thoughts on Genesis following are actually something I've pondered over
for years and am gradually putting it all together. Once, when in
Paris I saw in the Louvre a large mural . I found it could only
by standing way back and getting the "overview". Later, I felt
"instructed" to start reading the Bible in that manner, big chunks,
else's commentary on what it was supposed to say. I soon found it
difficult to support some of the "received" opinions on quite a few
especially in the early chapters of Genesis as here is the basis upon
all our understanding rests and a ground over which more controversy
raged and more faith has been lost than any other part of Scripture.
convinced that God did not put the account there to be a stumbling
block but a foundation stone for the understanding of the rest of
Salvation History, therefore, as such, it needed
to be understandable by those for whom it was intended. When you
live in some foreign
and learn how other cultures reason and express themselves, at first
is tempted to think like Professor Higgins "Why can't they be more like
us"? But the fact is that many cultures think pictorially and
certain events to a Superior Being in what is often oblique
Even in our culture we still refer to an event beyond our control as
"an act of God". I think if we appreciate this, it will help us
understand the language of the Creation story and how the "six
came about. How the immense diversity of life came into being in
is beyond us and certainly would have also been beyond Moses. More
human vanity comes up with ideas like evolution although in recent
years, even some honest atheists have conceeded the concept of
"intelligent design", so wonderful are the "works" that they diligently
Genesis tells us,
"God did it" and it took six days to tell the story. It is enough
the circumstances but we are not forbidden to enquire further into the
wonders of God’s handiwork and learn more but that whole field of
been muddied in the conflict between those concoting theories to deny
God and those
trying to find logical justification for an erroneous medieval
of the record that has been passed down to us. Well, here is what
I am learning.
general theory I have adopted is not new, a
P.J. Wiseman tried to popularise the view that God took six days to
reveal what happened at the creation. On this view, Genesis 1 is not
the record of creation but the record of the revelation of creation.*
The gap theory allows room for millions of years, but it still
considered that the days of Genesis 1 were literal days. The millions
of years were fitted in between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. CETF,
September, 2007 - The Early Chapters of Genesis and Evolution" By PETER
BARNES * P.J. Wiseman, Clues to Creation
in Genesis, London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1977.
of this writing
is to seek a Biblical explanation for concepts that have been a cause
doubt and contention for a great many of the faithful. We do not
want to do that by means of distorting or compromising truth but by
the simple question, "Is that really what the Bible says?" All
often we read into a text what we have been taught and unquestioningly
accept unlikely explanations that have been glibly used to reconcile or
gloss over an apparent contradiction to the "accepted truth".
that the Bible is God’s Word and a revelation to us of His works and
purposes and that it is meant to be understood, otherwise we must
question Paul's words in Romans
1:20, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible
qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen,
being understood from what has been made, so that men are without
believe that, as Genesis states, God made man in His "likeness and
image" and gave him dominion over the earth, therefore the
reasoning abilities of the human brain and gifts of observation are not
to be disparaged as some do, but sanctified by the Spirit of God to the
purpose for which we are created.
It is well
known that there has been considerable disagreement between what some
have interpreted God’s word as saying and what our scientific search
for understanding appears
to teach us. Unfortunately, unbelievers seeking to justify their own
condition have sought to contradict the Genesis account while, on the
believers have blindly clung to whatever seems to contradict
We believe that what we can learn from honest scientific observation
only confirm and enlighten us to what God has already given us in
Long ago the
writer learned that the Bible is not understood through word by word
exegesis as it is commonly done in church study groups, but by stepping
back and observing the overview, of learning what is actually being
said. This involves reading more widely than the few daily verses
with devotional notes designed to "help" us "understand" what is often
not actually in the text but is rather "accepted doctrine" orwhat we
are supposed to
believe. There is a story told of four blind men who set out to
describe and elephant. We only need let the reader
use their God given imagination to see the point of the story.
So, we will
embark on a quest
that will not rely upon the detailed analysis of words but will span at
six chapters to obtain a reconcilable overview of our "Beginnings". We
attempt to show that from the context and common sense meaning of the
the "days" of Genesis 1 were in fact 24 or maybe only 12 hour periods
that the events revealed over those six "days" may have individually
even shorter or longer periods of time. Also, that although the
are described consecutively, individual epochs of creation may have run
concurrently, some occurring or continuing later into the Genesis
God-given reason we
can ask what at first may sound, some silly questions. 1) Did each
act take exactly 24 hours? 2) Did creation only take
at night, between "the evening and morning" or is this just glancing
in a literary sense over the day's events, - morning to evening? In
2 v.4 we find the terms "heavens and the earth" reversed to "earth and
heavens" in the same verse and that all creation took place in a single
We can see how important it is to stand back and get the message rather
than to be hung up on individual words. 3) How was darkness and light
"separated", were they mixed in some way before this? There
are more questions
like this that can be asked but they all suggest that we may have been
missing something in the scholorly disection of words and the orthodox
"interpretations" of what actually is being told.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth".
This appears to
be a complete statement, virtually a preface to what follows. But
if we were told no more, "dayenu" (it would be
we would know to Whom we had to answer. What this verse does tell
us is that the creation of the heavens and the earth were not done in
six "days" described following verse 3 because the next verse goes on
describe an already existing planet earth in a state of some disrepair.
Now the earth was [ Or possibly became ] formless and
empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit
of God was hovering over the waters. Another statement
that precedes anything revealed in the following verses, it says "and
the earth was or became" - which ever rendering you
prefer - "formless" STRONG'S REFERENCE NUMBER: 8414
HEBREW: TOHUW DEFINITION: A DESOLATION (OF SURFACE), I.E.
DESERT; FIG. A WORTHLESS THING; ADV. IN VAIN. If this condition was
revealed visibly to any human we must assume the "darkness" was not
absolute, although the revelation may have been verbal, we are
giving space to evolution or disputing "old earth / young earth" ideas
the physical conditions described here are consistent with what we can
observe today on other lifeless worlds.
We cannot tell whether they were always the way we see them now or
if they became so as a result of some cosmic disturbance.
In either case, we do not have reliable means of measuring the duration
condition. But, the idea of an empty, formless desolation of a
is not consistent with that which God declared "good" or with the
in which the other acts of creation are recorded. Such a
of desolation might find excuse in an evolutionary framework but it is
with God's perfect handiwork described in the following verses.
Rather, it suggests the aftermath of a cosmic battle and we do have
hints of such a battle elsewhere in Scripture, that tell of when Satan
rebelled and with a third of the angelic host was cast out of
heaven. There may well have existed a creation on earth prior to
the period we are studying, that was completely destroyed and the
planet became as described above in Genesis 1 v.2. Such a
destroyed creation would supply the fossils and geological evidence
used by evolutionists to cast doubt on the Genesis account.
So, here we
are on the threshold of what this writer believes is the record of a
six day visual revelation of the progress of re-creation, that took
either instantly or over
longer periods of time. We believe that each "day" of revelation
dealt with a phase of
Creation (see diagram) a literary
device essential to the three dimensional limitation of narrative. In
fact, the events of those "days" in some cases, ran concurrently in
time, the fourth dimension, for unspecified periods. Concepts
that might have
been unavailable to the writer of Genesis or too difficult to explain
going further, let
us elaborate here two premise upon which this commentary is based -
that the events described as the "days" of creation were not actually
by any human but, although not so stated, were later revealed in the
of a vision or visions, a sort of "action playback" of the order, so
as words could describe, in which the world was furnished.
visions similar to those experienced by the prophet Ezekiel, who had
"daily" episodes or by John on Patmos. Some looking back others looking
Secondly, that the acts of creation were recorded by, traditionally,
or whoever received the visions and that what was seen, was described
terms of the viewer's or writer's vocabulary. Although Divine
may take us outside our normal understanding, if we are to tell others
experience, we must use a common language and vocabulary.
Ezekiel is more careful in his description of things for which he has
linguistic reference and often says, "like the appearance of", for
example " . . . and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the
a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around
Ezekiel 1:27,28. John on Patmos [Rev.1:1-9] also saw things
which he had no exact vocabulary. When John said the gates of the
Jerusalem were made of huge pearls, were they natural pearls as
use the word (some oyster!) or did they just look like huge
Ezekiel may have said "the appearance of pearls". "The twelve
were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great
of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass." Rev.21:21
Note also the streets of transparent gold - obviously a substance
to John but it looked to him as he described it. Some have
that absolutely pure gold would be transparent but such technology is
us and it is doubtful if John had such knowledge. We have plenty
of materials today that would fit the description.
"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light".
earth side view of a planet of chaos "without form" [Heb. tohu - a
ruin, vacancy] "and void" [Heb.
bohu - emptiness] "and darkness" [Heb. choshek - darkness] "was on the
face of the deep" [Heb. tehom - deep place, the deep] see Jer. 4:23
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the
heavens, and they had no light. Nothing
would be visible without light. As the vision materialized there
was light - seeing is not possible without light! It was a scene
of ruin and emptiness - verse 2.
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from
the darkness. v.5
God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And
there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.
"God saw that the light was good" - nothing else. As we are
told, the rest was
a world laid waste with "the Spirit of God hovering over the waters"
"observer" records the first night and day. Here also God imparts
to the observer names for the phenomenon, "night" [Heb. layelah]
and "day" [Heb. yom]. We
can't imagine God needed Hebrew names for His own purposes Think
for a moment about the phrase "separated the light from the darkness."
"Separated" has to be a figure of speech for what was subjectively
by the writer. Can light and darkness exist together? Did
darkness and light previously exist as a mixture? Did God "do"
at this moment to separate the light and darkness? We believe
what the observer is seeing is the normal rotation of the earth and the
first "day" of visions reveal the transition of darkness to
We know that darkness is only the absence of light. This is why
Psalmist said "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my
Psalm 119:105 . Without light we are lost. Job has some
insight into planetary matters: "He drew a circular horizon on the
face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness." Job 26:10.
The concept of a "circular horizon" as a "boundary of light and
would be hard to come by except a view from outer space. See
illustration below . And what does
drew . . ." mean? It suggests another pictorial view, or a
also to consider the words, "And there was evening, and there was
morning . . ." Those
holding to the actual acts of creation being described as taking place
a "day" need to consider these words - do they describe a 12 hour or a
hour period? For those who believe that the "days" were periods
which six facets of creation were revealed in vision form, may take it
a literal 12 hour period. There is another interesting aspect to
this and that being the Hebrew Calendar where days run from sundown to
sundown and a full 24 hour period would be described as "evening and
morning" - the "eve" of the day (that part which preceeds) being the
"evening". Confusing? well only because we have changed the beginning
of a new day to mid-night and now tend to think "evening" comes toward
the end rather than the beginning. Inconsistently, we still use
terms like 'Christmas eve' in the Hebriac sense.
position we take, we
have to accept that this is written from an earth side human
observer's point of view. We also need to note that throughout
the rest of the Creation account, the expression "God saw that it was
good" cannot mean
that God expected anything He did to be less than "good" and therefore
a decision to proceed only after being satisfied with the finished
so far - rather it is the assumption of the observer, a figure of
or literary gloss, underlining that this "days" revelation was God's
work and His
See the next verse, and notice that God (or the writer) does not find
necessary to pronounce this act as "good".
And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate
water from water."
v.7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the
expanse from the water above it. And it was so. v.8 God called
"sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.
that the Sun is not visible to our observer until later, is simply
revealed in this and the following verses where the "waters above the
expanse" (a cloud blanket) are dense
enough for our observer to be unable to actually see the sun. (We
still frequently have days like this.) It is the belief of this
this condition existed on earth until the flood of Noah as is witnessed
by the fact that only then was a rainbow seen. I know some
folk are uncomfortable with a simple explanation like this and feel
if there are parts at least "beyond understanding" - but we must ask -
did God trouble to give us the information if we cannot know what it
And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one
place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. v.10 God
called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas."
And God saw that it was good.
level drops as the excess seeps into the underground caverns and
aquifers. A single water mass (called "seas") and a single
continent (Gondwanaland?) appears and remains in this form -; (except
for a period again submerged in the time of Noah) - until the time of
Peleg. Gen.10:25 " . . . Peleg, [Heb. peleg - division] for in his
days the earth was divided . . ." This theme needs further
study and is dealt with under a later study on Babel but it is
worth noting here that these people were the direct descendants
Noah's family and that until the time of Peleg,, "the whole earth
one language" and were an undivided "people group". - see Gen.11:6.
Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed bearing plants
and trees on the land
that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And
it was so. v.12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed
according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it
to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. v.13 And there was
evening, and there was morning--the third day.
here does not suggest that all plant life flashed into existence over a
few hours but "the
land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds,
. . ." "According to their kinds", suggests natural
anything else would transgress God's laws of reproduction. So this
witnesses the natural germination and growth of plant life revealed to
viewer in one short "day" period". Something similar we see many
these days on TV Nature programmes, especially fascinating with the use
lapse time photography.
later in chapter 2, when the preparing of Eden for the Adamic humans is
discussed, that it did not rain as we know rain now but in verse 6 ".
. . streams [ Or mist ] came up from the earth and watered the whole
surface of the ground . . ." This is consistent with the
idea of a cloud blanket, hot house
environment and the rapid development of plant life.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to
separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark
seasons and days and years, v.15
and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the
earth." And it was so. v.16 God made two great lights--the
to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also
the stars. v.17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on
the earth, v.18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate
from darkness. And God saw that it was good. v.19 And there was
and there was morning--the fourth day.
now sees the arrival of the time in the creation saga when the "waters
above the earth" were
diminished sufficiently so that the heavenly bodies could be seen. We
that this happened during the flood of Noah and it is significant
that, as already mentioned, only after the flood, a rainbow was seen
the first time. A rainbow is not seen on days of heavy cloud when
the sun is not
So the visual conditions of verses 3 and 4, night and day, light and
darkness, existed until after the
illustrates the thought that the events revealed on six consecutive
covered different actual time periods, some before, some later, some
concurrent. Verses 14 - 19 was the
view earth side after a period of 40 days and 40 nights when "In
six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second
month--on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and
floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty
and forty nights." Gen.7:11,12"
interesting events happen also at this time, like the dramatic
shortening of human life. We
shall learn later, in Eden, that human immortality was denied mankind
of sin, but nevertheless the normal life span ran into many hundreds of
years and this, probably, because they were shielded from the
cosmic radiation by a vast cloud blanket - the "waters above the
After these waters were no longer acting as a shield, life span
dramatically shortened to 120 years and less. Now we are learning
the cost of
loosing even what "filters" remain in the ozone layer with further
to human life forms. This [over]view seems consistent with the
of the fourth "day".
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds
fly above the earth
across the expanse of the sky." v.21 So God created the great
of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water
according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.
And God saw that it was good. v.22 God blessed them and said, "Be
fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let
birds increase on the earth." v.23 And there was evening, and
was morning--the fifth day.
"day" God reveals the provision of part of a future self perpetuating
food chain. Did he also delight in the multiplicity of creatures and
their wonderful environmental adaptation? God said it "was good".
As we study the animal kingdom we must be left in awe of the diverse
wonders of creation. To believe as evolutionists claim, that it
all is the result of a biological accident, requires both faith beyond
human comprehension and a unique blindness to
the abilities, intelligence and diversity of the creatures with which
we share this
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their
kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild
animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. v.25 God
made the wild animals according to their
kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures
move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was
simply a continuation
of the revelations of the day before and a continuation of the
demonstration of our Creator's unlimited imagination and planned
preparation made tangible.
But this "day" is not over.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let
them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the
livestock, over all the earth, [ Hebrew; Syriac all the wild animals ]
and over all the creatures that
move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created
him; male and female he
created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful
increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of
sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves
Then God said, "I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the
whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be
yours for food. v.30
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all
the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath
life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was
and there was morning--the sixth day.
Here is what
it was all about and notice the words, "God saw all
that he had made, and it was very
God, creating beings in His "likeness and image" with whom He might
fellowship and provided a total environment in which these beings
live. How it was done and how long it took was not immediately
except that we were to know that He did it for these first humans and
did it for us, the children of Adam and that He revealed the order of
so that in the ages to come, as we "take dominion", our science might
a point of reference, a "beginning" from which we might explore the
Sin changed all that - but more is to come.
the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
v.2 By the seventh
day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day
rested [ Or ceased; also in verse 3 ] from all his work. v.3 And God
the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the
of creating that he had done.
learn that God blessed the Seventh Day. The awareness of the holy
nature of the seventh day
and the reason for it's sacredness was imparted as a final act of
revelation to the one who received and made the
written record we call Genesis. Jesus said "The Sabbath was made
man, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27. Much later we may
about God's Sabbath but sufficient here to mention that the idea of the
seventh day Sabbath is not a "Jewish holy day" as some are wont to
but an observance which God established as a memorial for all mankind,
sounds like the last
word by our visionary scribe so far as this series of revelations is
What follows appears to be a specific act of creation and not as some
say a contradictory re-run of events already recorded. It starts
like this v.4 This is the account of the heavens and the
they were created, in the day that Yehovah God made the earth and the
heavens. Some seem to think this refers to the previous
account but careful reading of the previous verses and what follows
will show that it is an introduction to a close-up view of one
particular part of Creation and necessary to set the stage for the
fortelling and fulfilling of mankind's Salvation. Remember there
were no verse and chapter breaks in the original text.
we will come to this in further studies.