"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."(Gen. 1:1-2) God's existence here is neither argued nor defined but simply asserted as truth. Thus by implication God is seen as the Eternal First Cause, Originator and Fashioner of all things. Thus everything that exists must be under God's control – including us. (Psalm 100:3) Some commentators believe that this "beginning" does not mean when God initially created the universe out of nothing (ex nihilo – Hebrews 11:3) but refers to a later refashioning of the earth into order and function (forming and filling) from chaos and disorder to an ordered and functional cosmos. This refashioning is symbolic of what happens to us at the new birth. We are brought from being "earthly, unspiritual, of the devil… with envy and selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice" into God's light and become new creations. (James 3:15-16; Eph. 2:1-5; 2 Cor. 5:17) "For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6) John Walton in The NIV Application Commentary argues that the words "formless and empty" and "darkness over the deep" do not mean that God's initial creation was corrupted by Satan's fall or Divine Judgment but simply means that God is bringing order and function, meaning and purpose to His creation. Some commentators believe that the chaos was brought about by the fall of Satan and his angels/demons (Ezek. 28:13-19; Isa. 14:12-15) since Satan appears in Genesis 3 and there has to be some explanation and period of time for his fall. But if this occurred between verses 1 and 2 (the gap theory) the Scripture would have to read: "Now the earth "became" (rather than "was") formless and empty." As seen in John Milton's Paradise Lost, it could be that Satan's fall came after God's creation of man out of his jealousy and envy of beings created in the image of God – male and female reflect the relational image of the Trinity not seen in the angelic order of beings.
"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day." (Gen. 1: 3-5) If we read verses 1 and 2 as a summary statement then we see "how" God created/fashioned His world over the seven days of creation. "Light" in verse three is seen both as physical light and the source of energy and matter. But more importantly, the light referred to here as being called "day" is not referring so much to "physical light" but a period of light, namely a "day" – the creation of time – "the evening and morning." On day one God created time – the orderly and regular sequence of time. (John Walton) The word for day "yom" has caused much discussion and controversy as to its meaning. But from a plain reading of Scripture (versus reading science back into Scripture to harmonize science with Scripture) and rules of interpretation (hermeneutics) it is difficult to conclude it is anything but a 24 hour day. It always means a 24 hour time period whenever it is preceded by an ordinal (first day, second day, etc.). And when it is used in the plural as in Exodus 20:11 regarding the creation account, it always means a 24 hour period. (As a side note, Jesus as a Man living on planet earth had no issues with time (busyness, boredom) as most of us do. Thus our issues with time are related to our sin not God's "good" creation which included the creation of time.)
"And God said, "Let there be an expanse (the Hebrew culture would perceive this to be like a solid dome) between the waters to separate water from water."So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day." And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good." (Gen. 1:6-10) The waters in the atmosphere and the terrestrial waters combined to make for an immense foggy, watery blanket that blocked out all light and covered the earth in darkness and gloom. As God continued to create an orderly and functional world, He separated and controlled the "weather" in the sky from the earth. "He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses." (Psalm 135:7) We must remember that the culture of the Near East and thus Israel believed in personal causation, i.e., that the gods or the One true God in Israel's case, versus nature, was responsible for bad weather, etc. And we modern Christians must realize the same – that there are no "coincidences" but only "God-incidences" in all of life – bad weather or bad circumstances. "Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes; (and like Moses, worships God – my comment) the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries." (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
"Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day." (Gen. 1:11-13) Note the three significant functions God has set up – time, weather and agriculture. And in Israel's world, agriculture was the economy. These are ultimately beyond our control (i.e, our life span, rain and sunshine for our crops; i.e., the economy) yet they greatly affect our earthly existence. Do you get the picture? Without God we are out of control and yet many people deny Him or ignore Him. Even Christians can be functional atheists. Modern man has an anti-supernatural bias and tries to explain everything through the natural order. God created an ordered world but He is in no way bound by the natural order that He both created and sustains (versus Deism; see Col. 1:16-17) and can overrule it as seen in the Bible, from Genesis 1 to the end of time. If God unplugged from our world, not only would morality cease to exist but everything would cease to exist – disintegrate, disappear. "For in him we live and move and exist."(Acts 17:28 NLT)We can't, as much as the world tries to, "send God to His corner." (John Walton)
Questions for reflection/application
"For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6) From chaos to cosmos is symbolic of the new birth. When did you see the light and how has Jesus – the light of the world, brought meaning and purpose to your "world"? What are you living for?
Jesus as a Man living on planet earth had no issues with time (busyness, boredom) as most of us do. Thus our issues with time are related to our sin not God's "good" creation which included the creation of time. "Instead of managing our time tightly to accomplish our objectives we would do well to manage our time loosely to accomplish God's objectives." (Ken Boa) A God-appointed opportunity is called "kairos" time (versus chronos time)."Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time (kairos), because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16 NASB) What is your biggest struggle with time? How do you involve the Lord in your use of time?
Modern man has an anti-supernatural bias and tries to explain everything through the natural order. We can't, as much of the world tries to do, "send God to his corner." (John Walton) Even Christians can be functional atheists. We modern Christians must realize that there are no "coincidences but only God-incidences" in all of life – bad weather or bad circumstances. Do you invite God and submit to His good rule in every area of your life – family, friends, business, health, entertainment, etc.? Is there an area where you might be a "functional atheist"?
Until He comes,
Len and Kristen