10102 Genesis 1.1-2 Events preceding the six workdays of God
BSF GENESIS-LESSON 2-NOTES - EVENTS PRECEDING THE SIX WORKDAYS OF GOD
Genesis 1 might be said to be divided into three main sections:
I: Verse I describes the beginning of the universe.
II: Verse 2 describes earth's condition before the work of six "days."
III: Verses 3-31 describe the creative events which occupied six periods called "days."
These three divisions of Genesis I are rounded off with the opening section of chapter 2 (Genesis 2:1-3) which records the completion of creation and God's rest of satisfaction in it.
I. CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE INCLUDING EARTH - GENESIS 1:1
The book of Genesis opens with the majestic statement that God began time with the creation of the universe, including this earth, our solar system, and all the stars. There is no record of how long it may have taken to create the heavens. Man's years are but a moment of time to the eternal God. According to the latest findings of astronomers, our galaxy contains approximately 300,000,000,000,000 stars. Outside our galaxy, which is bounded by the Milky Way, there are about 500,000,000,000,000 other galaxies. Think of the intellect and power of God who created all this, who also created the minute snowflakes, each of which is of a different design. Yet, the Lord says His children are more precious to Him than all these worlds; in fact, the very hairs of our head are numbered. Our earth is like a drop of water in the ocean compared to the universe or as a speck of dust in a sunbeam, yet God Almighty has ordained this earth to have the central place of importance, for it is designed by Him to be man's abode, the training place for the church, the body of Christ. It is the sphere which was the scene of the incarnation of the Son of God. Earth is central to man, and the Bible is the story of the original dignity of man, his fall, and God's restoration of him. Therefore, after this majestic statement regarding the creation of the universe (the heavens), the remaining part of this chapter deals solely with the creation of man's immediate environment–namely, earth. The rest of Genesis 1 presents the universe, the solar system, etc., only in its direct relationship to earth and in particular to the human race.
II. EARTH'S CONDITION BEFORE THE SIX "DAYS" BEGIN - GENESIS 1:2
After the first verse of Genesis, the narrative greatly narrows in its scope from the infinite space created for the entire universe of "the heavens" including earth. We now find our view constricted to just one tiny planet but of infinite importance to us–namely, our own earth. Genesis 1:2a describes the condition of this planet which was present before God inaugurated His creative activities, which are divided into six periods of time called "days" (Genesis 1:3-31).
"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep."
A. Two Explanations regarding Genesis 1:2
Many explanations have been given regarding this phrase. Because of God's infinite wisdom and power, we might logically expect that the God who said, "Let there be light;” and there was light, was certainly able to create the earth in a moment of time. However, this may or may not be how it happened. The amount of time God took in His creative processes is still unknown. Also, the progressive stages by which He accomplished that work are but dimly seen.
1. Genesis 1:2 and the "Gap Theory"
Some Bible students believe that Genesis 1:1 describes a finished, perfect earth set in the universe. They, therefore, theorize that some cataclysm might have occurred between the original creation recorded in Genesis 1:1 and the condition of the earth described in the beginning of verse 2, namely, that of formlessness–emptiness and darkness. They believe that this theory of a catastrophe between the creation of the earth described in Genesis 1:1 and its state in verse 2 finds confirmation in the words of Isaiah 45:18: "For this is what the Lord says–he who created the heavens, . . . who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty (a waste-tohu), but formed it to be inhabited. . . ."
Also, the Hebrew words translated "formless and empty" are only used in two other Bible passages which both describe in prophetic language an earthshaking catastrophe sent in judgment. These passages are Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23-26.
Proponents of this hypothesis, called "the gap theory" or the "restitution theory," suggest that Genesis 1:2a describes a condition which resulted from a cataclysmic judgment of a pre-Adamic race, perhaps involving the fall of the Devil and his angels (elsewhere spoken of in Scripture). This might account for the mysterious place the Bible gives to the Devil's limited but powerful sway for evil over the earth as recorded in such passages as Matthew 4:5, 8-9; 12:26; Luke 4:6; 10: 18; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2; and particularly I John 5:19.
Bible students who hold this "gap theory" of judgment on a pre-Adamic earth believe, therefore, that this earth was originally created perfect, but only "became formless and empty" lying in darkness as a result of a terrible judgment. In that case, the work of God's Spirit recorded in the second half of Genesis I:2 would be a work of restoration (following catastrophe) as would also God's succeeding work of the six "days " of Genesis 1:3-31.
When did Satan fall? Does his title of "prince of this world," as used by Jesus, date back to pre-Adamic days? There are no proof texts concerning this. However, some Bible scholars believe that before man was created, in prehistoric ages, Satan was an archangel to whom God gave almost unlimited power. The passages of lsaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-19, which describe the king of Tyre, far surpass a mere human explanation and describe prophetically and symbolically the fall of Satan by pride and of the angels which followed him. (See also I Timothy 3:6-7 and II Peter 2:4.)
Exponents of the above "gap theory" believe that in past ages Satan was given control of this earth when it was different from its present form. When Satan and the angels who followed him sinned, not only they were involved, but earth also was involved in their judgment. According to this view, the earth "became" without form and void (Genesis 1:2a) as a result of a judgment for perhaps thousands or millions of years. Therefore, they maintain that Genesis 1:2-31 records not the original creation but God's work of restitution after judgment. Some Bible students welcomed the gap theory as a convenient way to explain the geological ages with the multitude of fossils found in the sedimentary rock. The difficulty is that fossils indicate death; and, according to Scripture (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21), death came into the world as an aftermath of the sin of Adam and Eve.
Some professors of geology, such as Freiherr von Huene, Professor of Paleontology in the University of Tubingen, Germany, have adopted this "reconstruction theory." He writes, "When God created heaven and earth in the beginning, everything took place without disturbance, in harmony and holiness and God committed this earth to Satan to administer. Through Satan's rebellion, he and also his whole kingdom came under God's judgment. Satan wanted to be like God. Envy and pride were his sins.... In the gap between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1 belongs the fall of Satan with all the powers that followed him" (Weg and Werk Gotteo in Natur und Bibel. Biblishche Erdrterungen eines Paldontologen, Marburg 1937). This same belief is shared by such men as the German theologian Dr. Haasbeck of our day, as well as famous names such as Hengstenberg and Franz Delitzch of Germany from former years. Some Catholic scholars such as Cardinal Wiseman and the philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel also hold this viewpoint. Dr. Arthur C. Custance, in his book Without Form and Void, has taken a strong position in favor of the gap theory. However, Dr. Weston W Fields, in his book Unformed and Unfilled, has by careful research and sound exegetical study refuted the gap theory. 'Today fewer and fewer scholars hold the gap theory.
2. Literal, successive days viewpoint
Many of today's biblical scholars of equal standing feel that the word "became" is a dubious rendering of the Hebrew word hayetha used in this passage. They hold the view that, whereas Genesis 1:1 is a comprehensive statement which records that in the beginning God created the heavens and the
earth, by contrast Genesis 1:2-31 is simply a record of progressive sequence whereby earth was made a suitable environment for man, ending with his own creation.
According to this viewpoint, the phrase "was formless and empty" (tohu wa bohu) simply describes the first stage in the creation of the earth. Possibly it was in a gaseous (fluid) condition. All was dark and covered with water–the "deep." Conservative scholars of today holding this view include Merrill Unger, Th.D., Ph.D., Unger's Bible Handbook, page 37, and Dr. Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, page 49.
Such diversity among scholars of equal standing who accept the authority of the Bible proves that we need to be humble and cautious before forming our own conclusion and to avoid divisive self-confident dogmatism which obscures the intent and message of the passage, the creative power of the Godhead.
B. The Moving of the Spirit of God before the Six Days Begin - Genesis 1:2b
Whatever the explanation of the first part of this verse, Genesis 1:2b records that the "Spirit of God
was hovering over the waters" before God's first command, "Let there be light," sounded forth. This word "hovering" has a rich Hebrew meaning of "brooding or cherishing." We are reminded of the Holy Spirit at work upon the unconverted soul as He quickens us to respond and to receive the light of God's Word when God's recreative work begins in us. (Compare John 3:5; Ephesians 2:1; and I Thess. 1:5-6.)
As you have read the Bible and these notes and have looked up the corresponding New Testament passages, do you recognize the "moving of the Holy Spirit" upon your heart? To what recreative work within your soul will you now yield? When you yield, He creates life and light within you and the power to fulfill God's purpose in your present situation.
III. INTRODUCING THE SIX WORKDAYS OF GOD
A. No Dates for the Creation of the Universe or Mankind
As mentioned in former lessons, there are no exact dates set in Genesis in regard to the creation of our earth, living organisms and finally man. However, some editions of the Bible, particularly in the King James Version, still carry calculated chronology of the seventeenth century Irish Archbishop, James Ussher, who utilized the Old Testament genealogies to set the date of creation as 4004 B.C.! Indeed, Ussher's contemporary, Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, England, went so far as to believe he could make such accurate calculations from the Old Testament that he estimated the week of creation to be from October 18-24 in the year 4004 B.C. with the creation of Adam taking place on Friday of that week. Because these dates still remain in some Bibles, non-Christian scholars such as Bertrand Russell erroneously supposed that Bible believers still hold to those dates. They need not. One view allows for the possibility of gaps in the genealogical records and also that references to sons of patriarchs could mean descendants. Any date for the antiquity of man is an inference from Scripture on this point, but there is no fact which would require millions of years.
Unfortunately, certain Bible-believing Christians have adopted extreme, negative, and unworthy attitudes toward all scientific discoveries which seem to contradict their own interpretation of particular Bible statements. Therefore, many laymen have erroneously concluded that they must choose between believing the Genesis account of creation and geological findings of today. It is the popular belief that the Bible and science conflict, that intelligence is on the side of unbelief, and that in our day only childish, naive, or uneducated people still trust the contents of the Bible.
This is not so. The nineteenth century, as well as our twentieth century, includes the names of some of the most brilliant scientists who accept the Bible as having been protected from error by the overruling providence of God even though written in the language of the day when the prophets wrote it.
Some examples are: J. W Dawson, John Pye Smith, James Dana, Louis Pasteur, Hugh Miller, James Orr, and Asa Gray. Sir Isaac Newton of the seventeenth-eighteenth century was also a profound believer in
God as Creator of the universe and in the divine inspiration of Genesis.
B. Evolution and the Six Workdays of God
On the other hand, if it is true that certain interpretations of Bible statements lack solid scriptural foundation, it is also true that many so-called "scientific"' statements lack scientific proof. We need to recognize clearly that much of the built-up conclusions of many present-day scientists concerning the origin of earth and of life are founded upon Darwin's hypothesis of evolution which at best is only a "probability statement," confirmation of which is not as high as it usually is made-out to be. According to some contemporary thinkers, evolution may turn out to be the most amazing and widespread hoax of the twentieth century. Even as creation lies outside the scope of science, being an unobservable,
nonrepeatable event, evolution, too, must be received by faith, lacking as it does substantiating facts as a basis. After one hundred years of effort and research, the missing links are still missing, the longed-for facts have failed to be unearthed, and evolution remains as much a theory as ever.
C. Different Interpretations of "Day"
When the Bible states that God created the world in six successive days, how are we to interpret the word "day"? Do we take "day" to indicate a day of twenty-four hours or do we take "day" to mean an indefinite period of time, such as the "day of the Lord"? Or to quote Saint Augustine, do we take the word "day" to speak of "God-divided days," not "sun-divided days"?
1. The "age-day" or "divine-day" interpretation.
Two of the greatest Bible-believing geologists on the North American continent during the nineteenth century, J. W Dawson and James Dana, as well as others of today, adopt the view that Genesis 1 records the broad outline of the successive creative acts of God in bringing the universe through the various stages from chaos to man. According to this viewpoint, the creative "day" of Genesis may also be taken to represent a period of time of undesigned length which marked a beginning and an ending. Some scriptural grounds for allowing the possibility of
a. Different uses of "day" in Genesis 1 and 2
Genesis 1:5a - It means daylight.
Genesis 1:5b - It means a period marked out by evening and morning.
(This could mean simply a beginning and ending.)
Genesis 1:14a - It means daylight as opposed to darkness of night.
Genesis 1:14b - ("and for days")It means a twenty-four-hour day.
Genesis 2:4 - It indicates the entire period of creation.
b. Use of "day" in other Scripture
In other passages of both Old an New Testaments, the word used for "day" often obviously denotes a period of time (and not just twenty-four hours). When Old Testament prophets refer to "the day of the Lord," this indicates the whole period of end times. The "day of judgment” will last for much longer than twenty-four hours. The "day of salvation" has already lasted nearly two thousand years (II Cor. 6:2)
c. God's measure of a "day”
If the days of creation were the "workdays of God," should they not be measured by divine measure? Peter obviously referred to Psalm 90:4 when he declared, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (II Peter 3:8). Bible students who interpret this word "day," used in Genesis 1 to indicate an indefinite period of time, presume a harmony between the geological records and the biblical creation narrative. Thus Professor Rendle Short writes, "The astonishing coincidence of the scientific order and of the Biblical order of creation seems to indicate that the Biblical days correspond to periods of geological time" (Modern Discovery and the Bible, page 99).
2. The twenty-four-hour day interpretation
Most of the uses of the Hebrew word for day, yom, mean a standard day of twenty-four hours. A significant number of believers throughout the ages have generally held to a twenty-four-hour day for the six creation days because that is the most obvious literal interpretation of the passage, especially in the context of evening and morning. There seems to be a renewed interest in this interpretation. Other issues favoring the twenty-four-hour day interpretation are as follows:
a. Inconsistent geological age
Some claim that there is a coincidence of scientific order and biblical order, but the actual order seldom fits and, in any event, the geological column is not consistent anywhere in the world. In many
places the so-called older forms are found on top of or admixed with younger forms and the dating of fossil-bearing rocks is by selection of dominant fossils with inconsistent fossil remains out of supposed sequences in the same rock being generally ignored.
b. Testimony of Moses -Exodus 20:11
"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
c. Omnipotence of God
Since God is infinite and all-powerful, there is no reason to presume that God would need more than twenty-four hours for each series of creative acts. Since the theory of great geological eras was developed to accommodate the theory of evolution and vice versa and the geological findings can be explained by the Noahic flood, alternatives to the twenty-four-hour day are not mandatory. A twenty-four-hour day is not unreasonable.
IV. THE SIX WORKDAYS OF GOD
Before moving into the study of God's creative work on each of the six "days," it is good to
remember that God "in three persons is involved in creation.
The SPIRIT of God moved upon the earth (Genesis 1:2). Lesson I mentions that the second part of the second verse of this chapter makes us aware of a preparatory "movement," "vibration," or "brooding" of the "Spirit of God" upon the dark, formless chaos of the primeval earth, similar to that by which the Holy Spirit prepares the heart of fallen, chaotic humanity to hear God's recreative word in respect to salvation.
Almighty God speaks (Genesis 1:3). Throughout this chapter, God's almighty word issues forth in "God said.. . ." God's word in contrast to every human word is powerful and possesses creative potency. He said, "Let there be light," and immediately glorious, beautiful light streamed into the chaotic darkness. This began that series of creative operations by which God transformed the earth from a vast formless waste into the world of ordered beauty eminently suited to become the dwelling place of man.
All things were made by Jesus Christ, the "Word" (John 1:1-4). The word Word is used to designate God's Son–Jesus Christ–who John declares was "with God" and "was God" in the beginning (John 1:1). Indeed, John 1:3 declares that "though him all things were made [Jesus Christ, the Word]; without him nothing was made that has been made." Colossians 1:16-17 states that "all things were created by him and for him," and Hebrews 1:3 states that Jesus Christ continues to sustain "all things by his powerful word."
Therefore, the Bible teaches that, at the time of creation, the triune God–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–moved as One in all the creative fiats of God.
A. First Day-Light - Genesis 1:3-5
1. The problem of light apart from the sun
Some persons are Puzzled by the fact that God caused light to penetrate to the earth during the first day; whereas, it is not until the fourth day (Genesis 1:14) that the sun, moon, and stars are introduced in their relationship to the earth. However, according to the modern cosmological theories of science, the gaseous mass of which the systems of suns and stars later developed had a very high temperature of many thousands of degrees. Therefore, if this is true, the whole of matter in the universe, in those first stages, may have been a glowing mass and a great fiery light. Modern astrophysicists declare that light existed
for immensely long periods before the sun, moon, and stars came into being. Even today, there is light which would appear to exist in the universe apart from the sun. Such is the light of the aurora borealis and the light of phosphorescence, etc. How interesting it is to note that, whereas it is only in comparatively recent discoveries that scientists have affirmed that light exists in the universe apart from the sun. Moses, by the inspiration of God, declared this same fact thousands of years before Christ! The French physicist and astronomer Jean Baptiste Biot was driven by this to state, "Either Moses was as profoundly instructed in the sciences as in our century or he was inspired." Although Genesis 1:14 cannot be construed as stating literally that the earth was formed before the sun (see lesson notes on the "fourth day"), there are modern scientists who today are open to such a viewpoint. Professor C. Payne-Gaposehkin of Harvard states, "The sun (as we know it) may indeed be younger than the earth, not older" (Stars in the Making, page 107).
2. The effect of light-separation from darkness
Whatever the means used, God's light, which streamed onto the dark, formless chaos, was beautiful. God called it good–beautiful and beneficial (Genesis 1:4). However, when darkness and light are mixed, there is still but a gloomy condition of twilight. Therefore, God clearly separated the light from the darkness. He appointed the light to be "day" and the darkness to be "night." Every twenty-four hours we see something of this creative act of God repeated. Although our present night is limited in quantity by the arrival of the sunrise and limited in quality by the moon and stars, the day will come when darkness and night are removed forever, when man's being is recreated to live in the beautiful light of God and the Lamb–unshadowed by any darkness at all. (See Revelation 21:23-25.)
3. The spiritual symbolism of light
It seems fitting that God's first day's work in regard to this earth should be that of the giving of light, for
light also has a symbolical meaning. The very essence of God's being is said to be light both in a visible
sense and in a moral sense.
For example, when God revealed Himself to His people, as recorded in the Old Testament, His presence was manifested in a shining cloud–brilliant light–which was glorious, awe-inspiring, beautiful. (See Exodus 13:21; 40:34-35.) In the New Testament when God revealed His presence at the transfiguration, it as also in a shining cloud (Matthew 17:5). After His resurrection and ascension, our Lord
Jesus Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus road in light far brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13). Psalm 104:2 speaks of light being the garment of God, and Job 38:24 records its creation as mystery.
However, this visible, shining light by which God sometimes manifested His visible presence is but the outshining of the glory of His moral being. When the apostle John would describe the absolute holiness and moral perfection of God's perfection of God’s person, he wrote, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). Jesus Christ called Himself "the light of the world" (John 8:12). He also promised that whoever followed Him should no longer walk in darkness but should have the "light of
life" by which to walk. By contrast, He stated that, morally speaking, fallen humanity "loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19-21). Paul explains that although most people do not know it, all unbelievers, have actually been blinded by the god of this world so that they do not see
the light of the gospel of Christ who is the image of God (II Corinthians 4:4). Paul goes on to state that the same God of Genesis 1:3 (who then commanded the light to shine out of darkness in the physical world) has now shined (spiritually) into the hearts of believers "to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6).
The time will come when physical and spiritual darkness will be done away. In Revelation 21:23 where God speaks of a renewed earth, it is stated that the city will have no need of the light of sun and moon to shine in it. "For the glory of God gives it light, and the lamb is its lamp."
4. Evening and morning of the first day Genesis 1:5
It is interesting to note that in the Genesis record, "evening" always precedes morning. (See Genesis 1:5.) When God created light, this ended the previous reign of darkness and brought into being the first day. However, seeing that the sun and moon do not appear (from earth's point of view) until the fourth day, it is not necessary to think of a literal twenty-four-hour day at this early point in God's program. This phrase at this point of creation indicates a "day of God" rather than a day in our present human-calendar divided into minutes and hours. This means that the beginning of each new act of God is called "evening" and its termination is called "morning," However, God may have already started the earth in rotation with His created light used for the first three days before the sun was established.
5. Personal application regarding the first day's divine work
Could your own past or present life also be described as being "without form and void"?
Are you now aware of a life-giving movement of God's Holy Spirit toward you, drawing you toward God and thus preparing your heart to choose to receive God's spiritual light? (In contrast to earth which is inanimate, a person must choose whether he will respond to the Spirit's moving and whether or not he will receive Jesus, the light of the world, into his darkened heart and life.)
The first result of this is that light shows up the former darkness. Jesus, the spiritual light, separates from darkness. A new way of life, of walking in the light, as described in I John 1:7, then begins. Have you ever experienced this receiving of Jesus into your heart and suddenly seeing that which you could not understand or appreciate before? What do you plan to do today with the darkness in regard to emotions, mind, or actions which this light reveals and from which God would separate you?
(Read John 3:19-21.)
Have you experienced God's creation of a spiritual new day in your life?
The evening represents the past, but now that light has come, will you enter with Him into a new day, separated from the former darkness and completely reoriented?
B. Second through Sixth Days
The second through sixth days will be covered in the next lesson.
BSF - GENESIS - Lesson 2 - daily bible study with questions for group discussion
FIRST DAY: Read all the lesson notes on Lesson 2.
1. (a) As you read. check or underline any sentence or thought expressed in these notes which was applicable to you. Be prepared to share how you applied it and with what results.
(b) What in the lecture (not in the notes) did you apply to your life?
2. After reading the notes on Genesis 1:2a, which of the two explanations do you hold? Give reasons.
3. After reading the notes and hearing the lecture, what do you believe the word day, means (as used in Genesis I and 2:1-4)?
SECOND DAY: Compare Job 26 and Psalm 104 with Genesis 1.
4. To which days in the creation story does Job 26 refer?
5. Which verses of Psalm 104 fit in with which days of Genesis 1?
6. Memorize God's main work on each of the six days in their correct order.
THIRD DAY: Reread in depth Genesis 1:9-19.
7. What repeated phrase seems to conflict with some of the hypotheses in Darwin's theory of evolution?
8. (Challenge) There is light on the first day, but the sun, moon, and stars are not "made" until the fourth day. Can you think of any explanation for this?
9. List the five functions of the sun, moon, and stars as given in Genesis l:14-18.
10.Write beside each of the following verses different ways in which these heavenly bodies are also "signs” which point us toward something God would have us see:
(a) Psalm 8:3
(b) Psalm 19:2-6
(c) Jeremiah 8:7
(d) Joel 2:30-31
(e) Matthew 2:2
(f) Matthew 16:1-4
(g) Acts 2:19-20
(h) Romans 1:19-20
(i) Revelation 8: 1 2
FOURTH DAY: Reread Genesis 1:20-23 with Scripture references given in the following questions.
11. What important new movement in God's creative work is connected with the word create, used for the second time in Genesis 1 on the fifth day?
12. What command is given to sentient (feeling) creatures, according to Genesis 1:22, which is also repeated in Genesis 1:28 and reiterated in a spiritual sense in John 15:1-16?
13.(a) What must a person do in order to fulfill the spiritual command given in John 15:5, 7-8, 16?
(Note: This command is linked to a promise.)
(b) (Personal) What have you done to obey this spiritual command?
(c) (Personal) In what ways have you experienced the power of the promise?
FIFTH AND SIXTH DAYS: Read Genesis 1:24-31.
14. Give at least five things said of man's creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
15. What new departure in God's creative work is clearly indicated by the word create now used for the third time in this chapter? Give verse.
16. The Bible describes God as a Trinity-"one God in three persons."
(a) Which verses, words, or phrases in Genesis 1 seem to present God as a “Trinity”?
(b) Skim John 14 and 16. What does Jesus teach us about the "Trinity"?
(c) How do John 1:1; John 14:7, and John 14:16-17 emphasize the same truth?
(No homiletics for discussion leaders this week.)