"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." -- Genesis 1:1-31
It is not my intention in these studies give you a course in systematic theology. In fact, I do not believe we should attempt to systematize the teachings of Holy Scripture. As soon as we try to set divine Revelation in human order, or mold the Word of God to any human system, our doctrine becomes corrupt and erroneous. Why? Because the only way anyone can fit the Scriptures into a human system is by forcing the Scriptures to bow to his system. We dare not treat the Word of God so contemptuously. We must always bow to the Scriptures. Whenever the Word of God contradicts our doctrine, we must discard our doctrine, not the Word of God. Lest there should be any implied systematization of the Scriptures, I am deliberately avoiding a systematic order in these studies.
The subject of this study is Creation. I am aware of the fact that most studies in Bible doctrine move from the existence and attributes of God to the decrees of God. Without question, as we have already seen, the decrees of God are from everlasting. However, God’s sovereign decrees are revealed to us in the Scriptures much later than his wondrous work of creation. We will, therefore, consider the teaching of Scripture regarding creation, before looking into the wonders of grace in our election unto salvation.
The fact is, creation is a very instructive picture of God’s wondrous works of grace in salvation. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Apostle Paul tells us, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” The work of God in the new creation of grace is beautifully symbolized in the creation of the world. As the creation of the world was the work of God alone, so the making of men and women new creatures in Christ is the work of God alone.
The Creation Of The World
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (v. 1). Thus opens the Word of God with a bare statement of fact. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” That is all we are told concerning the original creation. No argument is given to prove the existence of God. Instead, his existence is simply affirmed as a fact to be believed. Nothing is given to gratify the curious minds of men. How long did it take for God to create the world? We are not told. How old is this world? We are not told. We are simply told, “In the beginning God created.” The truth of God is simply stated as a fact to be received and understood by unquestioning faith.
“In the beginning God” -- This is the foundation of all truth. All true theology, all true religion begins with this statement. All human religion and philosophy begin with man and work up to God. The Scriptures begin with God and work down to man.
If we are to understand anything, we must begin with God. This is most especially true in the matter of salvation. It is impossible to understand salvation unless we begin with God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam sinned and brought in death. But God was not taken by surprise. In the beginning, before ever the world was created, in anticipation of the fall, God provided his Son as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13;8), “who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:20).
In the new creation the sinner who is saved by grace repents, believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and walks with him in the newness of life. But it began with God. In the beginning God chose us in Christ (Eph. 1:4) and predestinated us to be his children (Eph. 1:5). “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Everything begins with God. Understand that and you will not stray far from the truth.
The book of Genesis is the book of beginnings. In fact, the word “genesis” means “beginning.” Someone said, “The book of Genesis is the seed plot of the Bible.” It contains in seed form all the great doctrines and truths revealed more fully in the rest of the volume. In the fifty chapters of this first book of Moses, …
· God is revealed. -- He is revealed as the Creator-God, the Covenant-Keeping God, and the Almighty God, “the Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” From the opening verse hints are given concerning the blessed trinity, the plurality of Persons in the Godhead “God said, Let us make man” (v. 26). The creation of the world was a work that involved all three Persons in the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, even as the works of redemption and providence involve all three of the divine Persons (Eph. 1:3-14).
· The origin and character of man is set forth. -- First, we see him as God’s creature, then as a fallen sinner, then as one brought back to God, finding grace in his sight, walking with God, and made the friend of God.
· Satan’s devices are exposed. -- The arch-enemy of our souls, the tempter, the deceiver seeks to ruin men by calling into question the Word of God, casting doubt upon the goodness of God, and raising suspicions about the veracity of God.
· God’s sovereign election is exhibited. -- God approves of Abel and rejects Cain. Noah is chosen as the object of God’s grace. It is written, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” God chooses Abram and passes by his idolatrous neighbors. God chooses Isaac and rejects Ishmael. God loves Jacob and hates Esau.
· Salvation in Christ is typically displayed. -- Our fallen parents, Adam and Eve, were sought and found by grace and clothed with the skins of innocent victims. In order to clothe the fallen pair, blood must be shed, the innocent victims had to die in the place of the guilty. As those innocent animals were slain for Adam and Eve, so the Lord Jesus Christ was slain for sinners that we might be robed forever in his perfect righteousness.
· Justification by faith is revealed. -- Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Faith, by believing God’s testimony concerning his Son, receives righteousness, the very righteousness of God in Christ.
· The believer’s security is beautifully displayed. -- As the Lord brought Noah and his family into the ark and shut them in, so every believer, being brought into Christ by almighty grace, is shut in him, sealed, preserved and kept secure by the power of God. “They shall never perish” (John 10:28).
In addition to these things, the incarnation of Christ is prophesied. The substitutionary death of Christ is portrayed. The resurrection and exaltation of Christ is symbolized. The priesthood of Christ is anticipated. And all the blessings of Christ upon the Israel of God are declared. Genesis is the Book of Beginnings.
· In this book of beginnings, as in all the Scriptures, everything speaks of Christ. Christ is the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of God. Christ is the promised Seed of the woman, who crushed the serpent’s head. Christ is the Lamb whose blood was represented in Abel’s sacrifice. Christ is the One whom Enoch believed, by whom he pleased God. Christ is the Ark by which sinners are saved from the flood of God’s wrath. Christ is the Seed of promise who came from Abraham’s loins, in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed. Christ is the Lamb of sacrifice whom God provided to die in the place of his chosen. Christ is the Ladder Jacob saw, by whom the blessings of God come down to men, and by whom men ascend up to God. Christ is that Priest after the order of Melchezedek, by whom God’s elect are blessed. Christ is our Joseph, ruling over all things, in whom are all things, from whom all things come. Christ is the Surety portrayed in Judah. And Christ is the Lawgiver prophesied by Jacob. In the Book of Beginnings “Christ is All, and in all.”
Do not imagine that I have strayed from my subject. We must know him. It does not matter what we believe about the creation of the universe, if we do not know him who is Creator and Lord of all. Christ is the beginning of the creation of God. All things were made by him and for him. He is before all things. He is in all things. By him all things consist. And all things point to him. Both the creation and in the new creation begin with Christ. We must know the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who made all things in the beginning. And he is the One who declares, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” -- The creation was a reflection of the Creator. In verse 2 we read that the earth became “without form and void.’ But certainly was not created that way (Read Isaiah 45:18). In its pristine beauty, the earth was perfect beyond imagination. There were no groans of suffering, no darkness of iniquity, no worms of corruption, or shades of night. God reigned supreme, without rival. Then something happened. “The earth” became “without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
The Ruin And Confusion Of God’s Creation.
This ruin is described in verse two. -- "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
The word “was” in verse 2 really should be translated “became” (Strong’s Concordance). God did not create the world in a state of confusion. Between verses one and two, some terrible catastrophe took place. Many think the catastrophe was the fall of Satan (Isa. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:14-18). However, the Scriptures do not specifically tell us that this was the time of Satan’s fall; and it is best not to guess. The only thing clearly presented is the fact that something happened by which the earth “became without form and void.” Whatever the catastrophe was, it left the earth “without form and void,” a desolate, uninhabitable, ruined mass of confusion.
We read in Exodus 20:11, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” There is a difference between “creating” and “making.” In Genesis 1:1, God created the world out of nothing. In Genesis 1:2, “the earth became without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” In Genesis 1:3-31, God made the earth in six days, forming it and fashioning it out of that which he had created. As A. W. Pink wrote…
“Out of the chaos was brought the `cosmos,’ which signifies order, arrangement, beauty. Out of the waters emerged the earth. A scene of desolation, darkness, and death, was transformed into one of light, life, and fertility, so that at the end all was pronounced, `very good.’”
As this is a picture of the world’s history, it is also a picture of man’s history. In the beginning of time, on the sixth day, God created man. What a creature he was, created in the image and likeness of God, gloriously reflecting the very character of God. God himself said man was “very good.” He had no sinful heredity behind him, no sinful principle within him, no sinful stain upon him, and no sinful environment around him. Man and woman walked together with God in the bliss of perfection, contentment and mutual delight. Man was delighted with God and God was delighted with man.
Then, there was a catastrophe. It is described in Genesis 3. Sin dared to raise its horrid head against God. Man defied God’s right to be God. Sin entered into the world, and death by sin. Man died. He was separated from God. The earth was cursed. It began to bring forth thorns and thistles. God’s creature became without form and void. The dark slime of the serpent corrupted the race of mankind. This great catastrophe, the fall, is verified in hearts of all Adam’s descendants. Man is fallen (Eccles. 7:20, 29), alienated from God (Eph. 4:18), depraved (Jer. 17:9), and spiritually dead (Rom. 5:12). Genesis 1:2 describes the condition of fallen man. Like the earth after the catastrophe, so man after Adam’s fall is in a state of disorder.
· It is a state of confusion.” The earth became without form.” Nothing was in harmony with God. Nothing was right. Fallen man is out of kilter. Nothing in him is in harmony with God. Nothing in him is right or good.
· It is a state of emptiness. “The earth was void,” utterly empty, incapable of life and fruitfulness. So, too, man without Christ is spiritually void, empty and barren, incapable of life and fruitfulness toward God. Fallen man can meet no conditions or requirements of any kind. If he is recovered from the ruins of the fall, he must be recovered by a work of God.
· It is a state of darkness. “Darkness was upon the face of the deep.” To be lost is to be under the power of darkness, to be under the rule of Satan, the prince of darkness. There is not one ray of spiritual light in man by nature. Fallen man has no spiritual light, knowledge, or understanding.
The Restoration Of God’s Creation
Genesis 1:2-31 describe the restoration of God’s creation. The order followed by God in restoring the physical creation is the same order followed by God in the new creation, in the restoration of fallen man by his almighty grace. The work of God in the restoration of his creation corresponds exactly to the experience of a believer. Here are seven works performed by God in the restoration of his creation which picture his work of grace in the believer.
1. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (v. 2).
The earth, no doubt, moved in its orbit and rotated upon its own axis, but its motions could not mend it. It had to be moved upon by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, it would forever remain “without form and void.” Even so, regeneration is not accomplished by the works of man or the emotions of the heart, but by the working of God the Holy Spirit. The new birth is not an evolution, but a creation. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profitteth nothing” (John 6:63). The new birth is not accomplished by man’s movement toward God, but by God’s movement upon the heart of man.
2. “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light” (v. 3).
If the Spirit of God moves upon a man it is by the Word of God. No less than ten times in this chapter we read these words, “And God said.” God does not work apart from his Word. Without question, God could have refashioned and restored the earth without speaking a word; but he did not choose to do so. His purposes were worked out and his counsels were fulfilled by his Word. Light came and was produced by the Word of God. These two things are inseparably joined together: (1.) The ministry of the Holy Spirit and (2.) the ministry of the Word of God. The Word of God, the gospel of Christ, is the power of God (Rom. 1:16; 1 Pet. 1:23-25), and the source of spiritual light (2 Cor. 4:6). The Word of God, the gospel, is the seed of life (James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23-25), the means by which life and faith are conveyed to the soul (Rom. 10:17). The gospel, the Word of God, is God’s ordained means of grace and salvation (1 Cor. 1:23; 1 Tim. 4:16).
3. “And God divided the light from the darkness” (v. 4).
As God separated the light from the darkness in the old creation, so he separates the light from the darkness in the new creation. “Ye are the children of the light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (1 Thess. 5:5). The Word of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in the new man, divides between the soul and the spirit, separates the spiritual from the carnal (2 Cor. 6:14-18). This is true both in doctrine and in life. Those who are born of God know light from darkness; and they walk in the light as he is in the light (1 John 1:5-7).
4. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth fruit” (v. 11).
Where there is the work of the Spirit, the Word of God and the light of grace, there will be fruit unto God (Gal. 5:22-23). This fruit is the result of a condition, not an effort. It is the result of what we are, not of what we do. The fruit of Christ in us is Christ likeness. Those who are born of God bear fruit after his kind; as the seed within bears fruit after its kind on the earth. Apples produce apples. Grapes produce grapes. And grace produces grace. The grace of God molds and controls a believer’s character and conduct.
5. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth” (vv. 14-15).
The lights must be above the earth if they are to shine upon it. Those who are born of God have been raised above the earth. They “are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). As the moon reflects the light of the sun, believers reflect the light of Christ in this world (Matt. 5:16). Good works are the only lights by which the world sees Christ in his people. Therefore we are admonished be careful to maintain them (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 3:8). We are saved by grace. Works have nothing to do with salvation. And salvation always produces good works.
6. “God created man in his own image” (v. 27).
Here is the climax of the Creator’s power. God made man in his own likeness. He made him out of the soil of the earth, even the earth which had become “without form and void!” Here is a work even greater than that: -- In the new creation, the God of all grace creates sinners new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Col. 3:10). God takes men and women who are utterly “without form and void” spiritually and makes them (by his great works of redemption, regeneration, and resurrection) exact replicas of his dear Son.
7. God blessed the man he had made and gave him dominion over all his creation (vv. 29-31).
All who are born of God are blessed of God (Eph. 1:3). “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” One day soon God shall put all things under our feet even as he has put all things under the feet of his dear Son (Heb. 2:6-9; Rom. 16:20). Then the purpose of God shall be fulfilled. Then God shall be “all in all.”
Until we are one with Christ, we are out of harmony with God’s creation. If you are yet without Christ, come to him now. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Come, enter into that blessed sabbath of faith portrayed in Genesis 2:1-3."Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Cease from your works as God did from his, and trust, rest in the Lord Jesus Christ as your only, all-sufficient Savior. If you do, you are a new creation in Christ!
 I have no interest in trying to answer the quibbles of godless scientists and evolutionary philosophers. Perhaps the Lord God created the earth with all the markings of an aged, mature earth, as he did Adam specifically to confuse unbelieving men. Yet, if it could be irrefutably established that the earth were many thousands, or even millions of years old, that would be no contradiction to the Scriptures. We have no indication of how long an interval there was between the creation of the world, as it is stated in verse one and the ruin of the world, as it is described in verse two. It is certainly wide enough to embrace all the prehistoric ages that may have existed! However, all that took place from Genesis 1:3-31 transpired in six twenty-four hour days, less than six thousand years ago.