Genesis 1:1–4, 24–31
1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness…
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
True meaning and joy in life begin with the discovery that God likes us. It is sometimes said that in order to live life to the full we need to first learn to love and forgive ourselves. The Bible sees things very differently, as we discover in the first chapter of Genesis.
Confusion often exists over Genesis because, influenced by a culture of science, we come to it with the wrong question. Genesis does not set out to explain the ‘how’ of creation. It is interested in the ‘who’ and the ‘what’. The Bible epic begins by telling us that God created all things and therefore all things have their origin and meaning in him.
Day Six of the creation account is significant. Midway through the ‘sixth day’ of creation the style of the language changes and we sense a break between the creation of the animals and the creation of men and women. It is as though there was a pre-cosmic pause while a conversation took place in the Godhead where the question was discussed: ‘Will we do it?’ The language, ‘Let us’, implies the question, ‘Will we go ahead with this next and final part of creation? The cost will be great.’ (Philippians 2:6 provides another window on this pre-cosmic conversation: the second person of the Godhead made a personal choice to follow through the plan that had been set before creation. The incarnation and the crucifixion of Jesus were not Plan B but part of Plan A. But I rush ahead.)
The Glory of God’s Creation
Genesis 1:26ff tells us that God moved ahead with the final great act of creation – created in God’s image, men and women were the glory of his creating work. Unlike other ancient creation accounts, such as the Enuma Elish story, men and women are not a final emanation of the god(s), created to serve their needs and pleasures. Rather, the God of Genesis 1 has ordered everything in such a way that men and women have the responsibility and joy in overseeing it. We are God’s under-rulers, vicegerents – or as C.S. Lewis put it in his Narnia series, ‘kings and queens’ of the earth. As his vicegerents God calls on us to learn from him, to trust him and to find our meaning and purpose in him.
That God delighted in us is seen in the profound and uplifting words that close the chapter, God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. Everything was perfect, a joy to God. He could say that his handiwork, including men and women was good. It would be his delight to serve us as it should be our delight to serve him ! But as the biblical story unfolds God’s service of us would come at a very great price.
1. the implication that God exists and in his wisdom and power created all things out of nothing;
2. what it means for us men and women to be the climax and glory of God’s creation;
3. the suggestion that in giving men and women dominion over aspects of creation God has given us the privilege and responsibility of a stewardship that is ultimately accountable to him.
© John G. Mason, Reason for Hope – 40 Days of Bible Readings and Reflections – 2016. All Rights Reserved.