The opening line of Scripture clearly reveals that creation comes from God.1 Genesis 1 and 2 further reveal God as a prophet who both made creation and prepared it for us solely by the power of his word. This is indicated by the repeated phrases, “And God said” and “Let there be” or “Let the . . .”2 When God spoke, creation obeyed his command, as is repeatedly demonstrated by the phrase “And it was so.” After each act of creating, God pronounced the perfect and sinless nature of his creation with the phrase “And God saw that it was good.”
Therefore, creation came not from preexisting matter but rather out of nothing, by God’s word. The Bible teaches that God made creation ex nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”) in Hebrews 11:3, which says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” This doctrine is important because it negates the possibility of naturalistic evolution and an eternal universe. While God did not make creation from any preexisting matter or the proverbial hunk of mud, creation did come into existence and was prepared for human inhabitation by the powerful word of God.
It is curious that God did not create from nothing on each of the six days of creation. Still, God did speak as both a prophet and poet on each day. Furthermore, there is a set pattern to God’s words in Genesis 1. It is as follows:
- Announcement: “And God said.”
- Commandment: “Let there be.”
- Separation: God separated the day and night, water and land, animals and plants.
- Report: “And it was so.”
- Evaluation: “And God saw that it was good.”
In this pattern, we see that God’s word is living, active, and powerful, and that it accomplishes what he decrees. Later, God explicitly declares this fact to Isaiah: “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”3 The rest of Scripture confirms that creation was prepared for us by God’s powerful word.4
Indeed, Genesis 1 portrays God’s word as the most powerful force in all of creation. God’s word brings order, makes things good, creates an environment in which life can exist, separates things, comes with unparalleled authority, and accomplishes exactly what God intends.
Therefore, we are not to dismiss, disdain, or distort God’s word, as it is the source of life. In summary, God brought creation out of nothing and prepared it for us because he cares for us. Because of this, in Jeremiah 10:16 we read, “Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name.” As Francis Schaeffer pointed out about this verse, creation was made and lovingly prepared for us by a loving and personal “he,” not an impersonal, unloving “it.”
What difference does it make to see the world as a gift from God to be enjoyed and cared for?