Genesis 1 – The Creation Account

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THEME: God’s Sovereignty (supreme power or authority) in human history

Chapter Summary

Text: Genesis 1 (ESV) (NIV) (KJV)

The Holy Spirit (God) hovers over the waters, which He previously commanded out of the void, contemplating His perfect order for the creation of Earth. With darkness being all that hangs over the the deep, God calls forth light and it comes, declaring the first day. God, seeing that the light is good, continues His creation on the second day by restricting the waters to below and forming a sky above. With His third day, God commands that the waters be gathered together so that He may create land in their midst. God then brings vegetation out of the land, giving it the gift of seed for reproduction. Looking to the sky, God, on His fourth day, commands the universe, sprinkling the expanse with stars and other wonders so that their light may illuminate its darkness and be used to track the passage of time. God designates the greatest star, the sun, to mark the day, and sets aside the moon to mark the night. Returning to the land and waters, God commands creation of the more complex life of sea creatures and birds, continuing this advancement with livestock and bugs on the sixth day. God finishes His sixth day and creation by designing mankind, male and female, in His image. He gives mankind dominion over His creation and blesses them. Vegetation is then given by God to mankind and the animals as food, and God, looking over all he has created, declares it good.

Initial Questions

  1. What was God doing before the Genesis creation?
    • Genesis is a quick recap of our creation, not God’s. The book is designed to provide a catch up summary for the Israelites, who already believe in God and his sovereignty because of the miracles they witnessed upon leaving Egypt, on their roots and heritage. All we have for knowledge of God then, is that He was, is, and always will be. An understanding of what came before our creation, is a matter of faith not fact. If you want that story, you either need to ask God or wait for Him to put out another book!
  2. Genesis opens with God hovering over the waters. Why do we not hear about Him having created the waters?
    • Every story has to open with some action. Through faith, we know God created the waters. He also created matter, protons, electrons, neutrons, and whatever else science attacks the creation account with for not containing. It would be a very boring and overly detailed story if we were taken from the smallest fiber to a complete creation. Apart from scientists, no-one would have any interest in knowing that information. God created everything. That is the point of this chapter. He gave us a couple details to spice up the reading, and to reassure us that creation was done orderly and with care.
  3. God created the universe, but he does not go into detail about it. What about Mars? What is the purpose of other galaxies? How big is space and what is out there?
    • See point number one. Genesis is the account of our creation. God’s people were single planet focused. They could see the sun, moon, and stars, and were told they were for light. They could not see the Milky Way Galaxy or fathom it. The Bible was written for instruction, not to satisfy our curiosity. The creation account is an instruction of God’s sovereignty and why we owe Him our praise. It is not a detailed history and it is not all encompassing.

Noteworthy

*These notes come from Bob Deffinbaugh’s study on Genesis 1 at Bible.org
*Any other notes are marked with a “source” link, taking you to the original text

Science vs. God

Too concerned with unexplained details, science fails to understand that the creation account was intended to convey the sovereignty of God, not to prove Him. The Israelites, knowing God existed because of having witnessed His miracles in their exodus from Egypt, were not complete in their knowledge of God’s sovereignty, having spent 215 years immersed in the Egyptian religious culture and belief system.

  • 215 years (source) – Jacob and his family moved to Egypt 215 years prior to the Exodus. Scripture, however, sites the Israelites immersion in Egypt as lasting both 400 (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6) and 430 (Exodus 12:40-41; Galatians 3:16-17) years. How can this be? We must remember that Scripture is never in error, and ask ourselves instead how our understanding is in error.
    • 400 years – The Nation of Israel was afflicted (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6) when Isaac was five years old, and Ishmael mocked him (Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:29)
    • 430 years – Moses clarifies (Exodus 12:40-41) that the nation of Israel, which we typically attribute to beginning with Jacob and his 12 sons, actually began with Abraham (Genesis 12:2). 430 years prior to the exodus is when Abraham moved to Egypt.

To help outline the content of the Israelites newly accepted faith, which recognizes God’s sovereignty, Moses wrote the Penteteuch (first five books of the Bible). As the first book of the Penteteuch, Genesis explains the why of God’s sovereignty, not the detailed, scientific how of the world’s formation.

  • Why – The Bible was written to specific people in specific situations at specific times with specific needs. Genesis is speaking as a foundation to the Israelites of old who are already believers in God. It speaks to today’s already believers in the same fashion.
    • The Genesis account of creation competes with the accounts of other religions’ creation stories, of which the Israelites of old were familiar and subjected to influence, as we are as well today, to set the foundation for the content of their faith. The Genesis account of creation is similar to other creation accounts in that it:
      1. Tells of a repressive monster restraining creation;
      2. Tells of the defeat of this monster by the heroic god; and
      3. Tells of the heroic god’s control over the forces essential for life.

Three Theories on Genesis 1:1-3 & the Six Days of Creation

  1. Gap Theory: A description of the creation of the earth, prior to the fall of Satan. The time gap between vs. 1 & 2 explains Satan’s fall and allows for enough time to pass so that creation is harmonized with scientific theory. In other words, the Gap Theory is the Christian effort at explaining fossil layers (source).
  2. Initial Chaos Theory: Verse 1 is an introductory statement, verse 2 describes the chaotic unformed void of creation, and verse 3 and those after describe God bringing order to the chaos through forming creation. The Initial Chaos Theory, the traditional viewpoint, holds that God created the original mass (heaven and earth) from nothing (source).
  3. Precreation Chaos Theory: Verse 1 is a dependent clause or an independent introductory statement. This theory holds that matter existed before God formed it into something. The Precreation Chaos Theory began in the 11th-12th centuries A.D. and,  in a modified form, is the preferred choice of scholars (source).

*Verses 2 – 31 expand upon verse 1. These verses do not explain creation in a scientific fashion because, until now, no-one would have been interested in such an explanation. The creation account is a matter of faith, not scientific detail. Written for those who already believe in God, Genesis was never intended for conversion. The miracles of God recorded for us and witnessed by the Israelites in Exodus were their proof, and the miracles of Jesus, recorded for us in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are our proof. The time to read Genesis is after accepting God as your savior, as the creation account is a quick background to provide believers with the foundation of their faith. As humans, we have a need for order, and God fulfilled this need by summarizing His creation orderly.

The Meaning of Creation

For the Israelites of Old:

  • Initial Purpose: Genesis was written to establish the content of the Israelites faith, as they went through the exodus, having witnessed the miracles of Yahweh (Hebrew name for God).
    • The creation account was written to show other gods as false, since the Israelites had been subject to immersion in the Egyptian culture.
    • The creation account describes the characteristics and attributes of God (sovereign, eternal, relatable, and good), so that the Israelites would understand who they worshiped.

For Us Today

  • Purpose: Having been informed of the miracles of Jesus through the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and, through faith, having accepted Jesus as our savior, through him then coming to God, the creation account is the foundation of God’s sovereignty.
    • The characteristics and attributes of God, as displayed in the creation account, illustrate how we should submit to Him in fear, obedience and love, trusting Him as our provider and returning to Him due praise.
    • The creation account is symbolic of how a non-believer is formless and lifeless, like the world at its beginning, but can be shaped by God into a new creation.

Recap

  1. The theme of Genesis Chapter 1 is God’s sovereignty in human history.
  2. God, who was, is, and always will be, created all we know out of nothing.
  3. Science is too concerned with the lack of detail in the creation account, not understanding that Genesis was written as a foundation of faith to those who already believe in God.
  4. There are three main human theories on the creation account – Gap, Initial Chaos, and Precreation Chaos – and the Initial Chaos Theory is the traditional biblical view.
  5. For us, the creation account is symbolic of how God can take our lifelessness and purpose us as His new creation.

God’s Grace Shown in Genesis Ch. 1

*Grace – the free and undeserved love of God

(source) Out of all God created, only mankind was formed in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), and only mankind was made personally by God, the breath of life being breathed into them (Genesis 2:7), all else was brought into existence by the word of His command (Psalm 148:1-5). God gave mankind dominion over His creation, and He blessed them (Genesis 1:26-28), a further showing of being set apart. This special attention to mankind reveals the intimate relationship God desires with His people. How lucky are we indeed to be so loved by Him to which all praise is owed.

Prayer

Lord, my creator, you formed me out of the void, breathing into me the breath of life. Before you, I was without purpose, living in chaos. From you, I have received blessing and dominion. You, the sovereign God, are owed my praise, and I, your believer, know you as all that was, is, and ever shall be. With this knowledge, I will not become lost in scientific detail because I have been set apart by faith, proven in the miracles of Jesus. I am humbled by your grace, and I ask for guidance in using your blessing on my life as a blessing unto others. Hallowed be your name.

Next
Genesis Ch. 2
The Value of Us

Link to study on the rest of the chapters in Genesis

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