In the beginning the world was a dark place. However, God changed this by bringing light into the world.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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. 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. Genesis 1:1-5 NKJV
The Bible is a book that is actually a collection of sixty-six books. The first book of the Bible is Genesis. The text quoted above is the very first words of that book, which introduce us to the theme of the rest of the Bible. We believe the Bible is the Word of God, or God’s message to us, and is an account of God creating order out of chaos; of introducing light into the world – the light which is the knowledge of Him and His plan.
It is estimated that the Bible was begun to be written about 3800 years ago, starting with the five books of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books are attributed to Moses, and are known as the “Torah” by Hebrew people.
The word “Genesis” means beginning. It was given that name by the translators of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, called the Septuagint, two to three hundred years before Christ. In the original Hebrew text, Genesis begins with the Hebrew word for “beginning”: re’shiyth – the first in place, time, order or rank. So, it is the book about beginnings.
What follows is a careful record of the process to prepare the earth as a place fit for the human beings that God is going to introduce when everything else was ready for them.
In the beginning – we have no idea when that was – God created the heavens and the earth. It was a confused, empty, dark environment all around. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. In fact, the Hebrew uses a play on words: tohu va bohu, “wasteness and voidness”, which gives a pretty good idea of what it was like. And from what follows, it looks like the earth was completely covered in water; there was no dry land.
But then: the Spirit of God (that is, God’s power) was hovering over the face of the waters. The earth was totally uninhabitable, and unsuitable for life of any kind, until God said: “Let there be light”. Thus began the process in the preparation of an environment in which living things could exist, and multiply. This was the first, and most important step, to lift creation out of its uninhabitable and disorderly condition. The introduction of light would allow for life to exist.
And God saw that it was good because there was a distinction and a difference between light and darkness. We have gone from the unknown and unknowable to what we can see and understand, and therefore can act upon. We can live and do. We can learn and acknowledge. We can know God, and act accordingly. Light is knowledge, and our knowledge of God can lead to a relationship with Him, and our salvation!
God saw that it was good because it was as it should be. Day and night, light and dark, are now separated, distinct, and ready to take their places in God’s plan.
Now that we have the “first day”, creation is under way; a home for living beings is under development – and what a beautiful home it is! Out of wasteness and voidness, we have order and design being developed by the hand of God.
This is how the Bible begins the record of God’s creation of the earth, and of mankind that inhabits the earth. It is a record of the careful and skilful preparation of a place for the people that God created to live in.
The first chapter of Genesis shows the orderly process that God followed to make the earth a suitable place for everything to exist and survive; from a place that was totally uninhabitable – where nothing could survive, to the beautiful planet that we now have. The process of creation led from one thing leading to another – the next thing depending on what was created before it.
The Meaning and Purpose of Creation
Day One: LIGHT. Before anything else could be created, light had to be introduced.
Day Two: ATMOSPHERE. The waters above (atmosphere), were separated from the waters beneath – the seas.
Day Three: DRY LAND appeared to allow for trees, plants and grasses to grow and produce fruit and seeds – the means of reproduction and provision of food for animals and humans.
This is a metaphor for God’s Way:
- Light = knowledge, which is INTELLECTUAL – Objective.
- Separation = which is MORAL – Subjective.
- Fruitfulness = which is the OUTCOME – Active.
Or, to put it in one sentence: “What we learn and believe, we put into action”.
This pattern continues in the second set of steps in creation:
Day Four: LIGHT: sun, moon and stars appear.
Day Five: SEPARATION: Birds in the air; fish in the sea.
Day Six: FRUITFULNESS: Animals, creeping things, and man and woman – to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.
On Day Seven: God rested, having completed his physical creation – having organised in a very orderly way His creation fit for people to inhabit and benefit from all that He has done. That doesn’t mean He took a break and relaxed. What was completed was the physical, tangible creation. Now, the process began, that has been in progress ever since, of creating a morally and spiritually sound people to reflect His glory.
The Purpose of Creation
Down through the ages, God has been developing a people for His name – the name which embodies Holiness, Justice and Truth. Men and women are recorded who honoured God in their lives, culminating in His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “He that has seen me, has seen the Father,” (John 14:9). Earlier in that chapter (verse 6) Jesus said:
I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No man comes to the Father except through me.
Mentally, morally and physically, Jesus showed the character of God, as did many before him in the Old Testament, and have done since in the New Testament.
When man was created on the sixth day, he was created in the image of God, and he was told: “Be fruitful and multiply (an extension of Day Three’s creation); fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
When Jesus returns to the earth, as he surely will –
“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11)
– the resurrection will take place, and he will call to himself the faithful of all ages, that they might rule with him:
“They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
So, what was begun in Genesis with the creation of light, will have its completion when God’s Kingdom, under Christ Jesus – the “Light of the world”, will be established on the earth.