Patterns in Creation
When we look at the Creation account there are so many things to read and wonder about. There are also many things that catch one’s eye when reading this beautiful account. One of these things could be what we call a “pattern in creation”. This would be a pattern that we see weaved throughout the creation account that cannot be ignored. Genesis 1 is filled with design patterns and we are going to look at some of them in this study.
From Chaos to Order
Days 1-3 of creation, God is creating order. He is creates space, time, and the earth. He also creates light and land on the earth itself. With all of these things, God is bringing order to a chaotic, dark world. Days 1-3 are also the creation of what ancient Israelites would have considered the “3 tiered cosmos” or universe. An ancient Israelite would say that this 3 tiered cosmos was a dome. The three tiers are the sea, the land, and the sky. They believed the sky was like a big dome and when they looked at the sky they considered that as where God resides, above the dome. These tiers, sea, land, and sky were created in days 1-3. So in days 1-3, God is creating order and matter, specifically the earth. God is creating the earth, in particular, to be filled with His other creations. This is where days 4-6 come in. These days, God creates heavenly bodies (sun, moon, etc) to put in the space He created. Then on days five and six, God creates animals to roam and fill His earth and finally He creates us humans.
Creating and Filling
Not only do we see this pattern but we also see a correlation in which God made His creations in a sense of pairs. Each day can be paired with another. We see one day being created for something else, then later we see the “something else” being created to fill the space in which it was created for.
Days 1 and 4: On day 1, space and light were created. On day 4, the sun, moon, and stars were created to give light and fill the space God had created on day one.
Days 2 and 5: On day 2, God separates the waters so that now there is water on earth. By doing so, He also creates the expanse or “sky.” On day 5, God creates fish and sea creatures to fill the water and He creates birds to fill the sky He created.
Days 3 and 6: On day 3, dry land appears and vegetation appears. On day 6, God creates animals to fill the land and eat the vegetation. On this day, God also creates humans to fill the land and eat the vegetation.
God: Speaking and Creating
It is also interesting to look at the way God interacts with His creation and the way things were created. On day 1, God said, “Let there be light”, and then there was light. No mention of God “making” light but yet He still spoke it into existence. On day 2, God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters”, and then it says that God made the expanse. On day 3, God spoke the land and vegetation into existence. What is interesting here is that in verse 12, the land produces the vegetation. Obviously the land did not have any power of it’s own but it was God’s power that spoke this vegetation into existence. On day 4, God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky”. Then we see God made these lights and set them in the expanse of the sky. On day 5, God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky”. Then it says that God “created” these sea creatures and birds. Finally, on day 6, God said, “Let the land produce living creatures”. The phrase “let the land produce…” was also said by God on the the third day and the land produced the vegetation. However, here on day 6, it is God who makes the wild animals and so we see a direct involvement. Also on day 6, God says, “Let us make man” and the beautiful description of the special creation of man follows. Here we see God speaking and creating man in His own image.
Overall we see this pattern,
Day 1: God spoke and there was…
Day 2: God spoke and He made…
Day 3: God spoke and there was…
Day 4: God spoke and He made…
Day 5: God spoke and He created…
Day 6: God spoke and He created…
When we look at each day in a general sense, we can see that on each day, God spoke His creation into existence. The interesting aspect to focus on is that no matter if it mentions God “making” or creating” something or not, all He had to do was speak. The word of God is life and brings life. Psalm 119:25 tells us that God’s word gives life.
Made and Created
When we look at what God made and created some questions can arise. In the Genesis account, there are two words to describe what God is making and creating. The word for “create” in Hebrew is bara meaning to “create”. The other word found in the Genesis account is the word “made”. The Hebrew word is translated asah meaning to “make”. They are both literal translations. It seems from the Genesis account that certain things were “created” and others “made”. For instance, the sea creatures and birds were “created” but the land animals were “made”. Is there a significance? Not really. No matter what part of creation we are looking at, it was all made by God and it all points back to God creating it in the first place. Humans were made from dust but God also created the earth. Plants came forth from the land and God made the land appear. It all points back to God in His beautiful creation.
“And It Was So”
These words appear for the first time on the second day. After God makes the separation, we see the words, “And it was so” indicative of completeness and the power of God. The Hebrew authors were big on emphasizing certain words and phrases in their literature. Since they didn’t write in all capital letters or underline and highlight words or phrases for emphasis they used another literature writing component to stress certain ideas called repetition. They would repeat whatever thought they were trying to emphasize and this got across to the readers as being important. So it should do the same for us. These words appear often, everyday in fact except for the fifth day (Genesis 1:7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30). This is another biblical theme that will carry on even through Jesus and today. That is, God saying or doing something and that being the way it is. Some will look at judgment as being the “negative” side of this argument. It is true that God will judge all of us (Ecclesiastes 12:14), but this should not be the only absolute we think about. We should think about how God will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8), or how God will forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), or that we will have eternal life if we believe and follow Jesus Christ (John 3:16). These are all promises of God and they are all so. If we stay faithful to God , all of these will remain true because God has said so. The promises and power of God is depicted right here in the beginning, that whatever God says is so.
“God Saw That It Was Good”
These words appear on everyday except for the second day (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), then God says at the end of the sixth day it was “very good”. Repetition is key in Hebrew literature and this is no exception. The word “good” is especially interesting here and important. The Hebrew word for good is “tov” which means “good” or “goodness”. It is a pretty close translation to English which helps in translation. This indicates that God created His world “good” with no sin and no evil. There was no “ra” in Hebrew or “bad things” in God’s perfect creation. Only good existed and this is reflected in the repetition of God seeing His creation as good.
Evening & Morning
Another repetition we see is these words “evening and morning” appear at the end of every day. There is a lot of controversy about the meaning of these words “evening” and “morning” and whether they refer to 24 hour time periods or indefinite periods of time. We can determine the times by looking at the Hebrew meanings of these words. The Hebrew word for evening is “erev” meaning evening or night. The Hebrew word for morning is “boqer” meaning morning or day. Both words can be translated literally and the order in which they occur in the Bible is crucial. The Bible tells us that “there was evening and morning”. This means that God was creating during the “day” and then there was evening or night, then morning or the next day. What we see as the pattern for the rest of creation is this evening and morning pattern. In other words, we see God creating and working and then there is evening and morning. We see no mention of God creating during the evening or night. We get this picture of God creating and bringing life into existence and then evening comes and the action doesn’t pick up until the morning of the next day. It is hard to say for sure whether these days were literal 24 hour days or not. What we do know, is that there was a cycle being used as a time separator and determiner.