“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. This is how the book of Genesis, and all of the Bible, begins. It records how the eternal God created all things. Before continuing to read this article, I encourage you to first read Genesis 1:1-2:25 in the Bible.
In the beginning, God created the earth without form and void, unfit to be inhabited, being covered with water, and in darkness. However, with His Word and by the power of His Spirit, He would form and fill His creation in a six-day process (Genesis 1:1-2, Exodus 20:11, Exodus 31:17). In the first three days, God ordered His creation. In the next three days, He filled it.
- On the first day, He created light and separated it from darkness, calling the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And on the fourth day He filled them with the sun, the moon and the stars (Genesis 1:3-5; 14-19).
- On the second day, He created the heavens and parted the clouds from the waters under the expanse. And on the fifth day, He filled the sky with birds and the waters with animals (Genesis 1:6-8; 20-23).
- On the third day, He separated the dry land from the waters under the heavens. He called the dry land “earth” and the waters He called “seas”. And on the sixth day, He filled the earth with animals and created man, Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31).
With the creation of man we must pause a little. God established, in a special way, a covenant relationship with man. He had shown His benevolence to him by creating him in His image, giving him the breath of life and putting him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.
After all this, God demanded loyalty from him. He wanted man to prove his obedience by eating from every tree except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Disobedience would lead to death. In addition, God blessed Adam with a helper fit for him: Eve. Together they should rule the earth and the animals, and they should multiply (Genesis 1:24-31; 2:4-25).
On the seventh day, God completed His creation work. He blessed and sanctified that day, because on it He rested from all that He had created. Everything He had made was good, it was perfect! (Genesis 2:1-3).
What does this biblical account teach us?
We can extract various lessons, but I will mention the basic ones:
- God is the Author of creation
The first words of the Bible reveal great truths to us: God is eternal, and He is the Author of creation. Therefore, God is the only One who transcends time and space. He is the King and Lord of all creation (cf. Psalm 47:7; Revelation 4:11).
- God reveals His purposes in creation
His trinitarian essence is reflected in creation: the Father originates creation, the Son executes it and the Spirit perfects it. Notice that the earth was created void and without form, and then it was ordered and filled in six days. Why was this so? This reflects God’s redemptive purpose! He was building His kingdom on earth. (cf. Isaiah 45:18; Romans 11:36).
- Man was created in the image of God
God created man to look after creation, which is why He gave him the attributes of justice, holiness and wisdom. In His name, man was to exercise dominion (as “king”) and fill the earth. In addition, God gave him the priestly role of “working and keeping” the garden of Eden. His service, as the image of God, began in the garden and was to extend to all creation (cf. Psalm 8).
- Original relationship: God and man in communion
God set aside a time (Sabbath), a place (garden of Eden) and established a way (covenant of obedience/works) for man to enjoy Him forever. The marriage of Adam and Eve reflected God’s communion with man. Disobedience to His commands would cause the breakdown of this communion. (cf. Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12; Revelation 21:3).
- Christ is the center and end of creation
Creation was very good. However, it was only a pattern of the new creation, and Adam was a type of Christ (“the last Adam”). Even though there was no sin on earth, it had already been determined in eternity that Christ would save His people from their sins. Everything was created through Him and for Him. The only perfect Priest and King would not be Adam, but Christ. (cf. Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 1:19-20, John 1:1-5; 5:39)
Thank you God for showing me Christ in creation!
God commanded Adam to “work and keep” the garden. He should care for and protect the place where God dwelt in a special way. This was not just a random garden, and therefore is was not the ordinary work of a gardener.
These two terms of “cultivating and keeping” are also used in Numbers 3:7-8 and 8:26, where God gave the priests and Levites the same mandate to serve in the tabernacle and to guard its furnishings. In those days, the tabernacle was God’s special dwelling place, just as the Garden of Eden had been in Adam’s time. Therefore both Adam and the Levites had a priestly task.
Thanks to GospelImages for the great image.