In the first nine articles of this special series we have shared about extraordinary events that occurred in eternity – prior to time and space.
We’ve seen that God is One and Three: One in Essence and Three in Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
We have seen that God’s existence is eternal and not limited by time or space –
“Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2
We’ve seen that God developed a grand plan in eternity that would be revealed in time and space. That plan included the suffering, death and resurrection of God the Son –
“… the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8-10
“… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-21
We have seen the angelic host sing together and shout for joy at God’s creation of the earth (Job 38:4-7).
“To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
We have seen Satan fall from his privileged position in Heaven and become the origin of evil and suffering in the world.
“And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Luke 10:18
The stage is set for – The Great Reveal.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
Time – “In the beginning”
Space – “the heavens and the earth”
The first sentence of God’s great reveal establishes four important facts that are vital to our understanding of everything –
- God existed before time began
- God created time
- God existed before the foundation of the world
- God created the world
There is no one else like God! He has no equal –
“To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing.” Isaiah 40:25-26
“Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7:22
So, if there is no one like God and He has no equal – why did the Father send the Son to suffer and die? For what possible purpose would the Almighty God have to endure rejection and pain in His own Creation?
We need to grasp the answer to this with all our heart and mind because it goes to the core of reality.
Why God Created Satan
We know from what we’ve read so far that God the Father sent God the Son into the world to save the world. Save the world from what?
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
The Son of God was manifested (φανερόω – revealed) for the purpose of destroying “the works of the devil.” Satan “sinned from the beginning” and “he who sins is of the devil.”
Now we see the integral part Satan plays in God’s eternal plan. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was revealed to the world for the purpose of destroying the “works” of Satan.
Knowing that helps us understand statements like this –
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:14-17
[Read numbers 21:4-9 for background to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness]
The word “serpent” is used more than 50 times in the Bible. Here’s where it started –
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made … So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:1, 14-15
When we know that God’s eternal plan was for Jesus to destroy the “works of the devil” and that the serpent in Genesis 3 was the devil, we understand the meaning of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. Christ’s death on the Cross destroyed the “works of the devil.”
We must not miss the part Satan plays in our epic journey through time and space. It is vital to our life that we grasp his role and respond to it correctly.
We’ll look deeper into the works of the devil in our next study, but let’s look first at the works of God to see how things began.
The Works of God
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Genesis 2:2
Genesis 1 references the history of Creation. It begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and ends with “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Creation is the first of God’s “works” revealed in the Bible.
Let’s begin at the beginning – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
God created the “heavens and the earth.” That includes the vast universe and everything in it. Scientists find it difficult to get an accurate measurement of the size of the universe for two primary reasons –
- They can’t see where the universe ends, so their estimates are based on what they can see (observable universe)
- Some scientists believe the universe is expanding so rapidly that it may be at least 250 times larger than the observable universe – at least seven trillion light-years across. One light year is about 5.9 trillion miles, so multiplying 5,900,000,000,000 times 7,000,000,000,000 is an astronomical number.
Scientists estimate there are at least ten trillion (10,000,000,000,000) planetary systems in the known universe. The earth is one of them. To us, the earth seems very large, but it is an extremely small dot in an observable universe filled with an estimated 30-billion-trillion stars, 350-billion large galaxies (like the Milky Way) and ten-billion superclusters (like the Virgo Supercluster).
God created all of that! What we can and cannot see.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” Psalm 19:1-6
Watch this short video as it gives us some idea of where the earth fits into everything God created.
God Creates Humans in Time and Space
Even though Earth is very, very, very, very small and seemingly insignificant in the vast and growing universe, most of the information we have in the Bible about Creation focuses on our tiny planet and human beings who are even smaller.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-9
Of everything that God created only one created being carries the name “image of God” –
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” Genesis 1:26-28
Think about that for a moment. God decided “before time began” to create a spiritual Heaven and physical universe with millions of different types of creatures with only “one” of those creatures being in the “image of God.” That is remarkable! How special we are to our Creator –
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16
As we’ve seen in earlier studies, God’s eternal plan is this –
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17
We have no record of God creating any other creature “in His image” or loving them so much that the Son of God would suffer and die for them. Human beings are in a very special category.
God’s eternal plan appears to be almost entirely about “humans” who He made in His image, in His likeness. What is God’s image? What is His likeness?
The word “create” (בָּרָא – bārā) gives us some insight to be “like” God. The word bārā means “choose.” God created based on His choice. Choosing, deciding, determining, selecting – all of those are part of who God is and how humans are “like” Him.
That also means being free to choose. God is free to choose and so are we. That freedom to choose plays a central part in God’s eternal plan for our life. God chose so we could choose. More on that in future studies.
בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ (bəṣalmênū) “in our image” .. image suggests a reproduction in form and substance (Cambridge Bible). God made the first human’s (hā’āḏām) nature in the image of God. Humans have a unique connection to God’s nature in a way that no other physical or spiritual (e.g. angel) being possesses. Even after choosing to sin against God, humans continue to be the one creature made in the image and likeness of God.
כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ (kiḏmūṯênū) “according to our likeness” .. God made the first humans to resemble Him in a way that no other creature shared. Adam and Eve had the ability to think critically, reason, think, choose, judge, determine, love and hate in a way that no other created being could do. The first humans had a free will, even as God has a free will. The choice Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden impacted their nature and the nature of all their descendants.
“The image of God consists, therefore, in the spiritual personality of man, though not merely in unity of self-consciousness and self-determination, or in the fact that man was created a consciously free Ego; for personality is merely the basis and form of the divine likeness, not its real essence. This consists rather in the fact, that the man endowed with free self-conscious personality possesses, in his spiritual as well as corporeal nature, a creaturely copy of the holiness and blessedness of the divine life. This concrete essence of the divine likeness was shattered by sin; and it is only through Christ, the brightness of the glory of God and the expression of His essence (Hebrews 1:3), that our nature is transformed into the image of God again (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).” Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28)
Part of sharing in the image and likeness of God is shared dominion.
God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. God had dominion over the universe and shared dominion of the earth with humans. God gave them the means and method to accomplish His goal –
Means – “Be fruitful and multiply”
Method – “Fill the earth and subdue it”
God created “man” (הָֽאָדָם֙ – hā’āḏām), male (זָכָ֥ר – zāḵār) and female (נְקֵבָה – nəqêḇāh). God made human beings (male and female) to be a vital part of His eternal plan. He made them in His image, His likeness, to be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth and subdue it.
Being fruitful and multiplying speaks to both the physical and spiritual nature of humans. Sexual union of a man and woman reproduces another human being who is also made in the image and likeness of God. Unborn children have their own unique DNA and soul (לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ – lənep̄eš ḥayyāh – soul living).
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7 (KJV)
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)
God created that biological and spiritual process into the first humans when He made them. Sexual union of all other creatures (e.g. dogs, cats, cattle, birds, fish) reproduces another physical creature of the same kind.
Filling the earth and subduing it is the method God gave to humans to complete the work of sharing in dominion over the earth – “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The word subdue (כָּבַשׁ – ḵiḇšuhā) means “bring into bondage, subdue.” The word dominion (וּרְד֞וּ – ūrəḏū) means “reign, rule.” That’s what God shared with humans – His reign over the earth.
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
When God finished His work of creating the heavens and the earth and everything in it, He saw that it was “very good.”
So, we have what appears to be the perfect plan. God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it, made humans in His image and likeness, and gave them the means and method for shared dominion.
If that was God’s perfect plan from eternity, that’s what we would have today. Look around. Do you see a perfect world where humans share dominion over every creature on earth? No. That is not what we see. What we see is God’s eternal plan unfolding before us. How so? We’ll dive deeper next time as we see the second step in God’s Great Reveal.
[Read the first seven chapters of The Great Reveal in this free Ebook]
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.