1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The 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.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7And 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. 8And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11And 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.12The 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. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14And 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, 15and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.16And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21So 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.22And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24And 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. 25And 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.
26Then 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.”
27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28And 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.” 29And 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. 30And 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. 31 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.
1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Some years ago, I was served by a dentist who attended another Lutheran parish. He told me the story of the Sunday his congregation held an outdoor service in a local park. At the last minute, the pastor tapped my dentist friend to be the scripture reader and assigned him to read Genesis 1:1-12. The bulletin, however, had a typographical error and listed the reading as “Genesis 1-12.” My friend thought it a little long but it was an unusual service and so he opened his Bible and started reading. He was well into chapter 2 before the pastor put his hand on his shoulder and said, “That’s enough, Bob.”
These words of Genesis have been much discussed by Christians for many years. Did you know that Augustine wrote no less than 5 different works dedicated to explaining these verses? He did that because the debate about the meaning of these words was raging many years ago, far earlier than Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. The result of all this is that too often people have allowed the disagreement to obscure what the creation narrative is saying to us. Genesis 1 tells us that God has made the universe. Our very existence depends on him. He loves us and delights in us. As the Creator He gets to make the rules which define our lives and has every right to hold us accountable to those rules. Our human nature rebels at that truth and wants to hide from it. We would like to think that we own ourselves and we deceive ourselves into imagining that freedom is when we get to do what we want.
The truth is far better. God is the one who puts his hand on our individual shoulders and says, ‘that’s enough.” We derive our being from Him, and He is the goal of every life. As the psalmist says he completely encompasses us. I do not need to figure out the answers to all the questions. God has the whole universe in his hands. Read Psalm 139 after you have read this text. The Psalmist, I think, has deeply understood what Genesis 1 has to say.