Genesis Chapter One
In our study of “Eternity or the Plan of the Ages” we saw that eternity is divided into three sections: “In the beginning,” “time,” and “the ages of the ages.” Genesis begins with the statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This passage is looking at eternity in the past — before God brought into existence the material universe. This portion of eternity, as we have already learned, was subdivided into ages, just as the eternity of the future will be subdivided into the ages of the ages. As to what God did prior to His creative activity, the Bible is silent. We may be certain that He was doing the proper and right thing, for “shall not the possessor of heaven and earth do right?” Our minds stagger when we think of the future, of the past, or of the present. The fact is that the finite mind cannot begin to grasp the idea of infinity.
The Bible assumes the existence of God. Nowhere does it argue this point. The evidence for His existence is to be seen on every hand, for “the heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Again, “the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be with-out excuse” (Romans 1:20).
This one eternal God is a Holy Trinity. The word rendered God is in the plural and should be so translated if one desires to be accurate and to represent the original text correctly. Moses had this idea in mind when by inspiration he declared, “Hear, 0 Israel, Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah a Unity” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This passage — one of the most fundamental of all in the entire Book of God — assumes the trinity of the Supreme Being and asserts the unity of the Godhead. When we read this passage in the light of many others, we see that there are three Divine Personalities who constitute this Holy Trinity. They are Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, and Jehovah the Holy Spirit. Whenever one reads of Jehovah in the Old Testament, he must examine carefully the context to see which one of the three Divine Beings is meant, or whether it is used as the name for all three considered as a Unity. This is a most fundamental principle. Unless one recognizes this fact, he will have difficulty in interpreting many passages.
All the prophets were Trinitarians. The apostles and New Testament writers were Trinitarians likewise. All that is said of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity is but the development of the general thought found in Genesis 1:1. This verse assumes the existence of God prior to that of the universe. It asserts, however, that He put forth creative activity, the result of which was the coming into being of the various solar systems. How God made the universe we are not told. The time employed to accomplish this task has been withheld from us. So far as our knowledge goes, the Lord could have made the universe in a split second of time. Again, He may have done it over long periods of time. In view therefore of our lack of information we shall do well to remain silent on this point. In the New Testament we are told that God did it through Christ. (See John 1:1-4; Romans 11:36; I Corinthians 8:5,6; Colossians 1:16-18; Hebrews 1:1-4.)
The Wrecking of the Earth
When the Lord created the earth, He made it perfect; for such is the statement of Isaiah in chapter 45:18. But Moses tells us that the earth was waste and void. The earth was not created a waste, and yet it was a waste; we must therefore understand that the earth was wrecked after it was created. When one looks at the original text, he sees that this idea is exactly what is expressed in Genesis 1:2. A literal rendering of these introductory words is, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth became a desolation and a waste.”
The wrecking of the work of God was doubtless caused by an assault of the enemy. At least that is the natural inference. Immediately the suspicion falls upon Satan, the inveterate enemy of the Lord God Almighty. The Lord, in Job 38:8-11, seems to be speaking of the wrecking of the earth referred to in Genesis 1:2. There are other allusions to this primitive cataclysm found here and there in the Scriptures.
In our discussion of “Eternity or the Plan of the Ages” we saw that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 lies a long period of ages referred to by the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:1,2; and Romans 16:25-27. Grace was given us in Christ Jesus before these times eternal. Everlasting life likewise was granted us before this period of ages. The mystery of the gospel was kept in silence during this period of time. But we are told in other passages that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that Christ was as a Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and that the names of certain ones were written in the Lamb's book of life from the foundation of the world. When all of these passages are taken into consideration, as we have already seen, the conviction is borne in upon us that the grace of God was given us in Christ Jesus immediately before the foundation of the world. These times eternal are therefore subsequent to that event. After God gave us this grace in Christ Jesus, He kept this fact secret through times eternal and began to talk about it as soon as man fell. The times eternal therefore come between the creation of the world and the fall of man. In these passages there is absolute proof that the times eternal come between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. As to how long this period of time was no one can tell, but it was, as we have already seen, brought to a conclusion by the wrecking of the earth. The Bible teaches, we are frequently told, that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. This is a misunderstanding of the Scriptures. Nowhere are we told that God engaged in this creative activity in six days. On the contrary, we are informed that He did it in the beginning. Sometimes we are referred to Exodus 20:11 as proof that He did create the world in six days. The proper understanding of this verse, however, does not yield such an interpretation. We are told in this passage that Jehovah in six days made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day. The word rendered made is entirely different from the one translated created in Genesis 1:1. This latter expression means to bring into existence that which had no prior form nor substance, whereas the former indicates work wrought upon that which already existed. This passage therefore is no authority for our saying that the heavens and earth were created in six days. Let us in speaking of biblical matters use scriptural terms always if possible. We are within the limits of Scripture when we assert that God created the heavens-and the earth in the beginning, but that, after the earth was wrecked, there were six days of reconstruction.
The Six Days of Reconstruction
Were these literal days of twenty-four hours or long geological epochs? Though one may not be dogmatic on this point, it seems to me that, when all the facts are taken into consideration, the evidence points in the direction of their being literal days of twenty-four hours. These six days cannot be considered as six geological epochs coming between the creation and the disaster mentioned in verse 2, but are subsequent to this latter event. There is ample time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 — the times eternal — for all that is required by the evidence brought forth from geology.
These six days are indeed most instructive. Let us now examine them more closely. When this primitive disaster occurred, waters covered the face of the earth and darkness enveloped the globe. Then the Lord produced a miraculous light by saying, “Let there be light, and there was light.” This is not the illumination from the sun, because, as we shall see, its light penetrated the darkness only on the fourth day. We must conclude therefore that this light was indeed the result of divine intervention.
Waters encircled the globe. On the second day the Lord removed some of the water from the face of the earth and put it above the expanse of heaven. This water was in subzero temperatures. Under such conditions, it would freeze. Thus there would be formed around the earth an ice envelope. Such a covering would keep the heat which radiates from the earth in the atmosphere and would produce a genial climate throughout the world. Such a condition would produce a tropical climate all over the earth.
Is there any evidence to this effect? Yes. Great prehistoric animals found in the icebergs of northern Siberia have been discovered with tropical plants in their mouths and stomachs. This and many other bits of evidence point to the conclusion that there was a tropical climate encircling the globe when these animals were caught in a great cataclysm. It is quite likely that this covering envelope was broken up at the time of the Flood, and that at that period the ice age began. For a full discussion of this point, see chapter 1 of the volume, Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled.
We are told that the waters left upon the face of the earth were on the third day gathered together into one place and that the dry land appeared. This language indicates that there was but one original continent and one sea. As the soil dried, the ground brought forth plants, etc., each producing after its kind.
As Dr. C. I. Scofield in his Reference Bible says, “It is most highly probable that seeds for the vegetable kingdom were in the soil, and that from them the ground sent forth plant life.”
Each plant was to produce after its kind. There has been no such thing as any development of new species. There has been by cross-fertilization the improvement of varieties within the species, but no new creations. Man has sought in vain for evidence to prove the evolutionary hypothesis. Thus far no satisfactory proof has been discovered. In my judgment there never will be. Some of the foremost scholars of the world, men of science, recognize this fact and admit it.
On the fourth day the light from the sun, moon, and stars was able to penetrate the darkness surrounding the earth. We are told that on this day God made the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light, the night, and that He gave them and the stars for signs and for seasons. The record simply states that God made these lights to control the day and the night. By no mental gymnastics can one make this language declare that God created the sun and moon on the fourth day.
On the fifth day the Lord created marine life and the fowls of the air. There is no connection between these two groups of animals. One did not evolve from the other. They were the result of two separate acts of creation.
On the sixth day the Lord created land animals, and, as the climax of His activity, He created man in His image and in His likeness. There is a vast chasm between man and the highest anthropoid ape. Great efforts have been made to find the missing link between the animals and man in order to prove the unsupported evolutionary hypothesis. The quest for such evidence has met with dismal failure.
On the seventh day the Lord completed His work of reconstruction and rested — from His special activity of these six days. The seventh day He hallowed. Whether or not primitive man observed this day as sacred, we are not able to say, since the Scriptures are silent on that point.
Man was placed in authority over the earth. Everything was placed at his disposal and all were under his rule and jurisdiction. But, as we shall see later, he forfeited the privileges of his high position to Satan by yielding to the latter's subtle temptation.