(2) God created the heavens and the earth – Genesis 1:1

Genesis is the first book in the Bible and the name means ‘beginnings’. The first chapter of Genesis describes how God created the world, the universe and all living things. Starting with a world that was without form, void and dark, God brings light and structure to the physical world and to the heavens. The vastness of the universe, which boggles our comprehension and in which we continue to find new things on a regular basis, is nothing to God. The writer includes the statement “He also made the stars” (Genesis 1:16), as a passing comment, as if this incredible feat was almost an afterthought.

The earth then brings forth vegetation and trees and then the sea, air and land are filled with creatures of all kinds. The extravagance of God’s creative desire is seen as the water is made to teem with living creatures that will fill the seas and the birds are commanded to increase and the land is populated with a variety of kinds of animals.

But the pinnacle of God’s creation is mankind, set apart from the rest of the created order. God said, “Let us make mankind in our image” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the word ‘us’ indicates something very important about God.

The Bible teaches us that God is one but also three. Jesus is the Son of God and he talked about his Father and said that he would send the Holy Spirit. All three are God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – and yet they are one God. This is referred to as the Trinity, not a word that is found in the Bible but one that tries to describe this mystery.

We see all three involved in the account of creation. It is initiated by the word of God the Father. God said “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and it is through his word that all that is created comes into being. In John’s gospel Jesus is referred to as “the Word” (John 1:1), the agent of creation, and Paul says that “all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16) so he too is involved in the creative process. And according to the Genesis account, when the earth was formless and dark, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2).

Before the creation of the world, God was not a lonely, isolated being but enjoyed a vibrant, dynamic relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, when God said, “Let us make mankind in our image,” it was the three members of the trinity deciding to create men and women to be able to share in their relationship. Our capacity for relationships with God and with each other makes us unique in creation.

Right from the start we see the character and the power of God’s word. His word brings structure and beauty. Many years later King David wrote that, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1), but he goes on to talk about the written word of God which is perfect and brings wisdom, joy and great reward in life.

The apostle Paul wrote that, “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). As we look at the stars, the mountains and the oceans, a strong tree or an exquisite flower, a tiny insect or a baby animal, we see the handiwork of a powerful intelligence way beyond our understanding. The more we discover about the world around us, the more we realise that we don’t understand. God has given us enquiring and appreciative minds in order that we might discern him in the world he delighted to create as a home for mankind. But it is through God’s written word that we learn about the character of God and his purpose for our lives.

The God that the Bible speaks of is first our creator, way beyond our comprehension or understanding, and yet a God who created us in his image, capable of relationship with him. What we see from the beginning is a God who wants to relate to people, and to share his love with mankind.

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