Genesis 1: Why did God create the world?

It’s a question we’ve asked since before we can remember.  Who is God?  Why did he make the world?  Why did he make me?

I used to let these questions get in the way of faith.  I thought, if I couldn’t find answers to these basic, ground-level questions, why should I believe anything the Bible says?  My problem then was, I was approaching God through logic, not faith.  But God never tells us to understand him.  He never says, “Believe in me, because I make sense.”  Of course he does make sense, but in a way that transcends our ability to understand.  Our minds are too limited to even begin to contemplate who God is.  That’s why, instead of commanding us to understand him, he commands us instead to have faith.  Trust him.  Believe what he says.  Once you get past the nagging desire to understand God, who he is, “where” he came from and why, the rest of the Bible is pretty easy (for me, at least) to accept.  I can believe B-Z, because I trust I will understand A one day, on the other side of this life.  And if I don’t, it won’t matter.  Because A will be so perfect to behold, that asking to understand will be like asking for McDonald’s when you know Ruth’s Chris is at your fingertips.

So we may not know who God is, etc., from reading the Bible.  But I guarantee you will get a much better picture of who he is by reading the Bible than you will from any man-made resource available.  And as you read his Word, I also guarantee you’ll get a better idea of why he made the world.  Because as we all know, that question is just as important to us as Who Is God?  And the answer might just begin to tell us who God is.  So here we go … let us begin at the beginning:

Genesis 1

The Creation of the World

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.  And it was so.  And God called the expanse Heaven.  And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”  And it was so.  God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.”  And it was so.  The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.”  And it was so.  And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”  And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”  And it was so.  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

One big question here:  Why?  Why did God create the world?  Why did he make humankind?  He knew from the beginning that Adam and Eve, and all mankind after them, would rebel from him.  So … why?

I think the answer lies in the Psalms.

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord 
in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29:1-2

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,

that your way may be known on earth,

    your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Psalm 67:1-2

God created so his creation would display his glory.  If you ever wonder what is the purpose of your life, there it is.

But … does that make you a bit uncomfortable?  It used to bother me.  To think that God made everything, basically to have an army of worshipers.  As humans, we are taught that vanity is a bad thing, evidence of our sin.  Is there a double standard here?  How does God get away with this?

But first, consider:  Who else would you have him worship?  No one else but God is worthy of our complete devotion.  Not our loved ones, our families, our pets, our work, our hopes and plans for the future, and certainly not ourselves.  Only God measures up.  This is how Jesus gets away with saying If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  (Luke 14:46).  He’s not telling us to hate our families … he’s calling us to love him so much that our love for our families looks like hatred in comparison.  God is to be central, number one, top priority, the foundation itself, of our lives.

Okay, so he is worthy.  I get that.  But that answers only part of the question.  I was still uncomfortable, and not sure why.  Then I realized:  We know that God is good, God is love, etc.  So the natural conclusion must be this:  If the center of all things good and gracious and wonderful and perfect and holy is found in God alone, then what is the greatest thing he can ever give us?  Himself.

So in a way, God can’t help but appear “self-absorbed” in our human perception.  If he appears selfish that is our flaw, not his.  God is incapable of sin, so he is clearly not motivated by the sinful vanity we would ascribe to a human being.  In fact, what we might perceive as God’s self-absorption is actually God’s ultimate act of selflessness.  He doesn’t hoard all his glory for his own enjoyment.  He seeks to share it with us.

Imagine waking up in a world where the only tears you will ever shed will be tears of joy.  Where you will experience pure goodness forever, without the stain of sin.  No pain, loss, or suffering.  All perfection.  He gives that to us.  When we ran away from that, thinking we had a better idea, he didn’t let us go.  He chased after us, to the point of allowing his own Son to pay the cost of our sin, so that, rather than eternal death, we could have eternal joy with him.  I’m getting way ahead of myself here since we’re still in Genesis 1, but I hope you get the idea.  God is worthy.  And that’s a good thing.

In the beginning, before the Fall, Adam & Eve likely understood that God was worthy, without question.  In fact, the Fall itself came about when they began to question it, and disobeyed God.  Since then, learning to love God and honor him is (at least) a lifelong journey.  It sounds scary and depressing in a way … but be glad there is any way at all (-:

Turning back to the text:

Notice verse 1:  In the beginning, God created.  It doesn’t say “In the beginning God WAS created,” or “God came into being.”  In the beginning, God was already there.  Later on in verse 5b, we see And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 

It’s not specifically stated but here we see that God created time in the midst of creating everything else.  God already existed in what was, only for us, the beginning.  He therefore exists outside the boundaries of time.  I picture it like a man writing inside a book.  We are characters inside the book.  He is the writer.  Despite our active imaginations we cannot begin to comprehend anything beyond that.  But it’s exciting to wonder about, and to think that one day we’ll get to see it!

Other things to point out from Genesis 1:

I noticed the repeated references to waters throughout the first part of this chapter.  No mention of when they were created.  Do you think when God created the … earth, he made the Earth covered in water?  Because later on in verse 9 God finally gathers the waters into one place, & lets dry land appear, as if it was already there, but hidden beneath the waters.  Food for thought, perhaps?  Or was it obvious to everyone but me.

Notice also the repeated references in Genesis 1 to God creating plants birds, animals each according to its kind.  This would indicate that God made each kind of plant, each kind of fruit, each kind of bird, fish, animal, etc.  It could dispel some theories that God created generic things that later evolved into different species.  It also answers the question (I think), “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  I think the chicken was first.  God created living creatures and, at least to the fish and birds, commanded, Be fruitful and multiply.  Do you think it matters that a similar command to the animals isn’t found?  So many details in the Bible pack so much necessary information so this could matter.  It could mean the egg came first.  Maybe God did it on purpose just to keep us scratching our heads.  He does have a sense of humor.  (-:

Moving on to Genesis 1:26, we see an early reference to the Trinity:  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  No one is quite sure what this means, in our image.  But as we’ll see in Genesis 2, God intended man to be a little different from the rest of his creation, set apart in some way.  I think in our image refers to that in some way.  Not sure how.

Finally, one big, important thing that jumps out in Genesis 1 is how it refers to God.  It might not seem important at first, since “God” is how we often refer to our Creator.  But God actually has many different names throughout the Bible, each emphasizing a different facet of God’s character.  “God” as used in Genesis 1 is translated from the Hebrew “Elohim” (El-oh-HEEM), emphasizing God’s power as Creator of the Universe.  Why does Genesis 1 use this particular name, over and over, throughout the chapter, and no other?  Because throughout the chapter, God is emphasizing that he is awesome, all-powerful, with absolute, sovereign majesty over all.  Makes sense, given what he’s doing throughout the chapter.

But as we’ll see next time, something changes in Genesis 2, beginning with “the Creation of Man and Woman” in verse 4b.  It’s super-duper tremendously important.


One thought on “Genesis 1: Why did God create the world?

  1. Pingback: Journey with God

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