The book of Genesis narrates the origin of the universe by God’s divine act. The focus of the narrative is the planet earth and the life forms God made. Chapter one records the events that occurred on each creation day. God personally brought all things into existence according to His purpose. Everything He made turned out as He had intended and was good in His eyes.
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- God created (1:1): In Hebrew, the sentence emphasizes the subject (God) and gives it an attribute (the Creator). Thus, we may translate the first verse of Genesis as “In the beginning God was the Creator of the heavens and the earth.”
- In the beginning (1:1): This phrase can be found also in Gen 10:10; Jer 26:1, 27:1, 28:1, 49:34. It can refer to a starting point of time which is the beginning of a duration. [ref]
- Created (1:1): The word “create” itself means make something that has not been in existence before. [ref]
- The heavens (1:1): It is also called the firmament which seems to be stretched out like a vault over the sphere, as supported on foundations and columns (2 Sam 22:8; Job 26:11). [ref]
- Without form (1:2): It refers to a condition of empty space and nothingness, implying to be a state prior to order and form (Job 26:7; Isa 45:18; Jer 4:23). [ref]
- Face of the deep (1:2): The phrase indicates that the waters initially covered the whole surface of the Earth (Ps 104:6). No continents rose above the water, and the whole of planet’s watery surface stayed in darkness. Thus, no light reached through. [ref]
- Day (1:5): If understood as a 24-hour period, then it is defined as a unit of time considered from sunset to the next sunset.
This word can also refer to an indefinite time period, ranging from a few days to many years and beyond
(Gen 2:4, Num 9:22; Isa 11:10, 23:15).
- Make (1:7): The Hebrew word usually involves the application of materials already in existence. [ref]
Compare verse 1 with the rest of the chapter. How does verse 1 serve as an introduction, and how is it different from the rest of the verses?Hide Answer
Verse 1 introduces to the readers that in the beginning, God was the One who created the heavens and the earth—the universe that we know today. Starting from verse 2, the focus shifts to the planet earth. The rest of the verses (1:2-31) describe mainly what happened on the planet earth.
How are the events progressive from one day to the next? What was the purpose in such progression?Hide Answer
Each day is focusing only on a specific stage of creation. Though they are different from one another, the creation events are connected. For example, light is a necessity for the survival of vegetation. Dry land is needed as the habitation of the land creatures and mankind. As the order of creation is progressing, we can see one single purpose: the benefit of mankind.
How many times do the phrases “God said” and “and it was so” appear throughout the chapter?
List the verses in which the phrase “it was good” is found in 1:1-31.
When did God see that His creation was good? And what does it tell us about God’s nature?Hide Answer
In each stage, after God had finished creating and making, He observed what He had done. Then He saw that what He had created was good. Verse 31 may serve as a conclusion, when God stepped back and observed the whole creation. All of His creation was good and had no defects. God paid close attention to and examined every single one of His creation.
Today, do we consider ourselves or what we already have, such as physical appearance and health, as good? Or not as good as we hope it would be? Why?
How many times did God give names to what He had created? See also Genesis 5:2.Hide Answer
“God called” is recorded three times in Genesis 1 and once in Genesis 5:2. It is interesting to note that after He created something, God would give a name to His creation, including us—mankind (1:5, 8, 10, 5:2).
Why did God give names to what He had created? Compare the use of the word “call” with that found in Exodus 12:31 and
1 Kings 21:9.Hide Answer
In Hebrew, to call means to:
- Designate a proper name or representative title—to give an identity to the creation named,
- Summon in order to give a task— each creation has its own task and duty to perform,
- Proclaim an event—the whole work of creation belongs to Him. Since God is the Creator, it is proper for Him to designate, summon and proclaim concerning His own work of creation.
Do you feel that God calls you personally and knows you by name? How?
Identify all occurrences of the word “make” or “made” within verses 1-31.
Is there any reason for the change of focus from verse 1 to verse 2?Hide Answer
The writer of Genesis wants the readers to know that God, the Creator, placed a special and specific interest in what would happen on the planet earth.
What can we learn about God’s authority from verse 1? Compare the statement in verse 1 with John 1:1-3.Hide Answer
Verse 1 tells us that at the beginning of time, God was the one who created according to His will and authority and brought everything into existence. The Gospel of John emphasizes that without God, nothing exists. If He had not authorized the creation to exist, the whole universe, including us, would not have been in existence today. Therefore, our very existence is not a mere chance; rather it is by the Creator’s design.
What was the initial condition of the earth at the start of the creation week?Hide Answer
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep (2).
What does it mean that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”? Compare the use of the word “hover” with that found in Deuteronomy 32:11.Hide Answer
The same Hebrew word for “hover” is also used in Deut 32:11, where it paints a picture of an eagle hovering over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up and carrying them on its wings. The word is used there in the sense of hovering with fluttering wings. It conveys an idea of giving care and attention. In that verse, the Lord’s care in leading His people is compared to an eagle’s care for its young. Since this same word is used in Gen 1:2, the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters may imply God’s care and attention even before the creation.
Imagine the condition of total darkness being suddenly illumined by light. What different feelings do “darkness” and “light” evoke?
By looking at how the light came into existence, what does it tell us about God’s power?Hide Answer
Just as God spoke and light came into existence, God also created the entire universe through His word (Ps 33:6).
Today, how is the power of God’s words relevant to our daily lives?
Record what the Bible says about the firmament from the following verses: Gen 1:6-7, 14-17; Job 37:18; Ps 19:1, 150:1; Ezek 1:22-26 and Dan 12:3.Hide Answer
Based on the descriptions found in the Bible, the firmament is
- a separator between the waters above and under it (Gen 1:6-7),
- a place for the lights to divide the day from the night (Gen 1:14),
- a place for lights to give light on the earth (Gen 1:15),
- a place for the two great lights and the stars (Gen 1:16),
- spread out and strong as a cast metal mirror (Job 37:18),
- a proof of God’s handiwork (Ps 19:1),
- mighty (Ps 150:1),
- a place where over it, there was a likeness of a throne (Ezek 1:22-26), and
- bright (Dan 12:3).
In terms of modern science, the “firmament” would correspond to the troposphere—the atmospheric layer just above the ocean where clouds form and humidity resides—as opposed to the stratosphere, mesosphere, and ionosphere resting above. [ref]
Why did God collect the waters under the heavens?Hide Answer
God collected the waters into one place so that dry land could appear and a place for grass, herb, and fruit trees could grow.
How many different kinds of plants did the earth bring forth?Hide Answer
According to verse 11, God commanded the earth to bring forth
- herb yielding seed,
- fruit tree yielding fruit.
What was the the purpose of each kind of plant and what can we learn about God’s providence? See also verse 29 and 30 for God’s instructions to mankind.Hide Answer
Towards the end of creation, God specifically gave instructions to mankind: the herb yielding seed and the fruit tree bearing fruit are for mankind’s food while the green herb is set apart as the animals’ food. This tells us that since the third day, before the animals and mankind were created, God already prepared food for His creation.
How does God provide your daily needs?
What are the functions of the lights in the firmament of the heavens?Hide Answer
The lights in the firmament are:
- to divide the day from the night,
- for signs and seasons,
- for days and years.
How many kinds of lights were set in the firmament to give light on the earth?Hide Answer
- Two great lights—the greater light and the lesser light, and
- the stars (1:16).
Which verses in this segment have the phrase “to give light on the earth”?Hide Answer
The phrase is recorded in verses 15 and 17.
Why is light necessary for the earth?Hide Answer
- For the inhabitants of the land to determine seasons, days and years (1:14),
- to distinguish between day and night (1:18), and most importantly,
- to support life on earth. Light is a crucial element for the plants’ photosynthesis, which in turn enables the plants’ growth. As we have read in verses 29 and 30, plants and green herbs are given as food for human beings and the creatures of the land. Thus, mankind and the animals depend on the existence of the plants for their survival.
God prepared the light particularly for the earth. In what ways is God’s loving care toward you likewise specific?