Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for December 3

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for Dec. 3, written by Douglas K. Wilson, Ph. D., Executive Director of the Center for Christian Calling, University of Mobile.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for December 3

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By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph. D.
Executive Director of the Center for Christian Calling, University of Mobile


Genesis 1:1–5, 26–2:3

The week is a measure of time without an astronomical foundation. Days are measured by the earth’s rotation. Lunar months are measured from new moon to new moon. Years are based on a single revolution of the earth around the sun. A week, however, is seven days because God established a pattern of work and rest.

The Beginning (1:1–5)

Genesis begins at the outset of material creation, the heavens and the earth. God (Elohim) is the generic term for the Creator. Elohim is plural, though the verb for “He created” is singular.

God is present and active in the creative process. He exists, creates, speaks, observes, separates, names and (later) blesses.

God speaks light into existence, overwhelming the previous darkness that had been upon the waters.

God separates light from darkness, a fact underscored within the Johannine writings of the New Testament.

In the Hebrew text, the paragraph about day one ends with, “There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day.”

While the remainder of the days in Genesis 1 use ordinal numbers (second, third, fourth, etc.), the first day is listed with a cardinal number, defining this usage of “day.” In fact, there are two definitions in Verse 5.

The first is the light time: “The light He called day.” The second usage is the unit of evening and morning, setting a seemingly liturgical or priestly pattern for describing the remaining days of creation week. In both uses within the verse, the word translated as “day” (“yom”) is defined by its context.

The Image Bearers (1:26–31)

The culmination of God’s material creation was humanity on the sixth day, for they bore God’s image (“imago Dei” in Latin). As image bearers of God, humans are special spiritual beings able to communicate with God and mirror some of His attributes and creativity.

Like the remainder of the material created order, humanity has a corporeal existence, serving as earthly ambassadors for their Spirit-Creator. They (and we) reproduce by means of distinct physiology which delineates male humans from female humans.

All human beings have inherent dignity and value due to their God-given designation as image bearers. Likewise, as creatures bearing God’s image, humans have a unique accountability to God.

He entrusted humanity with responsibility both in the general description of creation in this passage and the more personal creation account recorded in Genesis 2:4–24.

Genesis 1:28 records the cultural mandate for humanity to steward God’s material creation. God also places them in the Garden of Eden to work and to watch over it (2:15, 22). Work was an activity of humanity prior to the Fall — activity which necessitated rest.

The Rest (2:1–3)

Following the completion of His very good material creation, God ceased His labors. The text does not indicate that God became tired, but He established the seventh day for rest and set it apart from other days.

Moses treated creation week as an actual week, a model for labor and rest for Israel: “For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy” (Ex. 20:11).

Our Lord Jesus explained that God initiated Sabbath rest for our benefit, not as a religious practice, but as an essential element in living for God. “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Sabbath is a gift from God and a foretaste of ultimate rest in Christ (Heb. 4:9–11).