In The Beginning Pt 2
Discovering the meaning of the Bible’s Creation narrative.
If you read the last blog (which you need to do before you read this one) you’ll remember that Genesis 1 starts with God creating everything: what’s’ up there and what’s down here’. The author of Genesis doesn’t tell us how this happened or even when—just that it did happen. But, if Genesis 1 is not answering modern scientific inquiries what is it doing?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. –Genesis 1:2
I don’t know what you think of when you hear the phrase, “formless and void,” but it shouldn’t be good. Personally, my first thought is of that big black ball of fire rushing towards the earth in the movie the Fifth Element. The way it reads in Hebrew isn’t quite so villainous but still isn’t good. Instead of picturing a mass of formless clay picture a wilderness, a land that is wild and waste—uninhabitable—not a place of human flourishing.
The question facing the author is, what will make things right? What will take this wild waste and transform it into something wonderful? The author doesn’t leave his readers guessing for long and quickly introduces us to the good news: God is there.
From verse 3 on God is depicted as a divine poet, who weaves—through spoken word—the whole of creation into being. Five times God speaks and five times we get to witness the uninhabitable, dark wilderness becoming a home, a place of beauty primed for life.
On day six we find the world bursting at the seams but this Creator isn’t done. On day six God fills this beautiful home with inhabitants:
Then God said, “Let us make man [humanity] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man [humanity] in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26–27)
God placed us in the middle of this world and endowed us with a special quality and ability to bare His image. We are like mini-creators in the midst of God’s good earth, reflecting Him in what we do.
So, how do we reflect and mirror God? By having a blast! “And God blessed them and said to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…’”(Gen. 1:28) God commissions us, His new creation, to be like Him. To create and cultivate, harnessing without exploitation the full potential of God’s creation—from sharp sticks to Star Trek—for His glory and our good.
To crescendo His creative acts, on day seven God moves into the neighborhood. As a kid I always pictured the seventh day of creation as God’s preordained nap time. God is not resting from His work; He is resting in His work, the Creator is entering His creation. God has just built a home and now He will dwell in it with His people. Humans and God will share one space; heaven and earth will be united.
What’s the point? God is. The author of Genesis wants us to know who the Creator is. He isn’t concerned with modern scientific questions about creation, but he is intensely concerned that you and I come to know the Creator. This is about more than power, this is about character, because power is only as good as the one who wields it.
Can we know that the Creator God is good? Yes! This is exactly what the author of Genesis 1 wants us to see. God does not use His power in a reckless or selfish way but in response to the dark wilderness of verse 2.
This is a Creator who in His goodness uses His power to bring life out of un-life, light out of darkness, and beauty out of the wild waste. This is a God who invades desolate places to bring order and flourishing, He is the God who redeems dark things.
Now, that is good news.