A Verse by Verse Study of Genesis 1:1-31
Have you, or the people around you, ever wondered who God is, what he is like, why he created us and the universe, and what our purpose is?
These are the biggest questions of life, aren’t they? Many people think these questions don’t have definitive answers, while others are satisfied with answers that suit their own interests, based on factors like upbringing and culture. They create god in their minds.
But the truth is, these questions have been answered very clearly and precisely in the Bible, and who we think God is has no impact on who God really is.
To begin to answer these questions, one must go back to the beginning, to page one of the Bible in Genesis 1.
This blog post is all about lessons from Genesis 1: what God has revealed to us about himself and our purpose.
People believed that the universe was eternal – that it always existed. But in the opening line of Genesis 1:1 it says,
‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’NLT
Against this popular belief (which persisted for centuries), Moses declared that the universe was not eternal at all! God revealed to us through the Bible that the universe had a beginning and that God created it.
But don’t be mistaken. Any belief about the origin of the universe requires faith. However, believing in the truth of the Bible isn’t incredible, it’s very reasonable. There is more scientific evidence supporting the account of the Bible, than any other belief.
For example, the Bible accurately described the water cycle back in the 9th century BC in Ecclesiastes 1, as well as in Job. And when God created the sky, he was not merely placing water here and there; he was creating the very nature of things such as gravity, temperature, evaporation, and condensation – the very mechanisms that make the water cycle possible.
But the water cycle was not discovered by scientists until the 16th century AD.
The Bible offers logical and reasonable explanations for creation and why we were created.
Society would have us believe that accepting any view other than macro-evolution is idiotic, but there is a multitude of scientific experts (some of the brightest minds in the world) that support the Biblical view through scientific evidence and reasoning.
In fact, there isn’t a conflict between science and religion at all, as is the popular belief. God’s fingerprints are all over his creation. The conflict is between atheists and theists – atheists who refuse to believe in God, and theists who do.
Who is God?
God has spoken to us through his Word, and in Genesis 1, he has revealed a lot about who he is.
God is Real
From the very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, God is telling us that he is real. He does exist. He has been there from the beginning. He is eternal and he is uncreated. He is a separate entity from the universe and mankind, which were created and had a beginning.
God is Personal
God is personal. In verses 3-31, you see the repeated phrase, “And God said,” which tells us that God speaks to us – he communicates with us. Verse 27 tells us that humans were made in God’s image. That means that God doesn’t resemble nature or inanimate objects, but he resembles people. Now this doesn’t mean that God looks like a human, however we do share his qualities of personhood and the ability to be relational.
That God is personal is also evident in the way he relates with the other Persons of the Trinity. Although the Trinity is not fully defined in Genesis, verse 26 says,
‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…’NLT
which gives us our first hint of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is personally relational within his own being. Our desire to be relational is fundamental to our personhood because God created us in his image.
God is not a force. God is personal and relational within himself and with us.
God is Unique
The Bible doesn’t tell us that there were several gods in the beginning, fighting over who would inevitably rule, as is taught in ancient Near Eastern myths. The Genesis account tells us that God was alone in the beginning. He created other beings such as angels, but he is uniquely God.
Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. The Hebrew word used in this verse is bara, which means ’to create’ but it is only used in reference to God. Man can never bara. This kind of creating refers to miracles. Creating something in a way that defies the laws of nature.
God created the laws of nature, and only God can defy them. This, in essence, is the definition of miracles, which only God can perform.
God has no equal or parallel. God is infinite. Satan is not his equal, and opposite force. Satan too was a created being. God is Sovereign over all.
God is the Source of Everything
The entire chapter of Genesis 1 tells us that God is the source of everything. He created the universe and everything in it. Everything that exists comes from God.
Hebrews 1:3 tells us that,
‘…he upholds the universe by the word of his power.’ESV
Not only did God bring everything into existence, but they continue to exist because he upholds them.
And not only do all ‘things’ come from God, but all of our abilities also come from God. They are gifts from God. There is no place for pride or boasting. We are not responsible for our abilities and talents. We only have them because God gave them to us.
How Did God Create?
The influence of atheism and evolution is so strong that some Christians who worry about being taken seriously believe that they must fit evolution into their theology somehow. There are some Christians who would categorize their belief on the origin of the universe as “theological evolution”, which describes how God used evolution to create the universe. God directed macro-evolution and natural selection to create the universe as we see it today over billions of years.
God Creates by His Word
And while, we shouldn’t part ways with Christians who choose to take this view, the Bible tells us that God created simply by his word, “and God said.”
You see, there is nothing in all of Scripture that indicates that the universe came about by evolution. Thousands of years later, in Hebrews 11:3, Peter corroborates the Genesis 1 account when he says,
‘By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.’NIV
From cover to cover, the Bible tells us that God created the universe by simply speaking it into existence. But mankind feels the need to add to the Bible’s account.
Romans 1:21 tells us that man suppresses the truth about God. They see the evidence for God, but they refuse to believe.
It seems most logical that, if the Bible were God’s revelation of himself to mankind, the most plain and clear explanation of creation would be the best interpretive view, rather than something obscurely hidden and not understood until thousands of years later. God gave us his Word thousands of years ago, but we failed to understand it until now?
That God created the world through spoken word has been understood and accepted from the time of Moses to Peter, and to those who faithfully seek God today.
God Creates with Order
Genesis 1:2 says,
‘The earth was without form, and void; darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’NKJV
Understanding how God creates with order is most clearly seen when you consider the original Hebrew language used here. The word tohuw, translated here as ‘without form’, and bohuw, translated here as ‘void’, show us how God created things into order.
Tohuw means ‘formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness’, and bohuw means ‘emptiness, void, waste’. He turned tohuw and bohuw into cosmos – order. God created order out of disorder.
Verses 3-10 describe the first 3 days of creation when God created the sky, land, and water – three realms, or domains, of the earth.
Verses 11-25 describe the next 3 days of creation when God created the inhabitants of each domain: lights, vegetation, and all the animals.
God turns chaos into order and he creates in a certain order. God also turns the chaos of our lives into order through the gospel.
God’s Creation is Good
Everything God created he declared to be good. God only creates what is good and the goodness of creation always remains. Everything God made was meant for us to enjoy.
1 Timothy 4:4 says,
‘For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.’NIV
Though evil and sin exist, God did not create them. Since the fall of man, when man chose to stop trusting God and go his own way, sin and evil entered the world. Sin tries to turn what God made for good into evil, but God’s goodness continues to endure, and the fundamental nature of creation is still good.
In this passage, Paul is telling the early church, who were following legalistic tendencies in fear of committing sin and the belief that certain things were innately evil in and of themselves, that everything God created is good!
God Creates Things to be Separated
God separated dark and light; water and dry ground; animate and inanimate objects. He created each according to its kind. God separated humans from animals – only humans are made in God’s image. And he separated male from female, equal in personhood, yet distinct.
God also separated things spiritually and morally. God has defined right from wrong; righteousness from sin, redeemed from condemned.
People think they have the right to define or redefine what God has defined and divided. But though people may try to take that liberty, they cannot truly change what the Sovereign Lord has decided on.
Who We Are
We Were Created by God
Genesis 1 tells us that we were personally and directly created by God, rather than evolved by chance. We are not deluxe animals.
Psalms 139:14 says,
‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.’NIV
Evolutionists have been trying to tell us for years that all life evolved from the same original cell and organism. Paleontologists have been looking for years, for evidence of the “missing link” that must have existed between our species and lower life forms in order for evolution to be true.
But to date, none have been found. In fact, scientific evidence now suggests that the theory of irreducible complexity does not allow for these missing links. Irreducible complexity states that biological systems cannot be reduced to less complex systems because less complex system would not be functional. Missing links could not exist and eventually evolve over billions of years into more complex organisms because they would not be able to function.
We Are Personal Beings
We are more than evolved matter. We have meaning, value, and purpose. God created us to dream, to have passions, and to create. He created us to love and to relate to others and to desire to belong in relationships.
John 15:12-13 says,
‘This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have love you.’NLT
Atheists would have us think that we evolved high level thinking in order to survive. They even believe that morality evolved as a necessity of survival. But the mechanism in which thought processes and morality somehow ‘evolved’ is just unthinkable. It can’t be explained or understood in any way, yet atheists happily embrace this theory over the existence of a Sovereign God.
We Were Created for Work
In Genesis 1:28-30 God tells man to work: to be fruitful and multiply, to govern, to rule over the animals, and to care for God’s garden in order for it to grow and prosper. And all this took place before the fall. Work wasn’t a judgment from God.
Today we might think of work as a bad thing. A necessary evil to survive. Many people dream of winning the lottery and never having to work again.
But God planned for work to be good. Work is part of what it means to be human because we were made in God’s image and God himself is always at work.
Sin has negatively impacted work, but work was meant to be enjoyed.
Ecclesiastes 3:22 says,
‘So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy at work. That is our lot in life.’NLT
People sometimes picture heaven as being a place where we will be laying around on clouds listening to harps and eating grapes. But when God makes all things new, man will live as God had originally intended, and that will include work.
In Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah speaks of the New Zion (heaven). Look at verse 4:
‘…They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.’NLT
Not only is this passage telling us that there will be world peace in heaven, but we will work. Notice what the weapons of war are transformed into. It doesn’t simply say there will be no more swords or spears, but they will be transformed into tools for work.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will all become farmers. Loving your neighbor is work. Serving one another and God is work.
In fact, the joy that can come from our work now, in this life, is a work that is done unto the Lord. All work is good; there should be no idolizing of one work over another. And all work should be done unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
Rather than being dogmatic over which Genesis interpretation you think is the right one (young earth versus old earth, gap theory verses a literal 6 day creation, etc.) these are the lessons from Genesis 1 that really matter. God wanted us to know that he exists, and he wanted to reveal who he is as well as who we are.
The lessons from Genesis 1 give us hope.
A world without God is a life without hope and purpose. If we spontaneously came to be and then eventually die, then life is pointless and meaningless.
Knowing that God is real, and that he created each and everyone of us for a good and wonderful purpose, gives us so much hope for this life and for eternity!
God’s Undertaker by John Lennox – This book evaluates the evidence of modern science in relation to the debate between the atheistic and theistic interpretations of the universe.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek – these authors argue that Christianity is not only more reasonable than any other belief system, but it is more rational than unbelief itself. they provide strong arguments and evidence to support the truths of Christianity.