The Earth, Genesis 1:2

Not only is God moving things from chaos to order, but, His purpose is to create a place for life to exist and flourish.

Why is there something rather than nothing?  This is the question Martin Heidegger, the famous German philosopher called “The Fundamental Question.”  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Why does anything exist?  Or even as one exasperated atheist scientist asked, when venturing into philosophy:  “Why does the universe even bother to go through all the trouble of existing?”

With our Bible’s open, and our faith in hand, we have the answer:  God.  Genesis shows us that God purposed for it to exist.  

The Importance of Genesis

It explains the creation of the world and man – where we came from and where it all came from.  We should expect that because its the first book of the Bible, and as such should have some background information for us.  

We should also expect it because of the name “Genesis”.  When the Old Testament was translated into Greek it was called the Septuagint, and the Septuagint titled the first book “Geneseos” (geh-NAY-see-ose).  Geneseos means “Book of Origins”.  Fitting!  It explains the origins of our universe, our origins as mankind, the origins of our corruption and alienation from God, the origins of God’s covenant plans to redeem us, the origins of the nation of Israel and on and on.  

The Structure of Genesis:

Genesis holds a preeminent position in the Bible.  First of all because it is the first book of the Bible. It is also part of the Pentateuch, which is the title for the first 5 books of the Bible:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  These five books are credited as the writings of Moses.   

At 50 chapters Genesis is one of the larger books.   Books like Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah are the few that are longer.  

If you were going to outline Genesis there are several ways to divide the book.  Perhaps one of the simplest ways is to divide it into two.  The first section would be chapters 1 – 11.  The second section would be chapters 12 to 50.  In the first section there are four major events:  Creation, Fall, Flood and Nations.  In the second section there are four major people:  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

There are other ways like by family lines or geography, but I like dividing it in half the best.

God Created The Heavens & The Earth

We are beginning in the beginning.  Which takes us back again to those first few verses that open up the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  

Now the whole of chapter 1 is describing for us the creation of the physical universe, not the spiritual heavens.  The heavens here refers to the atmosphere we call the sky, and outer space stretching all the way to the ends of the physical universe, a distance we are told is 95 billion light years across.  Some people hold that “heavens” refers to the spiritual heavens, the invisible realm where angels and God dwell.  I don’t see that view justified in the text.  There are several reasons why.

First, while the word for “heavens” is used to refer to the invisible realm where God dwells, it is also used many, many times in reference to the sky and to outer space where the sun, moon and stars are at.  For instance, in reference to the physical universe you will read in Genesis 15:15 God telling Abraham:  “Look up to the heavens Abraham and count the stars if you can.  That’s how many descendents I will give you.”   Or, as 2 Chronicles says using the same word for heavens, “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain…”  “Heaven” in these verses – and numerous other verses – refer to the physical sky and the outer space.  Not to the spiritual realm where God is.  

So does the word “heavens” in verse 1 mean the invisible spiritual realm where God and angels exist?  Or does the word mean the sky over the earth and outer space beyond our atmosphere?”  That is determined by the context.  

How then is the word “heavens” used in Genesis 1 and 2?  The context tells us that the physical sky and outer space are what’s being described.  

Which leads to the 2nd reason we know this is all physical:  Everything in chapter 1 that is said to be created is physical.  There is no mention of a spiritual world:  no angels, no  spiritual heavens, etc.  We see the place where the sun, moon, stars are (outer-space), and the expanse between the waters (sky, clouds, oceans, etc.), the land and the sea and all the creatures in the sky, sea and on the land.  But we don’t see any sort of place described that is heavenly like we see in Revelation.  It’s all our world – our physical realm that we inhabit.  

Third, after chapter 1 describes the creation of the physical universe, the first verse in chapter 2 says “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.”  Verse 4 says the same thing, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”  These verses basically repeat what chapter 1 verse 1 said, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  We really don’t have any textual support here for a description of the spiritual universe.  

Fourth, the spiritual world was already in existence when the physical world was created.  Which would explain why we don’t have anything describing the creation of the spiritual heavens in chapter 1.  They’re already in existence.  We can’t say that angels were created at the same time as humans in these 6 days because we are told elsewhere that when God was busy during these 6 days the angels were singing His praises.  Turn to Job 38:4-7 with me.  It’s like when you’re working on a project at home or at your workplace and you have music on.  God had music going while He was working.   It is conjecture at best to say angels were created along with humans at the same time.  It’s closer to the Biblical text to say they existed prior to the 6 days and during those 6 days they provided the soundtrack for God’s creative activity.

From Chaos To Order

First Corinthians 14:33 says “For God is not a God of disorder”.  And so we see that throughout chapter 1 the whole momentum of God’s work is to take things from “disorder” to order, from “chaos” to organization.  Notice that Day 1 begins in verse 3.  But in verse 2, prior to Day 1 beginning, we have what you might call “raw materials” in an unorganized state:

“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.”  

There are all sorts of theories about the first 3 verses of the Bible.  

  • Are verses 1 and 2 supposed to be considered part of the creative work of Day 1?  Like God made everything ex nihilo (out of nothing) and it was for a moment a chaotic, swirling mass of water, darkness and earth and after that moment God immediately got on with the 6 days of creation?  Very solid and respected scholars believe this. 
  • Another theory is that verse 1 refers to the absolute beginning of creation but that it happened in a previous time long before the 6 days of creation.  Under this theory the rebellion of Satan resulted in God judging the earth and reducing it from a flourishing world to a state of chaos and disorder.  According to this theory, verse 2 picks up when the universe is in this chaotic state and God basically comes back and remakes the earth but this time for mankind.  Don’t laugh.  For one thing very solid and respected scholars hold this view.  Not to mention you have to find a place for the history of angels somewhere and it’s very hard to squeeze it into the 6 days of creation.  And remember Job indicates that the angels already were in existence and singing while God was creating during those 6 days.
  • And there’s more.  Each one with its own strengths and weaknesses.  Unfortunately, the grammar in the Hebrew is not definitive.

What these views all have in common is that everything somewhere in the past was created ex nihilo (out of nothing) and everything was created by God.  “For by Him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16).  Or as Psalm 33:8-9 declare: “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere Him.  For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded and it stood firm.”  Or as Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen (matter) was not made out of what is visible [but by what was invisible (spirit)]”

From Empty To Life

Not only is God moving things from chaos to order, but, His purpose is to create a place for life to exist and flourish.  Life can’t exist in or on something that is “formless and empty” and a “dark” and chaotic swirling of basic matter.  

We see in chapter 1 a pattern where everything is building towards a final creation – a final creation where God is going to make life possible.  

So for instance, notice days 1, 2 and 3 correspond with days 4, 5 and 6.  It’s like once the first 3 days are done, God goes back and He develops further what he began on those 3 days.  So for instance: 

  • Day 1 and Day 4.  Day 1 is when God creates light.  It’s those world famous words, “Let there be light!”  But then on Day 4 God specifically creates the stars, sun and moon to be lights for the earth.  Again notice everything is done for the life that is going to exist on the earth.  God has us in mind as He is creating everything.
  • Then there is Day 2 and Day 5.  On Day 2 God creates the sky and the seas.  Then on Day 5 he comes back and makes the creatures to live in the sky and the sea.
  • Then Day 3 and Day 6.  On Day 3 God makes the dry land.  Then on Day 6 He comes back to make the land-dwelling animals and his crowning creation: man.  

You see a progression in the text.  Everything is building towards life being able to inhabit the world God is creating.  God builds the place first, then He puts his creatures in it.  

This is why I’m a believer that humanity is a “single-planet species”.  Elon Musk says he wants us as humans to be a “multi-planet species”.  He wants humans to live on more than just one planet.  Which is why one of his life goals is to establish a permanent human population on Mars.  He said its been too long since we’ve been back to the moon and we need to get  back there to establish a permanent base on the moon, and then cities on Mars, so that we can become a “spacefaring civilization”.  It’s a lot like Buzz Lightyear’s motto:  “To infinity, and beyond!”  

But if you believe God’s word then you know that we are a single-planet species.  God created the earth for us to live on.  This is our home.  And, this is where Jesus is coming back.  And I’m pretty sure He’s not going to get here and find it abandoned.  No, God made the earth for us and this is the place where life exists.  

It’s also the only place where life can exist.  A few decades ago Carl Sagan and other atheist scientists believed in the principle of mediocrity, which means that earth is mediocre.  It’s nothing special in our universe.  There must be many many other planets out there that could give rise to life.  But since then the science just doesn’t support such a view.  Astronomer and author of “The Privileged Planet”, Guillermo Gonzalez says:

“Astronomers now know that Earth is a rare, life-friendly “oasis in the big vastness of space,” … In the past few decades they have discovered that life on our planet depends on many improbable “rare-earth” factors. Earth must orbit the sun at just the right distance, with just the right axial tilt, and with just the right-shaped orbit and right planetary neighbors. Life depends on Earth having a moon of the right size at the right distance. The solar system as a whole must also reside in a narrow life-friendly band of space within our galaxy, the “galactic habitable zone.”

Contrary to our planet being “typical”, Gonzalez goes on to show the numerous ways in which our Earth is rare and unique in the universe.  And it would be if God created it for us.  And that is what He did.  And that is what we see Him doing in Genesis chapter 1.  He is making this earth ready for us.  Like a pregnant woman who starts “nesting” at home to get ready for her baby, God was getting our home ready for us.  This is our home.  And if Elon Musk stands at the door to his spaceship, beckoning like some modern day Noah to come aboard, I’m staying.


So God creates the environment before He puts the creatures there.  He does this in the beginning, but did you know He does it in the end too?  In John 14 Jesus told His disciples:  “I am going to [My Father’s house] to prepare a place for you.  And if I go there and prepare a place for you, I will surely come back and take you to be with me where I am” (John 14:2-3).  

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