Creation

What is creation?

In the Bible, creation refers to one of two things.  It can refer to what God created or to the activity of God in creating.

 

Where do we read of this in Scripture?

There are many references to creation in Scripture but the obvious and main explanation of it is in Genesis 1 and 2.

 

What are some key principles which we should bear in mind as we seek to understand these chapters?

First, that all Scripture is inspired by God and is therefore infallible; see here.

Second, that Genesis is part of a larger section of Scripture which we call the Pentateuch or which the Jews called “the law” or the Torah.

 

What does Torah mean?

Torah means teaching or doctrine.  source

 

Explain the second item in the list above.

It is important to bear in mind that Genesis is part of a larger section of Scripture because we know that the Pentateuch was written for a reason.  We need to interpret the creation account in view of this larger purpose.

 

What was the purpose of the Pentateuch?

Moses wrote the Pentateuch for two reasons:

  1. to teach Israel about God;
  2. to teach Israel their history.

 

How does Genesis 1 and 2 fit into this larger purpose?

Genesis 1 and 2 are works of theology; i.e. they are meant to lead us to a better understanding of who God is.

 

Why was it so critical that Moses give Israel a work of theology at this point in their history?

It is not clear exactly when Moses wrote or even finished the Pentateuch.  Nevertheless, some time before his death, he gave Israel this book of theology.  Israel had just come out of Egypt with its wide assortment of different gods and religious practices.  This necessitated careful instruction both as to who God is and who Israel is.  It was God’s mercy to provide Israel with this instruction.

 

What is the first thing Scripture teaches us about Creation?

The first thing we are given is the simple statement: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)  Here we are taught both who created and what was created.  The Creator is God and everything that exists was created by Him.

 

Does this verse teach us when God created this universe?

It does not, neither does any other verse in the Bible.

 

Is it not possible to use the genealogies given us in Genesis four and five to discover when God created the world?

No, this is an incorrect use of these genealogies.  Young points out that these genealogies are not meant to be comprehensive; there are gaps in these which prevent us from using them to date certain events;  see here (page 52).

 

What is the next thing we are taught about creation?

The next thing we are taught is the condition of the earth.  Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

 

What is meant by formless and void?

This means that the earth was without form or order and that it was empty.  From Isaiah 45, we can learn that the earth was uninhabitable at this time. (Isaiah 45:18)

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens—He is God; He formed the earth and fashioned it; He established it; He did not create it to be empty but formed it to be inhabited:

 

From this verse, it appears that God did not create the world empty.

This is true.  In fact, the word “empty” in Isaiah 45:18 is the word tohu תֹהוּ, the same word translated “formless” in Genesis 1:2.

 

If God did not create the earth formless and empty, then how did it get that way?

The Bible does not answer this question; several suggestions have been put forth.

 

How long did it take from the time God created the universe as described in Genesis 1:1 and the earth becoming formless and empty in Genesis 1:2?

Again, the Bible does not answer this question.

 

In Genesis 1:2, why was the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the waters?

This shows that even though the earth had become a chaotic, swirling mass of water and other stuff, still God was sovereign over the entire earth even in its confused condition.  He had not lost control over it; neither had it slipped from His grasp.  He was simply preparing a canvas as it were on which He would display His artistry.

 

Are the first three verses of Genesis 1 to be understood sequentially?

See here for an explanation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(16) for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; (Colossians 1:16 ASV)