In our study of Genesis chapter one, we look at the beginning of everything that we see around us today. There is much debate about the origin of the world but the only plausible explanation is found in this book of the Torah. The word Torah means "teaching" and specifically refers to the teaching that God gave to Moses in the first five books of what is commonly called the Old Testament of the Bible. This first book is titled "Be'reshith" in Hebrew which means "in the beginning".
** Note ** In this study, we will be using the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) translation which was translated directly from Hebrew into English. You can get your own hardback or paperback copy on Amazon where we will earn a small commission.
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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Hebrew word "Elohim" that is translated here as "God" is not a name; it is a title and, because it has the "im" on the end, it is the plural form. This lets us know right from the start that God is one but also more than one. The phrase "the heavens and the earth" is a figure of speech where two contrasting parts refer to the whole and speaks of the fact that, at the start, Elohim created all of the physical cosmos. Those ten words are the door to everything in that you must believe in God as the Creator or the rest of His Word has no meaning to you. Creator means that there was nothing and then, through the power of God, there was everything. Although we would like to know more details, God did not consider it important and so did not share the how and why with us. We can only guess on how long it has been since this event happened and really it does not matter.
The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.
The Hebrew words translated here as "unformed and void" are "tohu wa-bohu" and "tohu" speaks of confusion while "bohu" speaks of emptiness. The Hebrew word "choshek" is translated here as darkness but it is not what we normally think of as darkness. It carries evil spiritual overtones as it speaks of blindness, misery, and falsehood. The Hebrew word "tehom" is translated here as deep and it is the same word that is translated as abyss in Revelation 20 speaking of where Satan is bound for one thousand years. The Hebrew word "ruach" is translated here as spirit and it speaks of the holy wind or breath of God hanging over this great expanse of water. A way of explaining this is to think of when you go outside in the winter and it is cold enough to see your breath as the moisture in your breath condenses and forms a small cloud in the air which is visible. In the same manner, Elohim spoke and all of the physical was created and it lacked order and understanding but the breath of God hung over what he had created much like a cloud.
And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'Day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.
The darkness (choshek) and chaos (tohu) was an unsatisfactory state and so Elohim spoke again creating light. The Hebrew word "owr" is translated here as light and speaks of illumination or enlightenment and it is sent out by the very breath of God. In other words, the very act of Elohim speaking put a part of God into this creation and this presence of God is known as Shekhinah in Hebrew which means dwelling or settling. Because God is light, the very presence of God emits a visible light which is commonly called the "Shekinah glory". We see this described again in Revelation 21 when God once again dwells with man in the New Jerusalem. Light is essential for the life that will follow because, without light, plants will not grow and without plants no other form of life could live. We see that God separated light from the darkness and it brings up the question of why was there still darkness in creation? The best way to explain this is the fact that, in our world, dimension, time, or whatever you want to call it, there is a simple law of opposites which means that for everything that is there has to also be an opposite. Just think of everything around you and of all that you know and, with a little thought, you can see the opposite that is also a part of this existence. It is a fundamental law of this creation and so, by that very law, the presence of light means that there also had to be an absence of light or darkness. Time is a part of this existence and the way that we tell time is by the cycles of light and darkness which God named day and night. The last part of the passage places evening before morning and that is why the Jewish day begins at sunset.
God said, "Let there be a dome in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water." God made the dome and divided the water under the dome from the water above the dome; that is how it was, and God called the dome Sky. So there was evening, and there was morning, a second day.
On the second day, God created the sky and once again it was created out of nothing simply by God speaking it into existence. The Hebrew word "raqia" is translated here as dome and it simply means an extended surface (expanse) and, if you have ever seen pictures from space looking back at the earth, it really does look like a dome covering the earth. This dome contains the air that we require to survive as well as water vapor. Have you ever asked yourself why God did not just create everything on the first day and call it good? The simple fact is that He could have but chose not to in order to teach us how to live. There is a time for everything and many times we have to wait for God's timing as it is different than ours.
God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear," and that is how it was. God called the dry land Earth, the gathering together of the water he called Seas, and God saw that it was good.
Not only did God create the waters but, as we see here, He controls them. At His word, the waters moved to expose land. The waters also obeyed when He told them to part and allowed His people to escape from Egypt. They also obeyed when God sent them in judgment of the inhabitants of Noah's day. Today, it seems that many people elevate nature and its forces above God but, as we see here, God has always retained control over everything that he created. The forces of nature obey the words of God and we would do well if we did the same.
God said, "Let the earth put forth grass, seed-producing plants, and fruit trees, each yielding its own kind of seed-bearing fruit, on the earth"; and that is how it was. The earth brought forth grass, plants each yielding its own kind of seed, and trees each producing its own kind of seed-bearing fruit; and God saw that it was good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
In this passage, God speaks again and causes plants and trees that do not require cultivation to grow. Throughout God's word, the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will and we see that here. God not only created plants and trees but also had them to produce seeds so that they could continue to provide for the needs of the animals and people that will be created. In this way, we see that it has always been God's will to sustain His creation.
God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth"; and that is how it was.
The Hebrew word translated here as lights is "maorot" and it does not mean the same thing as the word used in verse 3 which was "owr". The Hebrew word "maor" means an object that emits light and the plural form is "maorot" meaning things that emit light. In this case, God speaks into creation the sun, moon, and stars which give off visible light. Without light, the life that was created on the third day could not be sustained. This reminds us of the fact that sin and the fall of man did not take God by surprise. He knew that He would not dwell with man for long on this earth and, since God is the source of light and He loves us so much, He created lights in the sky to sustain us in His absence. This is only temporary as we see, in Revelation 21, that once again God will dwell with men and the lights in the sky will no longer be necessary.
God made the two great lights - the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night - and the stars. God put them in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.
Throughout the Bible, the number four is associated with trials. On this day, God created the sun and the moon and gave them a threefold purpose (to give light, govern, and separate). We looked at light in the last passage. They govern in that, for much of time, what we did as people was determined by the time of day. (People used to work only during hours of sunlight because there were no other lights such as electric or gas powered lights) To this day, many farmers still plant and harvest by the phases of the moon. Their third purpose was to separate light from darkness. Light and darkness have nothing to do with each other and in fact cannot exist together at the same place and time. God is light and, as Christians, we walk with Him in that light but many times we take a wrong turn and end up in the dark. That usually happens when we are faced with trials and temptations (symbolized by the number 4).
God said, "Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open dome of the sky." God created the great sea creatures and every living thing that creeps, so that the water swarmed with all kinds of them, and there was every kind of winged bird; and God saw that it was good.
Once the earth was ready to sustain life, God created creatures to fill the water and the air. God created them for us to enjoy and saw that it was good.
Then God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful, multiply and fill the water of the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." So there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.
Throughout the Bible, the number five is associated with grace. This passage is a picture of the magnitude of God's grace, in that, He not only created the life in the seas and the air but caused them to multiply. Even at this early point in time, God knew that this life was going to be affected by sin and, even then, He was prepared to send His Son as payment. God continued to bring forth life even as He knew that it would require His Son to go to the cross. That, my friends, is the magnitude of His grace!
God said, "Let the earth bring forth each kind of living creature -each kind of livestock, crawling animal and wild beast"; and that is how it was. God made each kind of wild beast, each kind of livestock and every kind of animal that crawls along the ground; and God saw that it was good.
At the start of the sixth day, God created all of the animals. We see that God created all of the different kinds and said that it was good. That reminds us that God loves diversity in life and that all things have a God given purpose (even those animals that we do not like and consider to be pests). The same goes for people and we should not condemn what God has called good. All life has a God given purpose and is precious in His sight!
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, in the likeness of ourselves; and let them rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the animals, and over all the earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the earth." So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
The Hebrew word "tzelem" is translated here as image but it actually means "to shadow". In this, we see that our purpose is to "shadow" God which means we are to follow God and do the things that He does. As a shadow, we have some of the same attributes as God but we do not have all of His attributes just as a shadow takes the form of something but lacks the details that are present in the object causing the shadow. God created us to be His shadow and appointed us to be the caretakers of all that He created. Out of all that was created, we are the only things that this is said about and that sets us apart. No matter what anyone else may say about you, always remember that you were created in the image of God and He does not make junk! A caretaker is someone that works for the owner to look after his stuff. We need to remember that we do not own anything that God has created; He simply allows us to take care of it for Him and to enjoy it but every caretaker answers to the owner for their work. This answering is described in Revelation chapter twenty and is commonly called the "judgment of rewards".
God blessed them: God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and every living creature that crawls on the earth."
This verse not only reminds us that we were created to be rulers over the earth but it shows us the wisdom of God. You see, even before sin had entered the earth, God new that death was going to enter through sin. He gave us the order and ability to "replenish the earth" and therefore man still exists here today.
Then God said, "Here! Throughout the whole earth I am giving you as food every seed-bearing plant and every tree with seed-bearing fruit.
We see, here, that we all were created to be vegetarians. As we will see later on in our studies, blood contains life and we were not created to kill anything. We must remember that this is before the fall and so it is a perfect world without death.
And to every wild animal, bird in the air and creature crawling on the earth, in which there is a living soul, I am giving as food every kind of green plant." And that is how it was.
Not only were we, as humans, to be vegetarians but the animals of the earth were not meant to eat other animals. God did not want killing and death to be a part of the earth. It is going to be like this again during the millennial reign (Revelation 20) and on the new earth ( Revelation 21).
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a sixth day.
At the close of the sixth day, everything had been created and put into perfect order. When God looked at the pieces of everything that He created on the first five days, He said that it was good. But, as we see here, when everything is done and put into His order we see that it was "very good". That is a reminder to us that we may have and do some "good" things but that is not what God wants for us. What God desires for each and every one of us is the "very good" which comes as His creation is in line with His will. We also see that the number six is associated with man or earthly completeness. Throughout the rest of the Bible, we will be reminded of this and it will help us to understand the things of God.