Summary of the chapter: This chapter declares that God created the world out of nothing and organized it into a perfect world in six literal, twenty-four-hour days. It also declares that God created man in His own image and gave him dominion over the creatures. This is vital information about God, about the world He has created, and about man’s origin, for it declares the true purpose of life. To know that God is the Creator and man is the creature is foundational to our fellowship with the true and living God. It was the apostle Paul’s starting point when he taught the Athenians about the true character of the “unknown God” (Acts 17:22-31).
Key verse: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
This text is fundamental to the book of Genesis as the book of beginnings and the whole Bible as God’s revelation to man. It lays a foundation for the history of the world and of mankind.
This is the battleground between God’s revelation and man’s reason, or between faith in God’s Word and science, so-called. God has spoken of His own work of creation. We are not left to speculate how the earth originated, nor how man originated.
Observations on this chapter
God’s direct creation of the world and all things in the world is the starting point of our knowledge of God and our worship of Him. To reject God as Creator is to deny who He is; whereas to accept God as Creator acknowledges His essential attributes, including His supernatural power and His infinite wisdom. All theology comes back to the nature of the self-existent God who is distinct from His creation. Every reader of Genesis will discover that God’s existence and nature is entirely separate from His creative work. God’s work of creation does not change the nature of God; it only reveals Him as the infinite Being, who is eternal, self-existent, and unchangeable.
God’s creation of the world in six days is the basis for a seven-day week and the principle of Sabbath rest. Genesis chapter one sets out each day of God’s creative work with profound clarity. It lists “first day”, “second day”, through to “sixth day”. This itemizing of the days is deliberate and should sober deniers of God’s literal six days of creation. The Hebrew word for day is YOM. It is used consistently in the Old Testament for a literal twenty-four-hour day. Read the account of God feeding His people in the wilderness with manna (Exodus 16:16-26). Note the statement of “morning and evening” and the word “day” (YOM). The Hebrew noun means “hot” as in the heat of each day’s cycle with the sun shining by day. Genesis chapter one also carefully records,“The evening and the morning were the first day,” and “the second day” through to the “sixth day.” God wants the reader of this Creation account not to doubt that He created the world in six literal twenty-four-hour days.
God created a perfect world. Look for the statement after each day’s creation, “And it was good” (v. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), or “it was very good” (v.31). Truly, God’s work is perfect. He did not create a broken world. Instead, He created a universe that functioned flawlessly. Adam was created and placed in a perfect environment, which reflected God’s glory in every detail. Even inanimate objects were declared good. Man was made morally upright and the earth, along with the whole universe, was made to function precisely as God designed them. Perfection underscored every aspect of God’s created world.
God created His creatures after their kind (v. 12, 21, 24, 25). God put boundaries around procreation. Plants, animals, birds, and fish could only produce offspring according to the special design of their own order. By this deliberate plan, God ruled out propagation between different species. Horses and donkeys can produce mules, but mules do not produce offspring! This is a heavy strike against evolution, which claims that higher orders evolved from lower forms of life.
God created man in His own image to glorify Himself. To be made in God’s image meant dominion over every creature on sea, land, and air. Man was directly created as the highest order, and was given to rule over the earth and other creatures. To be made in God’s “image” or “likeness” (v. 26) does not mean physical likeness, as God is a pure Spirit. Instead, it means moral and spiritual likeness. Man was given a conscience, a moral arbiter built into his nature, which distinguishes between right from wrong. From the first week of creation, Adam had the necessary faculties to experience fellowship with God. To know the joy of His approval or to experience shame and guilt through God’s disapproval (Ecclesiastes.7:9, Ephesians 4:24). God’s nature, or law, was written in his heart.
Application: How does this apply to me?
You are a creature; God is your Creator. You must never forget this fact in your walk with God and in your worship of Him. To take the place of a creature honors God and this becomes the starting point for a satisfying life with purpose. To deny God as Creator is pride that must be renounced. The Bible gives many examples of true worship where man must humble himself to the dust, before the majesty of God. The first answer of the Shorter Catechism is the proper starting point of Christian doctrine, “Man’s chief end [true purpose] is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.” To deny that is to be a lost soul.
Things to do in light of this study
Memorize the first Question & Answer of the Shorter Catechism and meditate upon it along with the Scripture proofs.
When in prayer and in your worship of God, address Him as your Creator, acknowledging your own dependence upon Him for life, breath, and every blessing. You are totally in the hands of God as your Creator.
Renounce the world’s view of evolution and theistic evolution with its attempts to assign vast periods of time to each of God’s six days of Creation. All of these views are rebellious to God’s work as Creator and to His rule over His creatures.
Learn to live in the enjoyment of God’s power and His sovereign rule over this world. Christ is not only the head of the church, He is also the Lord of Creation (Colossians 1:15-18).
Note in the book of Psalms, the song book of the church, how God is worshipped as Creator. Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.”
Further questions and points to study
Look for instances in the gospels where Christ referred to the week of Creation.
Could there have been a civilization before Adam’s creation? Think of the principle that death came into the world through sin.
Does a straightforward reading of Genesis chapter one give even a token suggestion to the notion of a pre-existing civilization, as suggested by advocates of the gap theory?
Rev. Ian Goligher is Editor of Current and minister of Cloverdale FPC in British Columbia.