Chapter One (Verses 1-5)
The book of Genesis is considered a difficult book to teach. It is the most quoted book within the Bible; there are 165 direct quotes from it in the New Testament. Within its pages are the seeds of most if not all of the major doctrines of the Bible. It anticipates most, if not all, false philosophies, such as evolution, atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, polytheism, materialism, humanism and uniformitarianism.
But by far the most important discovery a person can make while scrutinizing this first book of the Bible is that, as it is in all the other books of the Bible, it is about one Person and one theme. The Person is Jesus Christ and the theme is about God’s efforts to have a personal relationship with man. Whereas one might think that the central issue in Genesis, as well as the other four books of the Pentateuch, is about God’s law; the truth is it is about God’s grace. The very existence of the universe, the earth and mankind is a product of God’s grace. From before the very beginning of time and space God formulated a plan to reach out and touch the most special element of His creation—mankind.
According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Ephesians 1:4)
Even though God knew that man would reject Him, His plan of grace provided a means whereby man’s sin could be forgiven and man could be reconciled to God at no cost to man. God’s way has always been one of grace and love. Man, through his pride, believes it is his responsibility to reach out to God and it is his efforts (human good) that will achieve the approbation or approval of God. But God, through grace and love, has always been the One to reach out to man and to provide the free-gift means whereby man may have approval of and acceptance by God.
The Bible contains 66 separate books written by approximately 40 human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over the course of thousands of years, yet it contains one integrated and consistent message. The message is that Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah, would one day come in human form, would live a life without sin, would die both spiritually and physically to pay the penalty-price for man’s sin, and would come back from the grave—all so that man might have an eternal (life) relationship with God. And this grace-plan of God, from the standpoint of time and space, starts in Genesis.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Bible doesn’t argue for God. It assumes Him! It has often been said that if man can accept these first four words, “In the beginning God,” within this verse of the Bible, he will have no difficulty in accepting the remainder of God’s Word. Of those who choose to deny the fact of God, the Bible has a special name for them—fools (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Since the Bible begins with God, so should man.
The Hebrew name for God in this verse is Elohim, which means “Strong One.” Variations (compounds) of this Hebrew word are:
El Elyon—“Most High”—Genesis 14:22
El Olam—“Everlasting God”—Genesis 21:33
El Shaddai—“Almighty God”—Genesis 17:1
Other Hebrew names for God used in the Old Testament are Adonai (Joshua 5:14), which means “Lord or Master,” and Yahweh (Exodus 3:4), which means “I am the One who is.” Variations (compounds) of this are:
Yahweh Jireh—“The Lord provides”—Genesis 22:14
Yahweh Nissi—“The Lord is my Banner”—Exodus 17:1
Yahweh Shalom—“The Lord is Peace”—Judges 6:24
Yahweh Sabbaoth—“The Lord of Hosts”—1 Samuel 1:3
Yahweh Maccaddeshcem—“The Lord your Sanctifier”—Exodus 31:13
Yahweh Raah—“The Lord my Shepherd”—Psalm 23:1
Yahweh Tsidkenu—“The Lord our Righteousness”—Jeremiah 23:6
Yahweh Shammah—“The Lord is there”—Ezekiel 48:3
Yahweh Elohim—“The Lord God of Israel”—Judges 5:3, Isaiah 17:6
Other Greek names for God used in the New Testament are:
Pater—“Father”—John 4:24; 15:16
The word for God in this, the first chapter of the Bible and the one specifically connected with the creation of time, space and matter, is Elohim. This designation purposely selected by the Holy Spirit occurs 2,570 times in the Old Testament. The plural ending “im” indicates a plentitude of majesty and power and takes a singular verb. Its plurality also introduces the doctrine of the Trinity—God in three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); although, some commentators do not agree with this assessment. But the use of the plural verb connected to Elohim in verse 26, as far as this commentator is concerned, confirms the Trinity. The Trinity is apparent throughout the Old Testament and is crystal clear in the New Testament.
The word translated “created” in this verse is the Hebrew word bara, which essentially means “to create from nothing.” This verb is used exclusively with God as its subject. It refers to the instantaneous and miraculous act of God by which He brings the universe into existence out of or from nothing (Psalm 8:3; 33:6; 89:11-12; 102:25; 136:5; 146:6; Isaiah 40:21; 44:24; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Zechariah 12:1; John 1:1-3; Acts 14:15; 17:24; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:10; 11:3; Revelation 4:11; 10:6). Thus, the Genesis account of Creation refutes atheism, pantheism, polytheism and evolution.
In this verse is found, in addition to the creation of matter, the beginning of time and space. Whereas man has often believed and thought that time and space were infinite, through recent discoveries he has learned that this is not the case. Astronomical observations and discoveries in the realm of physics have verified that our universe had a distinct beginning. Man usually believes that time is linear; time-lines drawn by students on a chalk board in school represent this. The left end represents the beginning of time, and the right end represents the ending of it. The fact is that scientists (Einstein for one) have shown that time is a physical property and is one of four dimensions with which man is most familiar. The other dimensions are height, length and depth. But now mathematicians and astrophysicists have determined that there are many more dimensions, maybe even 10. Who knows what discoveries await them as they continue in their examination of the universe and man’s existence?
God is outside the dimensions of time and space (Isaiah 57:15). He alone “inhabits” eternity, and He is not subject to any dimensional limitations. For He in fact has created them. He truly, as the hundreds of prophecies within His Word clearly reveal, sees the end from the beginning. In fact, this is how He authenticates to mankind that the Bible is indeed His Word—by being 100-percent accurate in all His prophecies contained in the Bible. God is not someone with “lots of time;” He is outside time altogether. He may enter and leave the dimension of time at will. There are several occasions within the Old Testament when He does just that, e.g., as the Angel of God and the Angel of the Lord; and then the most notable example as Jesus Christ in the New Testament. As for man in his earthly form, he is totally subject to time and space. As Chuck Missler puts it, “Man is linier. He can look back and move forward, but he cannot look forward or move back. He cannot remember tomorrow.” God is subject to no such limitations.
Not only did He create time and space, but He created all that is within them. He created the heavens and the earth and all upon the earth. Why? God created all for his pleasure and glory (Revelation 4:11; Isaiah 43:7). But as will be seen, the pinnacle of His creation is man. God’s purpose is to have fellowship with the crown of His Creation (man) because the perfect expression of love is toward a living being who can understand and freely receive love.
Man cannot fathom the universe, just as He cannot and will never be able to fathom God. The galaxy containing earth spins at a breakneck speed of 490,000 miles an hour, but even at this speed it needs 200 million years to make one rotation. And it is estimated that there are over one billion other galaxies within the universe. Scientists estimate that there are as many stars within the universe as there are grains of sand on every beach throughout this world. The belief that the universe “just happened” or “evolved” requires more faith than it does to believe that God created all of it.
There are three essential areas into which evolution cannot move and which evolution cannot solve. It cannot bridge the gap from nothing to something. It cannot bridge the gap from something to life. It cannot bridge the gap between life and humanity—that is, self-conscious human life with a free will. (Thru the Bible by J. Vernon McGee)
It is important to note that the earth is mentioned as separate from the remainder of the universe. The reason is because it is the most unusual planet within the universe due to its life-sustaining properties, and it is the habitat of mankind. Man through all his scientific ventures, through his space program, through his long range telescopes and every other scientific advancement has not found one other planet with the characteristics of earth. It is indeed a very special place.
The God of Creation, as is seen by a complete study of the Canon, is a triune God of three Persons, all participating in the creative acts. In addition to the Holy Spirit as seen in verse 2, the following New Testament scriptures are worth noting.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by [through] Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-3, 14)
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by [through] Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:9)
For by [through] Him [Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by [through] Him, and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:2)
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
How old is the earth? This question has beleaguered man for centuries. This commentary will probably not be able to answer the question to the reader’s satisfaction, but it will present the main positions held by main-stream Bible students and commentators. The answer lies in whether or not one accepts the “Gap concept” of Creation or the straight “7-day concept,” and then one must make a determination as to the length of a “day” as is depicted in this chapter.
The “Gap concept” of Creation, also known as the “Reconstruction” and/or “Divine Judgment” interpretation contends that God did not “create” the heavens and the earth to be “without form and void.” They base this on Isaiah 45:18, “For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited . . . .” They that hold to this interpretation maintain that God created the heavens and the earth in perfect condition, but due to some cataclysmic events they became without form and were void. This view is well-expressed in the note that is applicable to Isaiah 45:18 in The New Scofield Reference Bible, which follows:
“He created it not in vain [tohu].” This is one of the Scripture passages that suggest the Divine Judgment interpretation of Gen 1:1-2 (see Gen. 1:2, note). This interpretation views the earth as having been created perfect. After an indefinite period of time, possibly in connection with Satan’s sin of rebellion against the Most High (see notes at Isa. 14:12 and Ezek. 28:12), judgment fell upon the earth and “it was [became] without form and void.” Another indefinite interval elapsed after which “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2) in a re-creation of the earth. Some of the arguments for this viewpoint are: (1) Only the earth, not the universe, is said to have been “without form and void.” (2) The face of the earth bears the marks of a catastrophe. (3) The word rendered “was” may also be translated “became,” as indicated above—“became without form and void.” (4) The Hebrew expression for “without form and void” (tohu wabohu) is used to describe a condition produced by divine judgment in the only other texts where the two words appear in conjunction (Isa. 34:11; Jer. 4:23). (5) Such a prehistoric divine judgment would throw some light on Satan’s fall and the peculiar relation he seems to sustain to the earth. And (6) this interpretation leaves room for an undetermined period of time between the original creation and divine judgment. Adam, created after the events of Gen. 1:1-2, was the first man.
With this interpretation the heavens and the earth can be millions and billions of years old, and thereby harmonize with the different age-concepts held by many members of the scientific community. David V. Bassett, B.S., an associate with the Creation Evidence Museum in Texas, has the following to say about the “Gap Theory.”
The Gap Theory is a desperate attempt to harmonize the first chapter of Genesis with the time scale of uniformitarian geology and evolutionary biology by "pigeon-holing' the geologic ages in an imaginary time-gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This time-gap is forced upon the text and context of Genesis 1 by an unwarranted manipulation of the Hebrew grammar of its second verse in order to accommodate the evolutionary interpretation of the fossils within the rock record.
According to this concept (also known as the "Creation-Reconstruction", "Ruin-Reconstruction", and "Pre-Adamic Cataclysm" Theory), the primeval Earth was totally devastated by a global cataclysm at the end of evolutionary ages, but prior to the creation of Adam. This pre-Adamic world, complete with dinosaurs and man-like hominids, perished in a watery cataclysm (referred to as "Lucifer's Flood") because of divine judgment on Lucifer's sin of rebelling against God (Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:11-17). Gap theorists then interpret Genesis 1:3-31 as a supernatural "re-creation" of Earth in six solar days, thus holding to a "literal view of Genesis" while not believing in a recent origin of the "heavens and the earth."
However, acceptance of the geologic ages implicitly involves acceptance of the whole evolutionary package. Most of the fossil record forms preserved in the sedimentary rocks have obvious relatives in the present world, so that the "re-creation" concept involves the Creator re-creating in six days many of the same plants and animals which had been previously developed slowly over long ages, only to perish violently in the global pre-Adamic cataclysm of "Lucifer's Flood." In fact, the very concept of a worldwide deluge precludes the geologic ages, which are founded specifically on the assumption that there have been no such global floods in Earth's History! The Gap Theory, in addition to not facing the evolution issue at all, also leaves unanswered the serious problem as to why God would use the method of slow evolution over long ages in the primeval world, then destroy it, and then use the method of special creation to re-create the same forms He had just destroyed. As a device for compromising Genesis with geology, the Gap Theory is self-defeating.
The greatest problem with the theory, however, is that it makes God the direct author of evil since Lucifer's rebellion in heaven cannot in any way account for at least three billion years of suffering and death in the world during the supposed geologic ages which preceded his sin! Thus, God alone remains responsible for suffering, death, and confusion, and without any reason for it - a clear violation of the testimony of Scripture to God's nature of love, grace, and purpose as well as His attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and order. The Gap Theory is simply bad geology.., and worse theology!
The other interpretation is the “Young Earth” concept and is based on the following:
The “Young Earth” interpretation, from the standpoint of Hebrew grammar, is well represented by David V. Bassett, M.S., of www.creationevidence.org:
As far as the grammar of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is concerned, these two verses are closely bound together by the Hebrew conjunction “waw” (translated “And”) in what is referred to as the “waw copulative” or “waw consecutive,” a literary device for communicating a tight chronological and sequential order of events. The Hebrew word “bohu” (translated “void” in Gen. 1:2 does not connote a chaotic desolation, but simply an “unfilled emptiness.” When initially created, the liquid Earth had no inhabitants; it was an unfinished, watery “void” to be given definite form on Days 1, 2, and 3, and to be filled with life on Days 3, 5, and 6.
With regard to Lucifer, originally created an anointed cherub (Ezek. 28:14), it is important to remember that he did not fall in rebellion as Satan (Isa. 14:12-15/Ezek. 28:12-19/Rev. 12:4) until after God proclaimed all His creation “very good” in Gen. 1:31. [Note: This fact implies there was no death (Rom. 5:12), and therefore no fossils and no extinctions prior to the Curse of Gen. 3 (!!!)] Satan’s fall “as lightning” (Luke 10:18, not in Matthew’s gospel) was, thus, after Day 7 (Gen 2:3) but prior to the Eve’s temptation /Adam’s Fall (Gen. 3:1-6), and did not result in a so-called “Lucifer’s Flood” judgment by God—a notion with absolutely no biblical support whatsoever!
In Job 38:7, the “morning stars” and the “sons of God” (bene Elohim) are referring to the angelic hosts, not terrestrial inhabitants, since they are said to be celebrating the establishing of the Earth’s internal foundations by God during Day 3 of Creation Week. The “morning stars” cannot be literal stars since they were not made until Day 4 (Gen. 1:16b), and the “sons of God” are also mentioned in Job 1:6 & 2:1 with Satan among them to present themselves before the Lord in Heaven.
In short, the Gap Theory is bad geology and worse theology!
According to David V. Bassett, M.S. of www.creationevidence.org the “biblical age” of Earth is approximately 6,000 years old. The following is his findings:
Beginning with the archeological landmark event of the fall of Jerusalem (which has now been corrected to 588 B.C., instead of 586-587 B.C.) and counting backwards the prophesied number of years between this event and the division of Solomon’s kingdom (360 yrs. + 40 yrs., according to Ezek. 4:4-7), brings us to 1018 B.C.
From the end of Solomon’s 40-year reign to the start of the Temple in the 4th year of his reign takes us back another 37 years to 1055 B.C.
From the start of Solomon’s Temple “in the 480th year” (1 Kings 6:1) back to the Exodus from Egypt (hence 479 years previous) brings us to near 1534 B.C.
From the Exodus out of Egypt to Abraham’s entering Canaan from Haran was exactly 430 years to the day (Gen. 12:10/Exod. 12:40/Gal. 3:17), thus around 1964 B.C.
Since Abraham entered Canaan at age 75 (Gen. 12:4), he was born approximately 2039 B.C.
From Abraham’s birth to Noah’s grandson (Shem’s son), Arpachshad’s birth 2 years after the Flood started, was 290 years (Gen. 11:11-26), this places the onset of the Flood at around 2331 B.C. [definitely 4,300-4,400 years ago].
The genealogy of Genesis 5:3-32 precludes any gaps due to its tight chronological structure and gives us 1,656 years between Creation and the Flood, thus bringing Creation Week back to near 3987 B.C. or approximately 4000 B.C.
Therefore, the biblical age of the Earth (using Scripture itself as a guide) is 6,000 years!! Mankind did not evolve 4 million years ago on an Earth which is 4.5 billion years old in a universe which was “big-banged” into existence 18-20 billion years in the distant past. Jesus Christ, the Creator incarnate, said He made mankind male and female in the beginning (Mark 10:6) and that when the heavens and the earth were commanded into being (Gen. 1:1), they stood up together (Isa. 48:13) not billions of years apart!!
Depending on which Creation scenario one believes to be correct will determine what one believes regarding the age of Earth. It is suggested that much of the evidence science attempts to use to show the earth and the universe to be millions and billions of years old appears not to always support its conclusions. Many of these “proofs” are examined at www.creationevidence.org.
One thing for certain in verse 2, the Holy Spirit plays a major role in the creation process, or recreation process, as one may believe. “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Hebrew word for “was hovering” means brooding, like a mother bird broods over her young (Deuteronomy 32:11; Isaiah 31:5). The Holy Spirit’s ministry here as He begins the “creation” (or recreation) process relative to earth is not unlike His ministry as it relates to the new birth (the enlivening of the spirit of man for eternal life with God).
Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water [physical birth] and the [Holy] Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
God’s Spirit, as the third Person of the Trinity, was actively involved in the creation of earth (Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30). God’s care and protection through His Spirit are still active today. The following from the King James Study Bible is most appropriate:
The first emblem of the Holy Spirit in Scripture is that of the Spirit “moving” or literally “brooding” over the waters, much as a bird broods over her eggs to hatch them. . . . The Scriptures assign to the Holy Spirit the works of creating the world (Ps. 33:6), of brooding over the waters (v. 2), of garnishing the heavens (Job 26:13), of renewing the earth (Ps. 104:30), and of sustaining life (Ps 104:29). The Holy Spirit’s work in Creation results in order (Is. 40:12, 14; Gen 1:2); life (Job 33:4); beauty (Job 26:13); and renewal (Ps. 104:30). The work of the Holy Spirit in Creation is one of the biblical proofs of His deity. . . .The Scriptures also describe the physical body of the Christian as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and suggest He is in the process of recreating us into Christ’s image (Phil. 1:6).
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
Although both major concepts of the Creation, “Old Earth” and “Young Earth,” have been previously discussed, the following differences in the Hebrew words translated “created” in Genesis 1:1 and “made” in Exodus 20:11 should be pointed out.
Of course the argument may be made that when God created the heavens and the earth He did not create it “in steps.” This argument would be based on Isaiah 45:18, as previously discussed. Yet to create “in steps” would not be inconsistent with God’s creative ability or procedure, as is seen in the steps taken by God in establishing the particulars relative to earth in the remainder of this chapter.
A quick review of the “Days of Creation” is as follows:
1st Day Light
2nd Day Sky and water
3rd Day Land, seas and vegetation
4th Day Sun, moon and stars
5th Day Marine life and winged creatures
6th Day Beasts, man and women
7th Day God rested
Day One. God said, “Let there be light; and there was light.” Here is the first “let there be” of what some say are the “ten commandments of creation,” Ten times in this chapter God says, “Let there be . . . .” Also, this is the first time in the Bible where God speaks.
This is the first of a structured series of succinct and formulaic sentences expressing the creative commands of God. Of interest first is that Creation is accomplished by His Word, which speaks of Jesus Christ as in John 1:1-3. So at this point we now have the Trinity involved in the Creation. Each command or expression by God through His Son consists of the following:
(1) Announcement, “God said”
(2) Creative command, “Let there be”
(3) Summary of accomplishment, “And it was so”
(4) Word of accomplishment, “The earth brought forth”
(5) Blessing, “God blessed”
(6) Evaluative approval, “It was good”
(7) Temporal framework, numbering each day
On this first day God spoke forth light. This is not the sun, which is created on the fourth day (vs. 16), but some light source (which may have been “fixed”) outside of the earth. This establishes for the earth a day-night cycle in reference to this light. David V. Bassett, B.S., associate with the Creation Evidence Museum in Texas has this to say regarding the light:
Having "light" on Day One before the existence of the sun and stars, the "lights" of Day Four, is one of the most common supposed scientific "errors" in the Genesis account of Creation. The fact that the Hebrew word for 'lights" used in Genesis 1:14-16 is ma'ohr (which literally means "from light"), indicates that the "light" (Hebrew 'ohr) of Genesis 1:3-5 is of a primary order. This intrinsic light of creation was the fundamental energy of the "heavens and the earth" of Day One - the vibratory radiations of the electromagnetic spectrum, both visible and invisible (Col. 1:16).
As Henry M. Morris stated in The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1984, p. 89), "Electromagnetic energy (light, heat, sound, electricity, X-rays, etc.), as well as gravitational energy and the nuclear energy in the atoms themselves, all began to function. To all intents and purposes, a mighty infusion of divine energy had taken place and the entire cosmos was activated." The Hebrew wording of the previous verse (Gen. 1:2), "And the Spirit of God moved [rachaph= to brood, shake (same word as 'flutter' in Deut. 32:11)] upon the face of the waters," indicates that the "light" of Genesis 1:3 is of vibrational wave-nature.
One of the world's greatest theoretical physicists, Dr. Victor Weisskspf, recently penned the following remarkable conclusion to an article entitled "The Origin of the Universe" (American Scientist. Vol. 71, 1983, p. 480).
"Indeed, the Judea-Christian tradition describes the beginning of the world in a way that is surprisingly similar to the scientific model. Previously it seemed scientifically unsound to have light created before the sun. The present scientific view does indeed assume the early universe to be filled with various kinds of radiation long before the sun was created."
Though Genesis indicates that such electromagnetic radiation did in fact predate to sun, it was not "long before" as the mainstream "scientific model" proclaims. Instead, it was only three literal days prior to the sun's being brought into existence on Day Four...according to the eyewitness testimony of the Creator Himself!
God determined that the light was “good.” The Hebrew word for “good” (towb) has a variety of meaning in addition to moral goodness. It may convey pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, convenient, joyful, fruitful, precious, sound, cheerful, kind, correct and righteous. It is suggested that God intended all these adjectives to apply to His creation of light, as well as all other aspects of His creation. Relative to Creation, God’s use of the word “good” contains less an aesthetic judgment than a designation of purpose and correspondence to God’s will, indicating the moral goodness of the Creation.
God then divided light from darkness, that is, He designated the absence of light as darkness. He then called the light “day,” and the darkness “night.” This act demonstrates His sovereign dominion over His Creation. In the Semitic world the naming of something or someone was the token of lordship.
“And the evening and the morning were the fist day.” As mentioned previously, the Hebrew word for “day” is yom. Apart from the use of the word “day” in this chapter, where it describes the days of Creation, it is used in at least four ways in the first two chapters of Genesis: (1) the 12-hour period of daylight as opposed to night (vss. 14, 16, 18); (2) a solar day of 24 hours (vs. 14); (3) the period of light that began with the creation of light on the first day (vs. 5); and (4) the entire, six-day creative period (2:4). The word “day,” everywhere within the Pentateuch, used (as here) with a definite article or numerical adjective, means a solar day or a normally calibrated, 24-hour day. Thus, the biblical account of Creation clearly indicates that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days (cf. Exodus 20:11).