HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Today we examined the Creation Story in Genesis 1 -2 and even in our small group noted different understandings of various elements of the Scriptures. I hope and pray that you have been motivated to search out the Scriptures more for yourselves. The Holy Spirit can lead us into all truth if we are willing to follow. God bless as you continue to grow in your knowledge of God and in your relationship with Him!
Teaching Series: “In the Beginning: Genesis 1-3"
Today’s Topic: “Week 2: G O D Created”
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-25
It seems that every group of people have their own favourite creation narrative to answer the question, ‘How did this world come to be?’ Creation stories, also referred to by some as creation myths, began as oral tradition that the peoples of this world passed down through the generations. God begins His Word by providing us with His version of the Creation Story. While it often raises more questions than it answers, one thing is clear. Everything that exists came about as a result of a decision by God...no accidents! He made our universe, He carefully designed our planet, He filled it with unique and wonderful creatures and He set up guardians to care for it.
We must be careful in our interpretations, however. The story of our beginnings as outlined in Genesis 1+2 is as difficult and complex to understand as the story of the end of the age found in Revelations and other portions of Scripture. When we come down hard and unmoveable in our interpretations, we risk following in the steps of 17th century theologians. The Roman Catholic Inquisition found Galileo Galilei guilty of heresy in 1616 for his research and support of heliocentrism and demanded that he stop teaching that the earth and planets revolved around the sun...after all, everyone knew that the earth was the centre of the universe based on their interpretation of the Bible. He persisted and in 1634 he was tried and found guilty of being "vehemently suspect of heresy" and sentenced to “indefinite imprisonment.” He spent the rest of his life under house arrest and died in 1642. (Retrieved on July 9, 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair .)
Science and religion should not be viewed as opposites or contradictory studies. What is true in science is true in religion because the source of all truth is God Himself. Apparent contradictions are evidence that our understanding is limited and incomplete. Humans are still on a path of discovery–not only of the created universe, but of our Creator as well.
The more I study the Creation account in the Bible the more questions I have. For instance...
1) What was God’s Spirit hovering over (1:2)? Waters? Void? The surface of a formless mass cloaked in darkness? Whenever our English versions contain these kind of apparent discrepancies, we know that translators have struggled to make an accurate interpretation. It may be that the original meaning of the word has been lost, it may have multiple meanings, or that the word is being used to describe something of which we have no frame of reference as in the case in Genesis 1:2. The Hebrew words here are ‘tohu’ and ‘bohu’ and are thought to mean ‘waste/vacancy’ and ‘emptiness/void.’ The word that should get us most excited is the word ‘rachaph’–God hovered or ‘fluttered over’ (like an eagle over her nest and young, Deuteronomy 32:11) taking great care and protection over every moment of His creative work.
2) Where did the water come from?
You know...the water that God divided on Day Two when He created the ‘firmament’ or sky. Genesis does not speak of it being created, just that it was there. It may refer back to our earlier question or it may not. One thing we can know for sure is what we are told in other Scriptures, “Everything was created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16b). On that basis, one must assume God created the water as well.
3) Does Genesis 1+2 represent two separate creations?
You may not have noticed, but if chapter 2 is a retelling of chapter 1, a claim could be made that the second telling contradicts the first. For instance, in chapter one, animals are created on Day Six followed by Adam. In chapter two, it appears that Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden, after which time God creates the animals bringing each to Adam to name and in order to find a suitable helper, prior to creating the woman (2:19). I would caution against reading the Creation story in a purely sequential, singular line–one event, followed by the next, then another. Chapter two may very well point to the fact that some of the events overlap within the context of a ‘day.’ The two accounts appear to be two separate versions of a single story, each highlighting different aspects.
4) Were the days of creation a literal 24 hours?
Christian scholars are divided. The Hebrew vocabulary contains far fewer words than some other languages including English. To properly translate words, you have to understand the context. The Hebrew word ‘yom’ has multiple meanings and is used in the Bible a variety of ways--"yom", in its context, is sometimes translated as: "time" (Gen 4:3, Is. 30:8); "year" (I Kings 1:1, 2 Chronicles 21:19, Amos 4:4); "age" (Gen 18:11, 24:1,47:28; Joshua 23:1,23:2); "always" (Deuteronomy 5:29, 6:24,14:23, 2 Chronicles 18:7); "season" (Genesis 40:4, Joshua 24:7, 2 Chronicles 15:3); epoch or 24-hour day (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). (Retrieved on July 7, 2020 from
Does the appearance of the word ‘yom’ mean that God literally created everything over the course of six 24 hour days or was there six distinct epochs of creation, marked by particular events and characteristics? We cannot know for sure. We do know that God is transcendant–He is fully capable of working outside of the confines of time as we know it–and it is nothing for Him to even change the number of hours in a day. Didn’t He make the sun and moon stand still at Joshua’s request (Joshua 10:12-13)? Didn’t He add hours to a single day as a sign to King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:8-11)? One thing we should all be able to agree on is that God could have created everything in six 24 hour periods, over six extended periods of time, or with a single snap of His fingers.
5) Should we believe in a young or old earth?
Again, Christians are divided. The young earth theory based on six literal days of Creation poses some challenges. How do we answer the scientific community’s discoveries of ancient fossils and the existence of long extinct animals? Did dinosaurs live during the time of people? What of Neanderthals? It may be that our method of carbon dating ancient artifacts is faulty or the earth is in fact far older than a young earth interpretation of the Bible allows for and we must accept ‘yom’ as representative of far longer periods of time. We cannot simply ignore these fossils. And while scientists have at times being guilty of taking too much liberty to fill in the gaps–completing an entire skeleton based on a handful of remains and making speculations that defy logic–the Christian community has at times been guilty of disregarding clear scientific evidence.
6) Does the belief in an old earth support evolution?
While there are some in the Christian community who refer to themselves as Christian Evolutionists, neither science nor the Biblical text supports evolution to my satisfaction. Since the time of Darwin, the evolution theory has been a favourite creation myth among some groups; so much so that it is taught as fact. But the fact of the matter is that it is still just a ‘theory’–it cannot become fact until it can be replicated. We see much evidence for the truth of micro-evolution; these are changes that a species undergoes over time and explains why a single species of animal can appear in quite different forms. For instance the canine species includes wolves, coyotes, foxes, dholes, wild dogs, and all varieties of one of our favourite companions, the family dog. However, what cannot be replicated is macro-evolution–when one species evolves into another. The missing link ‘proving’ that humans evolved from apes is still missing.
The Bible too appears to be quite clear in its rejection of the theory of evolution. God created plants to ‘bear seed according to their kind’ or in other words ‘these seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came” (Genesis 1:11-12); He made fish, birds and animals to bear young ‘according to their kind’ or ‘each producing offspring of the same kind’ (1:21,24-25).
7) Will we ever fully understand the Creation story?
On this side of the grave? I don’t think so. Human history is full of discoveries, lack of understanding and even intentional twisting of the truth to fit our own bias. It has only been in the last 30 years that the work to map out the human genome was undertaken. Through it we have discovered that the human race, for all its variation is one and the same species. Just fifteen years ago, it was discovered through DNA testing that Europeans and Asians have trace amounts of Neanderthal DNA present, unlike Africans who do not. (Retrieved on July 6, 2020 from
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/are-neanderthals-human.) How do we allow that knowledge to shape our understanding of Creation? Those who support the biblical account of Creation and those who do not have found ways to apply this discovery to support and/or dismiss the story found in the Bible.
So what can we take away from this look at the Creation story found in the Bible?
I know that some of you may take exception to some of the questions I have asked and even the proposed conclusions. I hope it encourages you to dig in, explore and study more deeply. We have not touched on all the topics that arise from God’s account of Creation found in the Bible. I hope this morning has whetted your appetite!
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!