Like all good stories, the Creation story has a protagonist (God) and an antagonist. Understanding Genesis chapter 1 begins with understanding the themes that run through the story. The way the story is structured, the word play in the story, and the symbolism all point to one prevailing theme, a great antagonist, and a teaching about the nature of God.
The end of a Day Three, Genesis 1:13, is a perfect place to pause and take stock of how far we have come. In doing so, the main theme of Genesis 1 will reveal itself.
Unlike so many gods in so many myths, of God of Genesis was not born in the Deep. God existed before and outside of the Deep.
At some point, God decided to let his existence spill into the existence of other things, to speak and create all that is.
The following is a summary of the orderly steps we have encountered in creation so far:
Day One: Light, and the separation of Light from Darkness, evening and morning
- The separation of Evil from Good.
- The defeat of Chaos or Nothingness with Order and Reason.
Science Connection: Can be seen as the creation of Energy itself; God saying “Let there be light,” can be equated to the moment of the “Big Bang.”
Day Two: Sky, the separation of the “Water Above” from the “Water Below”
- Shows us God’s rational and orderly method of doing things based on the needs of his creatures, whom he loves.
- Illustrates the tininess and fragility of human existence surrounded by a hostile environment.
Science Connection: Can be seen as the separation and development of matter and energy, elements, and compounds; Can be related to the clearing of earth’s once poisonous atmosphere.
Day Three, part 1: Dry Land
- Another blow to the powers of Chaos or Nothingness.
- Foreshadows other miracles involving water, including the Parting of the Red Sea in Exodus, and Jesus calming the sea in the Gospels.
Science Connection: has some similarity to the tectonic plate movements and underwater volcanic eruptions responsible for creating land masses.
Day Three, part 2: Plants, and the process of self-sustaining, biological reproduction.
- The natural processes of life, reproduction, death, and rebirth are all part of an order established and ordained by God from the beginning of time. These processes point toward an end of time, a recreation, in which God will abolish death and procreation so that only Life remains.
- Day three is separated into two parts for emphasis, because it is the middle of the creation week, and because the number three symbolises perfection and completeness. Dividing the day in half further emphasizes that God is the source of reason and order, as opposed to chaos and destruction.
Science Connection: Science by itself has difficulty explaining when and how life began. Religion doesn’t necessarily answer the “when?” but it does help us to understand the “how?”
We’ve come a long way, from Nothingness, to matter and energy, to the miracle of life itself.
Notice in this summary the one theme that appears again and again:
God is the source of reason and order, as opposed to chaos and destruction.
Contrary to what many have been led to believe, God’s great enemy is not the devil. In the bible, the devil himself is the agent of a greater power, Death.
There are many other things that we could call “Death.” Genesis 1 terms it “the Deep/Abyss.” Destruction, Oblivion, Chaos, Nonexistence are also fine terms for the concept, and I think that “nonexistence” in particular sums the concept up quite nicely.
God is existence. We exist because God shared God’s existence with us. Nonexistence is the antithesis of God.
I would argue that God does not have an enemy at all. Nothing in reality or un-reality is powerful enough to be God’s true enemy.
Genesis 1 suggests this, as God “defeats” chaos/nonexistence with nothing more than a few words. While the gods of other mythologies create the earth out of blood and war – the literal corpse of the enemy, in at least one case – God just says it will be so, and it is.
Nonexistence is the great antagonist of God’s story (the universe) not because it is our great enemy, the thing that has power over us, the thing that we must overcome. And with God’s help, we will.
So take a moment, pause and reflect on this, the third sunrise. We’re halfway there.
The greatest creations are still to come.
Any thoughts or questions here at the end of Day 3? Let me know in the comment section!
Missed the last verse? Catch up with Understanding Genesis 1:12.