Summary: Unpacking the Creation Story
In the beginning, God created the heavens & the earth. Quickly, God faced a class action suit: no Environmental Impact Statement. Officials eventually granted God a temporary permit. But a “cease & desist” order stopped creation of Earth. So God went on with creation of the heavens. God said, “Let there be light!” Immediately, officials demanded to know how light would be made. Would there be strip mining? Thermal pollution? God explained. “Light would come from a large ball of fire.” Officials granted God provisional permission to make light, assuming no smoke would come from the ball of fire. Also, He was to obtain a building permit. And, to conserve energy, He was to have the light out ½ the time. God agreed & said He’d call the light “Day” & the darkness “Night.” Officials replied, “We aren’t interested in semantics.” God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plant yielding seed, & fruit trees bearing fruit.” The EPA agreed, so long as only native seed was used. Then God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, & let birds fly above the earth.” Officials pointed out, “You’ll need coordinated approvals from the Department of Game, the Wildlife Federation, & the Audubon Society.” Everything was okay until God said He’d complete the project in 6 days. Officials said, “It’ll take at least 200 days to review your applications & EIS. After that, there’ll be a public hearing. It’ll be at least 10-12 months before…” That’s when God created Hell…
Maybe we should look at Genesis 1:1-5 to see how it really happened. These verses are some of the most important in Scripture. Why? They are the foundation of all that follows. And it’s a strong foundation. It begins so simply. 1aIn the beginning… The beginning? The start of something. What? The beginning of time. If there’s a start, there’ll be an ending someday. So at the beginning of time, we’re already prepared to hear about the end of days.
And 1bIn the beginning, God… Atheists have it wrong. God exists. And before time, God already was. There has never been a time when God wasn’t. So, those who think God is part of His creation? They’re wrong. He was already here. At the beginning. Before anything else. So, those who think matter existed at the beginning? They’re also wrong. God has always been. But in Hebrew, Elohim is the word for God, here. We’d expect El. Why? El is singular. Elohim is plural. Why a plural for God? Before creating anything else, God was already plural. We know Him as three (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit). But even the ancients knew that God is plural. Why is that important? Some say God created in order to avoid being lonely. Not true. He was already complete. He already had social relationships in Himself. When God creates, it isn’t because He needs to. God creates in grace & love, because that’s His nature.
1cIn the beginning God created… This doesn’t say, “God created from nothing.” But other authors of the Bible knew that’s what it meant. Why? God was before everything. They were knew He created out of nothing. The point? The Big Bang theory misses a crucial piece. It says the universe exploded from a speck of matter / energy. But where did that 1st speck come from? Genesis says God made it! Whatever was made, God made it.
One more thing. We already saw that the Hebrew for God is Elohim, plural. And plural nouns take plural verbs. So why is created a singular verb? We already saw that the ancients knew our God is plural. But they also knew that our God, our Creator, is one. The point? Even the ancients knew what we know. God is more than one. Yet, God is also somehow one.
Got it? (Right!) Things are ready to roll, now. 1dIn the beginning God created the heavens & the earth. He created the universe. All that is. Our faithful God created it all, both the heavens & the earth. The spiritual realm & the physical realm. God created both. But if heavens means the physical world, God created it, too. God created both the sky & the earth. Whatever was created, God did it.
Something else started here, too, though we can’t see it in English. Why? Our English words earth & land are different. Hebrew has one word for both. Eretz is earth or land. Every place in Genesis that has the earth, we could read the land. God created the heavens & the land. Why is this so significant? Moses wants his readers to realize something important. God created all the land. It’s His. God owns it.
2aNow the land (eretz) was formless & empty. It’s the land, not just land. Why? An important theme is starting. God is preparing the land for His people. The land. To begin, it’s Eden. In Ge 12:1, it’ll be the Promised Land, Canaan. God will tell Abraham, “Go… to the land (àÆ֫øÆõ) I’ll show you.” Same word. How do we know that the land connects Eden with Canaan? Formless, which Moses used only twice (Gen-Dt). In Dt 32:10, Moses uses this Hebrew word again to describe the formless / barren desert Israel wandered in for 40 years. What better way to teach his people something crucial? The God who created… The God who prepared Eden… The God who prepared the promised land for them… The God who will lead them out of the formless / barren desert… The God who will give them the promised land… It’s the same God. They can trust Him! This theme of God creating & preparing a promised land starts with Eden, at creation. It continues in Genesis & goes on. God is faithful to prepare for His people. Yet, so far in our verses? 2athe land is formless & empty. God’s land isn’t yet ready for God’s people.