“Where do we come from?” is a basic question asked by virtually every human being. Curiosity about our origins and where we fit in the cosmic scheme of things seem to be questions hardwired in our DNA. This first story in the Bible answers some of those basic questions — or at least points us in a general direction. And it helps set the framework for everything else in our lives.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was shapeless and empty, and darkness was everywhere. And God’s Spirit hovered over the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness and called them “day” and “night.” That was the first day of creation.
Then on the second day, God created an expanse to separate the waters, some above and some below. And he called the expanse “the heavens,” or sky. Then on the third day, he gathered the waters below into one place and allowed dry land to appear, and he called the land “earth” and the waters the “seas.” He looked at all that he had made in said it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation – seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees, and let them reproduce according to their own kind.” And the plants grew, and God saw that it was all good.
On the fourth day, God formed the sun, moon and stars in the heavens to separate day and night, to provide light on the earth, and to let them serve for signs, and for marking the seasons, days and years. And afterwards, he looked at it all and said that it was good.
On the fifth day, he commanded that the seas be filled with living creatures, and that birds fly in the heavens above the earth. And on the sixth day, God said, “Let the earth give birth to all sorts of living things, cattle and beasts and all things moving on the earth.” He blessed them all to “be fruitful and multiply,” and they all reproduced according to their own kind, and God liked what he saw.
Finally on the sixth day, God made human beings in his own image, to be like him. He made both male and female, and blessed them to “be fruitful and multiply” just as he had blessed the animals. He formed the man out of dust, and breathed into him the “breath of life.” And the man became a “living soul.” But the man was alone, and God saw that it was not good. So God said “I will make a helper suitable for him,” and God made the woman out of the man. Because she was made from him, future men and women will leave their fathers and mothers, and be joined together and “become one flesh.”
He gave the man and woman authority over the earth and over all the creatures in it, and commanded them to “fill the earth and subdue it.” He placed the man and woman in a garden called Eden, and instructed them to work in it and take care of it. And he gave them every seed-bearing plant and every fruit-bearing tree to eat for food.
God looked at everything he had made and declared that it was very good.
Then on the seventh day God rested, and he blessed that seventh day, setting it apart as a day for rest for all of us.
- Gen 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
- Gen 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
- Gen 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
- Gen 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
- Garden of Eden • “Let there be light!” • breath of life • suitable helper / helpmeet • Adam’s rib • image of God / imago dei
Discussion & Life Lessons
- What was in the beginning?
- From this story, does the universe take shape by itself naturally or is it the result of a well-planned design? Does this basic question have any implications for how you view your life?
- Why is the Spirit hovering over the waters?
- How does God view his creation (what word does he use over and over)? Do you think he still sees it that way? How do you see it? If differently from how God saw it originally, why?
- What does it mean for human beings to be made “in God’s image,” to be “like him”? How are we the same, and how are we different from him? How are we the same or different from everything else in creation?
- Why do you think God created us like him? How does this affect your sense of value or self-worth?
- God placed the man and woman in a garden. What does that say about what our life should be? What does it say about God’s nature that he did this?
- God told the man and woman to care for the garden, to work in it. How do you think God views “work”, and what role should work play in our lives? Does the instruction to care for the garden suggest anything about how we should treat the earth? How can we fulfil this assignment? How are we failing at it?
- What does it mean for humans to “subdue the earth” or “have dominion over it”?
- What does the creation of the “suitable helper” say about God’s view of us?
- God rested on the seventh day. What might that mean? And he set apart one day a week for humanity to rest. Is this a religious obligation or a practical function (like eating)?
- What does the overall story tell us about the character of God? What does it say about us?