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Author: Ron Graham

Old Testament

Genesis Chapter One
—The beginning

This lesson considers the first three verses of the Old Testament, about the beginning of the universe and the state of planet earth before God transformed it. Here's what we find in these three  verses:

Genesis 1:1-3

  • The origin of the cosmos (verse 1),
  • The formless state of the earth (verse 2),
  • The first act of the creation week in which the earth is transformed (verse 3).

1 The Beginning

Genesis 1:1

The Bible certainly begins at the beginning, but it tells us only one essential thing. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). This is the origin of the heavens and the earth, and the premise on which the rest of Genesis 1 is based.

One Beginning, One Creation

Notice that there is no indication of any time elapsing between (1) the creation of the cosmos and (2) the first day of creation on earth. Genesis 1:1 gives us the broad sweep of God s act of creation. The rest of the chapter details what he did on the earth.

By arbitrarily inserting a long period of time separating these, we would produce two creations and two beginnings —the first stated in Genesis 1:1. The six days of creation on earth would be another beginning and creation after the inserted time period. The scriptures, however, speak of only one beginning, one creation, not two.

John 1:1-3

¶“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Everything was made [created] through him, and nothing was made without him —of all that has ever been made.” (John 1:1-3).

Colossians 1:16-17

¶“15He is the exact image of the unseen God. He is the firstborn [from the dead] of all creation. 16All things were created by him, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities, all things were created by him and for him. 17And he is before all things and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

Hebrews 11:3

¶“3By faith we understand that the worlds were assembled by the word of God so that everything we see came from what is unseen” (Hebrews 11:3).

2 The Formless and Empty Earth

Genesis 1:2

In verse 2, Genesis brings the point of view down to the earth (rather than the entire cosmos). Verse 2 describes the state of the earth on the first day of creation before God said, "Let there be light".

Here's what the earth was like before God transformed it: "The earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:2).

God created the earth as a dark, barren, disordered, watery world. In other words, "Of old [God] laid the foundation of the earth" (Psalm 102:25). But God did not leave it that way. He transformed it, creating everything it needed. He did this in six days.

3 The Earth Transformed

Genesis 1:3

Throughout the six days of Creation, God spoke and the earth was transformed. On the first day, "God said, let there be light and there was light" (Genesis 1:3).

Giving light to our world was the first act of God in the transformation —a process of several acts that took six days altogether. The description of each day begins with, "Then God said..." and concludes with, "And there was evening and there was morning the first day [or a second day, a third day, etc]".

We may certainly marvel at the heavens and earth God created for us in those six days.

The earth is the LORD’S
and all it contains,
The world and those
who dwell in it.
The heavens declare
the glory of God
and the sky
shows his handiwork 
(Psalm 24:1,19:1)

Note:— Age and Size of Universe. I have made no attempt, in the above lesson, to discuss the age and size of the universe. That question hinges on the nature of time, space, and light, which is much debated and by no means certain.

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