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The Pentateuch: Creation, Genesis 1-4
The Bible begins with the book of Genesis, the stories from the very beginning. The first 5 books of the Bible are the Books of the Law, also called the Books of Moses, The Torah, or the Pentateuch. They are a composition of records that tell of the creation of all things, the genealogy of the first people, and the teachings of the Law that God gave to His people from the very beginning. Throughout this whole year, we will explore the stories God gives us in the Pentateuch. As we study and explore, I pray we all learn more about who God is and who we are to Him, as well as grow in our faith and devotion to Him.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This very first statement is the first truth God wants us to know – that He is Creator of everything. Scripture goes on to explain the process by which everything was created. Genesis 1 gives us an overview of the process of Creation. I find it powerful and helpful to look at particular words in the original Hebrew language to explore the significance of these passages even deeper.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness [a]was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. [b]So the evening and the morning were the first day.Genesis 1:1-5 NKJV
In the Beginning
- H7225 – rē’šîṯ:
- first, beginning, best, chief
- choice part
- first, beginning, best, chief
The word used for “beginning” is used throughout the Pentateuch. This word, rē’šîṯ, is an absolute beginning. The very first, the very best. Here it speaks of the absolute beginning of creation. In the very beginning of everything, God created everything. He Himself is not created, but is the Creator of all. God was there at the beginning already, His Spirit moving over formless, living waters with which God made everything.
13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the[a]Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”Revelation 22:13 NKJV
This word is later used to indicate “the first fruits” which indicates the very first of something, and the best portion. In the beginning, God made all things, and later we will explore how God commands the first from us. We began because God made it so, and all beginnings, the first fruits, the choice parts, are to be for the Lord. This will be an important word throughout the Pentateuch.
19 The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.Exodus 23:19 NKJV
- H1254 – bārā’
- to create, shape, form
- (Qal) to shape, fashion, create (always with God as subject)
- of heaven and earth
- of individual man
- of new conditions and circumstances
- of transformations
- (Niphal) to be created
- of heaven and earth
- of birth
- of something new
- of miracles
The word used for “created” indicates the very birth of something, the original formation, shaping, and making of something. God birthed all of creation, He formed it as a potter forms clay, He brought it all into being out of the formless watery depths.
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or [a]principalities or [b]powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.Colossians 1:16-17 NKJV
Later in the New Testament, we read that all things were created through and for Christ. Here in Genesis 1, we read that “God said” and then “it was so” on each of the days of creation. We also see that God made the sky and began forming the earth out of the formless watery depths that the Holy Spirit hovered over. Jesus is the Word, He is the source of Living Water; all things were created through Him, and all things were made by God’s spoken Word through the formless deep waters.
Day 1 of Creation
On the first day of Creation, God made light. Something that strikes me about this is that at first, it was dark. God created the light. God saw that the light was good, and He also saw that the separation of day and night, light and darkness, was good.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. [a]So the evening and the morning were the first day.Genesis 1:5 NKJV
Day 2 of Creation
On the second day of Creation, God made the sky. He separated the watery depths and made the sky out of a portion and the water that would later make up the earth from the other portion. The formless watery depths began to take shape.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a [a]firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”Genesis 1:6 NKJV
Day 3 of Creation
On day three of Creation God formed land to separate the waters on the earth. He created land and sea, and then called forth plants and vegetation from the new land He had made. As a gardener, I love the way scripture explains the creation of plants. He created seed-bearing plants and fruit trees. He created plants that yet-to-be-created mankind could cultivate. These seed-bearing plants were made to continue to reproduce, spread, and grow, and He created them “according to their kinds”. Each species was intentional, and the ways each would grow were deeply designed from the very beginning.
11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.Genesis 1:11 NKJV
Day 4 of Creation
On the fourth day of Creation, God created the sun, moon, and stars to rule over the day and night that He had made on day one. With the great lights, He made time, seasons, days, and years. He instilled a calendar into His Creation with the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. The sun rules over the day and the moon and stars over the night.
16 Then God made two great [a]lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.Genesis 1:16-18 NKJV
The two different words translated as “rule” here speak of the sun, moon, and stars having dominion, reigning over the day and night. They are given the power to rule over day and night. This is the same word used many times in today’s chapters.
Day 5 of Creation
On day five of Creation God created the sea creatures and the birds. Everything that has wings and gills was made, and God commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply”. He designed animals with an instinct to reproduce as well, and again created each of them according to their kind. Genetics is instilled in all beings from the very beginning.
22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”Genesis 1:22 NKJV
Day 6 of Creation
On the sixth day of Creation, God made land animals of all kinds and instilled in them the same command as the sea creatures and winged animals – to multiply. He then made mankind and breathed the breath of life into him, and gave him dominion over all the animals of land, sea, and air, and the land and its vegetation.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over [a]all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that [b]moves on the earth.”Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV
- To have dominion over: H7287 – rāḏâ
- to rule, have dominion, dominate, tread down
- (Qal) to have dominion, rule, subjugate
- (Hiphil) to cause to dominate
- to rule, have dominion, dominate, tread down
- To subdue: H3533 – kāḇaš
- to subject, subdue, force, keep under, bring into bondage
- to bring into bondage, make subservient
- to subdue, force, violate
- to subdue, dominate, tread down
- to subject, subdue, force, keep under, bring into bondage
Mankind was made in the image of God and commanded to be fruitful and multiply – to fill and to subdue the earth, and to rule the animal kingdom. We were put above and in charge of all non-human life, and commanded to dominate the earth, the plants, and the vegetation. We were meant from the beginning to fill the whole earth and care for it. This domination is a perfect authority untainted by sin – it is not arrogant, power-hungry domination, but harmonious dominion over what God has made and called good.
From the beginning, all of Creation was given the command to be fruitful and multiply, but God specifically commanded mankind to govern the rest of the life God had made. God created all things, all life, and all order. He gave us time, seasons, days and nights, food, land, water, and a will to live, grow and prosper in this beautiful Creation as part of it all.
Day 7 of Creation
On the seventh day of Creation God rested from all of His work. He not only gave us seasons, days, and years but He established the week and made the 7th day of the week a holy day of rest. We know this now as the Sabbath, a day to rest with the Lord and be refilled by Him. God did not need to rest, He never tires, but He sets an example for us. There is a time for work and a time for rest. Once God had established order in His Creation, He rested.
It is not just a day to cease working, but He declared it holy. The seventh day should be kept holy in our own lives as well, and taken as a time to reflect on God’s creation, to be humbled by the intricacies of His unfathomable works of creating all we know, and all we have yet to discover.
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.Genesis 2:1-3 NKJV
Sin entered the world
God placed the first man, Adam, into a beautiful garden, the Garden of Eden, and saw he did not have a suitable life companion. So God put Adam to sleep, and from his rib God made woman to be a companion for man. God established the very first marriage, having created these first two human beings specifically for one another, which is a beautiful and literal example for each and every one of us. God does not just create all of us, but creates us for specific purposes, and creates each of us for the relationships He has planned ahead for us.
The Garden of Eden was a beautiful and perfect place, and it was a real location here on earth. It is said to be somewhere in or near Mesopotamia, which would be around modern-day Iraq, and we know it is near Assyria and the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. God chose to make this beautiful dwelling place for Adam and Eve in the Middle-East.
In Eden, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God commanded that Adam and Eve not eat its fruit. This was the only thing they were commanded not to do. Everything else was theirs except this one tree and its fruit. God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to glorify Him with their obedience and faith. With this tree, God gave them free will. He allowed them to make the choice to obey and trust Him or to disobey Him and reap the consequences.
Then along came the serpent, who deceived them, they sinned and ate the forbidden fruit, and the consequence God had told them was death. This death was the death of their perfect union with God, the death of their perfect life in the garden, the death of purity, and eventually physical death. Death was not immediate, but there was much death because of their sin. They were given everything except one thing and they took the one thing and were cast out of the Garden of Eden, and the curse of sin no inflicts all mankind ever since.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was [a]pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves [b]coverings.Genesis 3:1-7 NKJV
As God cast them from the Garden of Eden, He performed the first sacrifice. He made them clothing from animal skins to cover their nakedness. He sacrificed an innocent to cover them after their sin. This is a foreshadowing of what was to come – that all sin requires a blood payment. All sin requires sacrifice. The penalty for sin is death, and from then forward blood sacrifice would be required in order to receive forgiveness of sins and be made right with God.
21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.Genesis 3:21 NKJV
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the [a]offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many [b]offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s [c]offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)Romans 5:12-17 NKJV
After the Fall
After the fall, Adam and Eve had children. Their sons were Cain and Abel. Abel was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer. Abel gave some of the firstborns of his flock. He gave to God the best of his flock and gave to God first. Cain, on the other hand, gave God some of his crops he had harvested, but God was not pleased with Cain’s offering and Cain became angry. God made it clear that Cain’s heart and intentions were wrong in his offering to the Lord.
6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is[a]for you, but you should rule over it.”Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV
Cain was upset, and God reminded him that if he would do what is right then he would be accepted, but if he does not do what is right sin is waiting at the door for him. This is a warning not only to Cain, but to all of mankind. If we fail to do what is right, sin is right there waiting for us, and desires to devour us. God commanded Cain, and likewise commands us, to rule over the desires of sin. We are to resist sin, and do what is right in the eyes of God. Cain, unfortunately, did not take the warning – he let sin rule over him rather than rule over sin, and he killed his brother out of jealousy and pride.
What God does next strikes me – God, like He did with Adam and Eve, asked Cain for the truth. He knew the truth, but He gave Cain the opportunity to confess honestly or to try to hide and conceal the truth. God then showed Cain mercy. His first act of mercy was in letting Adam and Eve live and still fill the earth rather than immediately wipe them out like He could have done. Now, God lets Cain live. Not only does He let Cain live, but He places a mark on Cain so that if anyone kills him in retaliation they will suffer vengeance seven times over. God condemns murder, spares Cain’s life, and protects him from being killed himself. This is again another lesson for all mankind – vengeance belongs to the Lord, not to us.
13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My [a]punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”
15 And the Lord said to him, [b]“Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.Genesis 4:13-15 NKJV
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The Line of Cain
Cain went east and lived in Nod, and he and his wife had their son, Enoch, and built a city that he named after his son. Enoch had Irad, Irad had Mehujael, who had Methushael, who had Lamech. Lamech had 2 wives; Adah, who bore Jabal, the first nomadic herdsman, and Zillah, who bore Tubal-cain who made tools, and his sister Naamah.
Later, Adam and Eve had another son in place of Abel, whom they named Seth. Seth later had Enosh, and people began to call on the name of the Lord.
25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him [a]Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him [b]Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.Genesis 4:25-27 NKJV
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The Creation and the Fall
God created everything and everyone and gave us the free will to choose Him or not. He created all of us to be in a relationship with Him, but He will not force us. He shows mercy to His creation and is patient with us. He designed us not only for relationships with Him, our Creator, but also with other people. He created marriage, a sanctified union between man and woman, and gave us dominion over the earth. He commanded us from the beginning to be fruitful and multiply, to cover the whole earth He had made, and to care for it, rule it, and govern it.
God gave us all we would ever need, and also gave us the choice to glorify Him with obedience, or not. He is the source and maker of all things, and grants us authority here on earth. With this choice, the very first people chose to disobey God, and ever since all of mankind is cursed with sin, which crouches ready to rule over us, yet God commands us to rule over sin instead.
How does the creation story alter your perspective of God?
What does this teach you about who God is?
Does sin rule over you, or do you rule over sin?
How does this story of the very beginning encourage your faith today?
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Have you accepted the grace of God?
If you have not accepted the grace of God and chosen to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to pray to God now and invite Him in, accept Jesus as the sacrifice for your sins, and repent of your sins. Submit it all to God, lay it at His feet, seek the forgiveness of God, welcome Him into your life, and believe that Jesus died and rose again to save you from your sins.
If you would like to learn more about salvation, you can find a couple of studies that may help here:
- Names of Jesus: Savior
- Don’t Neglect Your Salvation
- Prayer of Salvation
- What is grace and why do we need it?
- What does it mean to be justified by grace?
- Don’t Reject God’s Grace
- Don’t Reject Christ
- Godly Women – what it means to live a godly life
- Redeemed Women – what it means to be redeemed
- What is Biblical Love?
- What are Spiritual Gifts?
- How to live in Spirit and Truth
- How to test what is pleasing to God
- Names of Jesus as the Son of God
- Names of Jesus as the Son of Man
- Names of Jesus as the Truth