Daybreak: Genesis 1:1 through 2:3
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)
When I was growing up, my father had a job that required our family to move every couple of years as he was transferred to different cities. For me, it was exciting to move to a new location. Before each move, our family would wonder how the surrounding countryside would look and what the city would be like. We would discuss our “new” house and anticipate settling in. After a move was accomplished, we would get introduced to our new school and begin to explore the neighborhood. As we did so, it seemed that at every turn there was something we had not noticed before. Each of those first days in a new location was full of discoveries that we would quickly share with one another.
Imagine how exciting it must have been for Adam in the brand-new world that God had created! The Garden of Eden was a perfect paradise, free of pollution, disease, or decay. Adam was fully mature and endowed with intelligence, so he must have been awe-inspired and amazed as he explored the world around him. No doubt every moment brought new and fascinating experiences. And think of the creative wonders Adam came across as he explored his environment! He could go from appreciating the majesty of a lion, to being awestruck by the beauty of a valley, to observing the tremendous size of the elephant, and then refreshing himself with a perfectly ripe watermelon. Perhaps, like God himself, this first man often said, “It is very good!”
The beauty of God’s handiwork still surrounds us today. A spectacular sunset spread across the western horizon, the wonder of a newborn baby drawing his or her first breath, or the intricacy of a spider web glistening with morning dew, all speak of God’s awesome creative power. When we gaze at a towering redwood, the delicate petal of a rose, or the sliver of a pale moon set against the backdrop of myriad stars, we reflect on the words recorded in our focus verse, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” And we agree! Given the amazing world around us, how could we do otherwise?
The first chapter of Genesis gives the source and origin of all that exists. The Holy Scriptures open with the declarative statement, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Thus we know that before Creation, God existed in His eternal state. The chapter then proceeds to give the account of Creation. This account is not a scientific theory, but rather, a factual record of the origin of everything that is material, everything that is animate, and of the beginning of mankind.
The chronology of world history accepted by most Bible scholars was formulated by James Ussher (1581–1656), who concluded that Creation occurred in 4004 BC. John Lightfoot (1602–1675) further narrowed it down, asserting that the exact date was October 23, 4004 BC.(1)
Whatever the precise date, the Bible record states that the first act of Creation was bringing material substance into existence, which occurred when God created the Heaven and the earth. God then gave His first recorded command, “Let there be light,” and that happened instantly, for the next phrase states, “and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
Three recorded statements establish that the days of Creation were twenty-four-hour time periods. First, God divided the light from the darkness, naming the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” Second, He referenced the established daily cycle by concluding His first day with the phrase, “the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5). This phrase is repeated after each successive creative act, through the sixth day. Finally, God declares in verse 14 that the sun, moon, and stars will be used for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years,” indicating how humanity would mark the passage of time.
A further validation that the time periods of Creation were literal days is found in a study of the Hebrew word yom, translated day in Genesis 1. The word day can have a variety of meanings, both in Hebrew and in the English language. However, in this chapter both a number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used to describe each “day” of creation. The same usage (yom with a number) occurs in Scripture 359 times — and in every instance, it means an ordinary, twenty-four-hour day. There is no reason to assume that the yom in Genesis 1 would be an exception.
After giving shape and definition to the inorganic substance on day two, God created organic matter on the third day, bringing forth vegetation that was complete in all of its distinctive and regenerative characteristics. On day four He created the “lights in the firmament.” On the fifth day, the Creation account moves from the organic to the animated stage — God created the “moving creatures that have life,” populating the earth with fish, fowl, and whales. On the sixth day, He made the land animals and insects.
At verse 26, the account changes from acts in which God created by commanding, “Let there be . . . ,” to His final act of creation in which He used the words “Let us make . . .” Verse 26 relates that God made man, the crowning jewel of creation, “in our image, after our likeness” — a clear reference to the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead, in which the separate and distinct Persons of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are perfectly united in One.
The phrase “in our image, after our likeness” indicates that God endued man with some of His own characteristics. Man is a spiritual being in that he possesses an immortal soul; he is a moral being in that he has the capacity for holiness; he is an intellectual being with the ability to reason and act upon his original thoughts; he is an emotional being with the capacity to feel and express a range of emotions; and he is a responsible being with power of choice and action. All these attributes separate man from the animals.
The first mark of God’s image in man was the dominion or lordship which man was given over all living creatures. The God-given instructions, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (verse 28), point to the fact that humankind was endowed with the intelligence to plan, organize, and govern.
There was no evolutionary process involved in the Creation. Chapter 2, verse 1, states: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” God completed His Creation in six days, and “he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made” (Genesis 2:2). The word translated rest is from the Hebrew word shabath, from which we get the word Sabbath. God “blessed” the seventh day, setting it apart from the six days that were used for work, and indicating that it was to be regarded as sacred and holy.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The early history of the human race
A. The creation of man
1. A summary of Creation (1:1 — 2:3)
a. Prologue (1:1-2)
b. The first day — light (1:3-5)
c. The second day — firmament (1:6-8)
d. The third day — land, seas, and vegetation (1:9-13)
e. The fourth day — sun, moon, and stars (1:14-19)
f. The fifth day — Sea and bird life (1:20-23)
g. The sixth day — Animals and man (1:24-31)
h. The seventh day — God rested (2:1-3)
A Closer Look
- What phrases are repeated throughout today’s text?
- Why do you think God instructed man to exercise dominion over the rest of the living creatures?
- What elements of nature have particularly impressed you as indicators of God’s creative genius?
The origin of the universe does not require a complex explanation. We believe that God created the beautiful and amazing world around us in six days, and when He was done, it was very good.
1. Stuart Briscoe, Genesis from the series Mastering the Old Testament, Word Publishing, 1987, pg. 36.