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(As an introduction to some of the thoughts here it may be helpful for you to have looked at the study on 1 Corinthians 16 (Link HERE). It is suggested for the first couple of studies that a piece of dowel (or bamboo cane) about 3ft or 1 meter long is placed on the floor (or on a table) in the center of the room. Mark on it about 16 divisions. The idea is that it represents the timeline of the Earth from God’s perspective – from its creation to its end. Starting at one end, each division is an important date – very roughly!


  

       

Creation, The Flood, Abraham, Exodus, David, Exile, Jesus. Then leave 4 gaps and indicate Today. Note that there is still time before the end of the world but we don’t know how long.


God, being in eternity can see the time before creation and also the time after the world has finished. Encourage everyone to imagine that they are God. Get them to get up and move around. They can look away from the Earth, or they can concentrate on one moment in time, in one particular location, and they can take as long as they like (perhaps look at young David selecting the fifth stone from the river – how much time have we as God in Eternity to watch him?


As God we are not limited by Earth time and eternity itself reaches far beyond Earth’s limitations – look out of the window! Trying to imagine ourselves as God will help us in these first few studies as we come to grips with the immensity of Creation.)


Where do you start when you decide to study the Bible? Well whatever you decide, eventually you will reach Genesis and I’ve also approached it by a circular route! But having started to look at it, it seems to be a book with more questions than answers; and some of the questions will not have an answer. But we can’t put it off, so let’s start at the very beginning:


Read Genesis 1:1-31


We need to understand a little about particle physics. But only a little! Basically everything we can see around us is made of particles (or atoms), and they too can be broken down into subatomic particles – protons, electrons, and neutrons (which themselves can be further broken down). These fundamental particles are described as ‘excitations of quantum fields’ – energy to you and me! Fundamentally, everything that physically exists (matter) is a form of energy – or power.


So if you had ultimate power you could create a physical universe.

Then, one day, you could withdraw that same power leaving nothing.


Whether you believe in creation or evolution, you probably agree that there was a time when the universe did not exist. Also, from Isaiah 34:4 (and Revelation 6:14) we are told that a time will come in the future when All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll.

And Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.

  

So let me ask my first question without an answer:

Before the universe existed, or later, when God has removed everything from Space, What and where is space? How can you describe it? (The intention is that people stretch their imaginations. The answers might include ‘Space is nothing so it can’t actually exist’ or ‘Space is an idea God had to build his universe in’ or ‘actually part of eternity’


I can understand a finite, physical world, which is running down and would eventually stop; a world with a beginning and an end made of physical atoms. I can also understand that there is a spiritual world in which God exists, with no beginning or end. So what will the new heavens and earth be like? Spiritual? Or physical? – Or could it be something entirely different?


(When Jesus had risen from the sealed tomb, and appeared to his Disciples, passing through the locked door (John 20:19; Luke 24:40-43) what was his body? Spiritual? Or physical? – Or something entirely different?)


Because I am human and not God, I can’t imagine another kind of world, a world not made from atoms and molecules. But I believe it could exist, whatever it may be like, because the Bible tells us: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9)


So let’s get back to what we know: this physical world of time and space. I have to put my cards on the table and say that I believe in Biblical creation but that shouldn’t stop anyone with different views from using this study.


Genesis 1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


Is your God big enough for that? For God to be truly all-powerful (Omnipotent) he cannot be limited in his ability or power. If in your mind you say God couldn’t  .  .  .   then you are wrong because God could! It may not be in his nature to, but he has the unrestrained ability to do anything he pleases.


Nothing or nobody can in any way limit God – otherwise they would be more powerful than God and therefore would themselves be God.


It may help here to read Isaiah 40:12-26


So if God has unlimited ability and power:

Can he use some of that power to produce all the atoms needed to create and sustain the Universe?

The answer to that has to be yes – otherwise we are denying a statement of fact in the very first phrase in the first verse in the first book in the Bible, and that would not be a very good start to studying the whole book!


So if we are happy that God created the heavens and the earth, when did he do it?

Anything from 4.54 billion years ago (Wikipedia – scientific age of the earth) to 5½ thousand years ago (some Creationists).


At this point I must point out that we will encounter many different conflicting views when looking at early dates and none can be trusted! I know that is a bold statement, but as soon as someone states definitively that a date is correct, someone else proves them wrong.

The dates from Abraham onwards are probably accurate to +/- 1000 years, and from David onwards we can be quite accurate. But the further back in time we go, the more problems we encounter.


Some have suggested that this is not helped by the fact that genealogies in the bible are not necessarily complete. It seems that sometimes they are adjusted so that there is symmetry in the names given. Or it may be that only the most important names are included, and the term ‘son of’ can also include just about any male descendant. And ‘father of’ can include grandfather, great-grandfather etc.


Suggestions have also been made that errors could have been made in copying dates or numbers of years. Again, someone has even come up with a theory that early ‘years’ were only about six months long.


There is also a danger that we have all been taught the scientific age of the earth as fact. Unfortunately there is no conclusive proof that the earth is billions of years old. Evolutionists need a world that old for evolution to have long enough to work, so any scientific dating that arrives at a young age is obviously faulty!  


Let’s leave dates for the moment – at least we have proof that the earth was created sometime! So let me ask: how long did it take God to come up with a complete universe? How long would he need? (Actually as God, he could choose to take a long time, or he could choose to take no time at all. And are we talking Earth time, or Eternity time?)


I suppose to be completely accurate we should point out that actually it was Jesus that created the universe and everything in it:

John 1:1-3

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Why was that, do you think? (This may provoke discussion, but again there are no answers!)


We have looked at where, when, who, how, but we are left with the question: Why? Knowing everything that was going to happen in the world, why did God go ahead and create us? (Perhaps this world was created knowing it would be a stepping-stone to the new heavens and new earth. Probably the best answer is in the King James translation of Revelation 4:11

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.)


Before we move on we need to look carefully at verse 1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

And that’s a problem because it’s followed by verse 2.

Why is that a problem? The problem is that it upsets our scientific understanding of how creation happened. Especially as much later on we have verses 14-19.


We therefore need to look at exactly what verse 1 says: In the beginning God created the heavens. (Whenever in this first chapter the words expanse and sky (NIV) come together, sky is a translation of the word heaven in verse 1)

So the first necessity in creation was to provide a place for created things to occupy. We’ve already seen that this was not a problem as it was literally nothing! We know it contained nothing because the sun, moon and stars are not created until verses 14-19.

  

The very next created thing was the earth. Now that is a problem because it denies all scientific theories of the creation of the universe. Should that worry us?


The work of scientists is to carefully observe things around us and to try to understand what they see – how things work, what they are made of, where they came from. Often scientists will come up with conflicting theories until a proof can be found to confirm that one is right. However, later discoveries may mean that they were all wrong and a new theory is required. So far, we are still at the ‘conflicting theories’ stage when it comes to the origins of everything, so we are quite safe to have a theory of our own!


So could God have created the Earth first?


Some interesting words are used to describe the embryonic earth: v2 ‘Formless and empty’ or ‘without form and void’

What do those words suggest to you?

(Perhaps all the constituent atoms, molecules etc. were present but it had not coalesced into its round shape due to gravitational action. Or perhaps there was no gravity yet. Or maybe the earth at this stage was perfectly round and so the water completely covered the surface – some have calculated that if so, it would be covered to a depth of about 2.7km – about 1 ½ miles)


2 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.


Let’s assume then, that the earth was covered in water. It is totally dark, and God’s Holy Spirit is also present for what is to come.


3 And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.


No says the scientist – you can’t have light without the Sun. Actually what they are saying is that you can’t have light without a source of photons. But throughout the Bible, God, and Jesus, are described as light –

Psalm 36:9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

John 1:9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world


If God chose to shine his light on the embryonic Earth, I can’t say that he couldn’t! (For those more scientifically inclined, it also meant that photons were created separately, after all other forms of electromagnetic particles)


Before we end this study, let’s look again at our Earth timeline stick. The flat end at the beginning represents the days of creation. Those who prefer the universe to be 4.54 billion years will need a longer stick. Actually on this scale it would have to be longer by 227km, or 141miles. Now, if we were God, would we consider that to really be necessary?


Genesis 1b









                                                                                                      

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Genesis 1:1-3 Time and Eternity - Creation begins