Week Thirteen: How, When, and Why did God Make the Universe?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.
How did God create the universe? His word gives us the answer: “Then God said . . . ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.
Then God said, “Let there be . . .” and there was.
The psalmist says, “Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being” (Ps. 148:5).
How did God created the world and the universe beyond? He spoke, and it became real. He created all things by the power of his Word. And who is called the Word of God? Jesus. John tells us, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone” (John 1:1-4).
In other words, Jesus was with God, and together they created the universe. Nothing exists that did not come from God.
Can we create like God? We can make things with our hands—if you give me fabric and thread, I could make a shirt. Give me a computer and I could create a book. But is my “creation” like God’s?
Not really. Because when humans “create” something, we require the raw materials to begin with. You can’t build a rocket without engineers and materials. I can’t make a shirt without fabric and thread. I can’t even create a book without paper, something to write with, and my imagination—and my imagination is a gift from God.
Everything we use to make things comes ultimately from God. He gave us the planet from which we get our raw materials, and he gives us the knowledge, imagination, and tools with which we come up with ideas and concepts for new projects. Even our creativity is really a reflection of God’s creativity.
But when God creates, he makes something out of nothing. He says to empty space, “be earth and sea,” and suddenly a planet is formed. He says to darkness, “Be light,” and light it is.
Even life comes from God. Many people today love debating about when life begins—is it at birth? At conception, when an egg and sperm meet for the first time? No, neither answer is correct. Life is a gift from God—a gift from the Word. The Bible says, “The Word gave life to everything that was created,” and he gave life to Adam in the Garden of Eden.
The Bible says, “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7). When God made Eve, he didn’t scoop mud together in the shape of a woman—and he didn’t breathe life into her nostrils. Instead, “while the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib” (Gen. 2:21-22). God took living material from the man and used it to make woman.
In the same way, when a human life is created now, a living egg and a living sperm unite to create another life. This isn’t the beginning of life, but a continuation of the gift of life God gave to humans in the Garden of Eden.
We often talk about people who “create” things, but the “creation” humans do is really a weak reflection of God’s something-from-nothing power.
When did God create the universe? In the beginning. No, not in God’s beginning, because he has no beginning. But at man’s beginning. At the beginning of recorded time. At the beginning of the universe.
Some people believe that the six “days” described in the first chapter of Genesis are six twenty-four hour days. Other people believe that the six days are six eras, or six ages. The Hebrew word “day” (yom) often means a long period of time. Second Peter 3:8 tells us that “a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” And whether or not the time of creation consists of six literal days or six longer periods of time, other Scriptures point to “yom” as longer than twenty-four hours.
Genesis 2:4 says, “These [are] births of the heavens and of the earth in their being prepared, in the day of Jehovah God's making earth and heavens—Young’s Literal Translation). In this verse, the word day, or yom, covers all of creation. Psalm 95:7–14 and Heb. 4:4–11 refer to the seventh day as continuing from creation to the present. In the second chapter of Genesis, Adam was alone for some time tending the garden before Eve was created. So it is logical to assume that the “day” in Genesis is not a twenty-four hour day, but a period of unspecified length. Perhaps these six days correspond to the six main geological ages that scientists have uncovered.7
To further support this theory, consider that the beginning of plant life on the third day required time for the plants to grow to maturity. God could create big plants if he wanted to, but the scripture says: “And the earth bringeth forth tender grass, herb sowing seed after its kind, and tree making fruit (whose seed [is] in itself) after its kind; and God seeth that [it is] good (Gen. 1:12, Young’s Literal Translation). In other words, God supernaturally created plant life, but these plants referred to on the third day were producing fruit and growing. That takes time.
Another reason to believe that the days are longer than twenty-four hours is the Bible’s account of everything that happened on the sixth day. On that day alone, God created the land animals, he created man (who was alone for a while), he brought all the animals to man for naming (a process that would have taken over six hundred hours if Adam spent only two minutes on each of 15,000 living species), Adam searched for a mate for himself and found none, God put Adam to sleep and took out a rib, and Eve was brought to Adam who accepted her as his wife. Whew! That was one busy day!
I don't want to argue this point, because we're not going to know for sure until we get to Heaven. But whether you believe creation happened on six days or in six ages, the important thing is this: God created the earth and everything in it. He created man from earth, not from a monkey. Man is a special creation from God, not a mistake or the result of some evolutionary process.
Why did God create the earth and everyone on it? Revelation 4:11 gives us the answer: “You are worthy, O Lord our god, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”
God created the earth and all people because he wanted to. Because he wanted to love us and fellowship with us. And he has reasons we may never understand . . . until He explains them to us in heaven.
Memory Verse: “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased” (Rev. 4:11).
1. Can you create a tangible, touchable thing by speaking it into being? Maybe you could create a misunderstanding . . . but even then you’d be using other people’s feelings to achieve your result. You could create a lie . . . but you’d have to begin with the truth before you could twist it. Everything man “creates” springs from something else, but from nothing God can create anything he wishes to create.
2. Do you believe God created the world in six days or six ages? What are your reasons for this belief? (Remember—the Bible isn’t clear on this. And the topic isn’t worth arguing over. The important thing is to realize that God did create the world in six stages, just as the Bible describes.)
3. Why do you think God created the world? Why do you think God created you?
7 Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 196–203.