January 3, 2022

Finding Christ in the Creation

In the majestic words of Genesis, we read that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 NIV). Here, in the first chapter of the Bible, we learn of how God wanted to teach us of the beginning, or genesis, of all things. We often read this incredible account of the creation almost as a scientific textbook, so to speak, yet the story of creation has far more depth and can symbolize many aspects of life. In particular, we can find within the creation our own story of how the Savior takes us from unorganized matter and converts us into beings of light in the image of God.

Before beginning the story, it is critical to realize that when the Lord revealed the story of the creation, it was meant to be highly symbolic. We should not expect that God meant to simplify one of the most incredible and complex acts into just a single chapter. Genesis 1 is designed to give us just the outline of what God did. This outline only gives us a glimpse into the true majesty of the actual process of creation. It is also important to realize that ancient and modern Jews see many connections to the Tabernacle and ancient temples. Simply put, the creation has always been seen as a temple text, and the temple itself was seen as a place of creation.

On the first day, we learn that “God created the heavens and the earth” and that the “earth was without form, and void” (Genesis 1:1–2), or in other words, was empty and without order. Darkness filled the expanse, yet even in the darkness, we learn that the Spirit of the Lord “moved upon the waters” (Genesis 1:2), or in the original Hebrew, the Spirit hovered or brooded over the earth. Here we learn that even amidst the darkness and chaos, the Spirit of God was present. In our own stories of creation, we each begin our journey in a symbolic state of darkness or chaos, yet the presence of the Lord is there from the beginning, watching over His creation. If we allow the Spirit of the Lord to move upon us, we will receive light!

With darkness covering the earth, the Lord speaks: “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3). With simply the word of the Savior, light penetrates the darkness and fills the expanse of His creation. Note that this light is not from the sun, moon, or stars! In fact, the lights in the firmament are not created until day four. This source of light stands apart from the later-created lights. During His mortal ministry, the Savior taught: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). In our own journey, once we have been moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord, we receive light from the word of God. As we study the Word, we are filled with light just as on the first day of creation.

At the end of the first day, the Lord sees the light and proclaims “that it was good” (Genesis 1:4). Even with so little completed in the creation, the Savior sees the good. For each additional day of creation, the Savior makes a similar statement, showing that He sees the progress even in the midst of His incomplete creation.

On the second day, the Lord divided the waters above the firmament of heaven from the waters on the land, creating the clouds above and the oceans below. The Hebrew word used here for “divide” or “separate” is used many times later in the Bible, particularly in a temple context when speaking of separating the unholy from the holy—for example: the veil of the Tabernacle that separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:33), the separation of the priests from the people (Numbers 8:14), and even separating Israel from the rest of the world (Leviticus 20:24, 26). This second day of creation can suggest that when we receive the light of Christ, we are then expected to be set apart and separated from the world. We are to live a higher—and holier—life as we follow the Savior.

On the third day of creation, the Lord gathered the waters of the earth together to form seas and oceans, and dry land, hills, and mountains. With the land separated from the water, the Lord then brings forth grasses, fruit trees, and all forms of vegetation to give beauty to the land. Keep in mind that the sun has still not yet been created, again suggesting that this light is the light of Christ that gives life to all. The plants are commanded to yield fruit so that their seed can fill the earth. The creation of life on the third day, in the fields of wheat, trees, flowers, and vegetation, may connect to the fact that, likewise, it was on the third day that the Savior rose from the dead, bringing true life to all the earth!

On the fourth day, the Lord created the lights in the sky, including the sun, moon, and stars. This was not only to give daily light unto the world but also “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14). Unlike our modern calendar, which uses the rotation of the earth around the sun to set the months, the Jewish calendar was based on the cycles of the moon. The dates for each of the Jewish Feasts or seasons were determined by this lunar cycle. For example, the first of the feasts, Passover, occurs on the first full moon of the year. The last of the feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, occurs on the seventh full moon of the year. Thus, ancient Israel gathering to the temple to worship during these feasts was directly connected to the creation of the moon and the sun.

During His mortal ministry, the Savior taught of Himself, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), yet Jesus also taught during the Sermon on the Mount that “[We] are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:15). How is it that if the Savior is the light, we also can be the light? Perhaps these two seemingly contradictory statements can best be understood if we compare this to the light of the sun and moon. The sun is the ultimate source of all light. Its rays of light create growth and life in all things. The moon, however, does not actually create its own light but instead reflects the light of the sun to the earth.

So, too, it can be in our own lives. We are never the ultimate source of light. We only reflect the light of the Savior to others. It is interesting that during a lunar eclipse, the moon becomes darkened, no longer reflecting the light of the sun. Why is this? Because the earth has come between the sun and the moon, blocking the light. Similarly, as we allow the cares of the world to come between us and the Son of God, the ultimate source of true light, we, too, lose the ability to reflect His light to others. Just as these lights, the sun, moon, and stars, were “to separate the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:18 NLT), as Christians, we also should live lives that set us apart from the world, bringing light to those in darkness.

On the fifth day of creation, the Lord created the living creatures of the seas and the birds of the air. Then on the sixth day, the beasts of the land were created, including sheep, goats, horses, insects, and all creeping things. The Lord commands these beasts to “be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). 

Finally, on the last part of the sixth day, the Lord “created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female” (Genesis 1:27 NIV). Here the culmination of the Lord's creation, the very last act of creation, is male and female, in the image of God. “And God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The act of creating all living creatures could relate to our own journey of not only having families and bringing forth children but also in bringing forth “fruits” of repentance, service, love, devotion, and kindness towards others (see Matthew 3:8). These fruits should not only nourish and bring life to ourselves and our families but to all the world.  

Throughout the entire creation story, each day the Lord stated that His creation “was good,” but with the creation of humans, the Lord now states that creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). In our own lives, as we allow the Savior to form us into a “new creature” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), the Savior always sees the good in us. If we are progressing, even if we are not complete, the Lord sees the good in our life. Once our creation story is complete, and we are seen as “very good,” we can then be seen in the image of God. After seeing His marvelous creation completed, the Lord rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2).

The story of the creation is a story of putting things in order. We are each symbolically in a state of darkness and chaos as we first come unto Christ. As we allow His Spirit to move upon us, we receive light. The Lord then commands us to be separated from the world and follow Him, just as the waters were separated. As we continue in Christ, we are to bring forth fruits of repentance, multiplying and replenishing the earth with life, not just life in ourselves but in others. As we culminate our journey back to God, we will find that we can become like our Savior through His atonement (2 Nephi 2:3). Once we have completed our own story of creation, with the Savior there every step of the way, the Lord God will rest from His labors, knowing that His work and glory is complete (see Moses 1:39)—complete because we are now created after His own image, even in the image of our Savior and Redeemer!

6 comments:

  1. Haze KompelienJanuary 04, 2022

    Your insights and talents in composition and presentation always impress me. And my spirit smiles at the deeper thoughts that you share with others.
    You see deeper things that I have missed. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Haze, thank you for the kind words! And you are very much welcome!

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  2. Lovely! Your insights applying the Biblical narrative to our lives is moving.

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  3. Thanks, Daniel. I like your work!

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  4. Thank you Daniel, I learned some new things to think about and study from this.

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