Genesis is the foundation of the entire Scriptures. If you intend to build a structure that will endure the most important part is its foundation. In the same way if you intend to understand the Scriptures it is most important that you understand Genesis. We have in this book vital information that explains the origin of all things. Including the origins of : The universe, this includes the origin of matter, space and time. Order and complexity – In Biology you learn that things tend to deteriorate from order to disorder.
Order and complexity never arise on their own; they are always generated from a prior cause. The Cause is explained in Genesis. The Solar System; The Atmosphere; Life; Man; Marriage; Evil; Language; Government; Nations; Religion; The Chosen People. No other book of the Bible is quoted as often and in more places than the Book of Genesis. In the New Testament there are over 165 passages that refer to Genesis. The writers of both Old and New Testaments viewed Genesis as historical, accurate, & authoritative. This included the testimony of Jesus.
The Book of Genesis was written by Moses. There are three possibilities as to how he received his information. He received it all by direct revelation from God, either in the form of audible words dictated by God and transcribed by him, or else by visions given him of the great events of the past, which he then put down in his own words, as guided subconsciously by the Holy Spirit. He received it all by oral tradition, passed down over the centuries, and then he collected it and wrote it guided by the Holy Spirit. He took documents and records in existence and recorded them with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God – The Hebrew word here is b’re’shiyth – This is where time and space actually began. Prior to this God existed in eternity. Now God creates time and space and places man in it. Space and time are measurable; God exists apart from this but has and does enter into it for our sakes. The word for God here is Elohim. “im” in Hebrew is a plurlal ending, ie. serahphim, cherubim. The very first reference that we have of God places Him in a plural form. It is this form that is used most to describe God.
Names in Scripture, especially those given by God described the character of those who bear them. We read in Psalm 9:10 “those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” As Believers in the Messiah we understand this problem of plurality to explain the Tri-unity of God. This is further demonstrated in the Shema the most important of Jewish expressions of faith from Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! In Hebrew Deuteronomy 6:4 shama’ yisra’el yehovah ‘elohenu yehovah echad. The final word echad is the Hebrew word for one. However this is not a singular one but a plural one. The same word that is used to describe the oneness of Adam and Eve, in Genesis 2:24.
Genesis 1:1 – “Earth” – This word in the Hebrew is Eretz which means land or ground. “In the beginning” gives us the concept of time. Many wonder what the date of creation was the earliest that can be accounted by Scripture is 10,000 years ago. There are some Christian theories that try to accommodate the evolutionary theories of the earth being billions of years old. The Gap theory is one, the geological age theory is another. The gap theory is that the earth was the subject of a great cataclysmic disaster between Genesis 1:1-2.
In essence the theory suggests that Satan was cast out of heaven for the sin of pride and presumption, Ezekiel 28 & Isaiah 14. In his anger he set about to destroy God’s creation and subject man to his kingdom in distinction to God’s. The Geological age theory is that the world in its present condition evolved from its original creation. That there have been successive ages corresponding to the days of creation.
This theory is based on the record of fossils in the various layers of the earth. The flaws of this theory are firstly, it means that death must have come about before sin ever came on the scene, for fossils are evidences of death. If each day of creation represents an age rather than a 24 hour literal day than how could plant life created on day three survive an age without sun which was created on day four? Moreover how could have the plants been pollinated if the insects were not created until the 6th day?
Genesis 1:2 – The earth that the Lord created was unformed or finished and uninhabited. It was the Spirit of God that began the process of creation. The universe was in need of activation or energizing and this is the work of the Holy Spirit. The word “moved” in the Hebrew would be better translated shake, or flutter. From a modern scientific perspective “vibrated” would be the word. The Spirit of God is energizing God’s creation. In scientific terms we measure energy in waves, like light, sound, heat and so on.
Genesis 1:3 – “Let there be light” The first word that God spoke brought forth light. There are varying opinions as to what this “light” was. It couldn’t have been light from the sun for that was not created until the fourth day. Light in Scripture is described as God’s garment (Psalm 104:2); Serving God is described as walking in His Light (Isaiah 2:5). In the N.T. Jesus is described as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; John 8:12) Probably the greatest illustration of the light in Genesis 1:3 is found in Revelation 21:23-25.
In the Scriptures it is clearly a symbol of life and blessing. Later in Genesis 1:3 God separated the Light from the darkness. Darkness is the opposite of Light; it is used as a symbol of moral depravity and its punishment. From the very beginning God set in motion the difference between what is of Him and what is not. In the Scriptures darkness is the domain of evil (Psalm 82:5; Proverbs 2:13; John 3:19; Romans 13:12) Then there was morning and evening the first day. From this we understand that the day actually begins the evening before, or at sunset. Thus ends the first day of creation. Though not mentioned in Gen. 1 the angels were in all likelihood created at this time (Job 38:4-7). From Hebrews 1:14 we are told that they were created to minister to the heirs of salvation.
Genesis 1:6-8 – The waters are separated by an expanse or firmament. The word would be better translated “space”. God called this space “heaven”. There are three heavens mentioned in Scripture.
1. Atmospheric (Jeremiah 4:25) The word translated in the NIV is sky but the Hebrew word is Shawmayim or as translated in the KJV “heavens”.
2. The constellation or stars (Isaiah 13:10)
3. The heaven of God’s throne (Hebrews 9:24). The firmament is the atmosphere which separated the two bodies of water. This was a vast blanket of water vapor forming a canopy that circled the earth. There was no rain upon the earth in those days (Genesis 2:5).
This canopy provided a greenhouse effect allowing warm temperatures evenly over the earth. There would not be the wind storms we now experience. No rain, yet lush vegetation. The canopy filtered out the harmful ultraviolet rays so that health and longevity was abundant. The canopy was also the source of the waters necessary for the great flood and the resultant change in climate, health and longevity.
Genesis 1:9-10 – The second day’s work is connected to the work on the third day as God continues the process of separating the waters so that dry land might appear. This arrangement was not the same as today due to the flood. The work of the second day is now complete as God creates the dry land, naming it eretz, earth.
Genesis 1:11-13 – The second half of the work of the third day is recorded here. Three groups or orders of plant life are described here; grasses herbs and trees all of which had seed so that it might produce after its own kind. This of course made it possible for reproduction as well as establishing the genetic makeup of distinct classes of plant life. This would allow variations of kinds but not new creations (1 Corinthians 15:38-39) In light of the work completed God said it was good and so the third day is now completed.
Genesis 1:14-19 The Heb. word is refers to the sources of light and is best translated “luminaries”. Some ancient nations saw the stars as being signs for good or bad, in fact so too do new agers today. God’s response is articulated by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:2). The sun the moon and the stars were given for signs, to help man locate his position while moving over the surface of the earth.
They will be used in reference to future events (Luke 21:25). They were also given for seasons to regulate the calendar, and to give seasons, as well as seed time and harvest. From this day forward the sun, moon and stars would be the way that earth would receive its physical light. With this creation the fourth day ended.
Genesis 1:20-23 – The creation of the birds and fish. The word translated “living” comes from the Hebrew Nephesh chayah which means lit. a living breath. Unlike the plants animals have breath unlike the plants. God also created not only the smaller species but the largest ones as well. Whales, and other large fish are spoke of here. God then blesses these creatures with the ability to reproduce after their kind. No such blessing was bestowed on the plants. This might give credence to the idea that animals have the characteristics of will and hence in some ways can choose to obey God or not.
Genesis 1:24-31 The sixth day – The sea and the air are now filled with living creatures, and the word of God now goes forth to the earth, to produce living beings after their kind. From the Hebrew we find these are divided into three classes. Cattle, (behaymah) which generally refers to the larger domesticated four legged animals. The creeping animals (raymesh), which includes the smaller land animals, move with scarcely perceptible feet. Some examples are reptiles, insects, and worms. The beasts of the earth (Chaiyat eretz), refer to the freely roving wild animals.
Now comes the crown of God’s creation, man. The reference to the “Us” is one of many evidences of the Tri-unity or Trinity. In Genesis 1:1 the Hebrew for God is the plural form of El, “Elohim”. Deuteronomy 6:4 is perhaps the strongest evidence as well as an apologetic.
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! The Hebrew word for one here is echad, which is clearly an allusion to plurality. The other word for one in the Hebrew is yachid, which is always understood to be an only one. Examples are in Genesis 2:24, where Adam and Eve became one flesh, and in Genesis 22:2 where God tells Abraham to take his only son (yachid), and offer him on a mountain that God will show him. The typical Jewish response is that the “us” here is a reference to the royal “we” that is commonly used.
The idea of communication between the Persons that consist of the essence of God is found in many places (Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 48:16 Psalm 45:7 Psalm 110:1). In the N.T. we have many examples of Jesus (God the Son) communication with His Father in Heaven ( Matthew 11:27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; John 17:24). “In our image”, refers to man being patterned in the likeness of His Creator. This distinctive is not found in any other of God’s creation.
We, unlike animals have a moral conscience, the ability to think abstractly, an understanding of beauty and emotion, and above all the ability to worship and follow our Creator. So then, our soul, or nephesh is completely different from that of animals. God is not physical (John 4:24). But we have been designed to function in ways physically that God functions without a body. God sees, hears, smells, touches, and speaks. When He choose in both Old and New Testament times to appear on earth, he came in the form of a man Genesis 18, Genesis 32, Philippians 2:7, Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:15.
Still another aspect in the likeness of God, is man’s eternal aspect. The soul of man shall live forever. He will either spend eternity with God or, eternally separated from God. The title “man”, in the Hebrew comes from the root “adamah”, which is the substance that the ground is made of. Man then was taken from the ground or formed from the materials of the ground.
Scripture makes clear that “man’ is a generic term, which includes both male and female. Both men and women were created in the image of God. In fact the complete image of God is male and female. This is brought home in the make up of the word “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”. The Name of God is made up of two, state of being verbs. One is masculine and the other is feminine. I am , I am. God then pronounces a blessing on them and gives them their basic instructions and commission.
1. Memorize 1:1. Who was “in the beginning”? What does this mean? (Psalm 90:2; 102:25-27) What did God do? Why is it important for us to know that God created all things? (Isaiah 44:24) What is the relationship of this verse to the rest of the chapter?
2. Read verse 2. What was the state of things before God spoke? What does it mean that the earth was formless, empty and dark? How was the Spirit of God involved in the Creation? (Psalm 104:30) How is this verse related to the rest of the chapter?
3. By what instrument did God create the world? (Hebrews 11:3) How many times do you find the phrases “and God said…and it was so”? What does this suggest about God? About his word? (Psalm 33:6-9; Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3)
4. What did God create the first day? Why do you think God created light first? Why is light necessary to all the other works of creation? Think about the character of God who created light. (2 Corinthians 4:6; John 1:4) When did he create the sun, moon and stars? What was their function? (Isaiah 40:26, 28; Psalm 148:1-6).
5. What do these verses teach about the almighty power of God? About his goodness? About his character? Read Psalm 19:1-6; 104:24-33.