NOTE: To receive the full benefit of the lesson, the reader is advised to look up the cited scriptures in their Bible before examining the explanatory material of the article.

God’s Plan in the Book of Genesis



THE WORK OF Creation referred to in these opening verses of the Bible predates the seven days of creation outlined in the remainder of the chapter. How beautifully simple is this story told of the original Creation! It starts with the reasonable assumption that a Creator, an intelligent First Cause, already existed. It does not attempt to explain the origin of the Creator, nor to reveal the manner in which the universe was brought into existence by him.

While some scientists lack faith in the existence of a personal Creator, attributing all the works of Creation to the operation of natural law, there are many who admit their inability to explain the operation of natural law except from the standpoint that back of it is an intelligent Lawgiver, and no scientist has been able to prove that this is not true. Thus, the opening verses of the Bible stand without refutation in the light of the most modern scientific knowledge.

A moment’s reflection upon the immensity and grandeur of the universe should suffice to convince us that behind all this display of intelligence and power must be the design of a great Being, who not only is the Creator, but one who is worthy of our reverence and worship as God. Well did the prophet write that only the foolish say in their hearts, “There is no God.”—Ps. 14:1; 53:1

Verse two explains that as originally created, the earth was “without form, and void”—that is, its ultimate contour as God designed it, had not been developed, and it was empty of all forms of life. There were neither mountains nor valleys, trees nor shrubs, rivers nor oceans.

A recognition of the division made in Genesis between the original creation of the earth and its later preparation to be the home of man, eliminates all need for controversy between science and the Bible concerning the age of the earth or the length of time required for its creation. Science claims that millions of years elapsed during which this earth came into being as a shapeless, empty mass. The Scriptures neither deny nor affirm these guesses and near—guesses of the scientist, but state simply that “in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

It is also important to realize that the six ‘days’ of Genesis, chapter 1, during which the earth, already created, was undergoing stages of gradual preparation for human habitation, were not short periods of 24 hours. They were, rather, epochs of time sufficiently long to permit accomplishment of the work assigned to each.

Not only in the Bible, but apart from it as well, the term ‘day’ often relates to a period of time longer than twenty-four hours. That the creative days were not twenty-four hour periods, the length of which is controlled by the relationship of the earth to the sun, is apparent from the fact that the sun was not made to rule the day until the fourth creative epoch.


“Let there be light: and there was light.” Thus, briefly, is summed up the result of the first creative day. The nature and cause of light is as yet but imperfectly comprehended. This original light was not from the sun, because the sun did not appear until the fourth day, or epoch. It was probably light produced in some way by electrical or atomic energy, such as the Aurora Borealis.

As with the Hebrew lunar days, so also with these epoch days, the evening came first, and it marked the beginning of a gradual development of the Divine purpose, reaching its culmination in the morning of that day or epoch. Hence the statement, “The evening and the morning were the first day.” This first period, or day, of Genesis, is scientifically described as azoic, or lifeless.


The work of the second day was devoted to the production of an atmosphere. It was probably accomplished in a natural way, as are many of God’s wonderful works, though nonetheless his devising. The separation of the waters above and below the ‘firmament’ would indicate that previous to the creation of atmosphere as it now surrounds the earth, the entire planet was virtually encased in a canopy or ring of moisture, that there was little difference between it and the waters which lay upon the earth’s crust.


The work of the third creative day was the dividing of land and water upon the earth, and the development of vegetation. Geology fully corroborates this record. As the earth’s crust cooled, the weight of the waters would tend to make it kink and buckle. The depressed parts became ocean beds, while the elevations forced by the buckling constituted mountain ranges.

It is not necessary to assume that all changes of this kind occurred in the one epoch. It is more reasonable to conclude that the third ‘day’ witnessed merely the beginning of this work to a sufficient degree of progress to make possible the introduction of vegetation. Geology indicates that some changes in the earth’s surface are of comparatively recent date. Still further changes may occur.

As the waters drained off into the seas, vegetation sprang forth, each after its kind, with seed in itself to reproduce its own species. This matter is so fixed by the laws of the Creator that although horticulture can and does do much to give variety, it cannot change the actual nature of species. This shows design, which can be accounted for only by acknowledging the existence of a supreme and intelligent Creator.

In this early period vegetation was extremely rank in growth. Mosses, ferns, and vines grew immensely larger and more rapidly than now, because the atmosphere was laden with carbonic and nitrogenous gases. Plants which now grow only a few inches or a few feet high, even at the equator, then attained a growth of forty to eighty feet, sometimes with a diameter of two feet or more, as is demonstrated by fossil remains. It was during this period, geologists claim, that our coal beds were formed. In geology, this period is styled the Carboniferous era.

VERSES 14-19

It is unnecessary to suppose that the sun and the moon were created after our earth. We may as properly lay stress on the word ‘rule’ in this passage as on the word ‘made’. The thought is that in this fourth epoch God caused the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night. The sun and the moon existed long before this, but not until the waters above and below the firmament were separated, and other changes had occurred in preparation for life upon the earth, could the light from the sun and the moon penetrate sufficiently to divide the day from the night. Nor is it necessary to assume that the sun shone as brightly upon the earth then as now, but it was discernible, even though shining through heavy banks of fog and carbon-laden atmosphere.

VERSES 20-23

During the fifth epoch day, fish and birds were created. The extent to which warm oceans at that time swarmed with living creatures, from the jellyfish to the whale, may be judged by the profusion of life in the warm southern seas of the present time. Reptiles, living partly in the water and partly on the land—amphibians—belong also to this period.

In this connection it is well to note, for whatever significance may be attached to it, that the Bible does not assert that God created separately and individually all the myriad kinds of fish and reptiles. Divine energy, called the Spirit of God, brooded over the waters, and they brought forth living creatures according to God’s design. The processes are not explained—one species may, under Divinely arranged conditions, have developed into another. Or, from the same original protoplasm, different orders of creatures may have developed according to varying circumstances. No one really knows, and it is unwise to be dogmatic on this point.

We do know that it all came about as a result of Divine intention and arrangement, hence all the various forms of life were created by God, whatever may have been the channels and agencies used. When the Creator’s intention concerning each order of existing life had been reached, no further change was possible.

VERSES 24,25

By the beginning, or ‘evening’, of the sixth day, conditions on the earth were becoming more settled. The earth’s crust was thicker by hundreds of feet of sand, clay, and coal, and various other minerals. The earth’s surface was sufficiently above the sea, and well enough drained by mountain ranges and valleys to be ready for the lower animals. These the Scriptures divide into three general kinds: first, earth reptiles, cold-blooded breathing lizards, snakes, etc.; second, beasts of the earth, or wild beasts; third, domestic animals especially suited to be useful to man, and referred to here as ‘cattle’.

VERSES 26-31

It was at the close of the sixth day that man was created. In describing his creation the Scriptures use a very different expression from that employed to explain the previous creative processes. It is not, “let the earth bring forth,” as in the case of the lower animals; but, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Whatever may be said in favor of a possible limited evolutionary process in the creation of the lower animals, this language permits no such interpretation concerning the creation of man.

Man is said to have been created in the image of God, and to have been fitted to rule over the beasts of the field. He was endowed with the gift of speech, and was able to reason rather than to be guided merely by instinct. He was given ability to discern between right and wrong. Man was also given a capacity to enjoy harmony of sound, as in music. He was also endowed with a faculty for worship, which, perhaps more than any other thing, separates him from the lower animals. His being made in the moral image of God enabled him to appreciate the attributes of divine wisdom, justice, love, and power.

It is well to notice at this point that the Creator’s commission to man was to multiply and fill the earth, and have dominion over all things earthly. That man was created in the image of God does not, as some erroneously suppose, mean that he was a spiritual being, destined to spend eternity in a heavenly realm. Man was created an earthly being, adapted to earthly conditions, and provision was made for him to live on the earth forever. This was his destiny.



That God rested on the seventh day does not mean that he became weary, for the Scriptures declare, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?”—Isaiah 40:28

The Scriptures do not say, “The evening and the morning were the seventh day,” which is strong circumstantial evidence that at no time previous to the completion of the inspired record of the Scriptures has this seventh epoch come to an end. The plan of God for man during this long period of the seventh epoch is being completed by Christ, the Creator having entrusted to him this great responsibility. It is in this sense that God rests from his works. The Scriptures imply that this seventh period of time is one of seven thousand years in length, and this may well suggest the length of the other six creative days.


The word ‘generations’ in this passage translates a Hebrew word which in a figurative sense could be translated “historical records.” It is worthy of note that in this text all six days of Creation are referred to as one “day.” This is strong confirmatory evidence that the ‘days’ of the preceding chapter are not twenty-four hour periods.


The fact that it had not rained up to this time, and that the ground was watered merely by a mist which went up from the earth, indicates that there was still a ring of vapor surrounding the planet which equalized the temperature and prevented rain. The first rain mentioned in the Scriptures is in connection with the Flood of Noah’s day.—Gen. 7:4


Here we have a detailed account of the manner in which the first man was created. The first chapter of Genesis presents a general summary of the entire Creative work, including man. The second chapter does not tell us of the creation of another man, but presents the details of how the man of the first chapter was made. The remainder of the Bible deals with God’s purpose in the creation of man, and the details of his creation are necessary to the revealment of this purpose.

In this text the word ‘soul’ appears for the first time in the Bible. Man is said to have become a “living soul.” (vs. 7) This human soul was formed by the union of man’s organism, created from the elements of the earth, and the “breath of life.” The soul was not a separate entity which the Creator implanted in man.

The term ‘living soul’ simply means a soul that is alive. It does not mean immortal soul. The expression ‘immortal soul’, or any equivalent thereof, is not to be found anywhere in the Bible. It is in this text that God tells us what constitutes a human soul, and this should be a guide in the understanding of every other reference to human souls that we find in the Bible.


Man’s life was to be sustained by the food of the Garden, including that from the “tree of life.” (vs. 9) This indicates that he did not have inherent life, but rather a life which needed to be sustained in order to be lasting. Had man been obedient to God he could have remained in the Garden of Eden and would never have died. The word Eden means ‘pleasure’ or ‘pleasantness’.

VERSES 10-14

It is generally believed by scholars that the Hiddekel River is the modern Tigris, and that the Euphrates is the same as the modern Euphrates. With regard to the location of the rivers Pison and Gihon, a great variety of opinions exist, but the best authorities are divided between (1) Eden as in northeast Arabia, at the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris, and their separation again, making the four rivers of the different channels of these two; or (2), and—most probable—Eden as situated in Armenia, near the origin of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and in this same region rise the Araxes (Pison) and the Oxus (Gihon).

VERSES 15-17

The care of the Garden of Eden by the perfect man Adam was a pleasurable task, and in no sense of the word laborious. In verse nine we are told that God caused everything to grow in that beautiful garden home that was “pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” (vs. 9) The fact that the things pleasant to the sight are mentioned first might indicate a relative importance between those things which are in the nature of necessities, and the blessings of God which are on a higher plane of enjoyment. We do not have to see beautiful flowers in order to keep alive, but seeing them helps to make life more worthwhile.

Adam’s liberty to enjoy the bounties of the Garden was only relative. There was one restriction placed upon him—he was not to partake of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (vs. 17) There has been much speculation concerning the nature of this tree. Traditionally it is supposed by many to have been an apple tree, but there is no hint of this in the Bible. Actually, it makes little difference what kind of fruit was borne by this forbidden tree. The important lesson to us is that a test of obedience was placed upon Adam—obedience to his Creator, to whom he owed his existence and all the blessings of his life.

Adam had been created in the image of God, and was capable of knowing right from wrong, and there was no way for him to exercise that ability except by placing this test upon him. It was also just and proper that the extreme penalty of death should be exacted in the event of Adam’s disobedience, for to permit willfully disobedient creatures to continue living would ultimately lead to general rebellion, chaos, and ruin among God’s creatures.

It is well to note at this point, however, that the penalty for sin was no more than death. It was not eternal torment in a fiery hell, as traditional theology teaches. “The wages of sin is death,” declares the apostle in the New Testament. (Rom. 6:23) It is physical, mental, and moral death. When God warned Adam what the result of disobedience would be he gave him no intimation that he would ever be released from it. While Adam was not directly promised everlasting life as a reward for obedience, the thought is implied by the fact that he would experience death only if he disobeyed God’s law.

VERSES 18-20

The desire for companionship seems to be inherent in all of God’s creatures, and God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. Doubtless God knew this when he first created Adam, but in his wisdom he made an arrangement by which Adam would be caused not only to long for companionship, but would appreciate his companion the more when given to him by the Creator. That arrangement was the undertaking assigned to him of naming all the lower animals. As one after another he studied their characteristics, it would be impressed upon him that among them all there was no real companion for him. What a natural and effective method this was of causing Adam to become conscious of his great need! God still deals with his people along this line. Often he permits the deepest shades of sorrow to encompass us in order to teach us our great need of the light.

VERSES 21-25

There is no reason to suppose that this description of the method by which Eve was created is not a literal statement of fact. It relates to the work of an all-powerful Creator, and should be viewed in this light. The fact that a part of Adam’s body was used in the creation of Eve implies that certain qualities were taken from him and placed in Eve so that neither one was wholly complete without the other.

Doubtless God could have chosen other methods to create Eve, but his choosing of this particular one may indicate that he was making an illustration of an important feature of his plan for the recovery of the lost race from sin and death. Jesus is spoken of by the Apostle Paul as the “last Adam.” (I Cor. 15:45) As Adam generated the race in sin and death, Jesus will regenerate it and give all an opportunity to live forever.

And just as God gave Eve to the first Adam that through her the race might be generated, so the last Adam, Jesus, is given the church, which becomes his “bride” and associate in the work of restoring and blessing the people. (Rev. 19:7; 22:17) As Adam was put into a deep sleep in order for Eve to be formed from him, so Jesus went into the sleep of death, and it is the merit of his shed blood which makes possible the development of those who will become his ‘bride’.

In Ephesians 5:22,23, the Apostle Paul draws a comparison between Christ’s love for his church and a husband’s love for his wife. From the divine standpoint they are looked upon as one in both cases. Paul explains that Christ gave his life for the church, and the Creator may well have designed an illustration of this in the method he chose to bring forth Eve. And it is a blessed thought to realize that the work of the last Adam and his bride will assure an opportunity of everlasting life for all mankind.

The nakedness of our first parents prior to their transgression did not cause them any feeling of shame. They were, symbolically speaking, clothed in righteousness—that is, they had not sinned. This, too, may well be illustrative of the position of Christ and the church. Jesus himself was holy, harmless and separate from sinners. Because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity he was highly exalted to the right hand of the throne of God. (Phil. 2:9; Ps. 110:1) Members of his church are, of course, sinners by heredity, but they are represented in the Scriptures as being covered by a robe of righteousness, hence they are guiltless before God and have no cause to be ashamed.

Surely God’s ways are wonderful, and as we become better acquainted with them through the study of his Word, it should cause our hearts to rejoice. And as our rejoicing increases, may we be more than ever determined to serve him faithfully and to show forth his praises more zealously as the days go by.

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