The first chapter of Genesis only consists of 31 verses. This is relatively short chapter contains the entirety of creation, spanning from nothingness to the creation of man. The purpose of this short chapter seems self-explanatory, but if we don’t look closely we can be easily sidetracked. This chapter has been used as grounds to argue about science and dispel God as a myth by focusing on the time frame of creation. Even among believers there is disagreement about a whether the seven days of creation were literal or metaphorical. Why is something so seemingly important not described in greater detail? By focusing in on the timing of creation, we may miss what God was trying to communicate to us. God is using thses verses to communicate to us who he is.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.Genesis 1:1-2
God predates the heavens and the earth; He is everlasting and timeless.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he 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.Genesis 1:3-5
God manifested light and declared it to be good. He is, therefore, the originator and definer of goodness. We may assume that this light was our sun or other stars which provide light for our planet. However, the placement of the stars, sun, and moon are established on the fourth day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.Genesis 1:14-19
So what light is being referred to on the first day? God’s light is His son, who would bring light to the world. God separated his light from darkness, just as he will separate those living in the light from those who live in darkness.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
He says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”Isaiah 49:6
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12
It is on the second day that God begins to form our world. He begins by forming the sky by creating our atmosphere. The third day he shapes the foundations of our Earth by separating land from seas and causing vegetation to grow. The fourth day he sets the sun, moon, and stars in the sky to “serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years”. This tells us that God was creating the world for mankind because only humans can use the sun, moon, and stars for these purposes. He spends the fifth day filling the seas with marine life and the air with birds. The sixth day he creates all of the land creatures; once complete and declared good, he ends by creating mankind in his own image. After this last act of creation he rests.
What is the purpose of this scripture? It is not to provide a scientific account of how God created the world, and it is not to provide us with a timeline to know how old the Earth is. This story was not meant to tell us “How”, it was meant to tell us “Who” and “Why”. These are the questions that truly matter and the questions that impact our lives today. It tells of God, the Creator of all. Not just of what we see but the unseen including all of the observed laws of science. This is an incomprehensible truth. What is most humbling, God created all of it for us. Everything was made for our benefit, both to enjoy and to provide us with purpose. We were created with a purpose. It was not to be rich or famous or to be powerful or popular, this is why these things will never provide contentment or lasting satisfaction. Because we were made to care for all of God’s creations, we feel most fulfilled when we serve serve others. Satisfaction is a gift from God. We may feel so small and insignificant in a world of wealth and celebrity. We may wonder why an all-powerful creator would even know who we are or care. But God created each and every one of us, and he knows us by name. This thought should fill us with wonder and awe. God created us for the same purpose, but made us unique to fulfill it in many different ways. We serve our purpose by positively impacting those around us. I may not be able to impact the world, but I can try to fulfill God’s purpose for my life each day.