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by Fred P Miller
The Bible is the inspired word of God. And we are reading in the first chapter of Genesis an outline of the order in which the universe was created by God and then how He made the earth to became a planet for habitation. Other beginnings follow. If I were to surmise how this book came to be written, where it was written, and under what circumstances and what its original purpose was I would begin with Moses and the Children of Israel wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai for forty years. The question that is being answered is directed to the Children of Israel. They asked Moses, "What are we doing here in this wilderness wandering about for forty years." "How did we get here?" "Where have we come from?" and "Where are we going?" And "Why?" The rest of the book is Moses answer to these questions. Moses answer starts with, 'I will tell you how we got here,' "In the beginning."
Genesis speaks of beginnings, many beginnings. The initial beginning is in verse one. Ask your self, when did this beginning take place? The answer, the beginning is timeless. Time is difficult to define without mentioning the duration of some kind of motion or change. It is really a philosophical subject. Time does not exist outside of the physical universe and inside, only as it is relative to some motion. Genesis 1:1 does not contain the beginning of time for the earth. The first that "time" begins for the earth can not be before the earth had morning and evening as described in verse four below. There was no morning and evening in the original creation because the earth was in a chaotic condition and light did not penetrate to the surface of the planet far below the roiling clouds. Therefore the original creation as far as the earth is concerned was timeless. There were no days and nights in the period of the chaotic condition. In describing the following texts we just want to see what the text says. The concept, held by many, that the whole creation took place in six creative days, does not hold up in examining the text. Our first proposition is that verse one is not in the six creative days. The first creative day begins with the words "let there be light." There is no earth-time before that moment. When the text says, "There was evening, there was morning, day one." time begins for the earth. Was there anything before there was evening and morning when light penetrated to the surface of the earth? Yes. There were the heavens and a chaotic earth.
After verse two, as is seen below, the text concentrates on the six creative days of bringing order out of the chaos in the earth and making the earth a habitable planet with life. The text looks at this six day period of change from the stand point of one standing on the earth and looking out even though there is no one there at the inception of the commands to change, and not from the point of looking in or down from outside.. This is an important point and will clear many misconceptions of what the Bible actually says about the initial creation and the ensuing six "creative" days.
In reading for understanding attention should also be given to the different verbs that are used to describe the changes that God is said to have brought about in the physical creation. These words are Create, Make or Made, and Form or Formed or Fashioned,. and to some extent "Let there be." Only the first word "create" carries with it the idea of bringing something into existence that had no previous existence. Although this is not exclusive it is the main meaning of the word. Make or Made, and Form or Formed. and to some extent "Let there be " are all expressions that denote changes in that which has already been created. For instance "let there be." is used when the open space that we call the atmosphere in which birds are to fly is brought into existence. "Let there be" is also used when the waters covering the earth are formed into oceans by the appearance of dry land, thus the change is wrought in something that already existed. And "let there be light" does not mean that light was created at that moment but that it was to be allowed where it had not been before, i.e. the surface of the earth. There is simply a change of state in that light then penetrated to the surface of the earth where it had not been before and the change in the waters is not bringing into existence a new thing but changing the condition of what had already been "created.". The change is not a creation but a Making or Forming. When the text says "and God made" this will introduce changes in things that are already created and "God formed" is used in the same way. As to mankind he "created" them male and female after his own image, "in the image of God created he them" but he "formed" their bodies out of pre-existing material. Pay close attention to these words and the text will make more sense and you will not make claims about the creation that the text does not support.
It is the opinion of the writer that false claims about what Genesis chapter one says, are similar to the mediaeval church insisting that the Bible taught earth centric universe. I believe that the Genesis one says that the beginning of God bringing order out of chaos and the creation of life took place a matter of thousands of years ago. But that the original creation was before day one of the earth and that chaos prevailed in a timeless period. People of faith say, God could have done immediately in six days all of it if He wanted to." I believe that too, that God could do anything. But did He? And does Genesis say all the Galaxies, and manifold cosmic phenomena were created during the six days? Or does it say that all the ujniverse was brought into existence in one primordial moment and existed in a timeless period during which the earth was in a chaotic state. After which God turned his attention to the earth. What does the Genesis record say? That's the question.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
What beginning? What was not begun in this beginning? Was God before the beginning? Yes. Were angels in existence before this beginning? Yes. Was Satan in existence before this beginning? Yes. It seems obvious that the "beginning" spoken of here is not a beginning of any heavenly powers or dominions. But that this verse speaks of the creation or beginning of the physical universe only. It should be understood that the word translated heaven here is a Hebrew plural form. It should read: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Many translations including the RSV, ASV, NKJV, Rotherham, etc. etc. render the word as plural.
What then is included in this beginning? What "heavens" are spoken of? If the heaven was created in the beginning does it include the third heaven spoken of by Paul where conditions are not governed by the laws of the physical universe. (See 2 Cor 12:4) That seems to be answered rhetorically above already as a no. God's and angelic abodes are not being described here. The cosmos is being described here. But not the sky which is called "heaven" in verse six and was not formed until the second day. It was not "created in the beginning" when the earth was a chaos.
If God created the heavens in the beginning does that include stars? The planets? The sun? The moon? Are the galaxies and quasars, novae, nebulae, comets, and all cosmic phenomena included in "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?" If the heavens mean the physical universe then the sun, moon, planets and stars came into existence in the beginning when the earth also was a part of the initial creation. The earth was created in the beginning when all the other cosmic elements were created according to this verse. But it was not habitable.
2And the earth was without form, and void;
This verse introduces a literary form that will be continued throughout the book of Genesis. That is the explanation of the total picture and then moving on to the something specific in the whole just described. The heavens and the earth are spoken of in verse one and verse two begins with "and the earth" From this point on in this chapter the earth will be the central subject and all other heavenly bodies will be mentioned only they relate to the changes taking place during the six days on the earth. In verse 2 we have left the rest of the cosmos that exists and now we see only the earth as it existed from the beginning. The condition described is of a chaotic shapeless and formless and lifeless mass.
How long did this condition last? As mentioned above this condition lasted until God began to bring order out of chaos in six "creative" days. The chaotic condition is in a timeless period. It is not included in the first day. There is no way to know "how long" this condition lasted. There is no measurement of time in the description "The earth was shapeless and formless." It could be any amount of time but there was no clock to measure the time.
The so called "gap theory" allowing for a period of time between verses one and two often makes an argument based on the Hebrew verb "to be" and suggests that the earth "became" void and the theory speaks of a pre- adamic race. There is no evidence in the language itself that this kind of a theory is valid. Never the less there was a "time"? When the earth was chaotic after which God, through the Word, turned his attention to the earth. "And the earth.............................. was without form, and void"
and darkness was on the face of the deep.
We are now describing the earth, not the cosmos. The text does not say the cosmos was dark. It says that the earth was shapeless and formless and darkness was on the face of the abyss. The majority of places the Hebrew word Tehom, or abyss, appears in the Bible it refers to the ocean depths. Thus the darkness is described as a condition of the earth covered by roiling seas, mists and gaseous clouds. Somewhere in the depths of the waters that covered the whole of the earth there was solid ground but only darkness covered the face of the waters and the abyss all the way to the ground. The darkness here is limited to the earth, other places are not being described, only face of the deep on the earth. The text does not say the universe was dark, it says the earth was dark.
Let's take time to look at this again. In verse two the narration turns exclusively to the earth which is described as dark to the bottom of the abyss. No light penetrates to the surface of the earth. From the rest of this verse through verse four the darkened condition is pictured as being changed. When God said, "let there be light" where was the darkness that was to be removed? What is described in this text, is that the surface of the earth received light to the bottom of the abyss,-- the chaotic mists, dense clouds, and occluded waters were settled and partially cleared so that light now penetrated to the surface of the planet as through thick but opaque clouds.. Look again and see if this is not what the text says.
And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters. 3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
When God said let there be light, what did He "light up?" Look again at the text and decide where the darkness was. Was it not from the outer surface of the roiling waters to the bottom of the abyss and the surface of the earth? And when the darkness was dispelled by the light what did God call the light? Look at the next verses.
4And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
"God saw the light;" what light? The light that He had just brought into existence on the face of the earth dispelling the darkness that had been the condition of the earth previous to this point. And now he calls that light "day." Is there any light called day in any other part of the universe? The text is not speaking of light anywhere else in the universe. It is day-light on the earth that is spoken of here. The text does not say that God created light in the universe on the first day, but that light was "allowed" (let there be) to cause day and night to begin on a chaotic earth which also implies rotation under a source of light that produced morning and evening.. It is from this point, and not before, that "time" begins for the earth. Let us look at it again; day one begins with the words "let there be light." Since a chaotic earth existed before the beginning of day one, the chaos is not a part of day one so therefore neither is the original creation a part of day one.
6And God said, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7And God made the expanse, and divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse and it was so. 8And God called the expanse Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
It is said that before God made anything he made a place to put it. This is the beginning of making a world fit to live in. The description of the earth given above sees all the liquids and gases associated with the primordial earth as mixed together. At first it was in one chaotic shapeless mass and so roiled up that no light was able to penetrate to the surface of the solid part beneath the waters. The first day was given to just one change and that was making the surface of the earth receive light and the rotation making night and day made the first day. The second day, this one, also deals with one great change. The atmosphere in which birds will fly is not created, but is brought into existence by the fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be an expanse." The waters covering the planet are divided into two parts according to the description given to us. On this day, one part still covers the land but the second part is now suspended over the atmosphere. This cosmology is given extensive description by many authors. What ever the make up of the water over the atmosphere, either liquid, gaseous vapor or ice crystals or more probably a combination of all,- there is described here a water barrier between the outer space and the atmosphere.
The benefits to the first world's ecology (which without doubt disappeared at the time of the flood in the time of Noah) are described by more than a few scholars with scientific credentials. Some of the most beneficial conditions that would have been produced by the vapor layer are: the conditions which no doubt contributed to the lush vegetation, larger and denser, that fossils especially in coal deposits attest to. More importantly the water barrier would have filtered out radiation and cosmic rays and ultra violet light which contribute to the aging process. This may account for the longevity of man seen before the barrier disappeared at the time of Noah's flood. A third benefit of such a water barrier around the whole of the globe would be a green house effect. In a green house there is highly ionized air because the sun light continues to bounce around and so in the earth the light would be reflected from the surface to the cloud barrier and back. In such an atmosphere plant life flourishes. A fourth benefit would be that the mild climate caused by such an effect would be global. This may account for the fossil life, coal deposits, and large elephants called mammoths found in polar regions, including Antarctica What ever else one may want to add or detract from this explanation the Bible text describes the second "creative" day as producing an atmosphere over an earth covered with water and water in what ever form over the atmosphere. The atmosphere is called heaven in this description. Why, will be made clear on the fourth day.
As we go along we will be able to see that the water barrier at the time of the second day was still opaque. It allowed light to enter but if one were on such a sea below he would not have been able to see out any more than one can see the sun moon or stars when the sky is overcast with very dense clouds. Just so the world would have looked at the end of the second "erev boker," Hebrew for evening morning. Thus one standing on the earth would experience evening and morning but not see the source of light.
9And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth: and it was so. 12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind: and God saw that it was good. 13And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Again "let there be" is a phrase in which God brings into existence new conditions in that which already exists. This includes even the vegetable matter which is made from minerals from the original creation. Nothing new had been added to the original creation but the state of some elements have been changed. The fact that the continents rose out of the depths and basins were formed to be called seas or oceans is a contradiction of the theory that all the continents were connected at one time and broke away and floated around drifting to their current positions. Even though this position is called science and the ridiculousness of the idea should be easily seen with a lopsided earth with all the land mass including antarctica on one limited side of the planet and the rest, well, please, you visualize what they propose. It is obvious from real science, (that is, observation of and presentation the facts,) - that changes in the continents have taken place, For instance they are smaller than they were originally, which can be seen in the river valleys carved out through ordinary erosion in the continental shelves. The shelves were above water at some time in the past and the coast line of the continents is now further "in land.." Other facts like the Bering Strait land bridge attest to this fact too. Forget Continental Drift, it is a poorly thought out Theory.
14And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the heaven to divide 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 heaven to give light on the earth: and it was so. 16And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light and the stars also to rule the night. 17And God set them in the expanse of the heaven to give light on the earth, 18And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
To understand what the text says here let us give a literal interpretation to the description and then see that it will require further interpretation. The most important second look will use what I have said above about the point of view of the description. It is of one looking out and not of one looking in or down upon the earth. The literal interpretation says that the author of Genesis believed that on the fourth day the sun, moon and stars existed in the atmosphere because that is what the text says. They are described as lights in the firmament . Now we know that is not so, don't we? The sun is not in the atmosphere, but to one standing on the earth it appears to be in the atmosphere or sky on a cloudless day.
Just as the "let there be" referred to things that have previously been changed, then changes in the conditions of the sources of light that already exist are "made" here. That is two great lights and the stars are "made" for the earth, for times signs and seasons. "Let there be lights in the expanse or atmosphere" speaks also of things that already exist but previously did not appear to one standing on the surface of the earth.
So with the appearance of the sun, moon and stars. They were not created on the fourth day. They were created in the beginning. Relative to the earth they were "made" on the forth day. If the sun, moon and stars were created, as some erroneously think the text says, on the fourth day, then what did the heavens consist of which were created "in the beginning" with a chaotic earth? No, the meaning is that if a man were on the earth on the fourth day, the roiling nature of the water barrier changed. The dense opaque cloud barrier cleared.. Water vapor is transparent. The cloud barrier was made clear by the voice of the Almighty who said "Let there be." The sun and the moon and the stars appeared in the expanse of the heavens on the fourth day and from then on. From then on, other times could be recorded beside day one and day two and day three, like months and years. Also Times and seasons from the moon and the zodiac were possible from then on. (However there is no astronomical reason for what is the ubiquitous seven day week that makes up an important unit of time. more on this later.)
The KJV says "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. The Hebrew text does not support the translation "and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also." The way the KJV text reads it is like the stars are an after thought. Like: "Oh yes, He made the starts too." It is not at all like the original text. The word "also" is not in the text even though not italicized in the KJV. It simply is not there. What is there is a Hebrew form not used in English, a sign indicating that both "moon" and "stars" are the direct object of the verb "made" and infinitive "to rule." It reads properly "And He made the lesser light and the stars to rule the night. These changes took place on the fourth day as they would appear to an observer on the earth. The text does not say God created the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day. The text says God "made" the sun, moon, and stars, as lights for time, and seasons like months, years, equinox, solstice. etc. on the forth day. And He set them in the atmosphere.
20And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven. 21And God created great fish, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Sea creatures and fowl of all kinds were created on the fifth day. All these are living creatures with a brain and self locomotion. That all animals share "spirit" and "soul" with mankind will be noted later in the text. Perhaps this is why the word "create" is used here. That is, they contain some kind of "spirit." And they are able to reproduce after their own kind. This can not be said of created beings who existed before the creation of the physical universe. Angels, Satan, other spirit dominions and beings that are a part of God's creation can not reproduce themselves. This may be the reason for the use of the word "create" rather than "made" as was implied for vegetable life.
24And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and the animal of the earth after its kind: and it was so. 25And God made the animal of the earth after its kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creeps on the earth after its kind: and God saw that it was good.
The land animals were now brought forth from the earth and made and perhaps the word create is not used because there is now an order of animals in the sea and air who exist previously by one day who also share soul and spirit life. Thus large land animals come into existence. They are made after their own kind. There
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them
The word "create" (Hebrew arb barah) means to bring into existence that which had no previous existence is used three times in the chapter. One of these times is more difficult to fit into the definition just given but those two times in verse 27 relating to mankind are not. God did not "make them" after his image, He created them in his own image. No other creature in heaven or earth before or after has that distinction. Also He created them Male and Female which is a distinction that makes it clear that men and women are equal,-- bearing the image of God. This verse speaks of the spiritual nature of mankind not the physical.
. 28And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
There is no evidence that man has lost the dominion over the physical creation. With dominion comes responsibility. There is also no evidence in the word "replenish" that there was a pre adamic race or that the earth had previously been habitable and now was being resettled. The Hebrew word translated replenish does not carry with it a concept of doing it over again as is in the English translation. It simply means to fill up.
29And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30And to every animal of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
These verses say that all animal and human life was vegetarian in the original world and paradise into which they were initially brought into existence. The world was made with no provision for death for either man or beast. In the next chapter we will see that death did not enter the world until sin entered first.
1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And 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. 3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
Moses plan of this total narrative this should end of Chapter one here. Since this is the seventh of the seven creative days. Chapter two should begin with the next verse. Most to the six creative days were not a creation per se since most of the six days were spent in bringing order out of the chaotic condition of the earth. God made and formed and fashioned his original creation in the six "creative" days.