Posts Tagged ‘Genesis 1’

In Genesis 1 why is it called “heavens” and not just one “heaven”? Are there different heavens?

January 7, 2010

The passage in Genesis 1:1 is not referring to heaven in the sense of the dwelling place of God or the resting place of immortal souls.  The hebrew word here is shamayim and it is more clearly defined as “firmament” which means ‘the vault or arch of the sky’. It refers to what we can see in the sky i.e. the dwelling place of the sun, the stars, the moon, the blue sky, etc.  It’s for this reason that we often imagine heaven as a place that we go to up in the clouds, which is cute for cartoons but biblically unfounded when referring to life after death.

All that to say, the verse is not talking about multiple heavens, it is referring to the separation between the earth and what’s above the earth, i.e. everything.

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How can there be a day when the sun wasn’t created until third day?

January 5, 2010

According to Genesis the first days were sunless.

There are three ways that we can understand the idea of a day…

The first is a 24 hour day.  Technically, the sun has nothing to do with a 24 hour day.  The 24 hour day has everything to do with how long it takes for the earth to rotate once.  Right now at the North Pole they won’t see the sun for another month or so, but it still takes the globe 24 hours to spin all the way around.  Many people believe that the earth was created in six 24 hour days.   And this view can easily be understood if for no other reason then the author 6 times says “there was evening and there was morning”.  This however may simply be a way of expressing the transition from one stage of creation to another.

The second definition of day has to do with the time when there is light outside.   Likewise, the time when it is dark outside is called night even though night is a part of the same 24 hour day.  The first order of God’s creation was to make light and separate it from the darkness.  God distinctly calls the light “day” even though there is no mention of sun for another couple ‘days.’  So in one verse God the author of Genesis used two definitions of the word day: the definition of day that associates with light, and the definition of day that associates with time.  But when it comes to time, 24 hours is not the only time-related definition of day.

The third kind of day is also related to time, not lightness.  It is a long period of time, an age of time, or longer.  For example our grandparents may have said of their youth, “back in my day” in which case “day” may represent several years of their lives.  Sometimes we might say the day (or age) of the dinosaurs is over.  In those cases a day is not a specific length of time, but a very long time with imprecise boundaries.  It is very likely that this might be the proper understanding of day in Genesis 1, as God may have taken years or epochs to create things.  (see the post on evolutionism vs. creationism).

In short, the sun is only a small part of the meanings concerning the word day.  Thus, there could have been days before the third ‘day’ of creation.

Why does the bible tell us two slightly different creation accounts?

January 5, 2010

There are a couple reasons for this, neither is exclusive of the other.

1) The two creation accounts tell us different information.   The first account is a larger over-arching account that covers all of creation, while the second account focuses more on the creation of humans, and specifically the man and the woman.

2) The other reason is that these two accounts may have come from  dual sources.  Authorship for Genesis is attributed most often to Moses, but obviously the contents of Genesis happened before he was alive.  Moses likely collected these accounts that had been handed down from his ancestors, some written perhaps some oral.  And it is possible that these two accounts originated from two different sources.  In other words, authors who had been inspired long before Moses, wrote or told different versions of the creation accounts.  Then, generations later, Moses played the roll of God’s editor, and he put in Genesis the accounts of creation that were true to communicating the truth.

Neither account contradicts the other.  They just give us deeper insight into who God is and who we are.

What does it mean that we are “made in the image of God”?

January 1, 2010

There are a few important points to see here…

Firstly, it is clear in Genesis 1 & 2 that human beings are different from the rest of creation.  So while evolution may be a part of God’s creation, it is unlikely that humans evolved from some other animal, because we were set apart and made differently.

Michelangelo portrayed God as looking like a human. While that is not the meaning behind "being made in the image of God" it is a powerful reminder that humans have uniquely close relationship with our creator.

Secondly, this statement from Genesis is not about what we look like or what God looks like.  Rather, the concept of being “made in God’s image” is about our role on earth.  It says in Genesis 1 that God commanded humans to rule over creation, to subdue it.  In other words, just like God is a ruler, he made us stewards and rulers over creation.  No other part of creation has ruler-type status, humans are on top, for better or worse.  So you can forget those movies like “Avatar” or “Day After Tomorrow” where Mother Nature steps in and takes control.  That’s not the way God made it.

Finally, there is a very specific thing that comes along with the whole package of being made in the image of God.  Namely, that we have a will.  We can choose what we want to do, we can go the direction we want to go, just like God.  So when God gave humans the command to care for and rule over creation, we actually have the option to say ‘no’.  No other creature is like that.  God has a will and as creatures who are made in his own image we have our own wills.  God gives us commands to follow, but we can choose to disobey.  Thus sets up the great tension of the Bible.