Story 2: Genesis 1:1-13: Bounding Light: The First Three Days

Genesis 1:1-13

Abstract sunset and sea surface
Let’s read the first chapter of the Bible together. It is one of the most beautiful things ever written in any language, and the best part is that it is true.

Let’s read the first chapter of the Bible together. It is one of the most beautiful things ever written in any language, and the best part is that it is true.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

 Try to picture this in your mind. Everything is darkness and chaos and confusion, an abyss of nothingness. But the Spirit of the Living God began to move, hovering and gliding over the mass of chaos like the flow of wind. He moved quietly through the spaces bringing order, forming the structure of the earth and preparing the way. He was utterly in control, crafting God’s vision of a vast creation with the skill of a master artist. He was creating the Lord’s great cosmic temple.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.

 Close your eyes and picture that in your head. The first day of creation came with a bounding of light! God is so magnificently all-powerful that all He had to do was speak His will and light came bursting out! That must have been the best fireworks display in history! The darkness and chaos were powerless when the Words of God came. The Bible says the angels watched and shouted for joy (see Job 38:1-7).

The light was not a part of God, it was something separate that He created, yet it came from the perfect will of God, so it was good. The light was made to serve the Lord. With mere words, God separated the light from the dark, and then He used light and darkness to make separations of time. Light brought day, and darkness brought the night. God had created time. The Sovereign Lord’s great work of art was perfect and orderly in every way.

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.’ So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse ‘sky.’ And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day.

 The LORD was creating a great, vast hall for His creatures to live in by separating the swirling waters. As He spoke the waters shifted and turned immediately to do His perfect will. The waters below made the rolling seas, and the waters above were like a great canopy or tent that overarched the world. God was crafting the atmosphere! It was the powerful climate system that governs the weather on earth! God was the Maker and Master of it all, and so it was His right to name His craftsmanship. The LORD named the vaulted expanse the sky.

“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let the dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation; seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day.

Imagine standing by and watching this with the angels. That is what the LORD is inviting us to do with these verses. We can see His mighty work in our minds as He described it through His divinely inspired author. Picture the tremendous waters that covered over the whole earth. Now imagine them pulling back in huge waves as the islands and the vast continents appeared.

Wow…the land and the seas were formed. God is so majestically powerful, that all He had to do was speak and the boundaries between them were set. Then He named them because they are His, He is their Master. In fact, He still provides the energy that keeps the seas rolling. Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to Him, and He reigns over it all in perfect, holy power.

God spoke His amazing will again, and trees and plants and flowers and vines began to spring up all over the earth. Each kind of plant had its own special shape. The tall, straight pine tree with its rough bark! The wide mango tree with its broad leaves, purple tulips with their gentle petals and the yellow brilliance of the sunflower. Each plant was wonderfully unique, and all of them bounded out of the creative mind of God. Each would make seeds that would bring new plants into the world just like them in a never-ending cycle of growth to replenish the ground. It was pure, practical genius…in fact, it was not only practical, it was lovely. Each thing He made was meant to be a blessing of beauty and grace to the creatures of the earth.

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Story 1: The Divine Decree

An engraved vintage Bible illustration drawing of Satan Bound in the Bottomless Pit, from an antique book dated 1836 that is no longer in copyright

 

In the Bible, God tells us the story of how He has been pursuing and seeking a loving relationship with humanity…the people He created for Himself. He has been at it through all of human history. He created the universe to be the home of the human race with all the splendor of the stars and the beauty of nature for our delight. The Bible tells the story of how God has been moving in human history from the very first two (Adam and Eve, who He formed with His own hands) up until right now.  It goes on to tell how God will work to show His love and blessing to humanity until the end of History, when He will create a New Heaven and a New Earth.

The Bible begins with how God made the universe. But what was God doing before He made the universe? He is eternal, which means He had no beginning. He always was and always will be. What was He doing before there were stars, planets, or people?

Well, the Bible does not tell us a lot about what God was doing before creation. The Bible was written for humans to explain our relationship to God so that we could be close to Him. God doesn’t seem to think we need to know what He was doing before we existed. There are many things that the Lord knows that we don’t need to understand.

Have you ever tried to teach a dog to read? Have you ever tried to teach a flower to sing? Why not? Dogs and flowers are very different from humans. There are many things we can do that we would never even think to teach them. They are a different kinds of being altogether with different capacities.  Usually, this is something we simply accept as fact.

In the same way, there are many things that God can do and understand that humans cannot do or even begin to understand. The difference between a human and a dog or a flower is huge. The difference between a human and Almighty God is even greater. And while we might not understand it, we can trust God because He does.   We cannot understand how God existed forever and ever before He made our world, but He did. He always was. Wow.

The Bible does tell us about a few things God did before He created the universe. He had already made all the heavenly angels. They are His bright, beautiful servants and messengers. They are living creatures that never die. They worship Him around His throne and happily obey His every command. Long before God made the universe, there were hundreds of thousands of angels with God in Heaven, living in rapturously joyful singing and perfect service. Imagine such a wonderful place! Nothing bad ever happened. There was no sadness, evil, death or pain. All of heavenly life was aglow in the light of God’s glory.

Then came a change of great tragedy and sorrow.   It was the beginning of all bad things. There was a mighty angel named Lucifer. God had given him great power and beauty. He was the highest of all the angels. Instead of choosing to be grateful to God and worship Him for these truly awesome gifts, Lucifer decided to turn against God in a treacherous military coup. For you see, Lucifer wanted the power to rule instead of God. He wanted to sit on the throne of Heaven. He turned a third of all the angels against their own Lord, and they went to war against the good angels.

At this point, we should be asking ourselves, “Why?” Why would any angel, living in the bright perfection of God’s glorious, radiant holiness, ever want to rebel? We don’t know. Some of the most brilliant men over the past few thousand years have asked that question. It makes no sense, but they did. The evil angels rejected God, and fought against the holy angels that remained loyal to the Lord.

These days, we call the evil angels “demons.” Lucifer usually goes by Satan, at least in the English language. Satan is their leader. They are the enemies of God, and they try to destroy anything that God loves. A lot of people think this idea is crazy, especially those who live in western countries whose cultures have bought into the assumptions of the scientific empiricism of the last few hundred years…that the only things that we can take seriously or understand are those which we can measure by the five senses. The funny thing is that now science is showing us through concepts like string theory and the existence of dark matter that there are many aspects of our universe, including the existence of extra dimensions where it would be possible for living beings to move and exist, that we had never imagined before. Meanwhile, for thousands of years, virtually every religion and human culture has had some kind of idea that intelligent, spiritual beings exist all around us and seek to influence the outcome of our daily lives. Christian Scripture provides an explanation for the phenomena: there are truly angels among us. Some of them are evil and wholly bent on our destruction.

At the same time, there are angels who only do good. They are utterly faithful to God. All they ever do is obey Him perfectly. Often, they obey Him by helping us. We can’t usually see them, but they are here. In the Bible, God often sent His angels on missions to bring His message to His people on earth. We will get to read amazing stories about them very soon.

God created the angels, and He cast the evil, rebellious ones out of Heaven. One day, all the demonic spirits and Satan himself will be cast into a terrible Abyss. Their days of bringing destruction and pain will be over.

All the while, something else was going on. The King of Heaven was planning and preparing for something. It was going to be marvelous. He was going to create our universe, and He had it all planned out ahead of time. He knew every bird that would fly and every fish that would swim. He knew how He would make humans.

He also knew how they would fall into sin.

He knew exactly how He would show His love to humanity by sending His Son to die for our sins.

Think about that for a second.  God knew what we would do…and He made us anyway.

He also knew the name of each human who would come to love Jesus and put their faith in Him. God purposed the whole story of His Great Rescue before He created the world. We are still in the middle of God’s plan…and the best is yet to come. One day God is going to destroy all evil and suffering.  He will recreate a perfect world where we can worship Him forever. Wow.

Think about what that means for you. Before God created the universe, God knew your name. If you have put your faith in the Son of God, it means that before He made then sun He had already chosen you and adopted you to be His child. He loved you before time existed! He knew that He was going to send His Son to die for you. You were already on the mind of God, and He set His heart on saving you. He created an entire universe and a world where He could glorify His perfect, holy Son by rescuing you from all sin and shame and bringing you into His love and light. Isn’t that amazing?

The Bible is an amazing story for many reasons. It is marvelous because it about the One who is the Maker of all things. It is glorious because it tells the most important story in human history. It is an incredible tale because it displays the magnificent beauty and glory of the Son of the Living God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. And it is precious because you and I are a part of it. We are loved by that amazing Lord, and we can read the story to learn about Him and love Him back.

The Story of Genesis and the Beginning of Everything

Genesis 1

blue sunrise, view of earth from space

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

These are the first words of the Bible. It goes on to tell the most important story in the world. The Bible is human history presented from God’s point of view. While God used His human servants to write it down for Him, all the words are His. He wanted to reveal Himself to the human race and show what He is like. He wanted to explain why our world has all the problems it has and reveal His plans to fix it. He was determined to show us how we are meant to related to Him and receive His love even as we live in a world that is cursed and burdened with evil.

There are many other versions of history and many valuable lessons we can learn from subjects like science or math. While every other subject can be understood in light of Scripture, they are not the main topic of Scripture. When we read the Bible, we learn about God Himself, and that gives us wisdom and power to understand everything else along the way.

For example, we can appreciate the details of the incredibly, elegantly consistent order of the universe because of what we learn from the natural sciences. Their revelations can help us understand the genius of God and stand in awe of His power. We can both enjoy the hard work of scientists and also recognize the limitations of their findings because they are based on the empirical tests of mere mortals who are limited in what they can understand by the five senses.

The authors of Scripture explain that God is gloriously holy and magnificent in every way, and that He wanted to teach His people how to come to Him. Because God is perfect love, He wanted to share His love with them by sharing Himself.

The first thing we learn from the Bible is how God made the universe. It makes clear that He is all-powerful and all knowing, and in His perfect wisdom He made everything that is. He made the stars and the moon and the earth simply by speaking them into place.

Each time God spoke, something wonderful happened. First there was only darkness, but God spoke and said, “Let there be light” and out of nothing, brilliant light sprang out into the dark void! All of Creation obeyed as God called out new, amazing things out of nothing…Stars! Oceans! Dolphins! Trees and flowers and grass! And the angels of Heaven shouted for joy as they watched their Most Holy God display his majesty through the wonderful things he was making.

Imagine the brilliant creativity of the mind of God as He made the long legs of a grasshopper, the curling trunk of an elephant and the stretching neck of a giraffe! There is a certain amount of childlike delight that is totally appropriate when we think of the wild diversities of nature. This same God that made the dark clouds, rumbling thunder, and falling rain also made the bright and shining sun. From absolutely nothing, Almighty God created the universe. Pondering that reality helps us grasp it’s magnificence, but it is so great that even scientists raise their hands in surrender to it’s incomprehensibility. They can tell us there was a Big Bang, but they have to admit they have no idea where it came from or what came before it.

The last thing that God made was the most important thing of all. It was the crowning glory of His Creation. It was so important that God did more than speak and make it so. God came down to the earth He had just spoken into place and formed this creature with His own hands.   These creatures were the first man and the first woman.   They were the reason God made the whole universe. He was building their home. It was the beautiful, glorious place where God could be close to the ones He had made for Himself.

God created humanity to love them and bless them with Himself. This is not some form of arrogance or delusion of grandeur…it is simply the truth. God is all that is pure and right and hopeful. He is complete joy. Giving Himself away is giving the greatest gift anyone could ever receive. He didn’t want to give Himself to just one or two humans. He wanted to create a whole bunch more to love. Instead of crafting them with His hands, He designed humanity to have the privilege of bringing more humans into the world through the union and pleasure of romantic love.

The story of the Bible does not stop with how God made the first humans. It continues to tell the story of what happened to the human race afterwards. For you see, a terrible, horrific problem enters into the story from its very first chapters. There was treachery amidst a great mutiny of evil. Even though God put the first humans in a bright, beautiful and perfect world, they broke out in rebellion against God. They rejected Him and chose their own way, and He let them have their choice. The problem is that God is the only source of good, so when they separated themselves from Him, they separated themselves from goodness. But God so loved the world that He would not let the story end with devastation and destruction. From the very beginning, He staged a rescue plan that would turn the whole story around.

The Bible tells the story of God’s plan to bring us back. Over thousands of years, God has continuously worked throughout human history to solve the problem of humanity’s terrible sin and weakness. In the middle of the story, God did His most important work of all. He sent His own Son to die as a payment for humanity’s sins. He made a way for humans to be washed clean so that they could be completely forgiven. They could be close to God again, just as they had been in the Garden. Throughout history many people have rejected God and worshipped other things (Isaiah 40), but many others have turned to Him…many are among those who God takes hold of (John 10:22-29; Ephesians 1:3-4)…many are saved. Right now, we are in a time of our own choosing. Will we follow after God and enter the Kingdom of Light, or choose to live in the Kingdom of Darkness? (2 Peter 1:3-10).

The Bible shows us how we can seek the presence of God and enter into the blessings of His love right now (Ephesians 3:14-19). The Bible also tells how this great story is going to end. One day, God is going take this creation that has been tainted with darkness and sin, and He will roll it up like a scroll and bring the whole universe to an end. Then He is going to make a whole New Creation, a New Heaven and a New Earth. Everyone that believes in God will live there with Him forever and ever. There will be no more tears or pain, and we will share completely and freely in His love (See Revelation 19-22). As we read the Bible, we can read the whole story of the human race and the universe He made for us from beginning to end.