Podcast available at: https://anchor.fm/diane-simcox/episodes/Get-Your-Nerd-Glasses-Ready-e1flimp
Genesis 1 – Week Two
I always liked watching the show Bewitched. As a child, I thought it was amazing that Samantha, the good witch who was the star of the show, could make something appear out of nowhere just by twitching her nose. Admit it. If you watched the show, you too tried to wiggle your nose just like she did. I’ll admit to it. In fact, there were times I would wiggle my nose as best as I could to make something appear. I even tried the Tabitha method and used my finger to help my nose twitch. Still, I got nothing.
Did you ever notice that the things that would suddenly appear before Samantha came from somewhere else? Samantha or her mother, Endora, her Aunt Clara, Uncle Arthur, and the other witches and warlocks only moved objects from one location to another. Or they used existing items to come together to make something new such as a cake or a garden of flowers. There was never an occasion when even the most powerful witch or warlock was able to create something from nothing.
As fascinating as it was to watch the show Bewitched, it was simply entertainment. It wasn’t real; it wasn’t possible. Going behind the scenes, we could see how filming was stopped, the actors froze in place and the object that was the appearing or disappearing item would either be placed or removed. Filming would resume and when it was all pieced together, it would appear as if magic had occurred.
Even watching great magicians such as Houdini, Penn & Teller, and David Copperfield, we can be amazed at their tricks, but we watch closely, intently, looking for sleight of hand movements. “Sleight of hand” is defined as “a cleverly executed trick or deception”.[i] We observe magic tricks, the sudden appearance of an item with surprise that is draped in skepticism because we know that it is a trick, and we want to know how a trick is done. We like to learn the secrets of a magician so that we can have a full explanation as to what we’ve seen occur. We are curious by nature. In fact, our curiosity is fueled when there is a gap between what we see and what we understand.
It will come as no surprise that for many, many years, curiosity has sparked several theories of how the world as we know it was created. That’s because there exists a gap between what we see in our world, our universe, and everything that fills it, and our understanding of how it all came to be.
Genesis 1:1 reads simply, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” NET
As we discussed last week “in the beginning” is subjective. We simply don’t know when this verse is referring. God has no beginning so the “beginning” could be placed anywhere from 6,000 years ago to billions of years ago depending on your personal beliefs. I think it would be highly arrogant of anyone to say with absolute certainty when in history this is taking place. Job 38:4 HCSB “ Where were you when I established the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” God created and that’s all we need to know.
The original Hebrew word used for “created” is bârâ. Not surprisingly, bârâ means to create, shape, form. But the word is always used with God as the subject. Imagine having your own verb! That indicates that God’s creativity is unlike anyone else’s. God created the heavens and the earth. Notice that the word “heavens” is plural in some translations. I don’t think anyone can know exactly what is being referred to as far as “heavens” goes. Even the original Hebrew word, shamayim (pronounced shaw-mah’-yim) doesn’t give us any more clue as the word means “heaven, heavens, sky”.[ii]
There is a verse in the New Testament that lends a little more information. 2 Corinthians 12:2 NIV “2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.” Since we know that there are no errors or mistakes in the Bible, we learn from this one verse that there are multiple heavens.
Here’s what I think is a possible explanation. Again, God may get a chuckle out of this, but at least I’m not alone in my thoughts here. I think there are three realms or areas; each of them is called heaven. One is what we see as the sky. The second heaven would be what we consider to be outer space. The third heaven would be the heaven that we think of when we think of God and His throne.
There are several references to heavens throughout the Bible. We know that Jesus traveled through the heavens. Hebrews 4:14 NKJV “14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
Later on in Genesis 6:7 ESV “So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Other translations use the word “sky” or “air” in place of heaven. This just gives some credibility to the idea that the air or sky is considered a realm of heaven and more than likely the first heaven.
That brings us to the second heaven. Outer space is considered to be about 50-60 miles above the earth’s surface. Frankly, that doesn’t sound too far away, does it? Some people drive 50-60 miles one way to work every day. But consider this. Airplanes generally fly about 7 miles in the air and they appear as small dots in the sky. Consider airplanes being 7 to 8 times further out than normal putting them at 49-56 miles out. They wouldn’t be at all visible.
Now, as far as outer space goes, it’s mind-blowing even if you’re not a science nerd. In 1977, NASA launched a spacecraft known as Voyager I and so it has been travelling throughout space for more than 40 years. It is currently more than 14 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) miles from Earth.[iii] Let me give you some perspective on that. The circumference of the Earth is 24, 901 miles.[iv] Not even close to how far away Voyager I is currently traveling. For Voyager 1 to have gone the same distance just around and around the Earth, they would have had to make 560,000 trips around the planet.
For many years, NASA was able to capture pictures that were taken by Voyager I from outer space of the various planets and solar system. The last picture was taken in 1990 because since then, there’s nothing but vast darkness. NASA still tracks it and projects “In the year 40,272 AD (more than 38,200 years from now), Voyager 1 will come within 1.7 light-years of an obscure star in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Bear or Little Dipper) called AC+79 3888.”[v] Is your mind blown? Yeah, mine too! That’s how vast (and that is an understatement!) the second heaven is.
Here’s a Biblical reference to this second heaven. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Matthew 24:29 NKJV
King Solomon recognized the different heavens in 1 Kings 8:27 HCSB “But will God indeed live on earth? Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain You, much less this temple I have built.” How can we not just be in awe?
At this point, you may be looking at Genesis 1 and seeing that there are 31 verses, and you may be thinking it’s going to take more than 38,000 years to get through all of the verses if we look at them in this great detail! I purposefully took extra care in talking about that first verse because number one, it just proves the power and authority of God that we simply can’t put into words, and secondly, it’s humbling for us. When we read about creation, we are naturally curious, and we want to know the how and the when of it all. We want to understand, be able to explain it, comprehend the components but it just isn’t possible. We need to focus less on the how and when and zero in on the Who and why. We often read Genesis 1:1 much like we read, “once upon a time”. It’s just how the story begins. But Genesis 1:1 isn’t to be taken lightly. God created the heavens and the earth. We’re talking about more than we can possibly imagine.
Genesis 1:2 ICB “2 The earth was empty and had no form. Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water.”
First is mentioned the earth and we are told that it was empty and had no form. Other translations use the words “waste and void”, “chaos and empty”, even “unsightly and unfurnished”. Here’s what I found intriguing about that. God created the earth and then it was formed and molded. As we know God is God and literally nothing is impossible for Him, why wouldn’t He have just created Earth as what we know it to be? We know that He certainly could have done it that way, but He chose not to. I can’t help but see the parallel between Earth and ourselves. We are created but God molds and shapes us as time goes on. What He starts with is not what He intends to end with.
You may have noticed that two things are mentioned without us being told that they were created. Darkness and the ocean. How long had the ocean been there? Who knows? We just know that at this point the ocean was already in existence. And darkness was there. But darkness is the result of there being no light. You can’t bring darkness into a room. You can only eliminate the sources of light in a room which results in the room being dark. So, in a sense, verse 2 is letting us know that no light was present which is interesting because we are told that God’s Spirit was moving over the water. It’s perplexing because 1 John 1:5 NIV tell us that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
Here again, the original Hebrew word explains it for us. The Hebrew word for moved means brooded or hovered. It’s the same word used to describe a mother bird who hovers over her eggs in order for the eggs to bring forth life. In fact, the root word for brooded is breed which means to procreate. So God’s Spirit, even though God has no darkness within Him, is poised above the waters of the earth so that the earth can sustain life, but with the Spirit hovering, there is darkness. But not for long!
Genesis 1:3 ERV “Then God said, “Let there be light!” And light began to shine.”
God speaks and it is so. In fact, multiple times in this one chapter God says, “let there be” and it was. This first time is when God commands light to appear. Have you ever given thought to the light source? If you’re keeping track, we haven’t gotten to the sun, moon, and stars just yet. So where does this light come from? Honestly, no one knows. Some think that it’s the radiance of God. Others believe that light itself was created or was in existence and then, like the earth, was later formed into the moon, sun, and stars. I think the most significant thing for us to consider is that light is the first thing created. “Light is necessary for the survival of life on Earth.”[vi]
Genesis 1:4 NKJV “4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.”
The word “day” can be used in three different ways. It might refer to the period in which there is light, from sunrise to sunset. It can also be used to identify a period of time which may include several days, weeks, months, even years. And the word day may also be used to identify a 24-hour period. We can’t be certain which of these is referenced here. We know that God did all of the creation in 6 days, but we also know that God could have done all of creation in six minutes, six seconds, or however He chose to do it. This isn’t something to get hung up on. But here’s an interesting discovery. Notice how Scripture references evening first, then morning. We tend to think of the evening as the close of the day although we recognize our days beginning at midnight. The Jewish people consider a day from nightfall to nightfall. Either way, a day begins in darkness. The other thing to note is that God works in order. Genesis 1:2 tells us that darkness was present. Then in verse 3, light is introduced. Same pattern for a day going from evening to morning.
Genesis 1:6-8 GNT “Then God commanded, “Let there be a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two separate places”—and it was done. So God made a dome, and it separated the water under it from the water above it. 8 He named the dome “Sky.” Evening passed and morning came—that was the second day.” Instead of the word “dome” other translations use “firmament”, “space”, “expanse” or “canopy”. Here we are told that water is separated and that some water is below the dome and some is above the dome. Under the dome is understandable. That would be our bodies of water. So what is this water above? You may remember from science classes in school, that clouds are formed from water and not cotton candy. The water above the dome would refer to clouds as well as water vapors.
Genesis 1:9-10 NKJV “Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.”
Water was and is critical to life. The Earth is comprised of a little more than 70% water. The human body is approximately 60% water. Every single living thing needs water; whether it’s an animal, plant, or human. We cannot live or survive without water. “…a person could survive a month without food but wouldn’t survive 3 days without water.”[vii] And you have to wonder. Did God already know that we would need light and water to survive so He went ahead and was preparing it all for us before we were created? Or, did He later create us to require that which He had already given? There’s a conversation starter for you.
Genesis 1:11 NKJV “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.”
We’re halfway through creation at this point. Let’s do a quick review of what we have so far. We have the heavens and earth. We have day and night. We have sky, seas, and land. I hope you’re going to be just as awestruck with this as I was. Notice that God has prepared the areas of the heavens, the Earth, sky, seas, dry land. Over the next three days, the second half of creation, God will see to it that each area is filled. And He does it in the same order!
Genesis 1:14-19 NIRV God said, “Let there be lights in the huge space of the sky. Let them separate the day from the night. Let the lights set the times for the holy celebrations and the days and the years. 15 Let them be lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth.” And that’s exactly what happened. 16 God made two great lights. He made the larger light to rule over the day and the smaller light to rule over the night. He also made the stars. 17 God put the lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth. 18 He put them there to rule over the day and the night. He put them there to separate light from darkness. God saw that it was good. 19 There was evening, and there was morning. It was day four.”
Here again, let’s think back to our days in science class. Our solar system, including Earth, is located in the Milky Way. The Milky Way consists of not only Earth but also the other planets we know about. Mars, Saturn, Neptune, etc. The Milky Way also includes the sun and the moon as well as billions (yes with a “b”) of stars. Remember Psalm 147:4 NASB “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”? Amazing! Now consider this. Earth is about 93 million miles away from the sun. Scientists believe “the Earth would become uninhabitable if its average distance from the Sun was reduced by as little as 1.5 million km”[viii] which is 0.1% (932,000 miles) of the distance have now. On the contrary, “The team from Sorbonne Universities has found that were Earth to be just the tiniest amount further from the Sun it would be an unrecognizable, inhospitable ball of ice locked into a permanent ice age.”[ix] How can anyone argue that God isn’t responsible for the perfect placement of the planet Earth?
This is a quote from an article titled “Planet Earth: Planned or Accident”. “…we see that the earth is just the proper distance from the sun to maintain the right surface temperature suitable for life and the many important geologic processes! To the evolutionist the distance of the earth from the sun is a strange accident, but to the creationist it is a marvelous testimony of God’s planning.”[x] Incredible! At the end of day four, the second heaven was filled. Now on to day five where the first heaven and the waters will be populated.
“Atheists who keep asking for evidence of God’s existence are like a fish in the ocean wanting evidence of water.”Ray Comfort
Genesis 1:20-23 ESV “And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”
This is the first time that His creation is identified as “living”. Although plants, trees, etc. are living organisms, their state of living is different from that of animals or humans. They don’t have a lot of qualities that animals have. The animals created for inhabiting the waters and the sky were considered to be living and you may have noticed that God blessed them. He did this by speaking directly to them and instructing them to be fruitful and multiply. Not only that, but we have no reason to believe that they didn’t hear Him and obey. The first and second heavens are now filled as well as the oceans. It’s time for God to fill the dry land.
Genesis 1:24-25 ESV 24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
“Scientists do not know the exact number of living species that exist in the world. In fact, after several centuries of documenting living things, scientists have only managed to document 14% of living species. The remaining 86% of species that are estimated to exist have yet to be discovered. It is estimated that planet Earth has approximately 8.7 million species. As the rate of extinction has increased, thousands of living species are going extinct without being documented, and their existence will never be known to humans. This is just one of the reasons why it is difficult to estimate the exact number of species that inhabit the Earth.”[xi]
I had to stop on that and think about it. God took the time to create species that He knew would never be seen or appreciated by anyone other than Himself. We know that everything He made was good. There is something about the fact that as He created, there were no limits, there was no cookie-cutter factory mentality, there was no restraint or time crunch. He did as He pleased and saw that it was good. Revelation 4:11 NLT ““You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”
And isn’t it encouraging to know that we exist because God was pleased with our creation?
Genesis 1:26- ERV “Then God said, “Now let’s make humans who will be like us. They will rule over all the fish in the sea and the birds in the air. They will rule over all the large animals and all the little things that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created humans in his own image. He created them to be like himself. He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Have many children. Fill the earth and take control of it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the air. Rule over every living thing that moves on the earth.”29 God said, “I am giving you all the grain bearing plants and all the fruit trees. These trees make fruit with seeds in it. This grain and fruit will be your food. 30 And I am giving all the green plants to the animals. These green plants will be their food. Every animal on earth, every bird in the air, and all the little things that crawl on the earth will eat that food.” And all these things happened. 31 God looked at everything he had made. And he saw that everything was very good. There was evening, and then there was morning. This was the sixth day.”
Do you recall earlier how I said we needed to focus less on the how and when and focus more on the Who and why? Verse 27 gives us that focus. God – He’s our Who – created humans in his own image. He created them to be like himself. That’s our why. Ephesians 2:10 CSB “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.”
You may have noticed that once again, God blessed His creation and instructed humans to multiply. The two main things that set us apart from the others that were blessed are we were made in His image and we were given authority over all living things.
If someone believes every word of Genesis 1 as it is written, the rest of the Bible is a breeze to accept. Every miracle, every phenomenon, every prophecy that is mentioned is rooted somewhere in creation. The fact that God simply spoke and it was so cannot be emphasized enough. It takes faith to accept the unexplainable. Hebrews 11:3 NIV “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” God called into existence that which didn’t exist.
We can research and find out how magic tricks are performed and we can watch for that sleight of hand. We can be entertained by shows like Bewitched and if you watch closely enough, you’ll be able to see the subtle glitch when the taping stops and resumes. Our curiosity will be satisfied. But as curious as I am about how God does what He does, I’m glad that no one knows for sure. I’m thankful that He permits us to know what we need to know and nothing more. I’m glad that God can’t be easily explained. Francis Chan said this: “Not being able to fully understand God is frustrating but it is ridiculous for us to think we have the right to limit God to something we are capable of comprehending. What a stunted, insignificant god that would be! If my mind is the size of a soda can and God is the size of all the oceans, it would be stupid for me to say He is only the small amount of water I can scoop into my little can. God is so much bigger, so far beyond our time-encased, air/food/sleep-dependent lives.”[xii]
[xii] Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God