The Creation of the World
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse1 in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made2 the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.3 And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,4 and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants5 yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,6 and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds7 fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man8 in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Seventh Day, God Rests
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
The Creation of Man and Woman
4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
5 When no bush of the field9 was yet in the land10 and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist11 was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat12 of it you shall surely die.”
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for13 him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed14 every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam15 there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made16 into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”17
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
God wants you to know that He is the Owner of all things, including you. God also wants you to know that He has made you in His image and that for this reason you have unique dignity and worth.
At the beginning of human history, God made it possible for our first parents to know Him and enjoy Him. He brought the man and his wife together. He led them to their home and gave them their work. He provided all that they needed and shared in their life. What God did for them, He continues to do for all His people. The only difference is that we don’t see Him do it. We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
Imagine yourself at a theater for the first performance of a new play. The curtain goes up, but the stage is empty. Then the author walks out and introduces himself to the audience, telling you who he is, why he wrote the play, and what it is about. The author does not present an argument for his own existence, he simply introduces himself and begins to speak about his work.
The Author Takes the Stage
The Bible begins with God walking onto the stage and introducing Himself: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The Author wants you to know that what you are about to see is entirely His work.
The Creator has the rights of an owner. We live in a world of trademarks and patents. If I say, “Just do it,” you will immediately think about Nike. The slogan is owned by its creators. A creator always has the rights of ownership, and God owns all He has made.
If your life were an accident, arising from millennia of human history, then you would be a free agent, accountable to no one but yourself. But if you were created, then your Creator has the full rights of ownership over your life.
One or the other of these things must be true: Either you are an accident of history and therefore completely at liberty to do whatever you please with your life, or you are a created being and your Creator has absolute rights of ownership over your life.
God introduces Himself as your Creator and therefore your owner. You are not your own. Your life is a trust given to you from God. That means you are not worthless or aimless. God chose to bring you into being and he did it on purpose. You will discover that purpose as you get to know the One who created you.
The most monstrous evils of our time have been built on the assumption that human life is an accident. This belief devalues human life and makes it disposable when it is inconvenient. The future direction of our society will in large measure be determined by whether we choose to believe that we are accidents of history or the special creation of almighty God.
The Image of God
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image” (1:26). “Man” is used as a generic term here; it includes male and female. We are specifically told, “God created man in his own image… male and female he created them” (1:27). Notice the plural “us” in 1:26. It is a fascinating hint about the nature of God to be revealed more fully later.
After five days of creation, the crowning moment has come. It is almost as if God has a conversation with Himself. “Let’s do it! Let Us make man in Our image.” An image is a reflection, and so God is telling us that He made us in such a way that we would be able to reflect something of His own nature and glory.
The image of God is what distinguishes people from animals. Animals were made by God, but none of them was made like God. That is why no man or woman should ever be treated like an animal or behave like an animal. Men and women who believe that they are simply developed animals have missed the most fundamental thing that God says about them. We are made in the image of God!
The Kiss of Life
Men and women are made in the image of God, but we must always remember that we are not God. God made the first man from the dust of the ground, so we should not be surprised if there are similarities to the animals at a biological level. But there is more to human life than chemistry or biology.
“The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (2:7). God formed a body, and the skeletal frame lay lifeless on the ground. Then God breathed His own breath into this biodegradable corpse. He gave man the kiss of life, and the lifeless corpse became a living, self-conscious being.
God is always doing what He did that day. “He [God]… gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). God sustains you one breath at a time, and you are absolutely dependent on Him. If you can grasp these twin truths—that you are made in God’s image and that you are dependent on Him—you will discover a great dignity and at the same time a profound humility.
God gave Adam four special gifts that made his life wonderfully rich—a place, a purpose, a partner, and most of all, the gift of God’s presence.
Taking a Walk with God
God is Spirit. That means He is invisible to the human eye. Yet right at the beginning of the Bible we read about “the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).
The Old Testament has many examples of God appearing in visible form. We call these theophanies. Later in the Bible story, we will see that God became a man, so it should not seem strange that in the Old Testament He would appear in visible form.
These appearances show us the intense desire in the heart of God to establish fellowship with us. It is almost as if the Son of God could not wait to come. He burst out of heaven, entering human time and space, and walked with the first man and woman in the garden.
Notice that “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden” (3:8). Adam and Eve heard the cracking of twigs and the rustling of leaves as they walked with God, asking questions and enjoying conversation. Imagine what that would have been like! God was interested in what Adam had done in the day and he was listening to whatever was on Eve’s mind. It was literally heaven on earth!
As we’ll see in the next session, this fellowship between God and man was broken, and it has remained so throughout the generations of human history. Christ came into the world to restore that broken relationship and make it possible for us to walk with God again.
We cannot see God, but when we come to Him with faith and in the name of Jesus Christ, His presence is as real as it was when He appeared in visible form to Adam. Think about that next time you pray.
A Place Called Home
It is difficult to be precise about the location of Eden, but the important things to grasp are that it was a real place and that the Lord put the man and the woman there. “The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed” (2:8).
God created a place where Adam would know and enjoy His blessing, and He does the same thing for us. He has determined the exact places for all of us to live (see Acts 17:26). Try to imagine God walking with you into your home, your workplace or your church and saying, “This is the place I have prepared for you.” None of us is where we are by accident. When you know, as Adam did, that God has set you where you are, you will have stability in the most difficult times.
There’s Work to Be Done
God, who called the light “day” and the darkness “night” (Gen. 1:5), invited Adam to participate in His work of naming things: “Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name” (2:19).
This is the work of science. The scientist reflects on what he observes and then describes it. So Adam was the world’s first scientist! This was the work that God gave him to do.
Right from the beginning Adam was occupied with work. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (2:15). Work existed before sin entered the world, and it will continue after sin has been cleared out. Sin has affected our work and introduced frustration into it, but the first thing to say about work is that it is a good gift from God.
God took a personal interest in Adam’s daily work by bringing the animals to him. God cares about your daily work and wants to be a part of it. That’s worth thinking about at your desk, on the shop floor, in the school, or by the kitchen sink.
A Marriage Made in Heaven
The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him… And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (2:18, 22).
Once again the Lord appeared to Adam, and said, “Adam, I have someone I want you to meet.” I have no doubt that Adam’s jaw dropped wide open. He certainly seemed pretty pleased! He said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (2:23).
Notice, the Lord Himself brought the two together. The first wedding service was conducted by almighty God. Try to picture it in your mind: The Lord God takes her hand and puts it into his hand and says, “Here is the partner I have made for you!”
We will see in the next session that this marriage had more than its fair share of troubles. But whatever their problems, Adam and Eve knew that they were together because they had been joined by God.
There will be times in every marriage when a husband and wife need to come back to this. Marriage is the joining of one man and one woman by God. As the Scripture says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (2:24).
If you are married, try to picture God taking your hand and the hand of your spouse, and joining them together. As He does this, God says, “Go through life together, love each other, and forgive each other.” This is what God did for Eve and Adam, and if you are married, this is what God has done for you. And when you know that God has joined you and your spouse together, it will help you to weather the most difficult times.
If you are looking for a marriage partner, remember that God brought Eve and Adam together. The pressure of trying to find the right person can be intense, but you can trust God to bring the right person to you, or bring you to the right person. I am not suggesting that you should be passive, but there is no need to panic. You can trust the Lord with every area of your life.
- What is your reaction to the creation account – that God created you, and therefore you belong to Him? Doubt? Fear? Comfort? Other?
- Do you think it really matters whether you were intentionally created by God or you are the product of random chance? Why or why not?
- What do you think the Bible means when it says that God made us “in his own image” (Genesis 1:27)?
- Would you like to experience “walking with God” as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden? Why or why not?
- What would it mean to you to know for sure that your home; your job or school; or your spouse, is a gift to you from God Himself?