God Creates the Universe
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1).- Genesis 1:1–2:3
An appropriate place to begin our study of important Old Testament themes and their new covenant fulfillments is at the very beginning of God’s redemptive history — the account of creation in Genesis 1:1–2:3. These verses have been at the center of controversy over the past two hundred years or so regarding the age of the earth, biological evolution, and other scientific matters. While these issues are not unimportant, our focus on them can lead us to miss some equally important truths that Genesis 1:1–2:3 tells us about the created order.
First, this portion of Scripture is clear that the physical world is not inherently evil. Of course, the creation presently suffers the effects of the curse on humanity’s sin, but God pronounced His creation “good” no less than seven times during the week of creation (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). This corrects the assumption that non-material existence is superior to physical form. Greek philosophy and Eastern religions often look to escape the body, but the Bible never affirms that life as a disembodied spirit is the final goal of creation. Life in a blessed physical world is routinely referred to as the ideal (Ex. 3:8; Deut. 30:1–10), with the ultimate hope of mankind being life in a resurrected body in a new heavens and earth (Dan. 12:2; Rev. 21:1–4). God made us as both physical and spiritual creatures, and it is as such that we will enjoy a renewed and glorified creation when Christ returns.
The creation account in Genesis also affirms that a person has place, value, and meaning because the Creator has assigned each of these to everything in His creation — not least humankind. That which is good is not intrinsically so; rather, we reckon as good only those things that the Lord reckons as good according to His Word (Gen. 1:4a). Similarly, we are not free to engage in behaviors that violate the natural order as God originally made it. He assigns a proper place to everything from light and darkness to the vegetation of the field to human beings, so we cannot deny the order He has established (vv. 4b–31). Finally, this world has meaning and purpose, which is impossible if everything just arose by chance. Our Creator gave us meaning when He stamped His image upon us and called us to take dominion of the earth for His glory (vv. 26–28), and thus any attempt to find purpose apart from Him is futile
What informs your understanding of the world around you? Do you seek meaning and value from the surrounding culture or do you look to God’s Word to give you these things? The worldview of the cultures in which we live can powerfully shape our understanding of what is good, true, and beautiful, but Scripture is to judge which of these beliefs are true and which are false. Let us look to God’s Word to define the meaning and purpose for our lives.
Passages for Further Study
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343