When you first meet someone, what’s the first thing you tell them about yourself? Maybe your name. Or what you do for a living. Perhaps a comment related to the occasion of your meeting—how you know the party’s host; or the couple that is getting married; or the parents of the baby shower. But what if we were to tell someone we had just met something about ourselves that we consider important? What would that be? It’s hard to imagine doing that, isn’t it? We’re far more comfortable sharing generally about ourselves than we are opening our lives up to strangers—and even friends and family at times.

Well, what we learn in Genesis—not for the first time and certainly not for the last—is how very different God is from us.[1] For God begins his revelation to humanity by telling us not something mundane, but something very important about himself. He begins by telling us something he never wants us to forget. For the very first thing that God chose to disclose about himself in his Holy Word, as stated in the very first verse of the very first chapter of the very first book of his Word, is this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That God created the heaven and earth; that he created everything that exists, is the very first truth God wants us to know about him. It’s the very first truth God has revealed to us concerning himself and our existence. And it’s a truth he’ll continue to affirm throughout his Scriptures.[2]

If we briefly reflect upon only this one verse, we can appreciate the important of this self-disclosure for it is God that created the heavens and earth—not “gods” in the plural but simply God.[3] As Isaiah also testifies, “For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.’”[4] There is but one God and he it is who created the heavens and the earth. This means that the world didn’t come into being by chance. Nor did the world create itself. Nor did a pantheon of gods cause it to come into being. No, it is only God who brought the world into being. Therefore heaven and earth have a purpose that is to be found in God, its Creator, and in him alone.

Too, if there is only one God who made the heavens and the earth, then everything that exists not only owes its existence to him, but everything that exists is owned by him; everything that exists is made for him; everything that exists exists for his glory; everything that exists ought to look to him in gratitude for the fact of its existence; and everything that exists can find its ultimate meaning in him and him alone.

But next we see that God not only created the heavens and earth. He also remained involved with the creation he had made. As stated in verse 2, “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.” God by his Spirit continued to take part in and oversee and care for the heavens and earth he had made. And in the verses that follow we see that God, who created everything that exists, went on to give shape to this incredible world. In each creation day that follows, God begins to form the formless; he begins to fill the empty; he begins to shed light upon the darkness that is “over the surface of the deep.” Further, each time God speaks, what he speaks comes to pass. God’s speaking is efficacious; it brings about its intended result. This truth is reiterated in Psalm 33 which declares, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 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.”[5]

This creative process of forming the formless—and filling the empty—and dispersing the darkness that was over the face of the deep is broken down into six days. Beginning with verse 3 we read, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” In the Ancient Near East, for a king to call something was understood as an act of claiming dominion. So, too, God the Creator is also the King over that creation. And because he has called all of creation into being, all of creation belongs to him.

Further, God who is good declares the light he made to be good. The goodness of creation is a reflection of the goodness of its Creator. This truth about God—that he is a good God—is also one that he will continue to disclose and affirm throughout his Scriptures. We read about his goodness in various psalms: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”[6] And again, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”[7] And yet again, “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”[8] From the beginning we see how the goodness of God, our Creator and King, is made known through the goodness of the creation he has made.

In this first day of creation we also see that God who is the light of the world creates light, separating it from darkness, in order that his creatures might see his beauty and that of the world he has made. This truth about God being light, too continues to be affirmed throughout his Scriptures. In the psalms we’re told, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”[9] And, again, the psalmist declares, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”[10] Later in the New Testament, James, the brother of our LORD Jesus, affirms both truths—that God is good and that he is light—when he notes,  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” [11]

Well in each creation day that follows we see that God, the Creator King, continually calls into being each part of his creation, and his speech continues to be efficacious, it brings about its desired end. And we also see that God will continually affirm the goodness of his creation. He affirms its value. For all of creation has been brought into being by God, our good Creator. Hence,

Verses 6–8 record the second day when God spoke and made the sky, “a vault between the waters” to separate “water under the vault from water above it. And it was so.” God speaks—and it comes to pass.

Verse 9–13 record the third day when “God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.” God speaks—and what he speaks comes to pass—and he affirms the goodness of what he has made. So, too, did God say concerning the vegetation. As stated at the end of verse 12, “God saw that it was good.”

Verses 14–19 record the fourth creation day when God said, “‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so.” Again, God spoke and it came to pass. We further learn that he creates a “greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.” Though it’s evident that these lights refer to the sun and moon, respectively, they aren’t mentioned by name for people in the ancient world viewed the sun and moon as part of pagan pantheons. As one scholar notes, not naming them effectively demoted them “…emphasizing that they serve mankind according to God’s design.”[12] Another similarly observes “the text avoids using terms that were also proper names for pagan deities linked to the sun and the moon.”[13] The opening chapter of Genesis is intentional in making clear that these lights are not gods but are part of the creation made by God. We see that God gives to these greater and lesser lights the task of governing. Therefore, having created light on the first day and separating it from darkness, on the fourth day God placed entities in that light and darkness to govern them. And God “also made the stars” to serve his purposes[14] which, again, “pagans often credited…with controlling human destiny.”[15] And, again, concerning this creation of the sun, moon, and stars, “God saw that it was good.”

Verses 20–23 record the fifth day when God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky…. And God saw that it was good.” Again, having created a vault, the sky, on the second day, separating the water below from the water above, on the fifth day God filled the sky with the birds, his living creatures, to fly across it, and he filled the waters with living creatures for the seas. And it’s worth noting that sea creatures, too, were thought by pagans to be rival creating gods,[16] yet here they are but another part of God’s creation. On this fifth day we’re additionally told that as God blessed these creatures he told them, verse 22, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” These creatures are not god but are part of God’s creation assigned to do his bidding.

Verses 24–31 record the sixth, the final day of creation, when God said, first, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.” And then God said starting in verse 26, “‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Again, having created the land and vegetation on the third day, God filled that land with his creatures—the livestock, wild animals, and then humanity itself. And we see God telling the first human beings, as he had told the creatures on the fifth day, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” But then he tells these image-bearers something more. Namely, “fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Whereas the sun and moon are to govern the light God made;[17]

And the birds and waters teeming with creatures are blessed and told to increase and fill the sky and seas, respectively;[18]

When God made humanity—male and female in his image and likeness—as his image-bearers, as the only part of creation that reflect and represent the God who made them, he had them increase and fill the world in which he had placed them—as he did with the birds and fish; and he had them govern that world—as he did with the sun moon. But God had humanity, image-bearers of the Creator King, govern the entirety of the creation he had made as his royal representatives—from the fish in the sea, to the birds in the sky, to every living creature that moves on the ground.[19]

Then, having completed the creation of the heavens and the earth, God again declared its value. As stated in verse 31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Six times prior to this—in verses 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, and 25—we’re told about the goodness of the creation God has made.[20] God’s creation now being complete, it is declared by him to be “very good.”

Finally, we arrive at the seventh day, a day not of creation, but of rest. As stated in the opening verses of Genesis 2, “1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” When God rested from work on the seventh day, instead of calling the seventh day “good,” he made it “holy.” God imparts his holiness to creation thereby setting it apart for himself. The seventh day is like no other day. It is a day that is set apart. It is a day when the Maker and all of his creation is to cease from its creative activity and good work—and rest;[21] and look back upon the work it has done; and consider the value of that work and of life itself. There is no evening and morning on the seventh day for God’s creative activity is now complete.

As we look ahead to the New Testament, it’s no coincidence that the apostle John, one of the disciples who was part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples,[22] begins the very first verse of the very first chapter of his Gospel by connecting Christ Jesus, our Savior and LORD, with God, the Good Creator King, from Genesis 1. We see that the very first verses of John’s Gospel affirm what the very first verse of Genesis stated, namely, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John presents God here not as speaking but as entering human existence in the person of Jesus Christ as the Word that has ever existed and through whom all things were made.

And it’s no coincidence that in verses 4–5 of his Gospel John goes on to connect Christ Jesus, our Savior and LORD, with the God who brought light into being in the third verse of Genesis. As John testifies concerning Jesus Christ, “4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” And then, after noting that John the Baptist came as a witness to the light of Christ but was not the light itself in verses 6–8, the apostle John again declares starting in verse 9, “9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”

What John is stating here was also acknowledged elsewhere in the New Testament for that in the Person of Jesus Christ, God’s light was brought to a world of darkness, is one of the pillars of our faith. So we read in Matthew’s Gospel, “13 Leaving Nazareth, [Jesus] went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 ‘Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’[23] So, too, did Jesus teach concerning himself, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”[24] And so, too, Peter testified as he declared, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”[25] And so, too, John again stated in his revelation when he testified, “22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”[26] From Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end, God’s Scriptures declare him to be light.

And Christ Jesus, the light of the world, is also Christ Jesus the Creator of the world. That he is Creator is attested to not only by John but in other Scriptures as well. As stated by the author of Hebrews, “…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”[27] And so, too, Paul teaches, “For in [the Son] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”[28]

And whereas in Genesis we see God affirming the goodness of the creation he has made, for it is a creation that reflects his goodness, in the New Testament we see that in the Person of Jesus Christ, God’s goodness has come to earth in the flesh. As Jesus replied to a man who called him good, “No one is good—except God alone.”[29] No one is good, but Jesus Christ alone, for Jesus Christ is God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us hold fast to the important truths that our God, who is Creator of the heavens and earth, and King over the heavens and earth, has disclosed to us in his Word.

For because he is our Maker, we and all that exists belong to him;

Let us take heart in knowing that he is a Maker who cares deeply for and values all the good world he has made;

For he has made this world good, reflecting his goodness, in order that we might seek him who made it;

And he is a God who has shed his light on this world that we might see and enjoy its beauty and be reminded of the beauty of its Maker;

And in the Person of his Son, Christ Jesus, we see the goodness and kindness and compassion of our Creator in the flesh;

In the Person of his Son, Christ Jesus, we are able to receive his eternal light and life that we might ever behold our God;

And if all Creation points to the glory, to the presence, to the reality of its Creator, how much more does the Person of his Son, Christ Jesus, confront us with  his glory, his presence, his reality, full of grace and truth;

So let us look to our Creator knowing he is the only God;

Let us embrace and shed his light upon this world of darkness;

Let us value the goodness of his creation and let us seek to be good even as he is.

Let us pray.

[1] See Isaiah 55:8–9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

[2] See, e.g., Psalm 102:25: In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.; Isaiah 44:24: “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,…”; Ecclesiastes 11:5: As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.; Jeremiah 10:16: He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the people of his inheritance—the Lord Almighty is his name.

[3] Although the word used for God, Elohim, is in the plural, the verb used with God is in the singular. This is consistent with Scripture’s later self-disclosure of one God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

[4] Isaiah 45:18.

[5] Psalm 33:6.–9 See also Hebrews 11:3: By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.; 2 Peter 5:3: But they [scoffers in the last days] deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

[6] Psalm 34:8.

[7] Psalm 107:1

[8] Psalm 145:9.

[9] Psalm 27:1.

[10] Psalm 119:130.

[11] James 1:17.

[12] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 1:16.

[13] Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 1:14–19.

[14] Note that the stars are also mentioned as governing in Psalm 139:7–9: [Give thanks to the LORD (v. 1)] “who made the great lights—His love endures forever. the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.

[15] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 1:16.

[16] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 1:21.

[17] Day 4: 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.

[18] Day 5: 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”

[19] Day 6: 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

[20] Verses 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31:God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness…. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good…. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good…. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good…. 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good…. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good…. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

[21] See God’s command in Exodus 20:8–11:Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

[22] i.e., Peter, James, and John were the only disciples present, e.g., at the raising of Jairus’ daughter: Mark 5:37: He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James./Luke 8:51: When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother.; at the Transfiguration: Matthew 17:1: After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.; at Gethsemane: Matthew 26:37: He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [= James and John] along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled./Mark 14:33: He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.

                                                                                                 

[23] Matthew 4:13–16. Isaiah 9:1–2 is being quoted.

[24] John 8:12. See also, John 12:34–37: 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

[25] 1 Peter 2:9.

[26] Revelation 21:22–24.

[27] Hebrews 1:2.

[28] Colossians 1:16.

[29] Jesus’ goodness is affirmed in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Mark 10:17–18: 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”; Luke 18:18–19: 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.; Matthew 19:16–17: 16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”