Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Hebrew words for heavens and earth when used together as they are here are defined as “the totality of the physical universe.” The word translated created is used only when God is bringing something into existence. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God brought everything into existence at a finite point in the past from a position outside space and time (He is not a part of the physical universe.) The idea that the universe has a beginning has been confirmed by scientific observation and research over the past few decades. This verse is the “initial setting” for the narrative that follows.
The universe, galaxies, solar systems and planets have been created and now God is going to tell us what He did to make earth ready for humanity. The frame of reference has changed from a view of the universe to “the surface of the deep.” The rest of this narrative is from the perspective of the Holy Spirit at or on the surface of the earth.
The initial conditions of planet earth, according to astronomers who have studied other planets in our solar system as well as planets at various stages of development in other solar systems, are as described in Genesis 1:2: formless, empty, and dark (due to a thick atmosphere and much interplanetary debris). See also Job 38:9 I made the clouds it’s [the sea’s] garment and wrapped it in thick darkness.
Light becomes visible from earth’s surface and so day and night are now discernible. The atmosphere is translucent at this point, but not yet transparent. The word for “let there be” is not the same word as “create”, but rather “to be, become, exist, or happen.” Without going into a lot of details, it is nothing short of miraculous that the atmosphere on our planet is as thin and light as it is.
The word translated “day” is [yôm] in Hebrew. It has many definitions and we must be careful not to make assumptions based on our preconceived ideas or what we read in English. Here are the choices:
- day (as opposed to night)
- day (24 hour period)
- a working day, a day's journey
- days, lifetime (pl.)
- time, period (general)
- temporal references (yesterday, tomorrow, etc.)
This is the formation of the stable water cycle on earth, which is necessary for the support of all life. See also Ecclesiastes 1:7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the ea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. And Isaiah 55:10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that is yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater. Again, the word for “made” is not the same as the word as “created” in vs. 1.
Plate tectonics and volcanic activity begin to raise the land above the surface of the water so that life can begin. Plant life also appears. There are three words used for the various kinds of plants and the English translation of those words tends to be more specific than the Hebrew words imply.
This day is often the most controversial because people forget that we are still observing what’s happening from the surface of the earth and things that God already created are just now becoming visible from that vantage point. Verses 16-18a are a parenthetical statement reminding us what happened “in the beginning”; now that they are visible the author is telling us why God created them for the earth.
Finally, by day 4 the atmosphere begins to become transparent due to a number of changes that have occurred on the earth:
- Stabilization of air temperature and pressure
- Slower rotation rate
- Consumption of carbon dioxide by plants, and
- Decrease of volcanic activity.
The word translated “living creatures” in verse 20 refers to “swarms of small aquatic creatures” which when used for water life include mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and amphibians – the most primitive creatures that require light for regulation of their body clocks. The earliest fossils are of these types of creatures.The word translated “great creatures” in verse 21 refers to “soulish” animals – those that can form relationships with each other or with humans. There are two words used for “created” one which indicates that previously existing materials were used (i.e. the dust of the earth), but they were fashioned into something completely new.
Verses 24-25 focus on three types of animals God created (not all animals are mentioned here, just those that would interact closely with humans), long-legged land quadrupeds which are (1) easily domesticated and those which (2) make good pets and (3) short-legged land mammals like rodents, rabbits, etc.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Again on day 6 two words are used for “created” indicating previously used materials (i.e. the dust of the earth) being fashioned into something completely new. The “new” aspect for mankind is the spiritual dimension, the “image of God”. DNA evidence now shows that all humanity descends from one man and one woman who lived about 50,000 years ago. Personally I think this is majorly cool! No evolution for this mama!
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
God now gives His command to Adam and Eve to populate the earth take care of His creation. The entire chapter of Genesis 2 goes into the details of the sixth day.
DAY 7 Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested (or ceased) from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Note that the repetitive phrase “there was evening, and there was morning” is not included for the seventh day. This leads us to believe that the seventh day may not yet have ended. There has been no evidence of anything new having been created since humanity appeared on the scene.
From scientific observation the universe and the earth appear to be old. I believe that these observations do not contradict the creation accounts found in Genesis and throughout the Bible. It is contrary to God’s nature to be deceptive.
- The universe is currently observed to be 13.75 billion years old.
- The earth is currently observed to be 4.5 billion years old.
A question that has come up in my small group regarding a number of topics is "What would it take for me to change be view?" My answer regarding the age of the earth is this: evidence that is independently verifiable and accepted by both Christian and non-Christian scientists showing the age of the universe, earth, and humanity is different than currently observed and measured - this could go either way younger or older.
I hope you have found this interesting and perhaps new. As always I would love to see some comments or discussion about this post. I have lots of other topics in mind, but if there are specific things you like to see address please let me know.