Read This Week: Genesis 1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 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. So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God, he created them; male and female. – Genesis 1:1 & 27 NIV
The book of Genesis deals with the beginning of all things. In fact, the word genesis in Hebrew actually means in the beginning. In other languages, it is translated as origin or source. Any of these translations make sense as this first book of the Bible unpacks and describes in literary, historical, and spiritual form the beginnings of the cosmos, of human beings, of cultures and people groups, as well as their interaction with, relationship to and separation from God and one another. All the while, Genesis is the telling of the eternal story of God, his sovereignty, and his plan of redemption for humanity.
As it begins, Genesis 1:1-2 is a banner heading and a summary of creation as he makes the universe and the earth. It moves from general to specific: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (general). The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep (specific). At the start of Scripture, this text progression establishes three important things about God and the whole of the cosmos.
One, God is pre-existent and transcendent. He is uncreated and matchless as a being. Two, nothing existed before Him as there was no material or chaos before His spoken word. And lastly, God is supreme over his material and creation. He is not under it or inside of it but over it. Furthermore, we see that the Lord is not only the creator, but he is the designer and sustainer of what he alone has made and given life. He has the authority, power, and capacity to be all three.
God then creates light for three specific purposes, as seen in v. 14-17. To distinguish between day & night, to mark the passage of time, and to illuminate the earth. But He does not name the two sources of light. He does not ascribe names, which shows that they are created things not worthy of the glory and worship that belong only to Him. Elohim goes on to make land, sea, and sky animals according to their own kind and blesses them to multiply and reproduce (v.24-26).
Finally, God creates his most prized formation in the universe – mankind. The one he takes the most meticulous care with by creating them in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (v.27). This detail cannot be overlooked in reading Genesis or the whole of Scripture. The basic and central principle to the creation of man and woman is that we are made in the image of God. It is the unique reference and characteristic given to people above animals and any other living thing. The imago dei (image of God) distinction of human beings and their nature sets us apart from all of God’s designs. It establishes our identity, purpose, meaning, and connection to the divine.
One cannot help but be filled with wonder, humility, and joy at the truth and knowledge that we are image bearers of God and a reflection of his person. In light of the entirety of this chapter and reading about all God created and designed, it is overwhelming to think that we are the only ones he specifically made this way. It should cause us to do nothing more than worship Him and praise His name in spirit and truth while radiating His glory to the rest of creation. As we go through Genesis together over the next year, consider and reflect on these moving words from one biblical commentator:
“Let your heart take in the grandeur of God’s wisdom and power. Let your soul rest in jaw-dropping awe of his majesty. Let yourself be humbled by how little you know and how few things you are able to do. Begin to embrace the utterly laughable irrationality of ever thinking that in any situation, location, or relationship, it would ever be possible for you to be smarter than God. Laugh at the delusion of your own grandeur. Mock the illusion of your own glory. And in humble gratitude for the grace that humbles, bow down and worship. After you have bowed down and worshiped, get up and serve this One of awesome glory. Refuse to question his will. Refuse to let yourself think that his boundaries are ill-placed. Be thankful his majesty is your protection, his glory is your motivation, his grace is your help, and his wisdom is your direction.”