There are many explanations for the beginning of the world. Scientists tell us that it all started with a Big Bang. They use their measurements to see that the universe continues to expand outward from a central, cosmic level explosion that brought everything as we know into existence. They can explain the epic, breathtaking reality of the immensity of the universe, the billions of galaxies with their billions of stars…there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the planet earth. (See here and here if you want to ponder the universe with a sense of awe). Yet they admit that we can have no idea what came before the Big Bang because every scientific law or theory that we go by now was brought into being by the Big Bang itself. They also can’t tell us what caused it in the first place. There are many amazing things that we have learned from studying the natural laws of the universe, but there are limits to what they can teach us. As Sir Isaac Newton declared, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.” He also said, “This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
The Bible provides the story of how the universe came into being from God’s perspective, showing us His relationship to the natural world and all that it in it. The breathtaking, incomprehensibly splendid reality of the universe is a herald of the greatness of God (See Psalm 8 and Psalm 19). The magnitude of His omnipotent strength is such that He was able to bring it all into existence with a word. Out of nothing, He created everything by merely declaring His will.
Creation is an illustration of the magnificence of God’s supreme, inexhaustible power. It is evidence of His authoritative right to everything that it exists. As we learn more about the elegant order and beauty of the universe, we are receiving testimony of His incredible genius and wisdom as the Creator. He is not a part of the universe. God stands apart from it, independent of it but actively engaging it, energizing and keeping it going, and involving Himself in the lives of the human race that He created it for (See Job 38, Isaiah 40:21-31 and Col. 1:15-20).
For the first three days of God’s majestic outpouring of beauty, He made light and time and sky and sea. He made land and all the grasses and trees that soften the earth and make it lovely. As we read the story of Creation, it is stunning how effortless all of this was for Him. He did not toil or sweat or strain as He made the vast universe. He sat composed and at rest in the might of His absolute power. He is the sovereign ruler and reigning King, and He wants His beloved humans to know that their Lord created a world for them that is good.
The Master Architect made the outer frame of His grand temple during the first three days of creation. Now it was ready to be filled with the bright energy of life that would thrive there. Imagine the awe of the angels as they watched the Master Artist at work:
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth. And it was so. God made the two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the fourth day.”
On the fourth day, God took the magnificent light that burst from His Word on the first day and formed it to serve very important purposes. They become the glory of light we see in the sky. We call them the sun and stars. The light from the sun reflects on the moon to give it light. The Lord made these mighty, majestic spheres and set them in motion in the spaces of the universe.
But why didn’t the Lord say their names?
He named the sky, why not the sun or the moon or the stars?
We think that it is because there would come a time when whole nations of people would try to worship the sun and stars as if they were gods. For thousands of years, many people would look to these lights in the sky as if they could tell the future. They would look to them for help and seek their power. Whole nations and religious systems would worship these created things instead of worshipping God Himself.
From the very beginning, God was teaching that these things are magnificent gifts and they are good, but they are not gods. God alone knows the future, and God alone is our help. When we ponder the bright singing beauty of the stars in the deep darkness of the night sky it should call us into worship of Him.
What an amazing God to make such glorious things. The warmth and light of the sun should make our hearts throb with gratitude, but it should never be worshipped. The glowing radiance of the moon should fill us with the wonder and peace of God, but the moon can never act to bring peace. That is the work of the Lord. God did not give them names because He wanted to show that they were not living things with power or control in our world. They are simply His gifts of light.
On the first day of Creation, light and darkness brought a separation of time- day and night. Now on the fourth day, these glorious lights would mark out the great time periods of life on earth. The months are marked by the changing face of the moon. The seasons are marked as the stars in the sky change from summer to fall to winter to spring. The years are made separate from each other by the movement of the earth around the sun. The cycles of life are timed by the new birth of animals in spring, the planting and raising of crops, the abundance of harvest, and the cold days of winter. All these were determined by God’s ingenious design. He brought light and darkness together with time to bring order and structure to all of life on earth.
“And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning- the fifth day.”
Now the vaulted skies of God were full of birds winged in flight. The great seas were populated with an abundance off flashing fish, singing whales, crawling octopi, lobsters, and sea snails. In His creative power, He made the birds to breathe through air and the fish to breathe through water, yet all of life had breath! The Lord had already filled the land with trees to make a home for the birds, and forests of kelp flourished in the oceans so the fish could eat and play.
Then God blessed these creatures with the power and potency to create new, vibrant, abundant life through eggs that would become babies that would look just like them. Just as the seed of a tree grows into the same kind of tree, the eggs of fish make the same kind of fish. Each was specially crafted by the mind of the LORD. From nothing, He spoke His remarkable world into existence. All of these poured out from His perfect will, and so they were a profoundly perfect good.