Friday, September 01, 2023

The Vision (9.1.23): In the Beginning


Image: Morning Glory flowers, North Garden, Virginia, September 2023

Note: We began a new series last Sunday morning through Genesis chapters 1-11. This devotion is taken from the first sermon in the series on Genesis 1:1-5.

The Scriptures commence with this statement: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

One modern commentator noted that “this verse serves as the theme sentence of the creation account,” adding that it stands as “a formal introduction and caption to the entire creation narrative” (J. Currid, Genesis, Vol. 1, 57). There is so much said with such a brevity of words.

That opening phrase, “In the beginning God created…,” is an absolute statement. It does not say that God gathered up the things that were to see what he could do with them, but, “In the beginning God created….”

One commentator pointed out that the Hebrew verb as used here for “to create [bārā]” has as its subject “always and only God; the word is never used of an action of mankind” (Currid, 59). He explains that when men make things, they must use material that already exists. A contractor who wants to build a house, or a craftsman who wants to build a piece of furniture, must get together the materials, the wood, and stone, and glass to make the structure or object. When God creates, however, he does so “out of nothing.” The theological term for this is the Latin phrase ex nihilo.

And what did he make? “the heaven and the earth.” The scholars tell us this is “merism—two opposites that are inclusive” (Currid, 59). From the heaven above to the earth below. This was the Hebrew way of referring to what the Greeks would call the kosmos, and what we call the “universe.” God made from nothing everything that is.

This doctrine of ex nihilo creation is unique to Biblical faith. The ancient philosophers believed that the matter which makes up this world had always existed. They believed that that the stuff of this world is eternal. Many still believe this today. The Bible, however, teaches something altogether different.

The only one who is eternal is God Himself. He is the Alpha and the Omega. Before he made the world there was no world. Psalm 90:2 declares, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

Genesis 1:1 is where Christian theology begins.

This Bible declares from its very first verse that the God who made this world is distinct from his creation. He is the one true God. He is transcendent. He is wholly other than the world which he has made. This is necessarily a rejection of pantheism, the belief that “God is everything,” that God is the natural world, and that the natural world is to be worshipped. As Christians we do not worship the creation, but we admire the creation as a testimony to the Creator, to the one true God who made it.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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