Genesis 1:1“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The writer of the Book of Genesis was Moses, a scientist and chronicler among other things.(Deuteronomy 17:18) His first statement in Genesis is interesting. He does not say “I believe”. He does not say “It is my opinion.” The picture is something like this - Moses looked at his world and said: “God did this. This is where the world came from.”
The term “beginning” is important because it is a universal word. Theologians say that there was nothing before God. God did not have an originator. It seems that “beginning” is a term we humans use for origins. Dr. James Allman is a teacher I will refer to often in my explorations. He suggests that the “beginning” is the beginning of the story God is telling about creation rather than the beginning of creation itself. Thus, verse 2 is the result of the beginning rather than a chronological notation.
Thus, Genesis 1 is not necessarily talking about the “beginning” or “creation” but in effect, here is where we will start the story - not at a chronological beginning. Another writer (Ross) says that what is referred to is the Creation of the universe as man knows it, not the beginning of everything.
We are at an analogical beginning. Analogy is language that uses analogies to explain things which are beyond our ability to understand without comparison. God chooses the terms in the analogical description of Creation. This is a valid analogy since God is a good (the best) communicator. An analogy is sufficiently like reality. Genesis 1 is about God ordering the creation as it now is.
Here’s some questions to consider:
1. If Moses is the writer of Genesis, who is the author?
2. Why doesn’t Moses say “I believe” in this passage?
3. Have I given an adequate answer to what a “beginning” is all about?
4. Does the idea of “analogy” make sense to you?
Well, that's a start. You may be surprise at the questions. Are they any good? I thrive on your comments and any additional questions you have about what I am saying.
A Scientific View?
I notice that Moses observes “the heavens” then “the earth”. He looks up from earth. Moses is of the earth but observes the heavens. Why doesn’t he look down first. Many modern day scientists seem to look down first. This may be because of the definition of scientist which in itself says a lot:
• “a person learned in science and especially natural science:
• “a scientific investigator.” - Webster
It is interesting to note that “scientific investigator” is inherent to the term. Thus it would seem that observation is a valid part of “science”.
I remind you that Moses was both a scientist and a chronicler among other things. He was raised and educate in the most elite society of his time. Of course, he could write and speak several languages.
One might well ask why or how was Moses able to make this statement about the heavens and the earth in the first place. His education and training would have viewed the heavens and the earth with an Egyptian worldview except that he was a Hebrew. It has been surmised that the Hebrews were not as philosophically sophisticated as the Greeks who traditional asked questions. I submit that Moses is answering a question in Genesis 1:1. Where does the question come from? Don’t know but could have been from a child, huh?
Here’s a question to think about, maybe even comment on:
1. How did Moses come up with the answer of Genesis 1:1 to the implied question.
Controversial But True
The Bible is clear - The heavens and the earth were created by God. Many folks are put off by that first idea: The Bible! Common knowledge is that the Bible has been discredited and totally marginalized in our modern times. My proposal is simple. If you don’t know what the Bible says, you don’t know enough. Too many discredit the Bible without bothering to read it.
God as Creator and the world as created is what the Bible teaches. But there's a hitch. 'God' is a common enough term to created confussion. When I uses the term I am referring to Elohim/Jehovah/The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we must identify this God because there are other contenders for the title. The whole Bible is necessary for a proper context for defining the God of creation.
The Hebrew term “create” refers to the divine activity of fashioning something new, fresh, and perfect. The Hebrew verb does not necessarily describe creation out of nothing (see, for example, v. 27, where it refers to the creation of man); it often stresses forming anew, reforming, renewing (see Ps 51: 10; Isa 43: 15, 65: 17).
Here’s the controversy - The pursuit of truth is not common. You don't hear a lot about that pursuit. Yea, one cable network talks about fair, balanced, and unafraid. Truth may not fit into those categories. I find that reading the Bible provides we with many moments in my pursuit of truth.
The Bible is worth exploring since truth is as old as God.
Where did it come from?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Perhaps little Moses asked his mother Where did it come from? By the way - she knew the answer. How? Well, who do you suppose Adam talked to other than Eve? Of course, his children. Thank God, children still ask questions. It must be built into their psyche.
Children are not the only ones to ask, a famous commentator asks, “Whence then did Israel obtain a pure knowledge of God, such as we cannot find in any heathen nation, or in the most celebrated of the wise men of antiquity, if not from divine revelation?” (Keil and Delizsch)
Do we think that Adam figured out the answer to the world in which he lived as a result of his vast intellectual gifts? Was Adam “totally objective” in his observations? How could he be? He owed his existence to God. God was present in the Garden.
Adam encountered a person the Garden, his Creator. He told his children. You and I live in a personal universe.” The God of Moses was a person who spoke to him personally (Exodus 3:14).
The Deists of eighteenth-century England and those of our century have the notion of a “watchmaker God.” They see God as someone who wound up the universe like a clock, and then left it ticking, to run down, as he wandered off on other business, unconcerned about the toy he’d formed. The Genesis portrait of Creation implies something far different. God did not set the computer program for creation running and then walked away to leave it to itself. Is our world the product of a Person or of a Process?
“Now the earth was without shape and empty, darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.”
This verse presents a problem. Did God take something already there and shape it? If so, where did the “something already there” come from? Did God make something that started out without shape and empty?
A friend once taught me how to deal with a problem. Here’s the process: Here’s what I have heard. Here’s what I know. Here’s what I think. Any questions. I’ll apply the process to the problem presented by Genesis 1:2. It will take more than one post!
Here’s what I have heard.
Jim Allman sees Genesis 1:2 as the condition at the beginning of creation and continues with a rectification of the condition as Genesis 1 continues.
Robin Rutledge offers these comments about chaos, “If God is the originator of everything it follows that God must be the originator of that too. But is it conceivable that God would create chaos? Some have argued that since chaos represents the opposite of creation, the idea of ‘creating chaos’ is a contradiction in terms; a logical impossibility.”
We are told that Satan by his war in heaven created the chaos. The conflict must have occurred in the heavens with an impact on the earth. We are not obligated to account for events in the heavens. In fact, time as we know it seems to begin with the creation of the earth.
One commentator says with Old Testament theology in general, we need to be wary of attempting to formulate detailed answers to questions that the Old Testament writers themselves had no interest in asking.
Here's what I know.
I am a child of Adam. God made Adam and me with the equipment to reason and retain knowledge. I know because I have listened to the witness of God displayed in the Bible. I have responded to the authority of the Creator.
At Creation there was God alone. He alone is eternal. Someone smarter than me said “If everything is created except God, then God must be of an entirely different order than everything else.”
The subject of Genesis 1:2 is “the earth”. The context of Genesis 1
suggests that the creation is not completed until the seventh day and it was good. We know that God took time to create. This indicates an initial act of creation which is then transformed by subsequent creative acts.
One other thing that I know. God is not only capable of communicating truth but possesses all the skills necessary to make that truth clear. The communication of God about creation came from God to man. Man was not left to discover how his world came into being.
Here's what I think.
I am therefore I think. My existence as a human being is the product of God’s creation. I am a child of Adam. God made Adam and me with the equipment to reason and retain knowledge. I know because I have listened to the witness of God displayed in the Bible. I have responded to the authority of the Creator.
“The weightiest testimony only that can be brought to prove that there is a God, is to produce the testimony of God speaking in his own word. None other in the world can have equal authority.” –Edward Leigh
Here’s what I think - mystery. God created the heavens and the earth after His very existence (see John 1:1). There is some kind of “gap” or anomaly between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Probably having to do with “time” as we know it.
Genesis 1:2 may be given to us as a reflection on the various theories of creation what include things in the Heavens (read Universe) which may or may not be reflected in other parts of Scripture. I don’t think that God started with “chaos” or inherited “disorder”. I don’t think He had to do a “do over” to get things straightened out.
Summary of Genesis 1:2
Have you ever asked yourself why God thought it important to tell us about Creation? Again, I am reminded of how a little child grows up. Why does a little child ask mom or dad questions? I strongly suspect that God has built that curiosity gene into the little person’s psyche.
Ok, let’s try it this way: “God, why did you tell us about Creation?” “You need to know who you are and where you came from.” “Why?” “Because it becomes important as you grow up.” “I did it, you know. I created the heavens and the earth. It wasn’t easy, well it was easy for me. But, there was darkness that I had to take care of.” “You will always have questions. However, I promise that I know what I am doing and will explain everything in the end. You just have to wait a while.”
God had Moses write it down for us. A lot of people don’t accept what is written in the Bible. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. It just means that people don’t accept it as true. The more we read in Genesis the clearer it will become why people struggle with accepting what is written in the Bible as true. God is not surprised. We shouldn’t be.
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