether the first verse states an original creation or not. We will see all this later on, but our view is that there is a time lapse between 1:1 and 1:2, but it is completely inappropriate and without any textual reason to insert anything into that time lapse other than the angels and the fall of Satan. It is not a place to try to ram, cram and jamb historical geology, the geological ages, some sort of pre-Adamic race to account for the Neanderthals, etc. There is no basis for that. What we do see is that in the first two verses is an indication that there has been an original creation and a subsequent judgment. The focus is on the state of the earth when God began to restore that earth in verse 2.
The organization of the first chapter down to 2:3 is:
1:1–2:3 provides us with an introduction and the original creation.
vv. 3–31 describe the six consecutive 24-hour days of restoration.
2:1-3 gives the conclusion.
The main idea of this chapter is that God creates the universe out of nothing. Unmentioned, undefined, and not part of the context is why the earth has become without form and void, and darkness, and covered with a chaotic salt sea. So there is an unmentioned judgment here, but the Spirit of God prepares the earth for restoration. Where the chaos is ordered, the emptiness is filled, in order to provide a perfect environment for mankind to rule over and to enjoy as God’s representatives. The application to Israel as they sit out in Moab is that just as God reformed the chaotic earth He is going to restore the land that has become chaotic under the Canaanites. Just as the Spirit of God was able to restore the earth in Genesis 1:2ff, so God is going to be able to give the land that He promised to the Jews. Remember we have to keep in mind why all of this is being written. It is not being written to the 20th century to give an answer for scientific questions about origins.
In the first two verses God creates, judges and then begins the restoration process. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The point here is that God is the unique creator of all things and He is distinct from everything in His creation. The first verse describes the creation of the heavens and the earth. In Hebrew there is no word for “universe.” What is there besides the universe? Nothing. Everything in the universe material and immaterial is created by God. Genesis 1:1 expresses that initial creation. The angels have already been created. Job 38:4, 5, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars [sons of God] sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” So when God lays the foundation of the earth all the sons of God, a united angelic host, shouts for joy over that creation. Furthermore, the angels are united, there is not yet a disruption at this point in the angelic host. Therefore sin has not yet, at the point that God created the earth, any evil in the universe, no angelic revolt. That comes later.
In verse one God creates. It is not the universe that creates, it is not matter that creates, it is not energy that creates; it is God who creates the universe, energy and matter. All other pagan cosmogonies have some sort of existing something out of which, even if it is just a watery chaos, everything comes. But there is always the existence of something, and this is no different from what we find in modern evolution. We have the big bang, but what was there ten seconds before the big bang. That has to have something there. But the Bible says that there was nothing there. God creates. The verb that is used here in the Hebrew is bara. It is a special verb that is only used for the creative activity of God. There are other verbs in Hebrew that speak of creation but only this verb speaks of God’s creation. This verb never has anything or anyone other than God performing that action. So whenever bara is found God is always the subject of the verb. Then the phrase, “In the beginning.” This refers to the beginning of the universe, the beginning of the space-time continuum. By universe is not meant the galaxies and the stars and the constellations. You look at the heaven. It is finite. There is an end to the universe. It locates a space; it has height, width and depth. That is space. So God creates this space, and so what must go along with space is also time; and God creates time. God creates the space-time continuum. He doesn’t create stars yet, that doesn’t come until the third day. What He creates at the first day is simply the space-time continuum, and in the midst of that space-time continuum is placed a planet. That is all we know we have at the end of Genesis 1:1. And it seems that this planet is the center of angelic activity prior to Genesis 1:2.
Verse 2 is not, cannot, and does not describe an intermediate stage or the initial stage of creation. This cannot be argued on the basis of the Hebrew syntax. The Hebrew syntax starts of with the waw consecutive, which is the conjunction “and,” and it is linked to a noun. When you have sequential action in Hebrew, which is standard narrative form that you have for the rest of the chapter, you have the waw prefix. It is either connected to a noun or a verb. When it is connected to a verb it is sequential action, it indicates one thing after another. But if you want to use that conjunction as a “but” to show contrast, to show a stop in the action, to show what grammarians called disjunction rather than conjunction, you attach it to a noun. And that is what we have at the beginning of verse 2. There is a disjunction here, which means that there is a break between what happens in the first verse and what happens in the second verse. Furthermore, other passages like Isaiah 45:18 indicate that God did not make the world empty and void. The phrase here where “the earth was without form and void” is the phrase tohu waw bohu in the Hebrew, which means formless and empty. Furthermore, there are three phrases in chapter two—“empty and waste, darkness, the deep.” These three terms are used in the rest of Scripture to indicate some sort of judgment as a result of sin. The threefold repetition of terms that everywhere else in the Scriptures speak of some kind of judgment, some kind of chaos, as a result of rebellion against God suggests that this is exactly what happened: there was a judgment on the planet because of sin. And the only sin that fits the bill is the sin of Satan. So here we have the angelic conflict, the rebellion of the angels, along with Satan, against God. Their headquarters are judged. Satan makes a case to God that He is not really fair, He hasn’t given them an opportunity to do what he can do, to show that he can be god, and God decides that He is going to give Satan an object lesson. The rest of the object lesson: that God is indeed just, that the creature cannot operate independently of the creator and enjoy any measure of success and happiness. God is going to demonstrate that it is only by being a servant to the Almighty in genuine humility can there be any guarantee of success and happiness in life. It is those themes, those virtues that are carried out throughout the rest of Scripture. Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. He humbled Himself to the point of the cross. He is demonstrating the exact opposite characteristics of Satan in showing that it is only when we have humility, dependence upon God, trusting God, that the creature can have any measure of success and happiness in life. The main doctrine covered here is that God brings judgment on rebellion and sin.
Then, at the end of verse 2 we have the Spirit of God preparing the planet for restoration. It is God and God’s initiative that comes to restore the consequences of sin. This restoration is going to be so profound that it would have totally removed any vestige forever of evidence of any previous existence on the planet. There are those who think that there was some kind of animal life before this, or some kind of human life, and that this is what is preserved in the fossils. But if this were true this renovation of the planet that takes place in the next six days is so profound that it would have removed any evidence if there had been anything. The doctrine here that we see that is foreshadowed is regeneration, that is it the Holy Spirit who brings life out of chaos, and that it is God who is the source of meaning and order.
In the next section, from 3-31, we have the description of how God calls all things into existence by His Word. Here we see that there is a play on the tohu waw bohu theme of verse 2. It is formless and empty. God begins by giving form. On day one He gives form, He creates light and separates the light from the darkness, and there is a temporal separation—evening and morning. Day two, He gives form. There is the atmosphere. He separates the upper waters from the lower waters and creates the atmosphere on the earth. So there is special separation. Then there is a logical development. It talks about what He has done with the waters on the earth; then He begins to work on those waters on the earth. In day three He separates the waters from the land. Dry land appears, vegetation comes forth, and there is a geographic separation. So He has created these three spheres of environment—light and darkness, the atmosphere, the seas and continents. On day four He puts the light into light bearers and puts the sun, moon and stars into the heavens. On day five He fills the atmosphere with the creatures of the air, and He fills the waters with the creatures of the waters. On day six He fills the continents with land creatures and with man. So it is a perfect balance. First He creates their environment; then He places them in their environment.
On day one God creates light, separates it from darkness. To this point there was no light, except that God is light. So where did the darkness come from if God is light. The darkness must come as a result of judgment. So God is going to bring forth light where there was judgment. We are told, “God said.” This is how God creates, it is through His creative and powerful Word, Psalm 33:9; John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16. There is a hidden play on words here, it is by His Word that all things come into power, but His Word is the LOGOS of God, the second person of the Trinity, Colossians 1:16. The earth is in a state of darkness, so God’s first act is to call into existence light. This isn’t just physical light, the light that we see associated with luminaries. This is light that entails in terms of physics the very core element of all things. It brings forth light as it exists in both particle and wave and it is light that pervades every area of the universe. This light also has a symbolic value as that which overpowers darkness. Then God separates the light from the darkness, indicating that God has the power to distinguish and divide. God then calls the light day and the darkness night, which indicates that He has the right to determine what things are. Things are not what they are because that is what they are; things are what they are because God said so. So man can’t come along and say that he is what he is because of empiricism; man must be who he is because God says who he is. Everybody and everything is what it is because God says that is what it is, and we have to define what our role is according to how God has described it. Then God says that there was evening and morning in one day, indicating the normal progression of sunset and sunrise which would indicate to the Jew sitting out in the desert a 24-hour period, which is exactly what this is.
So in terms of doctrine this is the root of all later biblical imagery over power and sin and darkness. God makes distinctions and defines what they are. Also, God begins to initialize human vocabulary. This is one of the most remarkable things in terms of language. Scientific studies indicate, as far as we can push them (and there is a lot to be learned about how mankind learned to speak) that this can’t happen apart from having some sort of programming of language, formatting of language ahead of time. So God formats, initializes, as it were, human vocabulary. And then man takes over. Then God begins the task of defining things and initializing human vocabulary.
On day two God creates the atmosphere. The old King James version said: “Let there be a firmament.” This sounds like it was something solid and firm, and that is because the Hebrew word here translated “expanse” is the word for atmosphere, and that word was translated by the Latin word firmamentum, meaning it indicated something solid. But this is the atmosphere. “God made the expanse and separated the waters which were below the expanse [under the atmosphere], from the waters which were above the expanse, and it was so. And God called the expanse heaven, and there was evening and there was morning a second day.”
A couple of things to note: the continuation of a waw consecutive plus the verb indicates sequential action. This follows directly on the action at the conclusion of the previous verse. Here we see that God brings order into the atmosphere of the earth. The watery chaos of verse 2 is now divided into the waters above and the waters below. Earth, it appears, has some sort of water vapor canopy, a water canopy. This is where the water comes from for the later Noahic flood. (Just a side point. There was probably less water on the earth between creation and the flood than there is today, so there was more dry land on the earth) God separates and divides, which shows there is organization and planning. It is not chaotic; it is not random. The expanse, the atmosphere, that God creates is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, helium, and a number of other gasses which provide a perfect mixture for the survival of later plant, animal and human life. In the Scriptures it is described metaphorically as a tent curtain in Psalm 104:2; a veil in Isaiah 40:22; and as a clear pavement like sapphire in Exodus 24:10. What does this mean? There is a lot of speculation here. Some suggest that this was a water vapor, because apparently you could see that there were stars out there. Some suggest ice crystals because it is in the upper atmosphere and the water vapor would be frozen. Some suggest that it was a band of solid water that was translucent that could be seen through. Normally it is thought to have enveloped the earth like the cloud cover around the planet Venus. That is how many creationists have expressed throughout the last forty or fifty years. However, some recent studies in a book called “Starlight in Time,” has suggested, very interestingly, that the band of water was outside the universe. It is interesting because the text seems to suggest that this is possible, because the same word for expanse that we have here is the place where the sun ands the moon are placed. If we restrict expanse to the upper atmosphere of the earth, then the sun and the moon only appear to be there, they are not really there. But the text says that God placed the sun and the moon and the stars in the expanse. So there is room for that. There is so much to be studied here that we should be willing to investigate.
Throughout this section there is a continued polemic against the pagan gods. The gods of the ancient world inhabited the heavens and were associated with the heavens, and here we see that God created the heavens. The point is that God is over the gods of the pagans. The doctrine that is emphasized here is that God is above all other gods, and God created all the details necessary for life. So if God can create and sustain life God can handle any other problem.
On the third day we have the development of the dry land and the oceans. “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.” So here God separates the waters from the dry land.
Verse 11, 12, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” The point here is that God creates plant life and trees. There is an apparent conflict with the second chapter, but the conflict is only apparent because there God is talking about the plants of the field. It is a distinction that is important to bring out. We see in these verses that there is the continued sequential progression and logical progression. God moves from separating the waters above from the waters below, to dividing the waters below from the land. Then God brings forth vegetation on dry land. The decree of fertility here is important. They are to bring forth vegetation “after their kind.” This decree of fertility is in contrast to the fertility ideas of the Canaanite religions that claimed fertility is the activity of the gods. Every year they would have the death of the crops in the fall and then there would be renewed life in the spring, so they explained that in the fall the god would be captured or died, carried away to the abyss, and then he escapes in the Spring and brings forth life. But you don’t have those kinds of seasons when there is a universal temperature in the early earth. Furthermore, what we see here is that God creates the seasons and God is the one who builds fertility as a mechanism into plant life and animal life.
On the fourth day God puts the sun, the moon, the stars in the heavens. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.” So there is a mechanical purpose, for illumination. These are not gods. Again the polemic, the gods of the Canaanites were associated with the stars, the sun and the moon, the gods of the zodiac, the gods of the astrology. But it is God, the God of the Jews, who created all of these things. On the fifth day God creates life in the sea and the sky.
In verse 22 there is a pronouncement of divine blessing. “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” Again, the emphasis on fertility, that God builds fertility into the system, it is not something that the gods demand be placated so that there can be fertility.
Finally, the crowning event of creation on the sixth day. God first created the animals. Notice: “after their kind.” The kind is broader than species but narrower than genus, but there is no movement from one kind to another kind. God creates the original prototype and then they develop from there. Then in verse 26 God creates man in His image. Man is to represent God to the creation. Man is not to create images of God for man is the image of God. Man is to dominate creation. Creation was provided for man to meet all of man’s needs. Man is to rule creation responsibly but man is different from nature, distinct from nature, not part of nature. All of the pantheistic religions, all of the nature religions, all of the religions that the ecologists base all of their rantings on, are based on the idea that man is just another part of nature. What undergirds much of the modern ecology is just pure evolution: that man is no different from anything else, and yet Scripture says man is distinct from everything else because he is in the image of God. And nothing else is in the image of God.
Then, vv. 30, 31, God rests. He provides everything for man kind, looks at all that He had made, “And behold, it was very good.” Good is not moral here, good is it fit the plan. Remember that God says on the 6th day in chapter two that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. “If “good” means moral or righteous then we have a problem, because God created man and it is not good, it’s not good for man to be alone. That can’t fly, so good has to mean it doesn’t fit the pattern, doesn’t fit the plan. So it is all good, exactly as God intended. He created a perfect environment. And by the way, there would be no fossils here as remnants of some sort of pre-Adamic life because fossils are dead things and God created a perfect environment, not a graveyard. So you can’t try to force some sort of historical geological framework into Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
God rests on the seventh day; 2:1-3 sanctifies it. He rests not because He is weary but He is simply establishing a pattern for man. The best translation is: “Once the heavens and the earth were completed, on the seventh day God ceased from His labor.” This God establishes a pattern for labor. At this point He stabilizes the laws of physics as they were known before the flood. At this point whatever laws were in operation when God restores in these six days are different from what takes over in terms of sustaining the universe from 2:4 on. They change again when Adam sinned and they change again after the Noahic flood.