Did God create the Heavens and the Earth in the manner that the Book of Genesis attests to? The Prophet Isaiah believed so. Yahweh—the covenant-keeping God of Israel—is the author of creation, and continues to maintain His creation.
God has created the heavens and, having created them, has stretched them out. The idea is that God has cloaked the earth with our atmosphere from horizon to horizon. The Prophet wrote in chapter forty: “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, ... He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” (Isaiah 40:22, NIV84). But not only has God created the heavens, He has also spread out the earth and all that comes out of it. The picture is that of the wide expanse of the earth covered with the greenness of grass like a tapestry.
But not only has God created the heavens, and not only has He has spread out the earth and all that comes out of it. The physical globe we call Earth is the direct result of God’s creative work. And all that the Earth brings forth—vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees, and living creatures—is also the direct result of God’s creative work. Genesis 1:1 is succinct: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
He also gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk in it. It was God who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
In one line of poetry the Prophet Isaiah sums up the entire first chapter of Genesis!
But there is something else going on in this verse. In the original Hebrew, Isaiah 42:5 implies that not only was the original act of creation affected by God, but also the creative power of God is exercised in the continued existence of His works. In other words, God created the Heavens and the Earth and He continues to sustain the Heavens and the Earth. This truth is also taught in the New Testament.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, NIV84)
The verb hold together in Col. 1:17 reveals that God in Christ is sustaining the Heavens and the Earth. In Christ, the universe continues and coheres. It is the Son who holds in his almighty hands the reins of the universe and never even for one moment lets them slip out of his grasp.
The implication is that we live in an orderly universe. This, to be sure, does not always appear to be true on the surface. Nature seems to be “raw in tooth and claw,” without harmony and order. Yet, a closer look reveals a basic plan that is meticulous in how it works. We have a glimpses of this orderly process in, of all places, the Book of Ecclesiastes:
“Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4–7, NIV84)
Can we really believe what Isaiah writes about the Creator and His Creation? We live in a modern, technological age where a lot of Christians are unsure as to how to interpret God’s creation narrative. Is it merely the poetry of an pre-scientific culture attempting to describe natural processes they could not possibly understand? Or is it an accurate historical account of a Supreme Being at work?
For the first 1,700 years of western history, the Genesis account of creation went pretty much unquestioned. The Bible said it, that settled it. Besides, there were no credible alternative theories. Then came the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions. There was a tremendous growth in knowledge and the dissemination of that knowledge. Scientific inquiry and rational thought became the dual standards by which all knowledge was tested. One of the products of the Enlightenment was a man by the name of Charles Darwin. He wrote a book entitled The Origin of the Species that would fundamentally change the way we looked at man, the world, and the Scriptures. In his book, Darwin postulated that all species have gradually evolved into the forms we see today. This included man. Through natural processes, every species evolves. Enter the theory of Evolution.
It is a theory that most scientists and researchers have elevated to unquestionable fact. It is the golden calf of the scientific community. To accept any other interpretation of Earth's geologic history is to risk being labeled a rank heretic, a crank, or just plain stupid.
So how important is the Creation account to Christianity and what should the Christian position be toward Evolution? As long as we believe in God, does it make any real difference whether the Christian believes God created the world almost instantaneously in six literal days or slowly over billions of years?
When the doctrine of creation withers it is not soon other doctrines of Christianity begin to wither. Thomas Aquinas once said that, “any error about creation also lead to an error about God.” Wrong ideas about creation systematically deconstruct the true Christian meaning of almost every doctrine. For that reason it is critical to have a biblical understanding of the cosmos.