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Genesis 1:1-2:3: Creation
Individuals: Take time to think back about your past week. Where have you seen God work in your life or answer prayer? Write down any prayer requests you have.
Group: Open the study by sharing life updates, reviewing highs and lows of your past week, or sharing prayer requests and praises.
Icebreaker: What is your favorite part of nature? Why?
All: Begin the study with a word of prayer, asking God to open your heart for today’s study. You can also pray for any prayer requests now, or save that for the end.
Read today’s passage: Genesis 1:1-2:3.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14 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, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 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. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
What is the context for this passage?
This passage tells us about the creation of the universe, in particular, Earth and everything in it. It is the start of time as we know it, although not the start of time for God. This passage tells us how God created everything and the order in which he created things.
Read the passage again.
Explore a different version if you have one available. If you are online, here is a link to Genesis 1 in NIV through Bible Gateway. You can change the version by using the dropdown menu at the top right of the page.
Summarize the passage in your own words.
Answer these three questions about the passage:
1. What does the passage say about God?
God is the Creator. This one seems pretty obvious. God is the one in charge of this creation story, and it is through his words alone that everything in creation came into being.
God is all-powerful. Can you imagine the power it takes to speak things into being? God has control over every single atom, speaking them into existence and causing them to come together to form the exact thing that he had in mind.
God is creative. Not only does God have the power to create, he is creative. The passage talks about living creatures in the water, birds in the sky, plants and trees, livestock, wild animals, and creatures that move along the ground. Think about the diversity in nature. The different kinds of water creatures. The different kinds of plants. The different kinds of animals. Would you have thought to create a giraffe? Or an angler fish? Or a butterfly? Or a human?
God is orderly. The thing that always strikes me about creation is how God knew exactly in what order to create each thing. It doesn’t make sense to create the sun, moon, and stars when there is no sky to put them in. It doesn’t make sense to create fish when there is no sea for them to swim in. God knew exactly what each plant or animal or celestial body would need to survive. He made the sky first, and then he made the sun, moon, and stars. He made the sea first, and then he made fish. He made land first, and then he made plants and animals and humans.
God is a designer. To go along with God being orderly, God created with a design in mind. His design is made evident in verses 28-30. Mankind is supposed to rule over the living creatures, and the plants are designed to be food for everyone.
God is a provider. In his creation, God provided for the needs of creation. He provided sunlight and nutrients in the land for plants to grow. He provided food for humans, beasts, birds, and creatures. God created a world that would allow his creation to survive.
God is judge. At the end of each day, God judged what he had made—and each day, he saw that it was good.
2. What does the passage say about people?
People are made in God’s image. Verse 27 says that “God created mankind in his own image.” To know that we as humans bear the image of God is a humbling realization. This verse encourages people to recognize that they have internal worth because they were created in God’s image.
People are made to rule over creation. God gave very specific commands to humans that they should rule over the animals that God created. We are designed to fill the earth and subdue it. We are to use the plants for food.
People were created male and female. As part of God’s perfect creation, he made humans to be male and female.
3. What does the passage say about God’s plan?
God will provide for his creation. In his creation, God created everything needed for his creation to survive. From the very beginning, God’s plan was that he would be our provider and would take care of all our needs.
God is in control of his creation. Through the creation story, we see that God is in control. Even today, God still remains in control of the greater whole of creation. He keeps the stars in the sky. He keeps the sun and moon ruling over the day and night. He is the one ultimately in control of everything.
God delegated authority to humans. God’s plan from the very beginning was for humans to be responsible for caring for Earth. God charged humans with caring for and ruling over the creation that he made.
God created a day for rest. God created the world in six days, so he made the seventh day a day for rest. Does that mean that God was tired after his work of creating? I don’t think it does. Instead, I think God used this as a model for what he wants humans to do - set aside at least one day each week to rest. Not only is this a day of rest, but it is a holy day - one we should set aside to worship our Creator.
How does the passage fit into the overarching story of the Bible?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a passage if you have a little outside knowledge from other passages in the Bible. This section will help provide that outside perspective.
The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with humans. This passage in Genesis 1 is just the beginning. We see in Genesis 2 that God created humans to be relational, because he made male and female to be partners. We see in Genesis 3 that God desired to have a relationship with humans. God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden. The entire Bible is about God working to maintain that relationship, first through a group of people called the Israelites, and then with all humankind through the sending of his Son to redeem all of creation.
Although Genesis 1 doesn’t specifically refer to the Trinity, we get a glimpse of God as three persons. God refers to himself with plural pronouns—us and our—“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...” (vs. 26). We see in the rest of Scripture that God is triune—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Genesis 1 is our first glimpse of that triune nature.
As God’s image bearers, we are called to reflect the nature of God. Throughout the Old Testament, God calls his people to worship and serve him only, to show other nations that they worship the one true God. In the New Testament, we are called to continually strive to be more Christ-like. As Christians who have a personal relationship with God, we are to bear God’s image with integrity so that others can see who God is by watching us.
Individual: Answer the following questions thoughtfully for yourself.
Group: Pose these questions for discussion.
All: If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts to these questions. Feel free to use the comment section to start a discussion about this passage.
What else strikes you about this passage?
How does the passage affect how you view God? How you view yourself?
How does this passage affect how you will live your life?
For additional study related to this topic, read Genesis 2:4-25.
For Bible Essential studies, you can use my thoughts as your devotional, or you can download and use the journaling sheet to work through the passage on your own. If desired, you can then compare your thoughts to mine. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically. Journal sheets are available for individual or group use.
If you plan to lead a group study, a PowerPoint presentation is also available.
You can access these resources by clicking here: Genesis 1 Resources