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In the Beginning God…

August 19th, 2014

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:1-3

In these words the Bible introduces us to God. First impressions are memorable, and these first few words about God prepare us to learn everything else about Him in the Scripture.

In the beginning God created. The word for “create” means to make something out of nothing. God did not take those elements which already existed and shape them into a new form. God did not take the laws of physics that were already in existence and use them to make the planets and stars. God created out of nothing all of these elements, laws, principles, and even time itself. Before Genesis 1:1 there was no world, only God – in fact, there was no “before” for time itself had not been created.

It is true that we cannot imagine existence without these scientific laws that govern the physical creation, but God who is Spirit is not limited or contained in them. He is greater than these and from the creation itself we learn much about Him. We learn that He is organized, logical, capable of great beauty, mysterious, complex, and powerful. It was observed by Tozer that a profound insight into the doctrine of the Trinity – that the One God exists in three Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit – was that God would not be lonely in timeless eternity.

Christ said that He and the Father shared glory and love before the creation of the world (John 17:5,24). Regardless of how far back we go in time, there comes the moment when time as we know it was created, and before that was God in timeless “pre-time” eternity. What kind of God could create out of nothing the world that we have? A solitary, isolated Being, or a Creator who possessed within Himself the potential for love, glory, and thought?

So this God created a universe and a world and our race with the capacity for reflection, for relationship, for intimacy, for the understanding of love and glory. These things are woven into the substance of creation and into our very existence because they are part and parcel of God Himself.

In the beginning God cared. The next image we have is the Spirit of God hovering over the waters. The earth is formless, dark, empty, its potential is unrealized, its direction unset. The scientific laws are created, along with matter, molecules, atoms, the elements, but nothing is stirring, nothing is forming, nothing is evolving. It would appear that the creation was a failure, a mindless, purposeless exercise, were it not for these words of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters like a dove. There hope is planted, that God has not created matter only to abandon it, rather in tenderness He takes His creation to His heart and begins to form a beautiful world.

Can we not see this scene re-enacted in every birth of every human being since the creation of humans? A child is born, and whether it is a wealthy family (unlikely that) or a poor family (more are born poor than wealthy), through the eye of faith we can see the Spirit of God hovering over that child’s birth. Can we also not see this seen re-enacted in every event in history, in times of conflict, in times of peace, in times of sorrow, in times of joy, the Spirit of God hovers over the situation, over the people, caring to redeem, caring to renew hope, caring for His creation.

Today as I am writing there are angry demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, USA, as well as conflict in Gaza and Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Egypt, in Nigeria, and across the entire world. We could lose hope without this image of the Caring God who hovers over His creation with concern. This is an image of God that we need often to remember, and as we remember it our hope is renewed. The world has deep problems because of sin, because we have gone our own way, but hope is not utterly destroyed because God still hovers over His world and its inhabitants.

The thoughts on the heart of God before creation are clearly explained in the New Testament, that He already could see the future, that He already had purposed in His heart what He would do for humanity, that He already loved the world even before it was created. The Redeemer’s heart was not added later to God’s personality, rather it is who God is. And there in the heart of God is the genesis of the character of humanity that, despite our sin, still carries the image of its Creator – there in the hovering Spirit is the pre-visage of every mother who cares for her son, of every father who prays for his child, of every ounce of compassion and hope in the entire human race. We care because God cares.

His care and His love had already led Him to purpose our redemption, that He Himself would take our sin upon Himself. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4). This means that not only was our redemption decided, not only was the means by which we would be redeemed resolved in God’s heart, but the effects of our redemption were also firmly settled – He will make us blameless. Let us resolve not to take two steps in life without remembering this truth – God loves His creation. Let us not see any circumstance, any challenge, any conflict, or even any person without realizing that God loves, God cares, and God will redeem.

In the beginning God called. This simple verse explains to us another truth about the nature of God and of His creation. He has the means to communicate with the world He has made. He voices a command, and whether we understand this as an audible voice or the clear expression of His command in a spiritual means, the effect is the same. God calls out into the darkness of the world He has created and cares for, and this introduces us to the way God relates to us as well. He cares and He calls.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ comes to us not only through the words and voices of people, but also with the call and urgings of God’s Spirit. God calls to us. In Christ He declares “Let there be light!” and in our hearts we have light, and peace, and a new birth. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

I spoke not long ago with a Muslim friend about the nature of Christ. Muslims often object to the thought of Christ being the Son of God, and I believe the difficulty is that they try to interpret the idea of “Son of God” by our human experience – they use the experience of the creation to try and explain the nature of the Creator. But these initial words of the Scripture should help us to do the opposite, to let the nature of God explain our nature.

God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26), and the plural is more than just the plural of majesty, it is also the plural of Trinity. God gave the human race the means by which we may have children that carry our own image – that are shaped by our genes, that learn our habits, that adopt our values, that carry on our work. Of course, there are great disparities as well – we are not eternal beings on this earth, and fathers die before sons ordinarily. But in the nature of God exists a similar reality, that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit share the same personality, the same values, the same purpose, and the same love.

Trinity does not mean “Three Gods” – but One God in three Persons. It means that God has the capacity in timeless eternity to share love and glory and thought, that God also has the capacity within Himself to redeem fallen humanity by the sacrifice of Himself. It was not loneliness that drove God to create us, but love – love that must be shared. This same God has the capacity to communicate to each individual who believes in Him. God calls to us today by His eternal Spirit and draws us to His heart. This is the means by which God is active redeeming the world. He calls out to us – He is calling to you today – to turn to Him and let Him bring His light into our soul.

It is not mistake that God’s word says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

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