There are many ways we define what a Christian is. One way we could do it is to say a Christian is a person who believes certain things about God, about ourselves, and about the world around us.

One example of these beliefs is the doctrine of eschatology, or, beliefs about how the world will come to an end. What God will do in that moment, what will happen to man, and what will happen to the world. Throughout the centuries Christians have differed over the doctrine of eschatology. And I’m not referring to various offshoots and cultic like groups, though those certainly exist, I’m referring to Christians who all have held a high view of Scripture, that it is inspired by God, inerrant, infallible, and the basis of all our faith and practice. These Christians have differed on eschatology. Among the many options put forward throughout the ages there are three main views: premillennial, amillennial, and postmillennial. While there are many godly people who line up in each of these three positions, and while these convictions do indeed run very deep, none of these positions believes the other positions are heretical or unorthodox because eschatology, though important, is not a central doctrine in our faith like our belief in the Trinity, or the deity of Christ, or salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone. So, because godly people line up in all three of these positions, you often find all three present within the same congregation.

And that’s ok.

Why go into all this? Well, as we continue on in Genesis 1 this morning, my plea is that we would view and treat the doctrine of creation in the same way. Just as many godly people have held many different positions on eschatology, how the world will end, so too many godly people down through the centuries have held many different positions on creation, how the world began. And these various positions on creation can and do exist within the same congregation. Among the many views held by Christians, the majority of them fall into young earth views, old earth views, and views like my own, where the age of the earth is not a primary factor.[1] Don’t hear me saying what I’m not. I do think what we believe about the age of the earth matters, I do. What I am saying is that in creation debates, I think we too often get bogged down in squeezing Genesis 1 into the latest scientific theory, or seek to twist scientific truth to fit with a specific interpretation of Genesis 1 which just so happens to align with our own view.[2]

Yet, if we simply read Genesis 1, see what it says and see how it says it, I’m convinced we’ll see that the age of the earth is not the primary purpose Genesis 1. Well what is the primary purpose of the creation week then? The primary purpose of Genesis 1 is to display how God forms the creation, how God fills the creation, and how God reigns over the creation as King.

Why do I believe this? Because the text itself shows us this in three ways.[3]

First, Genesis 1 has a great arrangement. Taking a look at the whole of Genesis 1 reveals an arranged pattern. In days 1-3 God forms creation, and in days 4-6 God fills creation. These first six days then are the remedy of the state of creation in v2. Remember, in v2 all creation is without form and void. In the first three days God brings form to what was formless, and in the next three days God fills what was void.

Second, Genesis 1 has a great correspondence. The light formed on day 1 corresponds to the lights of day and night formed on day 4. The sky and sea formed on day 2 corresponds to the birds and fish formed on day 5. And the land formed on day 3 corresponds to the animals and man formed on day 6.

Third, Genesis 1 reveals great perfection. In v1 there are three nouns: God, heavens, and earth. In the Hebrew these three words are then repeated throughout chapter 1 in multiples of 7. God occurs 35 times (5 x 7), heavens occurs 21 times (3 x 7), and earth occurs 21 times (3 x 7). Genesis 1:1 also has 7 words, while v2 has 14 words. Day 7 is described to us in three sentences, each having 7 words themselves, and each centering around the phrase “seventh day.” And throughout Genesis 1 we read “it was good” 7 times with the emphasis coming on the final usage “it was very good.”[4] We might miss these things today, but the numerical symmetry would’ve stood out brightly to Moses’ original audience.

All this literary numerical perfection shows us why Genesis 1 is intentionally stylized and poetic. But again, don’t hear what I’m not saying. Genesis 1 is not the realm of fantasy. There are no dragons, wizards, elves, dwarves, or hobbits. Genesis 1 is true history. But while it’s true and factual history, it is more than just mere history. There’s an intentional pattern revealed to us of God forming creation, God filling creation, and God reigning over all creation.

So our next three weeks together, Lord willing, will follow that pattern. Today we’ll cover days 1-3 where God forms the kingdoms of the earth. Next week we’ll cover days 4-6 where God fills the earth with kings. And then two weeks from today, we’ll cover day 7 where the true King stands forth in bright power and beautiful rest. So, let’s turn our attention to day 1-3.

Day 1 (v3-5)

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

In the command of v3, we see the first instance of what we’ll see throughout God’s creating work in chapter 1. There is an announcement “God said.” There is a command “let there be.” There is obedience “and it was so” or “and there was.” There is approval “and God saw that it was good.” And there is a numbered summary “there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”[5]

What do we see in v3? By the power of His Word alone, God brings creation into existence. This small phrase of v3 has rightly become famous. When God said, “Let there be light” His Word alone breaks the silence and darkness of v2, and changes everything.[6] There’s a clear emphasis on the power of God’s word to create. He speaks, and it is. God stated, and it was. He doesn’t have to out muscle a competing power to make all things, or struggle with any pre-existing matter to form all things. There was nothing but emptiness and void, and by His Word alone, creation is.

And as He breaks the silence of v2, He creates light. But wait, the sun isn’t made until day 4. So, what is this light? Where did it come from if there was no sun? Did Moses get the numbering of the days wrong? Or misplace the creation of light? No. What then is happening here? The light came from God Himself. Why though would God reveal His light before creating a sun? To teach us two things.[7] One, that God has light in Himself and can produce anything without the help of anything else. And two, that we His creatures would seek light, life, and everything in Him rather than seeking it in creation. And notice Church, this is a bookend reality in the Bible. The Bible begins and ends with no sun and yet light shines forth from the Lord.[8]

Well, God saw this light, approved of this light by calling or defining it as good, and separated the light from the darkness, calling the light Day and calling the darkness Night. God’s work of separation here on day 1 and in all the other days to come isn’t a work of disorder but of order.[9] Think about this. On one hand sin always separates toward disorder: man against God, man against the ground, man against the garden, even male against female, and female against male. On the other hand God’s separation always produces order: light from darkness, day from night, waters above from waters below, and woman from man. Even further on: Noah’s family separated out from the rest, Abraham’s family separated out from the rest, Israel as a nation separated out from the rest, David as king separated out from the rest, Jesus In His Person and work separated out from everyone, and now the Church is called by God come out and be separate from the rest.

That God brought separation into His creation to bring order and to distinguish between one thing and another thing, He is preparing us to see how He will deal with and call His redeemed people to live in this world.[10]

It is very appropriate to again mention the Trinitarian nature of what we’re seeing here. In v1 we’re introduced to God, in v2 we’re introduced to God’s Spirit, and in v3 we’re introduced to God’s Word. This is the language John will later use to begin his gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). A few verses later John will say “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). So the Word who made all things is the very Word who was in the beginning with God, the very Word who was God, and the very Word who descended to dwell among us and reveal His glory to us as the only Son from the Father. This is the Lord Jesus. See that? Jesus therefore, created all things.

Paul also makes much of this in 2 Cor. 4:3-6 when he says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Church you see what this means? The same might and power present in Genesis 1 that spoke all of creation into existence from Tampa to Taiwan, from Atlanta to Austraila, from Mt. Everest to the Everglades, that same power the burst forth in Genesis 1 to make all things, bursts forth in the dead sinners heart and creates life and light when that sinner turns to Jesus in faith. We call this salvation and rightly so, this is how a sinner is saved. But this is why we also call salvation new creation, because as God made the world by His Word, He remakes all who come to Him.

This is a miracle, and it happens to every Christian. Some of you don’t remember this happening to you because you’ve never known a day apart from Christ. Others of you who came to Christ later in life might remember the moment when God burst forth in gospel His light and remade you. But all of us still feel the present continuing effects of this miracle as God’s light still presses in, exposing darkness, and growing us in grace. All of this imagery and reality begins here in v3, praise God!

This is day 1, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

Day 2 (v6-8)

“And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”

Now we see God do another act of creating, and just as before on day 1 all the normal elements are present here: announcement, command, obedience, approval, and a numbered summary. Day 2 is about the creation of the expanse, canopy, or the firmament, by the separation of waters above and below. Some believe this means a kind of watery insulated creation is made on day 2 with waters above and waters below being made, and that it was these above waters that were let loose at the flood. I can understand why some say that, but I tend toward a simpler explanation that this as God creating the horizontal space between the sky and the sea. The sky is the expanse in v6 or heaven in v8. The waters below would then be the seas, and the waters above are found in the clouds throughout the heavens.

See also that the work on day 2 involves no new creation, but rather an ordering by separation of what was already made.[11] Other than the question of what the expanse is, there’s really no more debate to v2. So Church, this is day 2, “And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”

Day 3 (v9-13)

“And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”

Unlike days 1 and 2, there are two works of creation on day 3. The first work is the creation of dry lands, which God accomplishes by the separation of the seas.

The second work on day 3 is the creation of the plants. Notice how God creates the plants. There is both the supernatural and the natural in view. The supernatural is that God created them from the earth, so their existence/origin is in Him. The natural element here is that these plants “yield seed…each according to its kind…” So, there is a natural self-perpetuating continuation through reproduction after God’s initial creation.[12] Or to put it much more simply, these plants exist in limitations. They can only reproduce according to their kind. A rose bush cannot produce potatoes, two fish cannot make a giraffe, and a man and a woman cannot produce a goat.[13]

All in all, day 3 is the last time God will name anything. He will continue to create yes, but calling/naming from here on out He will leave to Adam.[14] This is day 3, “And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”

The earth is now formed, and all that awaits is its filling.

[1] Following Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Ridderbos, and Kline I hold to the Literary Framework view of Genesis 1.

[2] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, WBC (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1987), 40.

[3] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2004), 24–26.

[4] John D. Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, EP Study Commentary (Holywell, UK: Evangelical Press, 2015), 60.

[5] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 17–18.

[6] Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 59.

[7] John Calvin, Sermons on Genesis 1-11 (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 2009) 26.

[8] Hughes, Genesis, 29.

[9] Victor P. Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, NICOT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1990), 120.

[10] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academic, 2001), 69.

[11] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 20.

[12] Derek Kidner, Genesis (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2008), 52–53.

[13] Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 71.

[14] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 125.

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