Read: Genesis 1
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.
“In the beginning God” is the decisive starting point of all Scripture.
In spite that truth and all that it means, some declare that Genesis was the work of Moses. Moses was the author whom God used to write he Bible. By that, it is meant that Moses wrote the Bible as he understood what happened. God gave Moses the main ideas about the beginning of history, but Moses used his intellect to compose Genesis 1. Therefore, Moses determined the content of Genesis 1 . As Moses wrote Genesis 1, it is argued that he borrowed ideas even from the Egyptian and the Babylonian myths. Genesis is nothing more than a legend and a literary teaching tool. Many reject the truth of the first words of Genesis which establish it as authoritative and historical truth.
What does Scripture say concerning its author? “In the beginning God...” This proves that only God could have written Genesis 1 through Moses. Could Moses have known what happened in the beginning of history? No. As a result, God had to tell Moses what happened and inspired through Moses onto the printed page of the Scriptures what happened. Hence, we depend upon what God says as the beginning of creation and history.
Further, we believe that the Word of God is inspired infallibly. The result of this inspiration is that the Bible is flawlessly God’s Word. There can be no mistakes in the Bible. There are no mistakes about the history revealed in Genesis 1. Therefore, the Scriptures are supremely authoritative on all that it teaches, including the beginning of the creation and history.
Now, to receive Genesis 1:1 as God’s authoritative and infallible Word requires faith. We read about that in Hebrews 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Faith receives the truths of God’s Word willingly as the proof of the beginning of creation.
Faith resolutely believes that God’s word is the absolute proof for the truth of the origin of creation. Faith will not mix the truth of Scripture with the errors of evolution. Before the believer looks into the creation to understand and learn about its origin, he puts on the eye-glasses of Scripture and by faith sees clearly the handiwork around him which can only be God’s marvelous handiwork.
And, there is for us a wonderful incentive to approach Genesis 1 in a childlike faith. We know that the faith which believes the truth of creation also looks to Christ. Christ is the object of true faith always. That means when faith looks at Genesis 1, faith also here looks to the Christ of the holy Gospel. Here also in Genesis 1 we see Christ because the earthly was made the image of the heavenly. Christ is here because He is God, and we read, “In the beginning God!” Christ also created the heaven and the earth. Through faith, we see in our text our God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH
I. The Meaning of His Creative Work
It is necessary that we first understand the relationship between vss 1 & 2 and the rest of Genesis 1. There are various theories about that relationship. First, there is the idea that Genesis 1:1-2 is a general heading for the entire chapter.
Secondly, there is, what is called, the Restitution Theory. This theory teaches that in vs 1, God created an original creation. Into that original creation, sin entered by Satan and, as a result, completely ruined God’s initial, creative work. Then, what follows in vss 3 thru the end of Genesis 1 is God’s repair work of that which had been destroyed. The Restitution theory is based upon the opinion that God would never create something described by vs 2 as “without form and void.” That formless and void creation has to be a description of the destruction caused by Satan and his fallen angels.
Thirdly, there is the Gap Theory. This theory maintains that between vs 2 and vs 3 there is a tremendous amount of time. God created a mass of material in vss 1 and 2 which developed over a long period of time into what the rest of Genesis 1 describes. This theory is an attempt to marry evolution and the Bible, the lie and the truth. It is an attempt to insert into the history of Genesis 1 millions of years in order to still maintain a theory of evolution.
However, these theories are false in light of Scripture. First, God’s work of creation is never taught to be a patchwork. We are not taught that God’s creative work was a work to fix what was broken. Scripture speaks of God making something out of nothing and from that which had no former existence.
Secondly, God’s creative works are not to be considered a patchwork. The restitution theory puts the Devil outside of God’s sovereign control because it maintains that the Devil did somethng which God did not expect and had to fix in order to continue His original purpose. That is not how God reveals His works in Scripture. God knows all things from the beginning. He works to the end from the beginning according to the straight line of His will. When God creates and when God redeems His people in Christ, that work is never to be regarded as “patchwork,” but rather the fulfilling of His eternal purpose.
Thirdly, we must remember that sin and death did not enter the creation until after the creation was finished and after the 7th day of history. Sometime between Genesis 2 and 3, Satan and his angels fell. Satan continued his rebellion by attempting to take over the kingdom of Adam upon the earth in opposition to God. But, all that history does not come to pass until Genesis 3.
In Genesis 1:1-2, there was no sin and no death present. There could be no sin because God concluded throughout His work of creation, that His creation was very good. This meant that His creation was spotless, sinless, deathless, and a glorious, creaturely reflection of His covenant life. Even though Scripture speaks of what first came into being as formless and void, that does not mean “sinful.” Genesis 1:1-2 only make a distinction between what God first creatd and what would be formed later.
Fourthly, concerning the matter of time, we must understand that the first day of history in which God created what is mentioned in vss 1 and 2, was limited by “an evening and a morning.” (vs 5). That description teaches us that the first day was just as long as and no different than our first day: 24 hours.
Finally, we are required to believe that this was the 1st day. (v 5) That day was situated by God in its specific place in the order of the creation week. According to God’s providence and blessing, we worship God on the same day of the week in which God did what He did in Genesis 1:1-2.
Therefore, Genesis 1:1-2 speak of God’s 1st work at the beginning of the very first day.
Well, then, what did God do? What did He create?
To answer that question, we must understand the significance of the word “create.” The Hebrew word for “create” is only used 3 times in this chapter: once here, then in vs 21 with respect to the creation of the animals, and then again in vs 27 which speaks about the creation of man. Now, there are other words similar to “create” used in Genesis 1: “to cut”; “to form”; “to fashion”; “to make.” Nevertheless, this word “create” signifies the very first creative work of God to bring into existence the bare matter of creation. By this work, God brought into existence all the particles that make up atoms and molecules, the building blocks of all the things in the earthly creation. God made all the 92 elements of the Periodic Table of the Elements, such as, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, gold, copper, silver.
What God did in vs 1 and 2 can be illustrated by what house builders do. Before building the house, a builder collects all the building materials together. After all the building materials are ordered and prepared, the builder builds the foundation first and then afterwards progressively and systematically builds the rest of the house into its final form.
Similarly, before God brought creation through the 6 day framing and finishing works, God first established all the basic building materials for His creation. Once those basic materials were made, God could systematically and wisely frame and mold the creation to its final form by the end of the sixth day.
Then, we face the fact that God also had to make a place in which to put all this matter. We do not believe as the evolutionist must, that space was always there. The evolutionist believes that there was always room for things. As a result, the evolutionist makes an idol god of space. But, the truth is that only God is infinite and eternal. Therefore, space cannot be infinite and eternal. The space and room of creation has not always existed.
In the beginning, God made the space and room for the things of His creation. In fact, God made 3 main rooms in His entire creation. First, He made heaven, where He reveals and dwells in His richest glory in Christ Jesus. Second, God made hell, where reveals His wrath and righteousness. Finally, God made the earthly creation and its stuff in vss 1 & 2.
Concerning the earthly room of the universe, that space has limits. For God, it does have walls. It is true that we cannot find the end of the universe. Our hands cannot touch the outer walls of this universe. But, God knows the limits of the universe because only God is infinite, and as the Infinite and All-knowing One, He knows His creature of space. He knows where it starts. He knows where it stops. He holds it all in His Hand.
What then does it mean that the matter made on the 1st day was “without form and void”? This cannot mean that God’s creation was full of flaws. Rather, this phrase compares the original mass of matter to the creation’s completed state by the end of day 6. On the first day, the creation was formless and shapeless. It was just the mass of matter brought into existence at the Word of God’s command. This state of the original matter preceded all what followed in the later formative stages. As a result, there were no finished creatures at this time. God had not given the creative Word for the specific forms and natures of all His creatures.
To understand this part of the text, think Jeremiah 18, in which Jehovah is called the Sovereign Potter. There the figure is specifically applied to Jehovah’s sovereign and righteous power to do with Israel as He pleases for the glory of His Name in Christ Jesus.
Now, we may also understand from that figure of Jeremiah 18, the power of God over His creation. When an earthly potter makes a new pot, he first makes sure he has the right clay and enough clay for the finished product. Likewise, Jehovah brought into existence the “clay” of His creation. He determined the exact amount, and, as it were, plopped the watery lump of clay upon His spinning wheel. And, in the six days of the first week, He spun that lump of clay on His potter’s wheel and formed the clay into the rest of the creatures of His creation.
Just as the clay when it first sits on the potter’s wheel is unformed, so the stuff of the universe was placed on the Sovereign Potter’s wheel unformed and void, in comparison to the beautiful and finished creation God at the end of the 6th day.
Then, in addition to that we should notice that God created heaven. This heaven is referred to elsewhere in Scripture. Solomon spoke of it when he dedicated the temple in I Kings 8:27. He referred there to the heaven of heavens. That is the place where God dwells in the riches and fullest revelation of His glory. This is the place where Isaiah the prophet saw the vision of God’s throne in heaven, where God revealed Himself as the thrice Holy God. That is the place from which Christ shall descend with the holy angels at the end. The place into which Christ has passed as our High Priest, at the right Hand of the Father, there to appear in the presence of the Father on our behalf. This heaven, which is above, will be united to the renewed and purified creation by Christ in the day that He returns, which is coming quickly.
But, at the time of Genesis 1:1, that heaven was separated from the earthly universe. God established a very strict barrier between the two. That barrier is immediately implied in Gen 1, when we read nothing about the heaven of the angels. Through Scripture, from time to time angels come to earth to speak of God’s promises, or to bring judgment upon the ungodly. But, never did the people of God go to heaven and then come back to this life. The only exceptions to that were Moses and Elijah when they spoke with Christ in His transfiguration and also the Apostle Paul. Other than those exceptions, the barrier will remain until Christ removes it when He returns.
That is the truth that stands behind the statement that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The K of God in Christ Jesus is heavenly. Our earthly bodies of flesh and blood cannot inherit the heavenly life of the heavenly Kingdom. That earthly life must be removed, and then your bodies must be changed by the wonder of Christ in the resurrection to be fitted for your place in the everlasting Kingdom of God.
God created the heavens and the earth. What an amazing reality. Do you know the dimensions of the earth and the dimensions of the universe? When we realize the vastness of the universe, and then add to it the realization of the glorious habitation that God made in heaven for His angels, we stand before an awesome wonder of God. Who can comprehend it all? Yes, we are truly specks of dust! God is infinitely great!
II. The Manner of His Creative Work
His greatness is further magnified when we see here He made the heavens and earth out of nothing. This establishes the incomparable difference between God’s creating and our creating. The earthly potter has to find his clay. He has to prepare his lump of clay from what he can find. He cannot make his own clay really. In contrast, the Sovereign Potter made His own clay, and God made it from nothing else.
That God made things out of nothing does not mean there was absolutely nothing before Genesis 1. Though it is impossible for us to understand this, yet all that there was before Genesis 1:1 is God. That means that the things of creation had their origin in God Himself. That does not mean that the creature is God as the Pantheists teach. The creature is not a part of God and His divine Being. However, this does mean that all creatures owe their existence to God. God is the Father, or Origin, of all the creation. God in His eternal counsel conceived of all the creatures of His creation. He conceived of the basic building material of all the earthly creation. According to His counsel, He brought it all into being. That emphasizes that we stand b4 an incomprehensible wonder.
Secondly, the text also teaches us the manner of His creation work by telling us about the role of the Spirit in this creative work. We read in the text, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” What were these waters over which the Spirit moved? These were not exactly the waters and the seas of the present creation. That God would establish on the 3rd day. Rather, these waters were the watery, the unformed mass of the stuff of the universe. In the end, Christ will recreate the new creation from a fiery, unformed mass. But, here in Genesis 1, Christ made the creation from a watery, unformed mass.
Over this all the Spirit of God moved. The Spirit of God “fluttered,” or “brooded” over the face of the waters. The Spirit hovered with love over this mass of the creation, like a dove, which later was used to signify the Spirit of God with which Christ was anointed.
This significantly reveals that the God Who creates is Triune. We have here in vs 2, the Spirit. He hovers over the creation, ready to energize it. The Spirit, the Breath, the Wind, the Power of God, is the One Who makes the creative Word effective. When “God said,” it is the Spirit of God that brings that creative Word, which refers to Christ, into reality.
The text points us to covenantal purpose and nature of the creative work of God in the later acts of God in the creation week. Because God is the Triune, Covenant God, His purpose in creation included establishing a creation that reflected His covenant life from the most basic creature to the highest creature, man. The creation would also enjoy a creaturely communion. That would, for example, be reflected in the relationship between the distinct creatures and their kinds. That communion would be reflected in the fact that the creatures of God’s creation from an earthly viewpoint are made of the same things. Our bodies are made up of the same compounds and molecules that you find in grass, dirt, trees, animals, and the distant stars. In that way, God established a close harmony and relationship among the different creatures. Though there is that infinite diversity in the creation, yet God established a fundamental unity. Both the diversity and the unity reflect His covenant life.
Now, the only way to accomplish that covenantal creation was through the Spirit, which moved upon the face of the waters. The Spirit at God’s command, gives life. In the beginning, that was the earthly life with the Creator God. There was a creaturely communion and unity in the creation from the top to the bottom. As a result, God could establish the 7th day as the day of that rest in which He enjoyed His good creation. God enjoyed His good creation because the creation reflected His covenant life, and was ready to serve the perfection of His covenant in the new heavens and earth, which the text also clearly implies when it teaches us the moment of this creative work of God.
III. The Moment of His Creative Work
When was the moment of God’s creative work? “In the beginning.”
This means first that time is a creature of God, too. This is the creature to which we are bound. We measure it with our watches, clocks, and calendars. We are governed by time. Perhaps, we do not even think much about this, but time itself is a creature which also had a beginning. In Genesis 1:1, that is the moment in which time received its absolute beginning.
Yes, God created time and controls time entirely. There are atomic clocks made by man to regulate the accuracy of the keeping of time. Though these devices are helpful for our daily life, yet God is the TIME-KEEPER. He made it in the beginning. Since He made it in the beginning, He has power over it. God has the power to add to time and did so. When Joshua needed more time to fight the enemy, God added time to that day. When Hezekiah needed a sign of God’s covenant faithfulness to His covenant promise of the coming Messiah, God added time to that day when He made the sun go backwards 10 degrees in the sundial of Ahaz.
God has the power to change the creature of time in the new heavens and earth. Time as we know it today shall cease in the day of Christ. Then we shall enter that time which is described in Revelation as the everlasting day. The day with only one sunrise of the Sun of righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ. The day which shall never have a sunset. It will never end. Though the everlasting ages shall continue forever, yet it is still the finite creature of the eternal God. Time serves the revelation of the covenant of God in Christ Jesus.
God created the heavens and earth in that moment of the beginning. That means God did not create after. There was no time before “in the beginning.” Now, certainly, that is hard to understand, but that is the God’s Word. Before the creature time existed, there was no time: only the eternal God ISbefore time. We do not say that the eternal God “was” before time. The eternal God “is” before, above, and beyond the creature of time. God is transcendent in His glory and Being over time.
At the very first moment of created time, God created the heavens and the earth. That was the very first event in history. The first event was not a massive explosion of compressing matter. The first event was nothing else than what God said and did by His Word and Spirit to bring into existence time, space, and the original mass of matter.
You see, then, that God is at the very beginning of history. We confess here: In the beginning God. Throughout the creation record, we continue to confess God! Through the entire unfolding of God’s covenant in the Old Testament, we confess God! Therefore, God is at the very beginning and center of History. History is HIS-STORY! And, just as there is a beginning so shall there be the end, in which it is again declared by the Word, Christ, and Spirit of Christ: Behold, Thy God, O Zion!
That is an inescapable implication of “in the beginning God.” Already in the first day, creation points to that everlasting day of Christ. Christ is the beginning and the end of God’s creation. He is the firstborn of all creatures in the counsel of God. He has the pre-eminence. In fact, the creation was made forChrist (Col 1:15ff) to serve the coming of Christ in His appearing again soon. Already in the beginning, we are pointed to the end, Who is Christ!
Not only is Christ in the beginning and the end, He is also in the middle, too. His death on the cross of Calvary and Resurrection from the dead lie at the center of all history. In time and history, the cross is the great dividing line. It remains the central revelation of the God of all sovereign, particular grace in the Lord Jesus Christ unto you and me. That atoning death and the glorious resurrection of Christ we remember in God’s house on the first day of the week.
Striking is it not that we worship on the same day of the week God created and God raised Christ from the dead as the firstfruits of God’s New Creation? We worship now in God’s house for a foretaste of that eternal day of Christ. To that day of our Lord, the first day of creation already pointed!
That is the day of the complete revelation of His covenant. That is the day when we shall enter the heavenly Canaan and the new Jerusalem. That is the day when the barrier between heaven and earth shall be removed, and all things in heaven and earth shall be joined under the throne of Christ, and in which new creation only the elect and the holy angels shall dwell in everlasting, glorious covenant fellowship with Christ and our covenant God.
Beloved, because there was this first day in the beginning, you and I may look earnestly for the dawn of the everlasting day of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I look for that day only because Christ has redeemed me from sin and earned for me a place in the new creation.
And, I expect that glorious day to come and expect to posses my place in that new creation because He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all my salvation.
What a wonder this old creation is. But, what a wonder shall that new creation in Christ Jesus be and what a wonder our eternal inheritance and home in glory shall be! AMEN
- Passage: Genesis 1:1-2
Rev. Richard J. Smit (Wife: Tricia)
Ordained: September 1996
Pastorates: Doon, IA - 1996; Immanuel, Lacombe, AB - 2004; Missionary to the Philippines (Doon PRC) - 2009; First PRC, Grand Rapids - April, 2015-2017; Missionary to the Philippines, Nov.2017-Website: smitnews2.blogspot.com/?zx=c898900422a2dad3
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