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Creation’s Story (8)

R W Cargill, St Monans


The inspired record of Genesis 1 contains all that we need to know about the creation of the universe. It does not contain all that we might like to know about this fascinating and interesting subject, for we are naturally curious about matters which affect us and our environment. But however much we may enquire or attempt to research and reason it out, we come up against huge difficulties. By any timescale it happened so long ago. Present conditions are very likely to be quite different from and therefore irrelevant to the conditions at the beginning because change and interruption is the norm of both human and geological history. Many theories have been proposed, but all contain huge assumptions, extrapolations and uncertainties, and as we have seen, some of the most popular ones contain errors and inconsistencies with established knowledge.

It would be better to ask someone who knows, someone reliable who was there to observe it. During the work of creation, we read repeatedly "and God saw…". Here is the reliable eyewitness account of it all, the only one, recorded for our benefit in as much detail as God knew we needed, and in such a way as readers of Scripture down the centuries could take in. Every attempt at filling out the details, or at proposing alternatives suffers from the great disadvantage of not having being there to observe it. Science itself depends upon the recording of actual observations: what has reliably been seen and measured. In legal disputes, reliable eyewitness accounts carry much more weight than deductions, conjectures, and attempted reconstructions. Because "God saw" and "it is written", we can have every confidence in the truth of Genesis 1.

Created or Made?

In Genesis 1 and 2 the word "created" (Heb BARA) occurs at three specific points, in 1.1, 1.21, 1.27 (3 times), whereas the word "make/made" (Heb ASA) occurs more often, five times each in chs.1 & 2. The words are distinguishable and their meanings diverge, but we must not read too much into this. It has been proposed that the three uses of the word "created" denote key stages in the work, i.e. the "heavens and the earth" on Day 1, animal life of various types on Day 5, and man on Day 6. These are clearly important, new beginnings of particular things which will feature significantly in the rest of Scripture. But we must not deduce that everything else was not new, or somehow were not created!

Words have meaning only within their contexts. So we find that "created" and "made" are often used interchangeably, even in these verses. Thus in 1.26 we read, "let us make man…", and in v.27 we have, "So God created man"; in 1.1 "God created the heavens and the earth" and in 2.4 "God made the earth and the heavens"; also in 2.3, "God created and made" (literally "created to make"). It is the same throughout the Bible, e.g., "all things were made by Him" (Jn 1.3), and "Thou hast created all things" (Rev 4.11); God is "our maker" (Ps 95.6), "our Creator" (Eccl 12.1); "it is he that hath made us" (Ps 100.3), He "created", "formed", and "made" us (Is 43.7). Thus it is not a question of anything being created or made, it is that everything was created and made. "All things were created by him, and for him" (Col 1.16) and "without him was not any thing made that was made" (Jn 1.3). Whichever word you use, the work is all His, and He has all the glory.

Progression and Purpose

All of God’s works have a progression and a purpose, as may be traced in Genesis 1. Modern descriptions of the universe tend to emphasise its vastness, and the relative smallness of our galaxy, our solar system, our planet, and ourselves (and David thought that too, one night - see Ps 8.3-4), but the view of Genesis 1 is clearly earth-centred and indeed focussed on man from the beginning. Since we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, God’s plans centred on putting man into the world; it was no afterthought. But it was only when an environment suitable for him was in place that God said, "Let us make man…". So from Day 1 to Day 6 this environment was being prepared a stage at a time. Let us look at the progression of events, as these verses take us from the universe (v.1) to the dry land of earth (v.10) and to Adam and Eve (v.27).

Broadly speaking, during the first three days God was forming and fitting a home suitable for man, and in the next three He was furnishing it with fullness and variety. Man needs somewhere stable and benign, with light to see, air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat – so God provides these during Days 1, 2 and 3. The water-covered planet in total darkness is clearly unsuitable, waters must be put in their place, an expansive atmosphere and dry land are made, and a food supply got ready. But mankind will also require a means of tracking time, of having manageable amounts of it, and also a sense of direction for his travels, provided in the sky on Day 4. Man’s home will be a beautiful place with a wonderful variety of other creatures all around, living and moving and breeding, myriads of them, in the sea, in the air, and on the land, made on Days 5 and 6. Man will share earth with them all, but will be different from them all, indeed given dominion over them and stewardship of them.

In addition to this, Adam himself also has a special need. He needs a helper, not to be found among even the most sociable of other creatures, but specially made by God - Eve, his true match and mate. Above all, Adam and all mankind need God, for man was made in God’s likeness, with a living soul which no other creature has, able to communicate and share meaningful experiences.

So each day’s work underpinned the next. Thus, light is fundamental, a form of energy upon which every natural process depends; water is necessary but it has to be in the right place; dry land with its vegetation is available as a habitat and a food source before animals and man will require them. God did it all in the correct, logical order, according to His plan and purpose.

Separation and Distinction

What an amazing change has occurred during the course of Genesis 1. By the breath of His mouth (Ps 33.6), the work of His fingers (8.3), the skill of His hands (119.73), in the wisdom of His mind (104.24), and the love of His heart God has produced a masterpiece called man in a world he can enjoy. It is all beautiful because of the separations and distinctions which God produced, different from the first monotonous black watery waste. He has separated light from darkness, water from water, day from night, kinds of living creatures from other kinds, male from female. Each of these is different because God made them that way.

"After his/their kind" occurs 10 times in the chapter (and subsequently appears only in Gen 6 & 7, Leviticus 11, and Deuteronomy 14, which is significant). It means that each animal, bird, fish, insect, tree, plant etc. is a distinct species. Within that species time would bring about altered characteristics in response to environmental pressures or selective breeding, but one species will not change into another one. Change within species has been observed – that is the only true evolution there is. Change from one species to another, however, no matter how long a time is given, does not happen, has not been observed. That "evolution" is speculation and theorising.

Male and female of relevant species were also created, distinct and necessary for each other and to produce future generations. Reproduction and survival of the species depends totally upon the matching and complementary functions of each from the start. Successful breeding with partly developed male and female is impossible – the species would become extinct! Evolution does not have a way round this. It is just so sensible and obvious that male and female had to be created to begin with!

The most distinct of all was man. God made other creatures in huge numbers at once, but He lovingly formed man and then woman, one unique pair. Distinguished by having a "living soul", in the likeness of God, they were special. God blessed all the creatures of the sea and the air on Day 5, but when He blessed man on Day 6 it was for a greater purpose. All God’s works would praise Him (Ps 145.10), but only man could and would worship Him for ever. That is why He made us.

To be continued.


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