See God’s eternity, unity, power, creative intelligence, and purpose in the opening verse of the Bible
By Don Ruhl
Have you thought on the multiplicity of messages found in the first verse of the Bible? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1.1). Before my conversion, someone showed me how much this verse says about creation.
In the beginning: Time
The Heavens: Space
The Earth: Material
That short simple sentence also contains multiple messages about God.
“In the beginning God” – The Eternity of God
In the beginning God was. He did not begin, for as God He has always been even as He will always be. He is present for us. Psalm 90 declares the eternity of God. It was not that He was and then ceased to be, but Moses wrote that before this earth and from eternity to eternity, God is still God. He is still who He was and will be.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
“God” – The Unity of God
How does Genesis 1.1 show the unity of God? When Moses wrote in Hebrew, he used the plural form of God, but we do not see it in English because it would give the wrong connotation. In English we can see the plural idea as we read further in the text when we come to the part about the creation of man.
Before that, let us note Genesis 1.2, which says that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. God is Spirit. Yet, this is something apart from the Father. Then listen to what happens later in verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” (Gen 1.26).
God said, “Us,” and “Our”! To whom did He speak? Did He speak to angels? The Bible never says that we have been created in the image of angels. The Bible only speaks of us as being made in the image of God. To whom then did God speak when He said, “Us,” and “Our”?
The Spirit of God in verse 2 is another way of referring to the Holy Spirit. Also, Scripture tells us elsewhere that Jesus was present at the creation and that Jesus was the Creator. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit created us and either they all spoke the words of verse 26 or Jesus, who is known as the “Word,” spoke to the other two. We have been created in the image of God, meaning in the image of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“In the beginning God created” – The Power of God
To say that Genesis 1.1 speaks of the power of God, classifies as a serious understatement. How can we picture God creating the universe? I cannot think of an illustration that gets the event across, because I do not know that I grasp fully what He did and how He did it.
Psalm 33 explains just what Moses meant when he penned Genesis 1.1,
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
Do you understand what the psalmist declared? God issued a command for the heavens and the earth to be made and it happened. Hebrews 11 makes the point plain, “By 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 are visible” (Heb 11.3).
He used no raw materials. He spoke things into existence.
“God created the heavens and the earth” – The Creative Intelligence of God
Creating the heavens and the earth shows His unimaginable power and intelligence. How did He know how to do it? How did He know how to make it all work together? We use the word, “orchestra,” to picture musicians coming together with different instruments and different parts to play, but they all play together beautifully and harmoniously. What a conductor does with an orchestra is not worthy to be compared with what the Conductor of the orchestra of the universe did and still does.
Picture the greatest orchestral conductor you know. Steven Spielberg says John Williams is the greatest composer of all time, and Mr. Spielberg has used Mr. Williams for all but two films. Picture John Williams arranging a piece of music for every person on the planet to play, assuming we could all play well. Would Mr. Williams even know how to do that? If he could, it would not be worthy to compare to God’s work with every atom in the universe, working harmoniously together to give us a work of art that makes all the “creative” musicians of the world look like their works are kindergartners playing plastic recorders.
We speak of people being creative, but God is truly creative. He created things that never existed before and made them highly functional and extremely beautiful. I cannot surpass the simplicity and exquisiteness of Ecclesiastes 3, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecc 3.11).
The Whole Sentence – The Purpose of God
“In the beginning God created the heavens and earth,” suggests He had a purpose. When we just look at the result with our eyes, we know there was a purpose, although Genesis 1.1 does not reveal that purpose. God always has a purpose in what He does, even if He does something arbitrarily for His own glory and pleasure. Simply reading the Bible from Genesis 1.1 to Revelation 22.21 reveals that He had a purpose for creating the heavens and the earth.
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Why do you make something? You might create for your own pleasure. You might create for someone. You might create because it is your job, it is who you are, or it is what you do.
God created for these reasons and more. He is God and has the power to create. Therefore, He created. He created the earth for us. He created the earth and us for His enjoyment.
Ephesians 1 says much about this, but I will only quote part of it, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself…In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…” (Eph 1.3–6, 9, 11).
Does Ephesians 1 include you? Do you want what Paul said to speak of you as it does for Christians? Think of this God. Do you want a part of Him? Do you want such a God in your life?
What would you give for Him to include you in the blessings from Ephesians 1? Would you give half your life? That is commendable, but it is only half what He wants. Everything you see in creation and everything you read in the Bible, He did for you. The Creator Jesus Christ lived, died, and was raised from the dead for you. He gave His all. He wants you to give your all.