1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
God created everything (Isa 45:1212“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands
And I ordained all their host.
; Zec 12:11The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel. [Thus] declares the LORD who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him,; Eph 3:99and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;). When people make something, they need material. God not. He does not need anything outside of Himself. He is not part of His creation. He creates from His own omnipotence (Rom 4:17b17(as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, [even] God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.). Through creation we know that God is there: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Rom 1:2020For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.; Psa 19:1b1For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
God is the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not the Father does the work of creation, but the Son (Jn 1:33All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.; Col 1:1616For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.; Heb 1:22in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.). No one was present at the creation of heaven and earth (Job 38:44“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell [Me], if you have understanding,
). After all, there was nothing yet. What we read in this chapter can therefore only be understood by faith: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb 11:33By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.).
Some commentators assume that a certain time has elapsed between verse 11In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. and verse 22The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.. In the meantime, the fall of satan would have taken place. For others, there is no time between the two verses, but the story of creation continues. To see the acts of creation as an ongoing story has been a problem for me for some time because of the word “formless”. In my opinion it could not be that God had created the earth “formless and void” (Isa 45:1818For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it [and] did not create it a waste place, [but] formed it to be inhabited),
“I am the LORD, and there is none else.
). A plausible explanation for me was therefore, that there had to be some time between verse 11In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. and verse 22The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. with as event the fall of satan, which would have caused this formlessness and void.
As a result of the input in a Bible study, I started thinking about it again. God can create something that is ‘formless and void’ and continue to work with it. In this connection a verse from Psalm 139 came to me, which says: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained [for me], When as yet there was not one of them” (Psa 139:1616Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained [for me],
When as yet there was not one of them.
). There is an “unformed substance” of the life that God gives in the womb and allows to grow further. This has solved this problem for me.
It is sometimes formulated in this way: ‘God first tells us in verse 11In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. what He does, to tell us from verse 22The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. how He does it.’ That seems to me to be a good reflection of what Genesis 1 is all about.
Then we see that God continues to work. His Spirit “moving over the surface of the waters”. This ‘moving’ has the meaning of ‘breeding’ and then we think of new life that will appear later. As said, the Lord Jesus, God the Son, is the Creator. There is “one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things” (1Cor 8:6b6yet for us there is [but] one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we [exist] for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we [exist] through Him.). And He does everything through the Holy Spirit.
3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
In the middle of the darkness a powerful voice is heard. God speaks. His first word is: “Let there be light!” The result is immediate: “And there was light” (cf. Psa 33:6,96By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
9For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
). When God speaks, His might and power are revealed.
God looks at His work and concludes that it is good. This announcement shows God’s commitment to His work. He does not look at it to see if there is any unevenness. He is perfect and everything He does is perfect. The project is not only good in itself, but also serves a good goal.
God gives everything a name. In that name He expresses the character, the nature of it. This is how we can recognize things. Man is wise to call the things as God calls them (cf. Isa 5:2020Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
). The first day is bordered by evening and morning. Because of this we know that the days of creation are ordinary days of twenty-four hours, as we still know them.
If we read Genesis 1 without prejudice, we can only conclude that God created heaven and earth in six literal days (Exo 20:1111For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.). There is spoken about day and night and about “and there was evening and there was morning”. The Hebrew word for day, yom, as a separate word, is in all cases ‘day’ in the ordinary sense of the word (Gen 8:2222“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”; 29:77He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.”, as opposed to ‘night’). Knowing the truth exposes the lie. Every theory of origin that deviates from the account in Genesis 1, we can send to the realm of fables.
Verse 33Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. is applied by Paul to the work of God in the darkened heart of a sinner: “For the God who said, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2Cor 4:66For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.). From this we learn that what happened literally and historically also contains a spiritual application. In this way, during the days of creation, we discover a process that takes place in someone who comes to repentance.
This process begins in the sinner who is in darkness: “For you were formerly darkness” (Eph 5:8a8for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light). The Spirit begins to work at the heart of such a person, to ‘breed’. Then comes the moment when the sinner discovers that he is in darkness and needs light. Then God lets His light shine in the heart. This makes all anger and dirt public. By repentance and conversion new life comes.
6Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
In the light that is created, the prevailing disorder or formlessness is seen. In the disorderly mass of water of verse 22The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters., God, by means of a separation, brings order. He speaks for the second time His commanding “let there be”. By His command the atmosphere is created with the observation “and it was so”. As a result, there is water below and there is water above the expanse. It is striking that it does not say: “And God saw that it was good.” On the other days it says so. Although, at the end of all creation days, so including this second day, it says: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (verse 31a31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.).
This second day also has its significance in the spiritual development of someone who has been converted. When someone is converted, he gets a new nature. From that moment on he has an old and a new nature. That old nature someone only loses when the Lord comes or when he dies.
Through Bible teaching, especially the letter to the Romans, the converted man learns to live according to his new nature. There he also learns what God has done with the old nature. He learns by this that there is a separation between the two natures. In the practice of faith life, this learning process can give rise to many conflicts (Rom 7:15-19,2415For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I [would] like to [do], but I am doing the very thing I hate.16But if I do the very thing I do not want [to do], I agree with the Law, [confessing] that the Law is good.17So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good [is] not.19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?). But it is not God’s ultimate goal with the believer’s life that he continues to wrestle and worry with the ancient nature. This is evident from the following days.
9Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, [and] fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
Again God causes a separation. He lets the dry land appear from the water. Again He gives the names to His work: He calls the dry “earth” and the gathered waters He calls “seas”. By this He also borders the waters (Pro 8:2929When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the water would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
; Jer 5:2222‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD.
‘Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.
That is not the end of the third day. God speaks twice on this day. He wants fruit to appear on earth. Man will be allowed to enjoy that. In the fruit itself He puts seed, through which new fruit comes. The fruit will multiply. God is a God of multiplication, of abundance.
The third day in the life of the believer is characterized by fruit bearing. He has accepted God’s teaching about the old and the new nature. The conflict of the second day is over. He stands on solid ground, on dry land. The third day in the Bible speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Whoever sees that the Lord Jesus not only died and was buried for his sins, but was also raised up on the third day (1Cor 15:3-43For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,), has peace with God: “Those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, [He] who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 4:24b-2524but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,25[He] who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.; 5:11Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,). There comes peace in his heart. He knows Himself secure in the Lord Jesus and accepted by God. The new life will bear fruit (Jn 15:55I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.), fruit which is to the glory of God (Jn 15:88My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and [so] prove to be My disciples.).
14Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; 15and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; [He made] the stars also. 17God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
The fourth day we can connect with the first day. On the first day the light is created; on the fourth day God makes the celestial bodies or light bearers. In that the sun not only provides light, but also warmth. The celestial bodies are subject to God and are known by name by Him (Isa 40:2626Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these [stars],
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of [His] power,
Not one [of them] is missing.
). They should never be worshipped (Deu 4:1919And [beware] not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.; 17:33and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded,).
Here again there is a separation that God makes. The lights are also signs of God’s greatness. He proposes them to determine the timeframe in days and years and regularly recurring periods in nature and the cycle of feasts in Israel.
In the spiritual development of the converted the fourth day is the stage of light bearing in the world. The sun represents the Lord Jesus (Mal 4:22“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.). He is “the Light of the world” (Jn 8:12a12Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”). The believer is “Light in the Lord” (Eph 5:8b8for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light) and “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14a14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;). The moon shines in the night. He gets his light from the sun. So it is with the believer. It is night in the world. In this the believer may pass on the light of the sun, the Lord Jesus. Stars also shine at night. God’s children shine like light bearers in the world, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:1515so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,).
Do people see in us the difference between day and night, and can they perceive in us something of God’s greatness and how He reigns things in the world events?
20Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” 21God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
The fifth day we can connect with the second day. By God’s command, life comes into the water and into the air. Fish and what can fly are created. God creates in a great diversity, both in size and in kind. The first form of animated life originates. The first four days give the conditions for life; on the fifth and sixth day life itself comes.
A second command from God is that life will multiply. Fish and birds must have many offspring. Water animals must fill the waters, birds must become numerous on earth.
With the fifth day we have reached the next aspect in spiritual development. Waters are a symbol for the trials in the life of faith. The waters of the second day symbolize inner struggle and doubt, despair sometimes. It is so to speak the waters within us. The inner struggle comes to an end as soon as the Lord Jesus is seen in faith. The waters of the fifth day symbolize outside battle (1Pet 1:66In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,). It is, so to speak, the waters around us, the circumstances in which we find ourselves. There may be peace within, but then the trials come from outside (Rom 5:3-43And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;). The enemy will do everything in his power to shake faith.
The result that God wants to achieve with this is a life of faith that is ‘teeming’ with activities of faith. These faith activities in turn generate new works of faith, in the person himself or in others who see this and are encouraged by it.
We see this for example with Paul. His captivity encourages the Philippians: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in [the cause of] Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Phil 1:12-1412Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,13so that my imprisonment in [the cause of] Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,14and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.).
24Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. 25God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Just like on the third day it is about the earth on the sixth day. On the final day of God’s work, land animals and finally man are created. With the making of the animals all the preparatory work for the introduction of man has been done. In His creative work He works towards that. He creates an area in which man – man and woman – can feel optimally ‘at home’. For them He does all that.
26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Also on the sixth day God speaks twice. The creation of man is introduced in a special way and explained in a special way. We hear the special introduction in the words “let Us make man”. It means that there has been consultation in God. The word “Us” indicates that God is triune.
The special explanation is that God creates man “in Our image, according to Our likeness”. We see the image of God in the position that man occupies as the head of creation: he is God’s representative in it. The likeness of God is expressed in man’s actions: he acts with insight into creation. Because of this high place of man we are called to honor all men (1Pet 2:1717Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.; Jam 3:99With it we bless [our] Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;), even though man has fallen into such decay by sin and is sometimes compared to an unreasoning animal (Jude 1:1010But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.; 2Pet 2:1212But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,).
God creates man “male and female”. There is, so to speak, a male and a female variant of man. God has created one man, where that man is, as it were, a two-unity. Modern man makes frantic efforts to erase the distinction, but that is downright folly.
For the difference between man and woman, the attack on them and their rebuttal by means of the Word of God, see the booklets ‘Sexuality, a gift from God. Part 1’ on www.oudesporen.nl.]
“God blessed them” by saying to man that he may fill the earth and subdue it. This blessing is more than giving the strength to be fertile and to become numerous, as has been said of sea animals and birds (verse 2222God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”). It is also the power over the earth and all animals.
29Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, [I have given] every green plant for food”; and it was so.
After God has finished His deeds on the sixth day, He tells man what his food and that of the animals will be. For humans, this food is everything that carries seed from the crop and that carries fruit from the tree. This means that man feeds himself with what in himself has the power of life. That is for the body. The food for the soul is the Word of God (Mt 4:44But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”), which is also compared to seed, but then imperishable seed (1Pet 1:2323for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, [that is], through the living and enduring word of God.). The animals and birds get the green plants to eat.
The food of man does not originally include the meat of animals, nor do the animals eat each other. Violent killing of animals is not an issue. This will only happen when the fall into sin and the flood have occurred (Gen 9:33Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as [I gave] the green plant.). That there are originally no carnivorous and tearing animals is also proven by the state of the kingdom of peace.
When God’s kingdom is established and sin can no longer do its devastating work, the killing in the realm of the animals will stop: “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den” (Isa 11:6-86And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
After each day of creation, God said of the result: “It was good.” The sixth day is a unique day. If God sees the result of all His work on this day, He can record as a conclusion of all His work of creation: “And behold, it was very good.” This means that everything is perfect, so that every creature serves the purpose for which God created it.
In all of God’s actions in this chapter we see a picture of His plan with the world we live in now. God gave the earth to Adam and Eve to rule over it. Thus, soon He will be giving to Christ, “the last Adam” (1Cor 15:4545So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam [became] a life-giving spirit.), together with the church of which Eve is a picture (2Cor 11:2-32For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you [as] a pure virgin.3But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity [of devotion] to Christ.), the government over all things in heaven and on earth, “the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Eph 1:1010with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, [that is,] the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him). And so, “as Head over all things”, God “gave Him … to the church” (Eph 1:2222And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,).
Christ will then be the center of the universe. Everything shall be put under His feet (Psa 8:4-104What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
9O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!) and honor Him: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever”” (Rev 5:1313And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”).
In the spiritual development of the believer this is also the goal God works towards. He wants Christ to take form in every believer (Gal 4:1919My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—), that he shows Christ in his deeds (2Cor 3:33being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.). If one’s life is only about Christ, in spiritual growth the ‘father’-stage is reached (1Jn 2:13-1413I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.).