In Genesis 1 we have an account of God’s creative activities. They are as follows:
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. 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. And God said: “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water”. So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky”. And there was evening and there was morning - the second day. And God said: “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear”. And it was so. God called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters He called “sea”.
And God saw that is 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 various kinds”. And it was so. The Land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning - the third day. And God said: “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night. And let them serve as signs to mark the seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth”. And it was so. God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night, He also made the stars.
God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning - the fourth day.
And God said: “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the waters teem, according to their kinds. And every winged bird according to its kind.” And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said: “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning - the fifth day. And God said: “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds; livestock, creatures that move along the ground and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good. Then God said: “Let us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said: “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning - the sixth day.
There are some expressions I would like to look at. First of all the expression:
“In the beginning God…” From these words we can know that it was God who thought up this creation process. It was not just thought up by an angel, nor did it just come about accidentally by some forces of nature. No it was God’s idea from the very beginning. We will have noticed that this creation process was being activated by God Himself and not by an outside agent or force that He might have selected to do the work for Him. For it was “God who said……” These are important words, for they show us who was speaking here. It was not a man who said… Neither was it an angel who said…. No, it was “God who said…” And please note too the statement “It was so…..” Whatever God said happened exactly as He meant it to happen without even the smallest of mistakes. It was all done with great ease and in absolute confidence that what He spoke would come into being. Another expression we see used throughout the text is: “It was good“….. Each time God had created something He was pleased with what He had created and He called it “good.” The final expression appears only once and that is: “It was very good”… Although God was satisfied with all that He had created He was not yet very satisfied. He had still something more to create. This was going to be His final creation, His masterpiece, namely: the creation of the man and the woman. And it is after their creation that God was very satisfied for He called His work “very good” and afterwards He went to rest.
We will next look at Genesis Two. In this Chapter we have once again the Creation Account but this time we are given a detailed outline of the creation of the man and the woman. We read in Genesis 2:7-9
The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a Garden in the East, in Eden, and there He put the man He had formed.The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food, in the middle of the Garden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil….
We pick it up again in verse 15 of Genesis Two and we’ll read it through to verse 23 of Genesis Two.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man: “You are free to eat from any Tree in the Garden, but you must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.” The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs, then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made the woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.
I just want to mention some things in general in relation to these chapters before going into some of the details of these two chapters. First of all, these two chapters are unique in Scripture in that they describe a time in history when everything and everyone was perfect, when sin had not yet entered the world and particular traditions and cultures had not as yet been developed. Today we do not live in such a perfect world, though we are looking forward to a time in the future when sin once again will be removed from the world as described for us in Revelation 21. You could say we are living in a time between Genesis One and Two and Revelation 21. This means that our understanding of events in Genesis One and Two can be affected by our particular mindsets, which might be influenced by traditions and cultures of the time we live in. Therefore, we must be careful not to read into the text something which the text does not say.
Furthermore, Scripture is a very honest book and often describes the behaviour and actions of a now sinful people in a certain place and at a certain time, not because God approved of everything that happened, but because God wanted people to know that He was a God who was very involved with His created world, as He still is today. His involvement happened in the midst of the many man-made traditions and cultures, which developed as time went on, though God is above all cultures and traditions. In the Old Testament times we see that God was involved in this world in particular through one nation, the Jewish nation, whom He had given His Laws and who was to be a light among other nations.
In the New Testament we see God’s involvement in this world through people out of many nations, who had come to Him through Christ and who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, were to be a light among the nations. Where then do we, as men and women in the 21st Century, fit in? Do we belong to the Old Testament people, the Jewish nation, which would mean that we would have to keep all the Laws, as prescribed by Moses? Thankfully, the answer is no, for we, who are believers, have come to God through Christ, which means we are to see ourselves as New Testament believers, as part of the Body of Christ, the Church.
As New Testament believers can we find ourselves written about in the New Testament? Yes and no. That is a confusing answer, you might say. And you are right. However, let me explain why. You see, certain parts in the New Testament do apply to believers of all places and all times, including us today. But there are other parts in the New Testament which, though we can learn from them as we can learn from the Old Testament, really deal with particular issues which have arisen because of the culture or traditions of the people of that place and that time. We need to understand that even people, who had become believers and had the Power of God working in them and through them, could still be influenced by their particular culture and traditions which in turn could affect the way they understood and preached the Gospel. Many of the Letters were written because of exactly such problems. For instance the Letters to the Corinthians, the Letter to the Galatians and the Letters to Timothy, which are actually Letters about the church in Ephesus, were all Letters Paul had written to deal with issues related to each particular church at a particular time. This means that, though we can learn from these Letters, certain sections of these Letters may not necessarily apply to us, in the way that they did to the people they were written to. And we, therefore, may not fit in these pages of Scripture for we have not been and never will be a part of the Corinthian church, the Galatian church or the Ephesian church. Instead, we are believers of the 21st Century Church, wherever we are.
1. In Genesis 1, we have an account of God’s creative activities. What was His masterpiece?
2. When did God call His creation work very good?
3. Where did God place the man after He had created him?
4. What are the names of the two Trees in the middle of the Garden?
5. What Tree was the man told he was not to eat of?
6. What would happen to him if he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
7. Was it good for the man to be alone?
8. What did the Lord make for the man?
9. Is the world as perfect today as it was at the time of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2?
10.Which nation did God use to be a light in this world in the Old Testament?
11.Who did God use to be a light in this world in the New Testament?
12.Do all sections of the Letters in the New Testament apply to us, as 21st Century believers?