Author: Ron Graham
This lesson considers the first three verses of the Old Testament, about the beginning of the universe and the state of planet earth before God transformed it.
The Bible certainly begins at the beginning, but it tells us only one essential thing. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1, cf John 1:1-5, Colossians 1:13-17, Hebrews 11:3).
This gives us no indication as to when “the beginning” was, or what it was like, however it does answer one important question: Is the universe eternal —or did it have a beginning, before which it did not exist? The fact simply stated in the first verse of the Bible is that the universe had a beginning and God brought it into being. Any more than this is for scientists to discover as far as “the beginning” is concerned.
Next, Genesis makes a statement about the state of planet earth prior to the six days in which God transformed it. "The earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:2, cf 2Peter 3:3-5).
This gives us no indication as to how the earth came to be in this state, or how long it remained in this state, or even whereabouts it was in relation to the rest of the universe. The fact is simply stated that before God terraformed it, our planet was a dark, barren, disordered, watery world. Any more than this is for scientists to discover as far as the origins of our planet is concerned.
Next, Genesis tells us that God spoke and our planet began to be transformed. "And God said, let there be light and there was light" (Genesis 1:3).
We were not told in verse two what was the reason for the darkness, and we are not told in verse three what exactly God did to cause the light of day to shine upon our world. Again, this is for scientists to discover. However giving light to our world was the first act of God in the transformation —a process of several acts that took six days altogether. The description of each day begins with, "Then God said..." and concludes with, "And there was evening and there was morning one day [or a second day, a third day, etc]". We may certainly marvel at the contrast between the barren dark world of verse two and the transformed world after God had done six days work.
Some teachers wish to include all the statements of Genesis 1:1-3 in the first day of creation. They would remove any distinction between the original creation and the six days of transforming Earth. They hold that the six days are “the beginning” of verse one. I reject that, purely because it is poor exegesis —not consistent with the natural progression of thought in the three verses (Genesis 1:1-3).
However, one could also object that it introduces quite unnecessary improbabilities —creating day and night before the sun, planet Earth before the universe, human beings a day after the universe. Some may be enthusiastic about such “facts” but I cannot find them either in Genesis one or in common sense. Of course I would not be dogmatic or devisive about these matters. My interpretations are not “facts”. They are an attempt to ascertain what facts Genesis 1 is telling us.