Creation, Part 1 (Days 1 through 3)
Your creation history
In the beginning your parents had you.
Now before you, your parents had parents. And their parents had parents. And so on. Many were the generations of parents before you.
And the power of God’s creation was evident through every generation of parents leading up to you. And then… there was you.
And it was good.
That’s what happened before you came on the scene.
Would we expect the same kind of creation story as we look at the creation of our world?
Let me present to you the first three days of our world’s creation story and let’s see how this creation history is different from your creation history.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)
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. (Gen. 1:2)
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gen. 1:3)
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Gen. 1:4)
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Gen. 1:5)
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” (Gen. 1:6)
So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. (Gen. 1:7)
God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. (Gen. 1:8)
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. (Gen. 1:9)
God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. (Gen. 1:10)
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. (Gen. 1:11)
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. (Gen. 1:12)
And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. (Gen. 1:13)
What existed before the creation of our world?
There is no creation history for God Himself because He has always been.
We know this by fast forwarding in the Grand Stories to the time when God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. God told Moses about the job God was giving him, namely to demand that Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt. And Moses, who was terribly uncertain about taking on this responsibility, said to God:
“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13)
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)
God’s eternal nature is seen in His reply to Moses.
God didn’t say, “I wasn’t, then I was, now I am.”
He said Moses was to use the name, “I am,” when describing Him to the Israelites. God reveals to Moses, and therefore to us, that He is always in the present tense.
We see both creative contrasts and separations in creation.
Verse 2 shows three contrasts. We see that God turns something formless into something formed. He turns something empty into something filled. He transforms something dark into something light.
In verses 2 through 6 we see more detail offered about the separation from darkness to light. God separates the light from the darkness. He names the light and darkness day and night. The result? Evening and morning. The first day.
Another separation is seen in verse 6.
God separates the waters. The waters began as a swirling mass of chaos as God’s Spirit hovered, like a protective mother bird, above it. In verse 7 God determines that there should be a “vault” (dome) to separate the two waters; those above the vault and those below it.
In verse 8 God names the vault. He calls it “sky.”
The result? Another evening and another morning. The second day.
Then in verse 9 we see God separating solids from liquids. He gathers the waters under the sky into one place and the dry ground appears. In verse 10 He names the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters “seas.”
Also on Day 3, God creates vegetation. In verse 11 God determines that vegetation should exist. There is something important for the future of this new world seen in the vegetation. God creates plants with seeds inside, and the fruit from trees also contain seeds.
At the end of this day of creation with seas and land and plants and trees, what happens? (Verse 13) There was evening and morning – the third day.
One very important concept in creation involves another type of separation. In verses 11 and 12 we read that God created that this reproducing vegation, “…according to their various kinds.”
Why different kinds? Variety!
Suppose the only vegetation God created were Lima Beans. Can you imagine how quickly humans would be complaining?
But the variety God creates provides different sources of nourishment, vitamins and minerals, colors and textures, sweets and sours, but also sheer enjoyment of food that humans can appreciate. Something as simple as variety reveals that God cares for His creation.
What might we learn about God’s character just from reading these first 13 verses of the Bible?
- He is extremely creative.
- He is extremely intelligent.
- He provides for all living things.
- He created so that life could produce more life.
- His design reveals His care.
- He planned ahead.
- He created the world as something good.
What does it mean that, after each day of creation, God “saw that it was good?”
I believe it reveals that the world is not a result of random chance. This world was created by a personal, caring God.
This creation account stands in opposition to ancient mythology. In most other creation accounts the earth is created from something. In the biblical creation account, however, God creates something out of nothing.
In creation myths, especially in the ancient world, the created earth became a place that is not good. Many of the myths indicate that one must endure the earth so they can eventually escape earth and make their way to the afterlife where finally they can enjoy freedom from the ills of the earth.
In these ancient myths, the afterlife is what mattered most.
The opposite seems true today, for many. In our modern mythology, matter is all that matters. All life has simply evolved and therefore living for this world and all that is in it is all there is. There is no afterlife, so why not eat, drink and be merry?
Christianity is unique. Because creation began from a God who cared enough to create the world good, the earth is a place where we can enjoy what God has placed there for us.
That also means that because the world was created as good, we should care about it and care for it. We should care about taking care of our world, including the people in it. We should care about social justice and righting wrongs and preserving life; all life. We should do all we can to add beauty and grace to this world because God created it to be enjoyed.
We find out soon enough that something entered the world to change the goodness of it. (That will come soon enough.) For now, let me ask you to simply observe things in creation that cause you to drop your jaw in wonder. Let those things in creation remind you that there is a God who cares. He cares about creation and He cares about you.
Clark Cothern is the Senior Pastor of Living Water Community Church, Ypsilanti, MI. He has authored three books and numerous magazine articles. Clark is married to Joy and they have three grown children and two grandchildren.