Genesis 1-2 contains the account of God creating the heavens and the earth. The earth is created in six consecutive days and on the seventh day God rested. The pinnacle of this account is the creation of man in His image. In creating man on the sixth day, God established gender and marriage. He dignified man with the responsibility of stewardship over His creation.
God’s Creative Act
In considering the ancient Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek accounts of creation, James M. Hamilton provides a clear contrast of these accounts with the Biblical account of creation. He demonstrates “the ungodliness of the gods” (James Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, Crossway Books, p. 70) whose actions of creation occurred in the midst of conflict and sexual perversion. In clear contrast to those accounts, Genesis 1 presents God as the Almighty Sovereign who orderly and purposefully brought all things into existence for His glory and our good.
The very first verse of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). This verse – along with the rest of the Bible – does not set out to prove the Creator’s existence. Instead, the Bible just states it. In all the passages that speak of creation, God is seen as the sovereign of the universe. He spoke, and then it came into existence. Everything that exists is here because of His power and choosing (cf. Rev. 4:11). In Genesis 1, the word “God” occurs 32 times, and this reveals the emphasis on the source of creation.
The Creation Days
Genesis 1 provides the account of creation occurring in six days with God resting on the seventh. This creation week is systematic and orderly. The first three days describe the forming of things, and the next three days describe the filling of those things formed. The following chart illustrates this:
DAY 1: Light and Darkness DAY 4: Sun, Moon, and Stars
DAY 2: Sea and Sky DAY 5: Water Creatures and Birds
DAY 3: Land and Plants DAY 6: Animals and Man
The question of the length of the days is often raised. There are two major views presented: (1) they are 24-hour periods, (2) or they are long periods of time. It is beyond the purpose and scope of this chapter to analyze each of these views. However, it is my understanding that the days are to be viewed as normal 24-hour days consisting of morning and evening.
The Image Bearer of God
The pinnacle of God’s creation is man. We learn that God created man in His image (Gen. 1:26, 27). This sets him aside from the rest of creation, as this is not said of anything else. A basic understanding of being made in God’s image is to say that God made man similar to Himself. This can be understood in two ways. Firstly, man is made like God in terms of resemblance. That is to say he is a spiritual, rational and immortal being. Secondly, man is a representative of God. When people see man, they should see God. Obviously not in a complete way (because man is not God), but in such a way that God can be known and glorified. Man should live in such a way that it is evident that he lives to the glory of God. To be made in the image of God reveals that there is dignity and value to human life. As an image bearer, Adam was called to,
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
God’s command for Adam to subdue the earth was a responsibility to be a sensible steward of His creation. It wasn’t a command to let it grow wild and preserve it so that it cannot be touched or tapped into. God has created this world filled with energy for mankind to tap into. The more we make use of this energy; productivity abounds, physical human and animal workloads are lessened and God’s name is glorified.
Genesis 2 records the completion of God’s creative acts. Verses 1-3 tell us “He rested on the seventh day” (2:3). This was not God needing to rest due to tiredness or weariness (cf. Isaiah 40:28). This rest occurred because the work of creation was complete. This was the cessation of His creative work. This cessation did not include His withdrawing of His hand from creation and ceasing to be involved with it. If this happened, everything would no longer work.
The Sabbath rest of God provides a picture and pattern. It is a picture of God’s satisfaction in His creative work. And it is a pattern that was later given as a sign between God and the nation of Israel (Exodus 31:16-17). For the nation of Israel the keeping of the Sabbath Day as holy involved a number of restrictions (cf. Ex. 31:12-17). This seventh day also provides a natural and practical pattern for people as they engage in the balance between work and rest. For the Christian, the Sabbath is now fulfilled in Christ (Hebrews 4:9-10). What this means for us is that we do not work for our salvation, but instead we trust and rest in Jesus Christ. The seventh day however continues to be a perpetual reminder of God’s complete work of creation, and is an opportunity for us to delight in Him for that.
Gender and Marriage
After God created Adam He placed him in Eden, a garden paradise (2:8) and stipulated Adam’s freedom and prohibitions (2:17). When God created male and female – He created them with equal value and dignity. Both were created in His image (Gen. 1:27) and both therefore reflect the handiwork of their Maker. Though they are both of equal value and dignity, the Scriptures make it clear that there are differences of function between the two of them. The most obvious of these differences is that Adam was a male and Eve was a female.
When Adam saw Eve for the first time he was captivated by her appearance. Unlike the animals, he noted the similarity and connection she had to him as he stated that she is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” However, there was a clear distinction in her person. Adam says, “she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” She is similar but different – Eve was a woman. In creating Eve, the Lord made her “a helper fit for” Adam (Gen. 2:18; cf. 1 Cor.11:9). Though equal in value and dignity, Eve’s role was to be a help for her husband Adam. Wayne Grudem notes, “She was created as one who differed from him, but who differed from him in ways that would exactly complement who Adam was” (Wayne Grudem, Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood. Crossway Books, 2002, p. 32). The Lord has designed marriage to consist of a man and a woman rightly functioning in their God ordained roles.
Before this union occurred, it is helpful to consider the events leading up to it. God made Adam (the first man in history) on the sixth day and declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). The Lord had also created land animals and the birds of the air, which were brought to Adam to see what he would name them. Of course, none of these were suitable to be “a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:20). So then, the Lord caused Adam to sleep and from his side created the first woman (Gen. 2:21-22).
After the Lord brought these two together in marital union, He said to them “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). It was essential that if this mandate of procreation was to be fulfilled, Adam needed a wife and Eve needed a husband. The Lord provided the gift of sexual relations within the confines of marital union between a male and female. This is to be practiced and enjoyed.
This first act of marital union was not intended to be first simply so that there may be a further population, thus allowing for other forms of union (homosexuality etc.). Instead, this first marriage provided the Divine standard and pattern for marital union. As a result of Adam and Eve coming together we read, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). The pattern is simple – a man (male) will leave the confines of parental authority (again male and female) and cleave to his wife (female) and thus become one flesh.