1: Observe here. 1. The effect produced, The heaven and the earth - That is, the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the universe. But 'tis only the visible part of the creation that Moses designs to give an account of. Yet even in this there are secrets which cannot be fathomed, nor accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth, we may infer the eternal power and godhead of the great Creator. And let our make and place, as men, mind us of our duty, as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet.
Observe 2. The author and cause of this great work, God. The Hebrew word is Elohim; which (1.) seems to mean The Covenant God, being derived from a word that signifies to swear. (2.) The plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The plural name of God in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many, tho' he be but one, was to the Gentiles perhaps a favour of death unto death, hardening them in their idolatry; but it is to us a favour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, which, tho' but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New.
Observe 3. The manner how this work was effected; God created, that is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre - existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing.
Observe 4. When this work was produced; In the beginning - That is, in the beginning of time. Time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity. Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity?
2: Where we have an account of the first matter, and the first Mover. 1. A chaos was the first matter. 'Tis here called the earth, (tho' the earth, properly taken, was not made 'till the third day,(Ge 1:10)) because it did most resemble that which was afterwards called earth, a heavy unwieldy mass. 'Tis also called the deep, both for its vastness, and because the waters which were afterwards separated from the earth were now mixed with it. This mighty bulk of matter was it, out of which all bodies were afterwards produced. The Creator could have made his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceeding he would shew what is ordinarily the method of his providence, and grace. This chaos, was without form and void. Tohu and Bohu, confusion and emptiness, so those words are rendered, (Isa 34:11). 'Twas shapeless, 'twas useless, 'twas without inhabitants, without ornaments; the shadow or rough draught of things to come. To those who have their hearts in heaven, this lower world, in comparison of the upper, still appears to be confusion and emptiness. And darkness was upon the face of the deep - God did not create this darkness, (as he is said to create the darkness of affliction, (Isa 45:7).) for it was only the want of light. 2. The Spirit of God was the first Mover; He moved upon the face of the waters - He moved upon the face of the deep, as the hen gathereth her chicken under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them,(Mt 23:37) as the eagle stirs up her nest, and fluttereth over her young, ('tis the same word that is here used) (De 32:11).
3,4,5: We have here a farther account of the first day's work. In which observe, 1. That the first of all visible beings which God created was light, the great beauty and blessing of the universe: like the first - born, it doth, of all visible beings, most resemble its great parent in purity and power, brightness and beneficence. 2. That the light was made by the word of God's power; He said, Let there be light - He willed it, and it was done; there was light - Such a copy as exactly answered the original idea in the eternal mind. 3. That the light which God willed, he approved of. God saw the light, that it was good - 'Twas exactly as he designed it; and it was fit to answer the end for which he designed it. 4. That God divided the light from the darkness - So put them asunder as they could never be joined together: and yet he divided time between them, the day for light, and the night for darkness, in a constant succession. Tho' the darkness was now scattered by the light, yet it has its place, because it has its use; for as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night. God has thus divided between light and darkness, because he would daily mind us that this is a world of mixtures and changes. In heaven there is perpetual light, and no darkness; in hell utter darkness, and no light: but in this world they are counter - changed, and we pass daily from one to another; that we may learn to expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God. 5. That God divided them from each other by distinguishing names. He called the light Day, and the darkness he called night - He gave them names as Lord of both. He is the Lord of time, and will be so 'till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. 6. That this was the first day's work, The evening and the morning were the first day - The darkness of the evening was before the light of the morning, that it might set it off, and make it shine the brighter.
6-8: We have here an account of the second day's work, the creation of the firmament. In which observe, 1. The command of God; Let there be a firmament - An expansion; so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens, the air, its higher, middle, and lower region, the celestial globe, and all the orbs of light above; it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven, (Ge 1:14,15), and as low as the place where the birds fly for that also is called the firmament of heaven, (Ge 1:20). 2. The creation of it: and God made the firmament. 3. The design of it; to divide the waters from the waters - That is, to distinguish between the waters that are wrapt up in the clouds, and those that cover the sea; the waters in the air, and those in the earth. 4. The naming it; He called the firmament Heaven - 'Tis the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city. The height of the heavens should mind us of God's supremacy, and the infinite distance that is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens, and their purity, should mind us of his majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, and their encompassing the earth, and influence upon it, should mind us of his immensity and universal providence.
9-13: The third day's work is related in these verses; the forming the sea and the dry land, and making the earth fruitful. Hitherto the power of the Creator had been employed about the upper part of the visible world; now he descends to this lower world, designed for the children of men, both for their habitation, and their maintenance. And here we have an account of the fitting of it for both; the building of their house, and the spreading of their table.
Observe, 1. How the earth was prepared to be a habitation for man by the gathering of the waters together, and making the dry land appear. Thus, instead of that confusion which was, when earth and water were mixed in one great mass; now there is order, by such a separation as rendered them both useful. (1.) The waters which covered the earth were ordered to retire, and to gather into one place, viz. those hollows which were fitted for their reception. The waters thus lodged in their proper place, he called Seas; for though they are many, in distant regions, yet either above ground or under ground, they have communication with each other, and so they are one, and the common receptacle of waters, into which all the rivers run. (2.) The dry land was made to appear, and emerge out of the waters, and was called Earth.
Observe, 2. How the earth was furnished for the support of man,(Ge 1:11,12). Present provision was made, by the immediate products of the earth, which, in obedience to God's command, was no sooner made but it became fruitful. Provision was likewise made for time to come, by the perpetuating of the several species of vegetables, every one having its seed in itself after its kind, that during the continuance of man upon the earth, food might be fetched out of the earth, for his use and benefit.
14-19: This is the history of the fourth day's work, the creating the sun, moon and stars. Of this we have an account,
20-23: Each day hitherto hath produced very excellent beings, but we do not read of the creation of any living creature till the fifth day. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually from one thing to another, but advanced gradually from that which was less excellent, to that which was more so. 'Twas on the fifth day that the fish and fowl were created, and both out of the waters.
Observe, 1. The making of the fish and fowl at first. (Ge 1:20,21) God commanded them to be produced, he said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly - The fish in the waters, and the fowl out of them. This command he himself executed, God created great whales, &c. - Insects which are as various as any species of animals, and their structure as curious, were part of this day's work, some of them being allied to the fish, and others to the fowl. Notice is here taken of the various species of fish and fowl, each after their kind; and of the great numbers of both that were produced, for the waters brought forth abundantly; and in particular of great whales the largest of fishes, whose bulk and strength, are remarkable proofs of the power and greatness of the Creator.
Observe, 2, The blessing of them in order to their continuance. Life is a wasting thing, its strength is not the strength of stones; therefore the wise Creator not only made the individuals, but provided for the propagating of the several species, (Ge 1:22). God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply - Fruitfullness is the effect of God's blessing, and must be ascribed to it; the multiplying of the fish and fowl from year to year, is still the fruit of this blessing here.
24-25: We have here the first part of the sixth day's work. The sea was the day before replenished with fish, and the air with fowl; and this day are made the beasts of the earth, cattle, and the creeping things that pertain to the earth. Here, as before, (1.) The Lord gave the word: he said, Let The earth bring forth - Let these creatures come into being upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds. 2. He also did the work; he made them all after their kind - Not only of divers shapes, but of divers natures, manners, food, and fashions: In all which appears the manifold wisdom of the Creator.
26-28: We have here the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, which we are in a special manner concerned to take notice of. Observe,
29-30: We have here the third part of the sixth day's work, which was not any new creation, but a gracious provision of food for all flesh,(Ps 136:25). - Here is, 1. Food provided for man, (Ge 1:29). herbs and fruits must be his meat, including corn, and all the products of the earth. And before the earth was deluged, much more before it was cursed for man's sake, its fruits no doubt, were more pleasing to the taste, and more strengthening and nourishing to the body. 2. Food provided for the beasts, (Ge 1:30). Doth God take care of oxen? Yes, certainly, he provides food convenient for them; and not for oxen only that were used in his sacrifices, and man's service, but even the young lions and the young ravens are the care of his providence, they ask and have their meat from God.
31: We have here the approbation and conclusion of the whole work of creation. Observe,
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