The Creation of the World
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 expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made 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. 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, 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, plants 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, 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 birds 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 man 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.
How could anyone possibly know how the world began? Nobody was there taking notes when it happened! And how could anyone know what was in the mind of God when He made the first man and woman? No one could know these things unless God Himself took the initiative to tell somebody. And that is precisely what He did.
We can reasonably assume that God spoke with Adam and Eve about His joy in creating the universe and that they passed these stories on to their children. But stories that are handed down from generation to generation in this way become distorted, and so it is important to realize that God revealed these things more directly.
Later in our journey, we will meet with Moses. God appeared to him visibly and spoke to him audibly (Numbers 12:8). This unique privilege of speaking with God face to face enabled Moses to write what God gave him to say in the first five books of the Bible.
The Creator is the Owner
The first thing God wants you to know is that He is your Creator: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). That’s important, because a creator always has the rights of ownership over anything that he or she has made. God wants you to know that He is the Creator and therefore the owner of everything, including you.
That tells you something magnificent, not only about God but also about yourself. You are not an accident of history whose existence is the result of certain atoms colliding by random chance. God made you on purpose, and you will discover that purpose as you come to know Him.
A Breathtaking Initiative
Try to imagine the Creator at work. Day after day God added new dimensions to His creation: light, sky, seas, vegetation, the sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, and animals. Each was conceived in the mind of God, and when He spoke, He called them into being. As each creative act was completed, God reviewed His work and announced that it was good.
It was at this point that God crowned His creation with a breathtaking initiative: “God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image’” (Genesis 1:26).
God made you to reflect something of His own nature and glory so that as people look at you they would see some reflection of God Himself. This is what gives unique dignity and value to every human life. All of the animals were made by God, but none of them were made like God.
Enjoying the Goodness of God
Adam enjoyed life in a garden called Eden, which God had planted near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Genesis 2:8–14). While we can’t pinpoint its exact location, it was probably somewhere in the area of modern Iraq.
Life in Eden was awesome. It was so different from anything we have experienced that it is difficult for us to grasp. But it is well worth using our imagination to try.
Adam enjoyed the privilege of working in direct partnership with God. His first task was to name the animals as God brought them to him (Genesis 2:19). Giving names may not sound like significant work, but actually this was the first scientific endeavor. Science, at its heart, is about observing, classifying, and describing, and that was the first work God gave Adam to do.
Everything Adam needed was provided in the garden. When he was hungry, he only needed to reach up and pick the fruit from the trees. His work was fulfilling, he was protected from danger, and he enjoyed perfect health. It was heaven on earth.
The greatest joy of life in Eden was the immediate, visible presence of God. God is Spirit, and so He is invisible to us. But in the Garden of Eden, God took on a visible form so that Adam could know Him. We call this a theophany. God came and walked with Adam in the garden (Genesis 3:8).
A Marriage Made in Heaven
God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, and so the Lord made a woman and brought her to the man (Genesis 2:18, 22). Imagine Adam’s delight when God made the introduction!
God could have created Eve and left the two of them to find each other in the garden. But He didn’t do that. God was actively involved in bringing the two of them together. Try to picture God joining their hands and giving His blessing on their shared life together.
The first couple would face their share of problems in the future, but they could never doubt that they had been joined together by God. That is true of every marriage, and that is why marriage is sacred.
A View from the First Mountain
Pause for a moment to take in this view of the world as God made it. Imagine what it must have been like to live in this perfect environment: sharing the joys of a loving and intimate marriage; growing in knowledge, experience, and skill through creative and fulfilling work; and most of all, cultivating a deep relationship with God, whose visits to the garden brought great delight.
Life as we know it is only a shadow of the mountaintop experience our first parents enjoyed in Eden. God wants you to know what their life was like and how you can recover what has been lost.
It’s time to leave the first mountain of the Bible story. We move on reluctantly because the next stop on our journey is a deep valley.
We have made some wonderful discoveries here. God is the Creator of all things. He made everything good. He has created men and women in His own image, giving unique dignity and value to every life.
Some may believe that life is richer when God is at a distance, but the mountaintop experience of life in the Garden of Eden teaches us that life is never richer than when God is near.
- On a scale of 1 (I’ve never opened a Bible before) to 10 (I have a PhD in Bible), how familiar are you with the Bible? How relevant do you think the Bible will be to your daily life?