Creation—how did God do it?
The first chapters of Genesis leave us in no doubt whatsoever about how God created the universe. On the six successive days of creation, God spoke and what He said happened. That is to say, the means that God used to create the universe and all things in it was His Word.
The occasions of his speaking, from Genesis chapter 1:3–26 (NIV), are as follows:
Day 1. And God said, ‘Let there be light’ (verse 3).
Day 2. And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water’ (verse 6).
Day 3. And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear’ (verse 9). Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seedbearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds’ (verse 11).
Day 4. And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth’ (verses 14–15).
Day 5. And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky’ (verse 20).
Day 6. And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals, each according to its kind’ (verse 24). Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the creatures that move along the ground’ (verse 26).
There are three other times mentioned in Genesis chapter 1 when God spoke (verses 22, 28, and 29). In the first two of these God addressed Himself to His created beings and commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number, and in the last one God specified the food for humans, birds and animals. Possibly God spoke through the mechanism of instinct when He was addressing the animals, and audibly when He was addressing man, so that man would hear what these instructions were.
On the other eight times of creation when God spoke, what He said did not need to be audible. In fact, on the eighth occasion (‘Let us make man in our image …’) God appears to have been speaking to Himself (or to the other members of the Trinity).1 On this occasion (and therefore on the other seven times as well) God’s ‘speaking’ was equivalent to God’s ‘decreeing’ or God’s ‘willing’.
In other words, the Word of God and the will of God are here synonymous. God willed the creation to take place, which occurred in eight separate stages spread over six successive days. These stages are marked for us in Genesis chapter 1 by eight separate ‘words’ from God (introduced each time by the formula ‘And/Then God said …’), but in essence they are the putting forth of God’s will on each occasion to accomplish His purpose, with no other reason or cause than that He desired it to happen.
All of this means that God did not use any evolutionary processes to bring about creation. In the first place, creation, by definition, has to be instantaneous—it cannot be a process. In the second place, the idea, called theistic evolution, that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God would use a method of random copying mistakes to form His creatures not only makes a lie of what God Himself has stated, but reduces God to the level of man’s ingenuity. Creation was a series of specific and immediate acts of God, brought about solely by His Word or His will.
The significance of this for man is overwhelming, and highlights the reason why there is so much emphasis by man today on the godless theory of evolution. Evolution seeks to do away with God as Creator, but the target of the evolutionary philosophy is much wider than this. It is to do away with God as moral Lawgiver, and God as the ultimate Judge of all the earth.
The reason for this is that the creation of man and the world by God established for all time God’s right to set the rules by which man should live. The creation shows not only that God has the right to pronounce His laws for holy living, but also that God has the authority to set the penalty for those people who choose not to obey His laws.
A law without a penalty is little more than a suggestion, and a suggestion is something we can follow or not follow as we choose. For example, if there were no fine for failing to put money in a parking meter, how many people would comply? Similarly, God’s laws for holy living would be little more than suggestions, if there were no time of reckoning. The Apostle Paul, in fact, says that if there is to be no resurrection, with all that that implies,2 we may as well ‘eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’.3
So what does all this have to do with God’s having created the world by the exercise of His will expressed by His Word? Just this: scoffers (who the Bible says do two things, namely, scoff and follow their own evil desires or passions)4, would do well to note that God does not intend that the world should go on as it is forever. The Bible states: ‘By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.’5 This earth, which God took the trouble to create, and then pronounced to be ‘very good’,6 has been marked by Him for destruction, like a new motor car that serves its owner’s purpose for a while and then becomes obsolete, the earth is going to be ‘melted down’7 and superseded, because it too will be obsolete for God’s future purpose.
But the question may well be asked: how can we be sure this is going to happen? Well, this is where faith comes in. Not blind, unreasoning, unreasonable faith. But quiet confidence based on what God says He is going to do, and on what God did and how He did it at creation. The Apostle Peter invokes the Flood as proof of creation, and makes the point that it is the same Word of God that produced the heavens and the earth that is reserving them for judgment.8 All of which is to say, the demonstration of God’s power at the beginning of the age is adequate proof that He is well able to do all the things He has said He is going to do at the end of the age.
Whether it be the creation of a new heaven and a new earth to supersede the present heaven and the present earth,9 the resurrection of the just and the unjust,10 or the holding of a final great judgment,11 God has only to say the word—exercise His will—and they will all come to pass.
We are told in the Bible that the Judge at the final great judgment will be the Lord Jesus Christ—the Word of God incarnate, through whom ‘all things were made’ and without whom ‘was not anything made that was made’.12
That the Creator and the Judge of all the earth should be one and the same is perhaps not really surprising. What is surprising is that the Creator/Judge is also the One who on the Cross ‘died for our sins’,13 ‘redeemed us from the curse of the Law’,14 restored us to peace with God,15 by taking the penalty due to us for our rebellion against God upon Himself,16 and saved us from condemnation.17
How do we know?
We have His word for it!
References and notes
- The Bible states that both God the Holy Spirit and God the Son were present at creation. Genesis 1:2 says ‘…the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’. The New Testament affirms in several places that all things were made by God through Jesus Christ—see John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2. In John 1:1 Jesus is called the Word (Greek: logos). This is of particular significance when we realize that everything that came into being on each day of creation was created through the Word of God. Return to text.
- Acts 17:31; 24:15. Return to text.
- 1 Corinthians 15:32. Return to text.
- 2 Peter 3:3. Return to text.
- 2 Peter 3:7. Return to text.
- Genesis 1:31. Return to text.
- 2 Peter 3:12. Return to text.
- 2 Peter 3:7. Return to text.
- 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1. Return to text.
- Acts 24:15; Revelation 21:13. Return to text.
- Revelation 20:11–13. Return to text.
- Acts 17:31; John 1:3. Return to text.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3. Return to text.
- Galatians 3:13. Return to text.
- Romans 5:1. Return to text.
- Isaiah 53:5. Return to text.
- Romans 8:1. Return to text.
Thanks! Towards our assimilation of this article, let us note the LIMITATIONS of both natural "laws" and of scientific modeling. Every "God said" in Genesis 1 is a fiat DISCONTINUITY event--something that cannot be mathematically modeled.
After the creation finished, Jesus continually upholds the creation (Heb. 1:3) by the WORD of his power, allowing created stuff to continue (Col. 1:17) to cohere. As Henry Morris notes, this makes natural laws "descriptive, not prescriptive". Supernatural miracles (exceptions to the standard format) co-exist with the prominent (labeled "laws" by us) features of the standard format that Jesus chooses, most of the time, in his ongoing Creation sustaining.
But all this is AFTER he finished the creation week. It is NOT an insult to science to say that natural "laws" do not extend back to that unique creation activity--since scientists cannot properly explain the universe's existence except by divine activity. We need to not fear saying this, boldly pointing our the "God said" creative discontinuities.
Scientific / mathematical modeling is VERY FRAGILE. It can't reach back to the Creation. (Bible-honoring Hartnett / Humphreys models roughly approximate what happened then.) Models only work well in the POST-creation timeframe, when (1) all significant natural factors influencing the state of the investigated system are identified, and (2) when none of the following happen to that system DURING THE PERIOD OF STUDY: supernatural intervention, human intervention, overlooked natural factors occurring.
Being pro-science is preserving its needed humbleness, NOTING these limitations. We need to proclaim this. Theologians who can't also can't easily note the radical (natural-law-violating) universe-makeover connected to Christ's return.
I love this article so simply put - which truth is because He is truth and he fashioned our minds and the laws of thought on which they operate to be able to apprehend it. Not only that but He revealed and continues to reveal this to all of us.
He is so good This line is so good "in other words, the Word of God and the will of God are here synonymous."
The same applies to us - especially obvious when a man and woman say two words to each other on a special occasion - " I do"
Two word = lifetime commitment So true that our words and will are synonymous
I think of other words that are so powerful.
They can involve a huge commitment
They can terminate a relationship
They can put one's life at risk
They can save one's life
They can give direction
They can give hope
They can express taste preference:)
"We will never surrender"
"storm the hill"
"run or duck"
thank you for simply setting forth the truth!
It reminded me again the history is an expression of His will
And that nothing can be correctly understood (thus including our own identity) without first considering the Creator.
Great article. I've often thought it interesting that Jesus says He is the Way. When you think about it a judge often determines the way a person will go. Since Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, He alone has the right to say how that penalty will be applied. In the end His judgment will prevail.
The answer on the question "how can we be sure this is going to happen ? " is also to find in Luke 21 : 29 ,30 and 31 : " Look at the fig tree ,and all the trees, as soon as they come out in leaf,you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near, so also when you these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near ".
This is one of my favourite parts of scripture. Jesus is the WORD of God. Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. When God speaks, He speaks through Jesus. What he says IS true and therefore what he says must be so! It would be inconceivable if God said “Let there be light” and light didn’t suddenly exist. If it didn’t, then God doesn’t tell the truth all the time and Jesus isn’t the truth. God’s truth-telling is His creative power! And He does it all through Jesus! I love it!!