How God Made the World
September 16th, 1956 @ 8:15 AM
HOW GOD MADE THE WORLD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-16-56 8:15 a.m.
Now, last Sunday morning, I said as we look at this Bible and the purpose of these services, we’re finding beyond the acts of God the why of God, the ways of God. The children of Israel saw the acts of God, what He did, but God revealed His ways unto Moses – that Psalm 103, the seventh verse.
And that’s what we’re doing: beyond the narrative of the Bible – looking beyond it to what God is doing and why. So last Sunday morning we took the whole Book – what it is about – and we said the Bible has for its purpose three great themes. One is the self-revelation, the self-disclosure, of God. You couldn’t know God except as He told you His name. You’d never know it any other way. You never know God except as He reveals Himself. You could look at the rainbows, and the stars, and the flowers, and the firmament forever and ever, but you’d never know God [Romans 10:13-15]. He must reveal Himself, tell you who He is and what He’s like, what His works are, what His words are, what His judgments are, what He’s like; and that self-disclosure is in the Book [Bible]. Now, that’s as far as I got last Sunday morning.
Now, the other two-thirds of that was the Bible is about the place of man in the creation and purposes of God: why God made him, what God expects of him, how man responded to that responsibility, and then the whole story, sad and tragic, of his fall and his continual failure. Then I said the third great theme of the Bible is the unfolding of the story of redemption.
Now, I’m not going to finish that two-thirds. We’ll do it some other time, some other day. I’m going on because I don’t believe we’d ever get anywhere if I don’t go on.
Here I am, stuck on the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis for two times already, and I want to go on; so I’ll pick it up some other time. Now, let’s go on to the message that I had thought in my heart to deliver at this hour.
The title of the message this morning is How God Made the World – how our world was created – by the world, the universe. Now, turn in your Bible – just open it to the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis. It says, in the first verse and in the second, in the first book of the Bible:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Now, may I mention three of my perplexities as I read here in the Bible and as I look out into the world?
There are many things that perplex me as I look at the world and read the Bible. Here’s one of them. I am perplexed when I go to a place like Lake Texoma and the other men are out in a boat fishing somewhere hoping that something’ll nibble on that little ol’ cork. And they sit there and sit there and sit there all day long looking at that little cork. Well, after about eight hours of that, why, I seek other means of activity at least. So while they were still a-sitting with a pole, why, I got out and walked around on the shores.
There are places at Lake Texoma where there are banks of white limestone rock, and much of the rock has been broken up so you can walk among the broken rocks there on those limestone banks. And as you walk among those rocks and then look at the banks, there are literally uncounted millions and millions of fossils: big – some of them are that large – great big enormous primeval, prehistoric animals; marine life – little, medium, big – all kinds of shapes, every kind you can think of. And it is endless, and those great rock deposits are largely made up of those fossils.
And now, if death came by Adam [Romans 5:12], those fossils belong to geological ages in which there is no remains or sign of man. He came untold untold ages after those fossils died.
If man lived when those fossils are buried in the earth, you would have found a fossil of a man just like you find the fossil of those animals. You don’t find any fossils of a man. He came ages after all of those primeval marine animals, but they died. And if death came unto this world by Adam, how come all of those animals dead and fossilized beneath those vast strata of rock? All right, that’s one thing that perplexes me. I don’t understand this thing of death and the cursing of the earth by Adam [Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:19-21]. All right, that’s one.
Another thing that perplexes me: I am perplexed by the geological ages of this earth. There’s no question about that – none at all. When you go to a place like the Grand Canyon, which is a geologist’s paradise, there will be a vast stratum of rock up here. Then underneath will be maybe a thousand or two thousand feet of dirt; then underneath that will be a thousand-foot layer of solid granite; then underneath that will be a layer of earth, dirt; then underneath that will be another vast stratum of solid rock.
And it goes right on down. I don’t know how far down it’d go because the canyon is only about a mile deep. If you went down five more miles, I don’t know. But that shows you – that shows you that something happened, and that dirt’s way down there with vast layers of rock above and above and above, and it’s different. This’ll be one kind of dirt, and that’ll be one kind of rock. That will be another kind of dirt and another kind of rock. Somehow or the other the thing got all turned around heaped on top of one another.
Then when you go to any palisades – and I’ve never been in any point of the earth that there weren’t palisades – you have tremendous layers of rock, and they all stick and spin up in the air like this, like this, like this, like this, like that – miles of it.
The great stratum of the earth, seam after seam after seam, it isn’t round and formed like that, but it goes up like this. It’s broken. It’s angled. It’s every way you can think of – those vast, endless geological ages so multi-form and so mixed up.
All right, another thing. There’s no doubt, there’s no doubt but that this world – our earth, the planet – went through vast vicissitudes in its geological ages.
For one thing, go to Yosemite and stand there in Yosemite Park and you’ll see a granite mountain made out of solid rock, made out of granite, which is God’s primeval rock. Marble’s made later. Marble’s made by the tremendous pressure of piles of earth on top of substance, but granite is the original rock. When the earth cooled, it made granite.
Now, there is a solid mountain of granite thousands of feet high and cut right square in two like you’d slice it with a knife. Well, what giant did you ever hear of that could slice a solid granite mountain through like a knife? Then they’re all around. The whole thing’s made like that.
There’s no doubt but that there was an age in the life of this world when glaciers – great, vast, illimitable ice fields – pressed down. And a vast glacier could cut through a mountain, little old centimeter at a time, gradually moving – cut the thing off, shear it off – great, vast ice fields.
Then there is an opposite in this story of our world. There is a time in this world that you can call the carboniferous, the Paleozoic, the ancient, ancient life of this world when this world was covered with vast, illimitable ferns and vegetation and forests. And the world convulsed, and convulsed, and convulsed, and those vast forests were buried beneath the vast heaps of rock and matter above them, and then all of that was pressed down and made coal. That’s where your coal comes from.
Well, in those vast geological ages, illimitable, forever and ever, how in the world does all that fit in with this story we read in the Bible? For, when I look at this Bible story, "an evening and a morning" [Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31] sounds like a day to me, not an age. Now, you can just say all that you want to that these days here in the Bible are geological ages. Did you ever hear of a geological age having an evening and a morning?
It sounds to me as though this day here in the Bible is a day, because it says, "and the evening and the morning were the first day [Genesis 1:5]; and the evening and the morning were the second day [Genesis 1:8]; and the evening and the morning were the third day" [Genesis 1:13]. We were writing it, we’d say "the morning and the evening," but a Hebrew would say, "the evening and the morning." His day begins at sunset.
Now, how do you fit that in? I just say to you that I’ve been perplexed all my life about what I read in the Bible and what I know to be truth out here in the earth.
Now, if I can accept the truth of the Word of God, it’s got to fit, because I can’t make my mind do otherwise. If I know the Bible contradicts a known fact, then I’m forced to conclude that the man that wrote the Bible made an error – he wasn’t inspired. And that throws me into an illimitable impasse. It’s got to fit. It’s got to. What I read on the outside has got to fit what I read on the inside because truth is truth.
A thing is not true because it’s in this Book [Bible]. A thing is in this Book because it’s true. We’re not fetish worshippers. We’re not crazy. It’s got to fit. All right, I say, it perplexed me.
Now, let’s start off, and I’m going to summarize first the whole thing that I think is the revelation here in the Bible. Then we’re going to talk about it.
All right, two observations. One, sin did not begin with Adam. I don’t know why I have not been cognizant of that ever since I’ve been reading the Bible. The Bible does not intimate even that death and sin began with Adam. We just conclude that.
I think we conclude it largely because Paul’s argument that in Adam all of us die and in Christ all of us are made alive [1 Corinthians 15:22]. I think we just unconsciously – or maybe I say I just unconsciously fell into the thought, the pattern of thought, that death came with Adam, sin came with Adam. That’s not true, nor does the Bible intimate that.
Way beyond Adam, far beyond Eden, there is another person. There’s another character. There’s a dark antagonist of God. The Bible names it, and when you put all of the things about him together, you don’t know very much, but you sure have a good idea where he came from and how he got to be as he is and was.
That old serpent in the Garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-5], in the twentieth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, has a name: "And the angel came down and laid hold on that old serpent, the dragon, which is Satan" [from Revelation 20:1-2].
Now, I made a mistake, and it was a fatal one. I made a mistake in thinking in my mind that sin and death began with Adam. No. I got to get that out of my mind. Far beyond that, way beyond that, there’s another character and another person, and when he appears in the Garden of Eden, he’s a liar already, and he’s God’s antagonist. He says to Eve, "Yea, did God say thou shalt surely die," and questions God’s word, and then he lies, "Thou shall not surely die" [from Genesis 3:4]. So, that’s one of my first observations. I got to rearrange this thing. Doesn’t begin in Adam; there’s something way beyond, far beyond.
All right, my other observation, then we’re going to start with the summary of this thing. My other observation is this. What’s the matter with me is that I read the Bible cursorily. I peruse it ephemerally. I just skip over the surface. That’s the way I read the Bible: just flittingly like a butterfly – here sit, there a verse, here a passage.
But when – and this is the first time I ever did it – but when I got this Book down and really began to look at it, my soul, the story of the creation of this world by the hand of God was altogether different – just not even the same thing. Just altogether separate and apart from what I’d ever thought just looking at it cursorily, just lightly. So the story in the Bible is not what most of us think it is.
All right, now let’s begin. Then what is this thing as the Bible reveals it? Now, I’m no infallible prophet, and you have to bear in mind that when I say these things, they sound very dogmatic. I don’t mean them to be that way. I am just saying now what I think that the Bible teaches.
And if you – you got your Bible. If this thing is like it is to you, then I’m preaching the truth. If it is not that way to you, that does not mean that the Bible is incorrect. It means that I could be incorrect. But I think this is it.
Now, a summary of it and that’s about all the time we’re going to have. I think that there is an original creation of this world in the dim and ageless past. In the beginning, ages and ages and ages, I think there was an original creation, and that original creation is in Genesis 1:1. In the beginning, God created originally all of this universe, this firmament, and this planet.
And I think there is a re-creation. I think after an illimitable, and immeasurable, and indescribable catastrophe – and as we go on in this, I think I can tell you what that was – but after God had made this world in the ages of the ages of the ages past, there came an illimitable, indescribable catastrophe, and it turned God’s creation into chaos, and waste, and darkness.
And the story that you have from Genesis 1:3-31, that is the story of re-creation, and God re-created it in six periods with an evening and a morning. And I think they were 24 hours: evening and morning. They might have been longer periods of time because time to us is how long it takes the earth to revolve and how long it takes the earth in its orbit around the sun. That’s time to us. That could change very easily. It could take longer, but it doesn’t enter into it.
My thesis is that this story you read from Genesis 1:3-31 is not the story of the creation of the earth or the heaven, but it is the story of the re-creation of this earth after the awful catastrophe that overwhelmed it, and that God did it in six periods of time with an evening and a morning. And however you can apply that evening and morning, that’s all right. To me, evening and morning is a day.
All right, now the Scripture for it. Turn in your Bible – now, you’ve got Genesis 1:1 there – turn in your Bible to Isaiah 45:18. Isaiah 45:18. Isaiah 45:18. Then, while you’re turning, turn to Second Peter the third chapter – those two passages. Isaiah, that’s about two-thirds of the way through your Old Testament, and Second Peter is about almost to the end of the New Testament.
Now, let’s begin. It says here in Genesis 1:2, after God created the heaven and the earth, then it’s got: "And – and – the earth was tohu." That’s the Hebrew word. After God created the heaven and the earth, "and the earth was tohu." That’s a plain, simple Hebrew word meaning it was waste, it was ruin, it was emptiness. It was in destruction – tohu. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth – the earth was tohu" [Genesis 1:1-2].
Now, you turn to Isaiah 45:18. Now look at that.
Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not tohu, He formed it to be inhabited: "I am the Lord; there’s none else on the earth.
"I have not spoken in secret or dark places of the earth" –
and so and so and so and so.
Now, it says here in the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis: "And the earth was tohu" [Genesis 1:2] – waste, formless, emptiness, destruction, void.
All right, Isaiah 45:18: "Thus saith the Lord who made the heavens and the earth; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not tohu" [Isaiah 45:18]. He didn’t make it that way. The Book says so. "He created it not tohu" [Isaiah 45:18]. You have it translated "in vain." That word "vain" there in that old English, they meant by it "emptiness, waste, vanity, nothingness."
He formed it to be inhabited. "I am the Lord; there is none else" [Isaiah 45:5]. God made this world beautiful, beautiful. He made it to be inhabited, a place to live. But over here in Genesis, it says the earth that God made was tohu. But Isaiah said He didn’t make it to be that way. Something happened to it.
All right, one other passage that we’ll take time for: Second Peter 3:5 and 6 and 7. Second Peter 3:5 and 6 and 7. It says:
By the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, against the day of judgment and perdition . . .
Thousand years in God’s sight is but as a day, and a day is a thousand years.
[2 Peter 3:5-8]
Now, when you read that passage, you think it’s talking about the flood in Noah’s day [Genesis 6:1-8:22]. Now, I want to tell you what I think that passage is talking about.
If it is talking about the Mesopotamian flood in Noah’s day, brother, he sure uses words here that certainly go beyond any flood of the Euphrates River for he’s talking about the heavens and the earth. And that Mesopotamian flood, however extent it was, was just the destruction of men and land animals.
Now you look at that passage. "The world that then was" – ho tote kosmos, the then kosmos. Now, Roddy here is a Greek scholar, and you can ask him if this isn’t so. There is a Greek word for the inhabited world, oikomena. That’s the world of people. Oikew means "to dwell." You dwell over there in that house. You live over there in that house – oikew. Oikomena means "the inhabited world," but the kosmos means this world that God made.
Now the passage here is "ho tote kosmos" – the then world – "overflowed with water, perished," but hoi de nun ouranoi hē gē – "the now heavens and earth" [2 Peter 3:6-7]. The then world – this thing God made, the kosmos – the then world perished with water, but the now heavens and earth are kept in store. The next time they’ll be destroyed, it’ll be by fire [2 Peter 3:7].
How was that first creation destroyed? It was destroyed by water [2 Peter 3:6-7]. The first waste of this world was by water – says so. "For by the Word of God the heavens, the earth" ex hudatos kai di’ hudatos [2 Peter 3:5]. That’s dia. They leave the "a" out because of the hu yu vowel mix – your word "hydrant, hydra, water."
Now, the earth ex hudatos – the earth emerging out of the waters – and kai di’ – hudatos – dia, by means of, hudatos, water. Water is at once the means of the life and subsistence of this earth. Way back yonder, God destroyed, the Bible says, and this world perished by water. It was destroyed by water.
Well, when I turn back over here to Genesis 1:2, what do I read? "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" [Genesis 1:2]. When God looked down on this destroyed earth, it was enveloped in great, black clouds – poisonous, vaporous. And the whole earth was covered with the surging seas of vast, illimitable oceans.
If this world were absolutely flat, level, the water would cover it to the depths of thousands and thousands of feet – that first creation that God made – then we’re going to talk about that. I intended to do all of that this morning, the first and the second creations. This is just a summary of it I’m doing now, then we’re going back and see how God did it.
But that first creation, something happened. We’re going to look at that. An illimitable catastrophe overwhelmed it, and that first creation was destroyed by water. Great volcanic, vast convulsions erupting all kinds of sulfurous, poisonous fumes up, and up, and up, and up. And the great churning seas and the whole planet was enveloped in darkness and in darkness, and it shut out the sun, and it shut out the moon, and it shut out the stars, and everything perished. Everything died.
And when the rays of the sun were shut out, the earth entered its winter age. Great glaciers formed – vast ice fields of those frozen seas moving and surging over the earth – and some of those great ice fields captured those vast prehistoric mammals, and you can look upon them today, pre-Adamic creation. God looked down into the world, and it was waste, and void, and dark, and black, and empty, and formless, and void – destroyed by water.
"Then the Spirit of God" [Genesis 1:2] – then you have the re-creation; sun shining up there in space but no ray entering the black, formless mass of this world destroyed by water; the moon and the stars still in their places, but the earth with howling winds and blackness and darkness – and every living thing perished. And then God began to re-create the world. This day, He did this; and the second day, He did that; and the third day, He did the other; and the fourth day, He did this; and by the sixth day, the evening and the morning, God had made it again [Genesis 1:3-31] – re-created it again.
Well, we’ll pick up there next Sunday morning.
Next Sunday morning, we’re going to talk about how God made the original creation: how did God make it in the first place, then what happened to it, then the story of the re-creation, and we’ll just keep right on going as we look at what God has done in the Bible.
Now while we sing our song, somebody give his life to the Lord: "I’ve decided for God, and here I am, pastor," or somebody into the fellowship of the church by letter or baptism. A family of you, one somebody you, while we sing this song, you come and stand by me – while we stand and while we sing.