Gleanings From Genesis:
"IN THE BEGINNING, GOD"
by Wayne S. Walker
We live in a day and age where our faith is being bombarded from every side. We see atheism (or at least secular humanism) being taught in our public schools, liberal theology in the denominations, and even modernism in the church. It is necessary that we continue to study those facts and principles that will help us to strengthen our faith in God and his word. The world is unable to provide any answers to mankind’s most important questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? These are things that people are asking themselves. The only source to which we can go for satisfactory answers to these questions is our Creator and his inspired revelation.
Take, for example, Genesis 1:1-3. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light." The first verse of the Bible is as easy to understand as, "In the evening, John watered the garden and the lawn." It is simple, but what power is found in it. "In the beginning God. . . " introduces us to the greatest force man can know.
I. Notice the text itself. This record contains the five necessary facts for science to operate: time – "in the beginning"; force – "God"; action – "created"; space – "the heavens"; and matter – "the earth." The Bible cannot be used either to prove or disprove science. Neither does science necessarily prove or disprove the Bible. True science is merely a body of facts about the physical universe, and the Bible is not designed as a treatise on science, for is it subject to scientific observation, although it is scientifically accurate. It is primarily a book of history and contains a record, revealed by God, for anyone who will read, examine, and accept it.
The observations of the Bible are historical in nature rather than scientific, since they are not open to subsequent experimentation as-is true of all history. They are stated as facts of history. Our only choice to make is whether or not we believe they happened. No man was present at creation; God’s word is the only record we have. It is certainly within. reason, not like the fantastic creation myths of ancient heathen cultures, and there is no evidence to prove otherwise. All that so-called scientists have come up with, using entirely natural means, are several conflicting theories, none of which have any supportable proof. Therefore, "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).
II. Who is this "God" who is said to have created the heavens and the earth? The term translated "God" in our text is Elohim the plural form of Eloah, whose root is El. This family of words forms the general Hebrew term for God or deity. The derivation in Hebrew is not absolutely known, but many scholars believe that it is derived from a term which means "to be strong." Robert B. Girdlestone in Synonyms of the Old Testament wrote, "This name properly represented One only Being, who revealed Himself to man as Creator, Ruler, and Lord. It was His own peculiar title, and ought to have been confined to Him. Accordingly we read, ‘in the beginning God (Elohim in the plural) created (in the, singular) the heavens and the earth."’
The most common form is Elohim, the plural noun. Sometimes the plural is used to designate unlimited greatness. In the Old Testament, the plural form is also used because God exists in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is consistent with the use of plural pronouns. "Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… (Gen. 1:26). Herbert C. Leupold in Exposition of Genesis wrote, "The hortative ‘Let us make’ . . . is particularly striking because it is plural. Though almost all commentators of our day reject the view that this is to be explained in connection with the truth of the Holy Trinity and treat this so-called trinitarian view as a very negligible quantity, yet rightly considered, this is the only view that can satisfy. . . . Those that hold that a reference to the Trinity is involved do not mean to say that the truth of the Holy Trinity is here fully and plainly revealed. But they do hold that God speaks out of the fulness of His powers and His attributes in a fashion which man could never employ. Behind such speaking lies the truth of the Holy Trinity which, as it grows increasingly clear in revelation, is in the light of later clear revelation discovered as a kind of obscure adumbration. The truth of the Trinity explains this passage."
Another name for God, found 6,823 times in the Old Testament, is Jehovah. The English form Jehovah comes from the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHVH. Some prefer Yahweh, but no one knows the correct pronunciation. It is thought to be derived from a verb meaning "to be" and is sometimes translated as "the Eternal One." This name distinctly expresses the personality of God and points to him as the one who was, is, and always will be. The origin of this name is generally related to God’s appearance to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14-16. The phrase, "I AM THAT I AM," contains the verb form of the name Jehovah. Later God said, "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them" (Exod. 6:3). The American Standard Version uniformly uses Jehovah in the Old Testament, but with a few exceptions, the King James Version uses "LORD."
III. This God whose name is Jehovah is affirmed to be the Creator. He created the universe. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. . . . " (Exod. 20:22). He created the earth and all life upon it, because it is said, "The earth is the LORD’s and all its fulness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters" (Psa. 24:1-2). Furthermore, he created man. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Gen. 2:7). God also sustains the life of man upon the earth. The apostle Paul said of God, "For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring’" (Acts 17:28).
The creation of God was "fiat" creation. "Fiat" is a Latin word that literally means, "Let it be done," and is defined as "an order issued by legal authority; decree." God created by his word. He said, "Let there be light" and there was light! I might walk into a room, say, "Let there be light," and turn on a light switch – and there will be light. But if I walk into a deep dark cave where never man has been and say, "Let there be light," there will be no light! God’s creation "ex nihilo," which means that is was out of nothing. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psa. 33:6). Man can take material already in existence and make something else from it. But only God can create where nothing beforehand.
IV. How is this Creator God revealed unto us? One way is by means of the heavens which he made. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psa. 19:1 ff). Every effect must have an adequate cause. Design demands a designer. The heavens above bear the imprint of their First Cause, their Grand Designer. It is through contemplating the existence of the universe that we conclude that there must be a God and that his is powerful enough to make all that we know. "Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20, RSV).
However, the natural creation does not reveal unto us the will of our Creator. For this, God must give us a special revelation. Today, God makes his will known to us through his Son. "God, who at various times and in different way spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). The Son sent the Holy Spirit to inspire his apostles and prophets to record his will for us in written form (Eph. 3:3-5). The product of their efforts, the Holy Scriptures, contains the will of God for all mankind today. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
V. Those who live upon this earth created by God must have faith in him. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). Again, the source of this faith must be the written revelation of God, his word. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). And this faith must be more than a mere intellectual assent to God’s existence. It must be an active trust. "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24).
God is the Creator. We are his creation. It is our responsibility to seek after him and believe in him. As we consider the universe around us, the earth upon which we live, and the God who made them, we are moved to say, "Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How Great Thou Art!" Do you know the God who is revealed in the Bible? "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Jn. 17:3). Have you obeyed his word? Are you his spiritual child? The Bible tells us how to become one. We encourage you to read it, study it, and follow it. It is the only means by which you can have a right relationship with the God who made you. (—taken from Guardian of Truth; January 7, 1988; Vol. XXXII, No. 1, pp. 8-9)