In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.… And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”… And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”… And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation…”… And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.…”… And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”… And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.”… Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….”… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 9, 11a, 14a, 20, 24, 26a, 31, ESV)
The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the water of the sea into a heap; he puts the depths into storehouses. Let the whole earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came into being; he commanded, and it came into existence. (Psalms 33:6-9, CSB)
According to the Bible, the universe and everything and everyone in it exists not because of impersonal forces or random occurrences, but because of the creative power of one God, who is unique, personal, eternal, and all-powerful, and who is himself uncreated. All things owe their existence and specific design, function, and purpose to the Creator. When God created the universe, he filled it with many different kinds of creatures, some of which are visible to the human eye—such as birds, insects, land animals, water animals, and people—and some of which typically (there are some rare but important exceptions) are not—such as the angels and other heavenly beings who form the divine assembly gathered around God’s throne at the height of the heavens. The different categories of beings that inhabit creation have various God-determined assignments, ranks, functions, and jurisdictions within the created order.
The Creator is the great king over all creation, and we, along with everything else in creation, are his subjects (whether we acknowledge it or not).
According to the Bible, who God is as the Creator is the foundational truth presupposed throughout the entire biblical storyline.
Because it is God who brought all things into being, it is he alone who possesses supreme and ultimate authority over all things; it is he alone to whom all worship is due; it is he alone who determines what is right and what is wrong; and it is he alone to whom all things belong and stand accountable.
There is only one Creator, and therefore only one true Ruler and Judge. God is the Creator, and therefore God is in charge of the world; we are not the Creator, and therefore we are not in charge of the world. If we get this wrong, then everything else goes wrong, too. To respect, obey, and stand in awe of the Creator is to walk in what the Bible calls “the fear of the LORD,” which is “the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).
As for the arrangement, structure, and design of creation, the universe, according to the Bible, consists of “the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Among other things, the “heavens and the earth” are described as: (1) a multi-leveled house, a place in which God’s creatures reside, and a place in which God himself, although infinite and not limited by his creation, has humbly chosen to dwell out of a desire to be with his creatures; (2) a multi-sectioned temple, a place in which angels, human beings, and the rest of creation can worship and offer up praise to the Creator, the only one truly worthy of worship and praise; and (3) a multi-regional kingdom, a place in which love can be expressed and righteous rule administered through various tiers of government characterized by kindness, self-sacrifice, and servanthood. As for the original condition of creation, when God first made the heavens and the earth, everything was in state of perfect order, perfect life, and perfect relationship. All was well and in a state of peace and well-being.
All the ills that currently plague the creation—death, disease, violence, immorality, injustice, broken relationships, hostility in the animal kingdom, injustice, etc.—were absent. God loved and took great delight in all he had made and considered it “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
According to the Bible, the world does indeed have a starting point; God created the heavens and the earth “in the beginning” (Gen. 1:1). There was a time when the heavens and the earth were not. Before God created, the universe did not exist; after God created, the universe did exist.
God’s mighty acts of creation, then, mark the beginning of time as it is experienced by those who dwell in the heavens and those who dwell on the earth.
This brings us to another truth which is foundational to the biblical storyline: God is sovereign and supreme not only over space, but over time as well. It is the Creator who marks out times and seasons, who decides when kings and kingdoms rise and fall, and who directs the course and trajectory of history (see, e.g., Gen. 1:14; Is. 40:23-24. 46:10; Dan. 2:21; Heb. 1:10).
Because the universe, unlike God, is created, it is also finite and limited. It has borders and boundaries. The heavens and the earth start where they start and end where they end, according to God’s will and design.
The heavens and the earth constitute the domain over which God reigns as king, and it is he to whom everything within that domain belongs and owes its allegiance.
According to the Bible, in the beginning God created multiple heavens (at least three; see 2 Cor. 12:2) and placed his throne in the highest of them (see, e.g., 2 Chr. 2:6, Ps. 11:4, 103:19). This place where God chose to place his throne, moreover, is also described as a temple or sanctuary (Ps. 11:4, 150:1), and as God’s “dwelling place” within the heavens (see, e.g. 1 Ki. 8:30-49; cf. Is. 40:22). The highest heaven, therefore, is the governmental headquarters of creation, and, as the inner/uppermost precincts of God’s universe-functioning-as-temple, is also its most sacred place. The lower heavens and the earth, meanwhile, constitute the lower levels of the cosmic house, the outer precincts of the cosmic temple, and the lower regions of the cosmic kingdom. In the beginning God placed human beings on the earth, in a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden. From this paradisal Garden the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were to multiply and fill the earth (see Gen. 1-3).
According to the Bible, God created the world because he wanted to create it and chose to create it (see, e.g., Rev. 4:11). It was his will for the universe to come into existence, and therefore the universe came into existence. God likes to make things, and so he makes them. We and all the other creatures in God’s universe were created by God and for God (1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16). All creation exists to praise God, to enjoy him and his blessings, to serve and worship him, to experience joy and awe in his presence, and to bring him honor and glory (see, e.g., Eph. 1:12; 1 Tim. 6:17; Rev. 5:13).
As for human beings more specifically, we have a unique and special place within the purpose and design of creation.
As creatures whom God made in his “image” or “likeness” (Gen. 1:27), we were designed to enjoy an especially close relationship with him in his presence, to serve and worship and approach him as priests, and to represent him on the earth as delegated authorities.
According to the Bible, God brought the heavens and the earth into existence through his word and powerful command, and formed and established them by his wisdom and understanding (Ps. 33:6-9, Jer. 10:12). God simply spoke and things came to be (see Gen. 1).
He brought the universe into existence out of nothing, and he shaped, fashioned, ordered, and arranged it just as he wished. By his word he put the sun, moon, and stars exactly where he wanted them, put the waters in their assigned places, and brought forth everything in creation.
In regard to his governance of creation, although God could easily rule his creation by himself, he instead chooses to govern it in partnership with his creatures. He rules the universe, in other words, through an administration made of up delegated authorities of various rank and assignment. God loves relationship, and this is reflected in the way he chooses to run the universe. When he created the universe, various parts of the heavens were entrusted to the charge of certain heavenly beings and cosmic powers (Col. 1:16), while the earth was assigned to the governance and keep of humanity (although some non-human beings were given earthly governmental responsibilities and assignments as well; see, e.g., Gen. 3:24; Ps. 82; Ezek. 28; Dan. 10; cf. Ps. 8, 115:16).