Summary: Exposition about Genesis 1:1-25.
IN THE BEGINNING
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?(1:1).
Welcome to the study of Genesis. Martin Luther said, "Genesis is the womb of Christian faith and all its doctrines." In Greek, Genesis means "beginning" or "origin." Genesis tells us about the origin of the universe, of mankind and civilizations. It also tells us about the origin of sin and God’s redemption, and of God’s covenant with his chosen people. Through the study of Genesis, we can understand the foundation of our lives. We can also understand where the crisis of modern culture began.
Today’s passage teaches us about God the Creator. There is an "egg first or chicken first" kind of question: "Should man know who he is to know God?" or "Should man know who God is to know himself?" What do you think? The author of Genesis proclaims, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Then he explains how the world came into being through God’s creation. Apparently the author guides us to know who God is. Let us think about who God is.
I. In the beginning (1).
What was in the beginning? This is more than a scientific question. This determines a person’s worldview and his whole value system. Nearly one and a half centuries after Darwin, scientists have begun to realize that the theory of evolution is faith rather than reality. At the recent seminar of the most prestigious Evolutionary Morphologists at the University of Chicago, one professor who had been working on evolution for 20 years asked, "Can you tell me anything you know about the truth of evolution?" After a long silence, one person said, "Yes, I do know one thing: It ought not to be taught in high school." In spite of the collapse of the theory of evolution, I presume many people will still hold onto the faith that the world came into being from lifeless material somehow. One biologist at Cornell University, acknowledged the logical end of such a worldview: "No life after death; no ultimate foundation for ethics; no ultimate meaning for life; and no free will."
Man cannot live without meaning. I don’t know if a dog thinks about meaning in life, but certainly man does. We were made to know God and we need to know him. Anthropologists testify that man by nature is incurably religious. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has set eternity in the hearts of men. There is a "God-shaped vacuum" inside each person. He designed us so that we wouldn’t be happy unless he himself fills the void within. St. Augustine gave us this often quoted prayer: "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."
Genesis 1:1 declares, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This verse tells us that the universe came into being by God’s creation. The word "created"(H: bara) is used in the Bible only for God’s act of creating something out of nothing. Here the beginning refers to the beginning of time, space and matter. Mathematics affirms a beginning. Philosophy affirms a beginning. The science of astronomy and physics affirms a beginning. Before the beginning, God was there. God is eternal. God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex 3:14) "God" in Hebrew is Elohim which means "The Mighty Ones," a plural noun that always accompanies singular verbs. The name Elohim is the first revelation of God to man. It reveals the mystery of the Trinity that God is three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. "The heavens" refer to the universe and "the earth" to our planet. Though the earth is like a speck in the vast universe, it is the center of God’s creation, for it is a place for living creatures and man to live in.
Genesis 1:1 excludes atheism, polytheism, or pantheism. It also excludes materialism that assumes eternity of matter. In addition, it excludes humanism that puts man at the center of the universe. Humanism is the polluted fountain from which postmodernism has drawn situational ethics and relativism that denies absolute truth. No one is born an atheist, for all man has an innate knowledge of God (Ro 1:18-21). Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool says in his heart, ’There is no God’." When one denies God, his existence becomes a mere accident. The world becomes a jungle in which he only struggles and perishes. But Genesis 1:1 teaches us that we are God’s children. We are here with absolute meaning and purpose in life. We must know God because he is our Creator and eternal Father.
II. God’s creation (2-25).
Look at verse 2. "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." The initial state of the earth was chaos. It was formless, empty, and pitch dark. But there were two things that express God’s special concern for the earth. First, waters. Here "waters" refer to the huge mass of water that exists on earth. Seventy percent of the earth surface is covered with water. Do you know how deep is Lake Michigan? The deepest part is about 900 feet deep. The deepest part of the Pacific Ocean off the Marianas islands is about 7 miles deep. Water (H2O) is a simple but wondrous substance. Water circulates everywhere--in the air, on the surface of the earth, underground, and in the body of living being. About three quarters of our body is water. Water sustains life. God created the earth with abundant water so that life can flourish. Second, the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The word "hovering" describes a mother bird that fertilizes her eggs through her warmth or cares and protects her young under her wings. The Holy Spirit is the power of God that created the universe and sustains it. The Holy Spirit fills the universe and is indeed powerful enough to govern the movements of everything in it. At the same time, the Holy Spirit is so gentle and personal like a loving mother. The Spirit of God knows the deepest need in us and does his recreation work in us with his love and power.