The act of creating, or causing the existence of, someone or something. It can also refer to that which has been created or brought into existence. The Hebrew ba·raʼʹ and the Greek ktiʹzo, both meaning “create,” are used exclusively with reference to divine creation.
Throughout the Scriptures Jehovah God is identified as the Creator. He is “the Creator of the heavens, . . . the Former of the earth and the Maker of it.” (Isa 45:18) He is “the Former of the mountains and the Creator of the wind” (Am 4:13) and is “the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them.” (Ac 4:24; 14:15; 17:24) “God . . . created all things.” (Eph 3:9) Jesus Christ recognized Jehovah as the One who created humans, making them male and female. (Mt 19:4; Mr 10:6) Hence, Jehovah is fittingly and uniquely called “the Creator.”
While Jehovah, who is a Spirit (Joh 4:24; 2Co 3:17), has always existed, that is not true of the matter of which the universe is made. Hence, when creating the literal heavens and earth, Jehovah did not use preexistent material. This is clear from Genesis 1:1, which says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If matter had always existed, it would have been inappropriate to use the term “beginning” with reference to material things. However, after creating the earth, God did form “from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens.” (Ge 2:19) He also formed man “out of dust from the ground,” blowing into his nostrils the breath of life so that the man became a living soul.
Appropriately Psalm 33:6 says: “By the word of Jehovah the heavens themselves were made, and by the spirit of his mouth all their army.” While the earth was yet “formless and waste,” with “darkness upon the surface of the watery deep,” it was God’s active force that was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters. (Ge 1:2) Thus, God used his active force, or “spirit” (Heb., ruʹach), to accomplish his creative purpose. The things he has created testify not only to his power but also to his Godship. (Jer 10:12; Ro 1:19, 20) And, as Jehovah “is a God, not of disorder, but of peace” (1Co 14:33), his creative work is marked with orderliness rather than chaos or chance. Jehovah reminded Job that He had taken specific steps in founding the earth and barricading the sea and indicated that there exist “statutes of the heavens.” (Job 38:1, 4-11, 31-33) Furthermore, God’s creative and other works are perfect.
Jehovah’s first creation was his “only-begotten Son” (Joh 3:16), “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Re 3:14) This one, “the firstborn of all creation,” was used by Jehovah in creating all other things, those in the heavens and those upon the earth, “the things visible and the things invisible.” (Col 1:15-17) John’s inspired testimony concerning this Son, the Word, is that “all things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence,” and the apostle identifies the Word as Jesus Christ, who had become flesh. (Joh 1:1-4, 10, 14, 17) As wisdom personified, this One is represented as saying, “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way,” and he tells of his association with God the Creator as Jehovah’s “master worker.” (Pr 8:12, 22-31) In view of the close association of Jehovah and his only-begotten Son in creative activity and because that Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15; 2Co 4:4), it was evidently to His only-begotten Son and master worker that Jehovah spoke in saying, “Let us make man in our image.”
After creating his only-begotten Son, Jehovah used him in bringing the heavenly angels into existence. This preceded the founding of the earth, as Jehovah revealed when questioning Job and asking him: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth . . . when the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:4-7) It was after the creation of these heavenly spirit creatures that the material heavens and earth and all elements were made, or brought into existence. And, since Jehovah is the one primarily responsible for all this creative work, it is ascribed to him.
The Scriptures, in stating, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Ge 1:1), leave matters indefinite as to time. This use of the term “beginning” is therefore unassailable, regardless of the age scientists may seek to attach to the earthly globe and to the various planets and other heavenly bodies. The actual time of creation of the material heavens and earth may have been billions of years ago.
Further Creative Activities Involving Earth. Genesis chapter 1 through chapter 2, verse 3, after telling about the creation of the material heavens and earth (Ge 1:1, 2), provides an outline of further creative activities on the earth. Chapter 2 of Genesis, from verse 5 onward, is a parallel account that takes up at a point in the third “day,” after dry land appeared but before land plants were created. It supplies details not furnished in the broad outline found in Genesis chapter 1. The inspired Record tells of six creative periods called “days,” and of a seventh period or “seventh day” in which time God desisted from earthly creative works and proceeded to rest. (Ge 2:1-3) While the Genesis account of creative activity relating to the earth does not set forth detailed botanical and zoological distinctions such as those current today, the terms employed therein adequately cover the major divisions of life and show that these were created and made so that they reproduce only according to their respective “kinds.”
The following chart sets forth God’s creative activities during the six “days” outlined in Genesis.
EARTHLY CREATIVE WORKS OF JEHOVAH
Day No. Creative Works Texts
1 Light; division between day and night Ge 1:3-5
2 Expanse, a division between waters
beneath the expanse and waters above it Ge 1:6-8
3 Dry land; vegetation Ge 1:9-13
4 Heavenly luminaries become discernible
from earth Ge 1:14-19
5 Aquatic souls and flying creatures Ge 1:20-23
6 Land animals; man Ge 1:24-31
Genesis 1:1, 2 relates to a time before the six “days” outlined above. When these “days” commenced, the sun, moon, and stars were already in existence, their creation being referred to at Genesis 1:1. However, prior to these six “days” of creative activity “the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of the watery deep.” (Ge 1:2) Apparently, a swaddling band of cloud layers still enveloped the earth, preventing light from reaching its surface.
When God said on Day One, “Let light come to be,” diffused light evidently penetrated the cloud layers even though the sources of that light could not yet be discerned from the earth’s surface. It seems that this was a gradual process, as is indicated by translator J. W. Watts: “And gradually light came into existence.” (Ge 1:3, A Distinctive Translation of Genesis) God brought about a division between the light and the darkness, calling the light Day and the darkness Night. This indicates that the earth was rotating on its axis as it revolved around the sun, so that its hemispheres, eastern and western, could enjoy periods of light and darkness.
On Day Two God made an expanse by causing a division to occur “between the waters and the waters.” Some waters remained on the earth, but a great amount of water was raised high above the surface of the earth, and in between these two there came to be an expanse. God called the expanse Heaven, but this was with relation to the earth, as the waters suspended above the expanse are not said to have enclosed stars or other bodies of the outer heavens.
On Day Three by God’s miracle-working power the waters on the earth were brought together and dry land appeared, God calling it Earth. It was also on this day that, through no chance factors or evolutionary processes, God acted to superimpose the life principle upon atoms of matter, so that grass, vegetation, and fruit trees were brought into existence. Each of these three general divisions was capable of reproducing according to its “kind.”
The divine will concerning luminaries was accomplished on Day Four, it being stated: “God proceeded 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. Thus God put them in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth, and to dominate by day and by night and to make a division between the light and the darkness.” (Ge 1:16-18) In view of the description of these luminaries, the greater luminary was quite apparently the sun and the lesser luminary the moon, though the sun and moon are not specifically named in the Bible until after its account of the Flood of Noah’s day.
Previously, on the first “day,” the expression “Let light come to be” was used. The Hebrew word there used for “light” is ʼohr, meaning light in a general sense. But on the fourth “day,” the Hebrew word changes to ma·ʼohrʹ, which refers to a luminary or source of light. (Ge 1:14) So, on the first “day” diffused light evidently penetrated the swaddling bands, but the sources of that light could not have been seen by an earthly observer. Now, on the fourth “day,” things evidently changed.
It is also noteworthy that at Genesis 1:16 the Hebrew verb ba·raʼʹ, meaning “create,” is not used. Instead, the Hebrew verb ʽa·sahʹ, meaning “make,” is employed. Since the sun, moon, and stars are included in “the heavens” mentioned in Genesis 1:1, they were created long before Day Four. On the fourth day God proceeded to “make” these celestial bodies occupy a new relationship toward earth’s surface and the expanse above it. When it is said, “God put them in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth,” this would indicate that they now became discernible from the surface of the earth, as though they were in the expanse. Also, the luminaries were to “serve as signs and for seasons and for days and years,” thus later providing guidance for man in various ways.
Day Five was marked by the creation of the first nonhuman souls on earth. Not just one creature purposed by God to evolve into other forms, but literally swarms of living souls were then brought forth by divine power. It is stated: “God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds, and every winged flying creature according to its kind.” Pleased with what He had produced, God blessed them and, in effect, told them to “become many,” which was possible, for these creatures of many different family kinds were divinely endowed with the ability to reproduce “according to their kinds.”
On Day Six “God proceeded to make the wild beast of the earth according to its kind and the domestic animal according to its kind and every moving animal of the ground according to its kind,” such work being good, as were all of God’s previous creative works.
Toward the end of the sixth day of creative activity, God brought into existence an entirely new kind of creature, superior to the animals even though lower than the angels. This was man, created in God’s image and after his likeness. While Genesis 1:27 briefly states concerning humankind “male and female he [God] created them,” the parallel account at Genesis 2:7-9 shows that Jehovah God formed man out of the dust of the ground, blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul, for whom a paradise home and food were provided. In this case Jehovah used the elements of the earth in creative work and then, having formed man, He created the female of humankind using one of Adam’s ribs as a base. (Ge 2:18-25) With the creation of the woman, man was complete as a “kind.”
God then blessed mankind, telling the first man and his wife: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Ge 1:28; compare Ps 8:4-8.) For humankind and other earthly creatures, God made adequate provision by giving them “all green vegetation for food.” Reporting on the results of such creative work, the inspired Record states: “After that God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Ge 1:29-31) The sixth day having come to its successful conclusion and God having completed this creative work, “he proceeded to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had made.”
Concluding the review of accomplishments on each of the six days of creative activity is the statement, “And there came to be evening and there came to be morning,” a first, second, third day, and so forth. (Ge 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31) Since the length of each creative day exceeded 24 hours (as will be discussed later), this expression does not apply to literal night and day but is figurative. During the evening period things would be indistinct; but in the morning they would become clearly discernible. During the “evening,” or beginning, of each creative period, or “day,” God’s purpose for that day, though fully known to him, would be indistinct to any angelic observers. However, when the “morning” arrived there would be full light as to what God had purposed for that day, it having been accomplished by that time.
Length of Creative Days. The Bible does not specify the length of each of the creative periods. Yet all six of them have ended, it being said with respect to the sixth day (as in the case of each of the preceding five days): “And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a sixth day.” (Ge 1:31) However, this statement is not made regarding the seventh day, on which God proceeded to rest, indicating that it continued. (Ge 2:1-3) Also, more than 4,000 years after the seventh day, or God’s rest day, commenced, Paul indicated that it was still in progress. At Hebrews 4:1-11 he referred to the earlier words of David (Ps 95:7, 8, 11) and to Genesis 2:2 and urged: “Let us therefore do our utmost to enter into that rest.” By the apostle’s time, the seventh day had been continuing for thousands of years and had not yet ended. The Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, who is Scripturally identified as “Lord of the sabbath” (Mt 12:8), is evidently part of the great sabbath, God’s rest day. (Re 20:1-6) This would indicate the passing of thousands of years from the commencement of God’s rest day to its end. The week of days set forth at Genesis 1:3 to 2:3, the last of which is a sabbath, seems to parallel the week into which the Israelites divided their time, observing a sabbath on the seventh day thereof, in keeping with the divine will. (Ex 20:8-11) And, since the seventh day has been continuing for thousands of years, it may reasonably be concluded that each of the six creative periods, or days, was at least thousands of years in length.
That a day can be longer than 24 hours is indicated by Genesis 2:4, which speaks of all the creative periods as one “day.” Also indicative of this is Peter’s inspired observation that “one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2Pe 3:8) Ascribing not just 24 hours but a longer period of time, thousands of years, to each of the creative days better harmonizes with the evidence found in the earth itself.
Created Things Preceded Man’s Inventions. Thousands of years before many of man’s inventions appeared on the scene, Jehovah had provided his creations with their own versions of them. For example, the flight of birds preceded by millenniums the development of airplanes. The chambered nautilus and the cuttlefish use flotation tanks to descend and ascend in the ocean as submarines do. Octopus and squid employ jet propulsion. Bats and dolphins are experts with sonar. Several reptiles and sea birds have their own built-in “desalination plants” that enable them to drink seawater.
By ingeniously designed nests and their use of water, termites air-condition their homes. Microscopic plants, insects, fish, and trees use their own form of “antifreeze.” Small fractions of temperature change are sensed by the built-in thermometers of some snakes, mosquitoes, mallee birds, and brush turkeys. Hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets make paper.
Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the electric light bulb, but its loss of energy through heat is a drawback. Jehovah’s creations
Many migrating birds not only have compasses in their heads but they also have biological clocks. Some microscopic bacteria have rotary motors that they can run forward or in reverse.
It is not without good reason that Psalm 104:24 says: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.”
Some persons seek to associate the Biblical account of creation with mythological pagan accounts, such as the well-known Babylonian Creation Epic. Actually, there were various creation stories in ancient Babylon, but the one that has become well known is a myth having to do with Marduk, Babylon’s national god. Briefly, the story tells of the existence of the goddess Tiamat and the god Apsu, who became the parents of other deities. The activities of these gods became so distressing to Apsu that he determined to destroy them. However, Apsu was killed by one of these gods, Ea, and when Tiamat sought to avenge Apsu, she was killed by Ea’s son Marduk, who then split her body, using half of it to form the sky and using the other half in connection with the earth’s establishment. Marduk’s subsequent acts included creating mankind (with Ea’s aid), using the blood of another god, Kingu, the director of Tiamat’s hosts.
Did the Bible borrow from Babylonian creation stories?
In his book, P. J. Wiseman points out that, when the Babylonian creation tablets were first discovered, some scholars expected further discovery and research to show that there was a correspondency between them and the Genesis account of creation. Some thought that it would become apparent that the Genesis account was borrowed from the Babylonian. However, further discovery and research have merely made apparent the great gulf between the two accounts. They do not parallel each other. Wiseman quotes The Babylonian Legends of the Creation and the Fight Between Bel and the Dragon, issued by the Trustees of the British Museum, who hold that “the fundamental conceptions of the Babylonian and Hebrew accounts are essentially different.” He himself observes: “It is more than a pity that many theologians, instead of keeping abreast of modern archaeological research, continue to repeat the now disproved theory of Hebrew ‘borrowings’ from Babylonian sources.”
While some have pointed to what seemed to them to have been similarities between the Babylonian epic and the Genesis account of creation, it is readily apparent from the preceding consideration of the Biblical creation narrative and the foregoing epitome of the Babylonian myth that they are not really similar. Therefore, a detailed analysis of them side by side is unnecessary. However, in considering seeming similarities and differences (such as the order of events) in these accounts, Professor George A. Barton observed: “A more important difference lies in the religious conceptions of the two. The Babylonian poem is mythological and polytheistic. Its conception of deity is by no means exalted. Its gods love and hate, they scheme and plot, fight and destroy. Marduk, the champion, conquers only after a fierce struggle, which taxes his powers to the utmost. Genesis, on the other hand, reflects the most exalted monotheism. God is so thoroughly the master of all the elements of the universe, that they obey his slightest word. He controls all without effort. He speaks and it is done. Granting, as most scholars do, that there is a connection between the two narratives, there is no better measure of the inspiration of the Biblical account than to put it side by side with the Babylonian. As we read the chapter in Genesis today, it still reveals to us the majesty and power of the one God, and creates in the modern man, as it did in the ancient Hebrew, a worshipful attitude toward the Creator.”
Regarding ancient creation myths in general, it has been stated: “No myth has yet been found which explicitly refers to the creation of the universe, and those concerned with the organization of the universe and its cultural processes, the creation of man and the establishment of civilization are marked by polytheism and the struggles of deities for supremacy in marked contrast to the Heb. monotheism of Gn. 1-2.”
“A New Creation.” After the sixth creative period, or “day,” Jehovah ceased from earthly creative activity. (Ge 2:2) But he has accomplished grand things in a spiritual way. For example, the apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation.” (2Co 5:17) To be “in” or “in union with” Christ here means to enjoy a oneness with him as a member of his body, his bride. (Joh 17:21; 1Co 12:27) For this relationship to come into existence, Jehovah God draws the individual to his Son and begets such a one with holy spirit. As a spirit-begotten son of God, he is “a new creation,” with the prospect of sharing with Jesus Christ in the heavenly Kingdom.
Re-Creation. To his apostles Jesus also spoke of a “re-creation” and associated it with the time “when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne.” (Mt 19:28; Lu 22:28-30) The Greek word translated “re-creation” is pa·lin·ge·ne·siʹa, which is composed of elements that mean “again; anew; once more” and “birth; origin.” Philo used the term with reference to the reconstitution of the world after the Flood. Josephus used it regarding the reestablishment of Israel after the exile. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by G. Kittel, says that the use of pa·lin·ge·ne·siʹa at Matthew 19:28 “is in full agreement with that of Philo and Josephus.” (Translated by G. Bromiley, 1964, Vol. I, p. 688) So the reference is not to a new creation but to a regeneration, or a renewal, by means of which Jehovah’s purpose for the earth is fully accomplished.
Great blessings under Kingdom rule are assured to obedient mankind, “the creation” that will be “set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Ro 8:19-21; see SON[S] OF GOD [Glorious Freedom of the Children of God].) In the system of things promised and created by God “righteousness is to dwell.” (2Pe 3:13) The certainty of its establishment is emphasized by John’s apocalyptic vision and his statement: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.”