Genesis 1:20a

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

Precious.

Intricate.

Soft.

Hydro-acrobats.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

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Photograph of dolphin by Semi Sweet, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/23150942@N04/

Photograph of leafy sea dragon by Shezamm, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/shezamm/

Photograph of starfish by Josh Berglund, profile onhttp://www.flickr.com/people/tyrian123/

Photograph of sea turtle by Kathryn McGrath, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/kathrynmcg/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.
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Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 1:20b

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

Exquisite.

Sublime.

Effortlessly spectacular.

Designed.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

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A huge thanks to the following photographers, whose photographs are available through the Creative Commons License on flickr:

Photograph of hummingbird nest by Travis Hornung, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/awfulshot/

Photograph of swan by Holly Occhipinti, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/pinti1/

Photograph of rainbow lorikeet by Karen Hull, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/32972667@N07/

Photograph of peacock by Rupert Ganzer, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/loop_oh/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.
Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 1:17-19

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Genesis 1:17-19, ESV)

Up until the point God created the sun, moon, and stars, we have the presence of a mysterious light.  This is the light God spoke into existence in His first words of the universe’s creation.  How unusual for the light to be created before the sun, moon, and stars.  It is nothing we would expect–or at least not me, anyway.

It has become a point of difficulty for some Christians.  The question directed at the Christian goes something like this, “You mean you actually believe there was light before there were stars?”

We’ve been embarrassed at times and actually backed down.  We’ve tried to shuffle the order God gives in Genesis like a deck of cards, explaining it as a metaphor, or something of that nature.  We actually run the danger of looking like we’re saying the God we believe created the universe can’t remember the order He created the universe in!  That is way more far-fetched than believing there could be light before the stars, sun, and moon.  (By the way, the moon does give light to the earth, as a reflector.)

Of all the things there are to be troubled about, one of mine isn’t how God could have created light before the stars and sun.  Here is the logic I would offer:

  • I believe God created the Heavens and the earth.
  • To believe God created the Heavens and the earth, I have to believe God has awesome supernatural power.
  • Since I believe God has awesome supernatural power, the appearance of light before the sun or stars is no big deal.

I understand why someone who doesn’t believe God created the Heavens and the earth would have a problem with how God created the Heavens and the earth!  That makes sense.  What I don’t understand is why someone who does believe God created the Heavens and the earth would have a problem with how He did it!

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Genesis 1:17-19, ESV)

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Photograph by Zolt Levay, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/zoltlevay/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Genesis 1:16

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. (Genesis 1:16, ESV)

And the stars?????????

The NIV translates that part of the verse as,

He also made the stars.

I’ve heard it said before that the stars, from God’s perspective, seem to be . . afterthoughts.

They are not the focus of His creation.  In fact, they hardly get honorable mention. A little like if I pulled out an extra gift at a birthday party and said, Oh yes, and this too.

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. (Genesis 1:16, ESV)
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Sun photograph by Michaelk, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/michaelk/
Moon photograph by Michael Kirwan, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/dingbat2005/
Stars/galaxy photograph by Jon Connell, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/ciamabue/
Photographs are under Creative Commons License.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Genesis 1:14b-15

And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14b-15, ESV)

I can buy a watch and a Daytimer for someone, but God, the ultimate Giver, creates the sun, moon, and stars and sets them in motion in such a way that they will serve as the first calendar and timepiece humanity ever had.

Why did God give us time markers?  And why, since then, has humanity been keeping track of time?

Time has always been a marker for age.  Before death entered the picture, time would have been nothing but delightful.  It wouldn’t have mattered if Adam had been 77 or 377, other than to know for fun.  But once death entered, age became a countdown to death.

When I was 8, I wasn’t aware of that.  But at 28, I sure am.  And if God spares me to be 98, I’ll know it that much more.

But the markers God put in the sky didn’t only mark death.  As time went by, it began to mark . . calamities . . battles . . weddings . . festivals . . kings . . dynasties . . inventions . . the footprints of humanity.  And the whole time that time was marking, there was an underground current, a whispering hope, a mysterious prophesy, that sin could one day be reversed.

That current, that hope, that prophesy was called birth.

Right after the fall, Eve had been promised something extraordinary by God.  A promise passed down from generation to generation to generation, over thousands of years . . . a promise that had come through a curse God had given the serpent:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, ESV)

And so . . marking time became more than just logging deaths.

Marking time became all about genealogies.

Because one day, a supernatural descendent of Eve would come to reverse the curse of death . . . so that time could once again be . . . the delightful chapters of eternity with God.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.  And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14b-15, ESV)

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Photograph by Mendhak, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mendhak/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Genesis 1:14a

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.” (Genesis 1:14a, ESV)

Atheists have a big problem with Genesis 1:14.  That’s because they don’t believe in God, but they say it’s because it doesn’t make sense that there could be light, evening and morning, before there were stars.  Going back to Genesis 1:3-5:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

It isn’t surprising that atheists have trouble with this order.  What is surprising is how many Christians have trouble with this order.  Some Christians try to explain this order away by saying that Genesis 1 is told like a story, out of sequence.

I understand how, atheists, who don’t believe in God, wouldn’t believe in the order He created things.  But once a person believes in God . . what is hard about Genesis 1?

If I believe there is an all-knowing, all-powerful God–that is, a total boss of the universe–why would I have trouble believing He could create light before the sun and stars?  If God created the sun as a source of light, couldn’t He just as easily have created light without the source?

My human reasoning gets me messed up when I assume God has to do things the way I have to.  If I wanted to invent something–let’s say the paperclip–I would need metal to make it out of.  I can invent by using materials around me in new and clever ways, but I can’t actually create: that is, make something out of nothing.

One of the ways God is described is light (see 1 John 1:5).  God’s presence illuminates our lives because He is the creator and upholder of all things.  Colossians 1:17 says,

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NIV)

What makes sense, then, is not that God would need stars to light up His night or the sun to light up His day, but rather that He could do it in any way He wished.

It could be that God was directly creating day and night up to this point, and that He now creates lights and the earth’s path of movement in such a way that it becomes the “mechanism” for the rest of the days and nights.

We are told that, one day, those who have faith in Jesus will not need to depend on this mechanism for warmth or light:

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.  (Revelation 22:5, NIV)

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Photograph by John Bowles, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/nerull/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Genesis 1:12-13

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. (Genesis 1:12-13, ESV)

Rows of corn, cabbage, aparagus, celery, spinach, cauliflower, okra, fennel.

Vines of tomatoes, grapes, pumpkins, kiwis, squash, watermelon, eggplant, strawberries, peppers, beans, cucumbers, peas, cantaloupe.

Bushes of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants.

Lines of underground carrots, potatoes, beets, yams, ginseng, rutabaga, onions, turnips, radishes, maca, daikon, jicama, enset.

Ornaments of mangoes, apples, plums, oranges, pears, lemon, pomegranate, bananas, dates, coconut, limes, grapefruit, pineapples, figs, peaches, nectarines dotting every fruit tree.

No thorns.

No weeds.

No scarcity.

Just harvest.

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:12, ESV)

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Photograph by Teesha Dunn, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/teesha/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible Translation Information.

Published in: on October 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 1:11

And God said,”Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:11, ESV)

Plants.

Peas and carrots, broccoli and beans, tomatoes and cucumbers, strawberries and bananas, corn and potatoes, mangoes and almonds, yams and walnuts, figs and grapes.

Spruce trees and oak trees, apple trees and orange trees, willow trees and magnolia trees, beech trees and maple trees, coconut trees and pear trees.

Daffodils and daisies, petunias and honeysuckle, lilies and jasmine, camellia and freesia.

Vines, branches, stems, leaves, petals, fruit, grass, bamboo, ferns, lily pads, algae, coral, cattails.

Sunflowers.  Moonflowers.  Starflowers.

Roses.

The plants God created were different than the plants we have today, though our plants came from them.  Our plants have fallen under the curse.  Some have thorns or briars.  Some have poisonous leaves or poisonous fruit or nightshades.  Some plants are bitter to taste, some fruits hostile to opening.  Some plants disgust us like fungus or mold.  Some plants are troublesome, like weeds and kudzu.  And some plants aren’t friendly at all, like the Venus fly trap or Giant Pitcher plant or any cactus I know.

And then there are plants that have been abused as illegal drugs like cocaine or marijuana or opium, or overused like beer or wine, harvesting wasted lives, broken families, and much violence.

But despite the curse, God, in His grace, has left us many wondrous plants to help tell the story of what the world was like before the fall.  Not only do we have plants of great beauty, like the canna, cherry blossom, calla lily, or dendrobium, but also plants with herbal uses, like aloe vera, blueberries, ginsing, chamomile, echinacea, peppermint, rosemary, jewelweed.

Our world of plants is fallen . . . and yet we still have extraordinarily lovely flowers, delectable fruits, helpful herbs.  It makes me wonder how truly marvelous the original plants were.

And God said,”Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:11, ESV)

Resources

Flowers

http://www.thegrowspot.com/15flowers.html (photos of beautiful flowers)

http://www.types-of-flowers.org/

Trees

http://www.arborday.org/treeguide/browsetrees.cfm

http://www.tree-pictures.com/

Herbs

http://www.altnature.com/gallery/

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/medicinalherbs/Medicinal_Herbs.htm

http://www.liveandfeel.com/medicinalplants.html

Photos by Magnus Rosendahl, see freephotos.se

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 1:10

God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10, ESV)

Earth—good.  I don’t know what earth was like when it was good, but I see traces of that goodness . . . my toes in the dirt as a kid . . . feeling blades of grass bend effortlessly under my feet . . . rolling down a sunny hill . . . sitting on a picnic blanket listening to my mother read stories.

Seas—good.  I don’t know what seas were like before the fall, either, but I see speckles of that goodness even now . . . snorkeling among rainbow fish . . . sliding in tennis shoes across a frozen pond . . . watching little tadpoles flit around a tiny creek . . . daring to swim in the chill-gasping water of a cold spring.

The earth isn’t good anymore.  Earthquakes, wildfires, sharp rocks, deep pits, avalanches, volcanoes, and hostile cliffs make the earth dangerous, frightening.  So much blood has been spilled into the earth, so many bones have been buried under its skin.

The sea isn’t good anymore, either.  Tsunamis, hurricanes, rip tides, rapids, deceptively shallow water, and the vast watery wilderness itself make the sea ominous, fearful.  So many fights for survival have been waged, so many bones lie in a watery grave.

Our world isn’t good anymore.  No matter how many pictures people print of a smiling earth, we are on a planet that has been responsible for killing off the most important inhabitant on this earth:

Us.

And yet we know, in our heart, that all this around us was once the playground for people.

What went wrong?

Like a parent explaining to a small child why the magnificent Twin Towers are gone in New York City, Genesis 1-3 is God explaining to humanity why we live in a very sad world.

God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10, ESV)

Photo by Bruce Irving, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/flyingsinger/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Genesis 1:9

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:9, ESV)

God has already gifted His creatures with light—creatures He has not yet created!  Now He gifts them with an extraordinary privilege: land to stand upon.  Land is a stable force, contrasted against the flowing water, and God fully intends to create some creatures who enjoy firm ground under their feet rather than shifting liquid.

God gives a depth to His earth, too, once again using opposites to contrast beauty.  Darkness showcases light in the same way that a black velvet box showcases a piece of extravagant jewelry.  But water and land are different.  Both have their own lovely beauty and so, rather than create one as the backdrop for the other, God uses them, maybe a little like a horse and a seahorse, each heightening the other’s beauty.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:9, ESV)

Photo by Stephen-Edgar, Netweb, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/netweb/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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