Preparing a Happy Home for Mankind
1. What has Jehovah given to man as a home, and how should we evaluate it? (Hebrews 3:4)
IF SOMEONE designed and built for you a delightful home in lovely surroundings and gave it to you as a free gift, would you not thank him for it? Of course you would! Then you should be truly thankful to the great Designer and Builder of this planet earth. For the Bible tells us that “Jehovah, the Maker of heaven and earth,” has given the earth “to the sons of men.” (Psalm 115:15, 16) What a gracious gift! And as we review how Jehovah God prepared this earth for man’s habitation, we must indeed marvel at the wisdom and power that He displayed as Divine Architect and Master Builder.
“IN THE BEGINNING”
2. What things testify to the magnificence of God’s creation? (Psalm 8:3, 4)
2 Turning to the very first words of the Bible, we read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) It was doubtless billions of years ago that God performed this stupendous creative act, and regardless of the conflicting theories of some scientists as to how this came about, a glorious heavens and a lovely earth continue to testify to the magnificence of God’s creation.
3 What wisdom and foresight Jehovah showed in putting together the materials of the universe! For example, there is water—a most abundant commodity here on earth. Unlike other liquids, it has the unusual property of growing lighter in weight as its temperature drops close to freezing, so that colder water then rises and forms a protective layer of ice on top of lakes and seas. If ice were heavier than water, this earth would long since have been put into a “deep freeze” in which no life could survive. Today, water serves as a solvent, for irrigating the earth, as a source of electrical energy—why, even about two thirds of our body is composed of water. We could not live without water. The wise Creator foresaw all of this when he covered earth with a “watery deep.”—Genesis 1:2.
4 In this creation by God, the relation of the earth to the heavens is also of tremendous interest. God slanted the earth’s axis at an angle of 23-1/2 degrees toward the plane of its orbit, so that during its annual journey around the sun, each hemisphere is taken successively through spring, summer, autumn and winter. The earth’s distance from the sun is just right for sustaining life. If it were much closer, earth would become too hot for life; if much farther away, it would be perpetually frozen. The moon was placed so that its pull of gravity causes the gentle rise and fall of the tides to wash earth’s shores. Reflecting on this, surely we should want to “praise Jah [Jehovah] . . . for his works of mightiness”!—Psalm 150:1, 2.
“DAYS” OF CREATION
5, 6. How can we reason on the length of the ‘creative days‘? (Hebrews 4:3-5)
5 For countless ages, the earth was shrouded in darkness and was empty of life. But “God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1, 2) What would result?
6 Here we enter upon the seven “days” of creation. How long were these “days”? Much longer than twenty-four hours! The Bible tells us that “one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years.” (2 Peter 3:8) But each of these “days” of creation must be even longer than that. How do we know? Genesis 2:2 says that, after six “days” of creating, God “proceeded to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had made.” The Bible shows that Jehovah’s ‘rest day’ still continues. For the apostle Paul writes that Christians should, through faith and obedience, do their “utmost to enter into that rest.” (Hebrews 4:9-11) The Bible count of time shows that it is now close to six thousand years since God began ‘resting’ from his creative works on earth. Just ahead of us lies the thousand-year reign of Christ, by the end of which God’s purpose of filling the earth with a happy human family will have been accomplished. God’s ‘rest day’ will then end. This would indicate that this ‘rest day’ would be of seven thousand years’ duration. (Genesis 1:28; Revelation 20:4) It is reasonable to conclude that each of the six preceding “days” of creation would occupy similar periods of time, during each of which Jehovah carried out a further stage of preparing earth to be man’s future home. As we now observe how He did this, we should truly appreciate the force of the psalmist’s words: “How great your works are, O Jehovah! Very deep your thoughts are.”—Psalm 92:5.
“LET LIGHT COME TO BE”
7. How did “light come to be”? (Isaiah 45:7)
7 Tens of thousands of years ago Jehovah proceeded to say: “Let light come to be.” That marked the beginning of the first ‘creative day.’ By the end of that long “day,” God had cleared the way for light from the sun to shine through to “the surface of the watery deep” that enveloped the earth. No longer did a thick screen of darkness prevent a division between Day and Night with regard to this earth. Because of this light of “Day,” man would in due course be able to work and enjoy the beauties of earth around him, and “Night” would enable him to renew his energies by sweet repose.—Genesis 1:3-5.
“LET AN EXPANSE COME TO BE”
8. What foresight did Jehovah show in making “the expanse”?
8 On the “second day” of creation, God caused a separation in these waters, into waters that stayed upon the surface of the earth and waters that became suspended like a great canopy around our globe. He called the expanse between these two great bodies of water “Heaven.” It included our atmosphere. Here God provided exactly the right proportion of gases, mainly nitrogen and oxygen, to sustain the plants and breathing creatures that he would produce later. He made this atmosphere just right for pleasant living, and to serve as a protection from meteors and harmful radiation. Truly God is a wise and loving Creator!—Genesis 1:6-8.
EARTH, SEAS, VEGETATION BROUGHT FORTH
9. What did God have in mind in producing “Earth” and “Seas”? (Isaiah 45:18)
9 God’s active force, or spirit, continued to move to and fro over the surface of the globe. Now, on the third ‘creative day,’ he proceeded to raise the dry land out of ‘the waters beneath the expanse.’ No doubt there were great convulsions as landmasses were pushed up and seas were gathered into their sunken basins. Here, again, God’s wisdom and love are clearly apparent. When the time came for their creation, animals and man would be able to make their homes on dry land. The seas would swarm with marine life, and the vast areas of ocean would have a moderating effect, preventing too great extremes of heat and cold around the globe.—Genesis 1:9, 10.
10 But more was to appear on this “third day.” For the first time, life! The Bible gives the account:
“God went on to say: ‘Let the earth cause grass to shoot forth, vegetation bearing seed, fruit trees yielding fruit according to their kinds, the seed of which is in it, upon the earth.’” (Genesis 1:11)
So God brought forth wonderful cellular structures, made to multiply according to a “blueprint” locked up in every individual cell. Some “kinds” became stately trees, giving shade and binding together the soil. Other “kinds” were smaller trees and bushes, bearing fruits, nuts and berries, to provide, along with vegetables, a tasty variety of foods. God produced a glorious array of flowers to adorn and beautify the earth. Each “kind” of plant life could reproduce only its own “kind,” but in a delightful variety of colors and forms—as with the delicate types of roses.—Genesis 1:12, 13.
11. How did God provide so that the earth would produce food? (Jeremiah 10:12)
11 God endowed the green parts of plants with a substance called “chlorophyll.” By means of this complex substance, light from the sun causes carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to react together to form sugars, producing as much as 150 billion tons of these around the earth each year, and at the same time releasing oxygen to renew the air. Plants use up these sugars in growing, converting them into the various kinds of food that we eat. Thus the energy that sustains the great variety of living things on earth all comes from this miraculous process involving sunlight, air and water, and the secret of this process is still unknown to man! Very true are the words: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.”—Psalm 104:24.
LUMINARIES APPEAR IN THE HEAVENS
12 On the “fourth day,” God went on “to make the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for dominating the day and the lesser luminary for dominating the night, and also the stars.” (Genesis 1:14-19) However, had not God created these heavenly bodies earlier, “in the beginning”? Yes, he had. But please note that there is a difference between the verb “created” (Hebrew, baraʹ) at Genesis 1:1 and the verb ‘made’ (Hebrew, ‘asah) at Genesis 1:16. What apparently happened on the “fourth day” is that for the first time the outline of sun, moon and stars became quite visible from the surface of the earth, probably because of a clearing of the atmosphere. A radiant sun now served as “luminary” to brighten the day, bringing cheerful warmth. But what of the moon? Well, it has one of the darkest surfaces in the solar system, reflecting only 7 percent of the light it receives. Yet the moon’s size and distance from the earth (which make for adequate tides) are just right to result in the soft, pleasant light we enjoy at night. Surely God’s wisdom and love are evident in this “lesser luminary”!
13 In due course, man would be able to measure time by these luminaries. However, any timepieces constructed by man would always be inferior to and be governed by the heavenly bodies that the Great Timekeeper, Jehovah God, had set in motion on exact time schedules, for man’s benefit. On this fourth ‘creative day,’ as on each “day,” God’s work started at “evening,” when the dim outline of his activity began to appear, and continued through to “morning,” when all of his glorious accomplishment became clearly apparent.
14. Why have we reason to be thankful for these things that God did? (Revelation 4:11)
14 On completing his great works of both the third and fourth “days,” God saw that it was “good.” (Genesis 1:12, 18) But two thrilling “days” of creative work and a ‘rest day’ still remained. The grand Creator was to continue making loving preparation of man’s home, looking to his future happiness. For this, each one of us should be thankful, as was King David, who said:
“Many things you yourself have done, O Jehovah my God, even your wonderful works and your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to you. Were I inclined to tell and speak of them, they have become more numerous than I can recount.”—Psalm 40:5.
[Picture on page 63]
The Creator marvelously designed plants to use sunlight, air and water to produce food