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The Beginning (Part 2)

The Creation and the Fall  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Focus is on the beginning of the Creation narrative in Genesis 1 - we will be looking at the power of God's Word, he spoke the creation into being.

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Genesis 1:1–2 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2
Last week we began our series on Creation and the Fall and we’re going to be spending our time in Genesis for the next several weeks. In our discussion last week we spent the majority of time on the first 3 words of Genesis, and then spent some time on the fourth word.
Last week we began our series on Creation and the Fall and we’re going to be spending our time in Genesis for the next several weeks. In our discussion last week we spent the majority of time on the first 3 words of Genesis, and then spend some time on the fourth word.
The verse then begins:
In the beginning, God...
How we understand those opening words will determine how we understand everything that follows from .

No one can speak of the beginning but the one who was in the beginning.

No one
One of the challenges we have in understanding these opening verses is who it was that wrote this down. According to tradition the author of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is Moses. But Moses isn’t even on the scene yet. We’re still in the pre-human “beginning”!

God alone tells us that God is in the beginning; God testifies of God by no other means than through this word, which as the word of a book, the word of a pious human being, is wholly a word that comes from the middle and not from the beginning.

Martin Luther was once asked, “What was God doing before the Creation of the world?” His answer was, “God was cutting sticks to cane people who ask such idle questions.”

God alone tells us that God is in the beginning; God testifies of God by no other means than through this word, which as the word of a book, the word of a pious human being, is wholly a word that comes from the middle and not from the beginning.

Martin Luther was once asked, “What was God doing before the Creation of the world?” His answer was, “God was cutting sticks to cane people who ask such idle questions.”
In this way Luther was not just cutting the questioner short; he was also saying that where we do not recognize God as the merciful Creator, we can know God only as the wrathful judge

In this way Luther was not just cutting the questioner short; he was also saying that where we do not recognize God as the merciful Creator, we can know God only as the wrathful judge

Bonhoeffer, D. (2004). Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of . (M. Rüter, I. Tödt, & J. W. de Gruchy, Eds., D. S. Bax, Trans.) (Vol. 3, p. 31). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Why is it considered an “idle question?” Because we are not going to be able to move towards any answer that any one of us can prove.
It is reminiscent of God’s questioning of Job:
Job 38:4–6 ESV
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,
As we discussed last week, we cannot go any further back than the beginning and yet when we get there we find God - God is already there.
Genesis 1:1–2 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
In and article on Creation the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia we read:
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised I. Theistic Creation Versus Other Views

The doctrine of creation—of the origin and persistence of all finite existences—as the work of God, is a necessary postulation of the religious consciousness. Such

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised I. Theistic Creation Versus Other Views

The doctrine of creation—of the origin and persistence of all finite existences—as the work of God, is a necessary postulation of the religious consciousness.

It goes on to say, “Science can only trace the continuity of sequences in all nature, while in creation, in its primary sense, this law of continuity must be transcended, and the world viewed solely as product of divine intelligence…God is the Absolute Reason.”
As we look at these two verses what we see is that God is where the emphasis lies.
In the beginning, God… And
The Spirit of God was…
We spoke last week of two different readings of :
We examined two different readings of :
The first being that God created everything, and the second being there was something here that God began to create with.
We discussed that the reasons it is more likely intended that God created everything include:
Idiomatically “heavens and earth” is like saying “everything” from A-Z, Nothing that was made has been made without God.
The continued references throughout Scripture do not waver from this understanding.
But there is another reason and I think it makes perhaps the strongest argument, that is the purpose of the Bible itself. Sidney Greidanus puts it this way:

One should raise the questions, Where is God in this narrative? What is God doing? What is the author here teaching about God? In the creation account the theocentric focus is so obvious it cannot be missed

To understand the world exists in the beginning wholly by God’s freedom as Creator points us to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The fact that Jesus died on Good Friday did not provide the possibility of his resurrection but it’s impossibility. There was nothing there, no life, it was the ultimate emptiness. Yet as we read the resurrection recorded in the Gospels there is no transition, no continuum between the lifeless body of Christ taken down from the cross and the resurrected Christ on Easter Sunday. There is only the freedom of God that in the beginning created God’s work out of nothing - and now the one who is the beginning lives, destroys the nothing, and in his resurrection creates the new creation. (Bonhoeffer)

By his resurrection we know about the creation. For had he not risen again,[36] the Creator would be dead and would not be attested. On the other hand we know from the act of creation about God’s power to rise up again, because God remains Lord

There is nothing in Scripture by accident. It is not an overstatement that the Resurrection itself is dependent upon how we understand these opening verses and the opening chapters of Genesis. God’s ability to create out of nothing, as the one who breathes life into humanity is foundational.
Gordon Wenham in his commentary on Genesis says,

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” God is the author of the whole world: “heaven and earth” here mean everything, owe their existence to the divine will. His sovereignty is made visible in the things that exist. God alone “creates” in the full sense of that word, molding all things to fulfill his inscrutable purposes.

V 1 sets the tone and states the theme of all that follows: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” God is the author of the whole world: “heaven and earth” here mean everything, owe their existence to the divine will. His sovereignty is made visible in the things that exist. God alone “creates” in the full sense of that word, molding all things to fulfill his inscrutable purposes.
Wenham, G. J. (1998). (Vol. 1, p. 36). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
V 1 sets the tone and states the theme of all that follows: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” God is the author of the whole world: “heaven and earth” here mean everything, owe their existence to the divine will. His sovereignty is made visible in the things that exist. God alone “creates” in the full sense of that word, molding all things to fulfill his inscrutable purposes.
In the ancient Near East a key concern was the existence of chaos. If we read the opening verses of Genesis we see God’s sovereignty over that chaos. We read in the opening verse that God is the creator of all things, but then we read in verse 2:
Genesis 1:2 ESV
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Wenham, G. J. (1998). (Vol. 1, p. 36). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
Wenham, G. J. (1998). (Vol. 1, p. 36). Dallas: Word, Incorporat
In the ancient Near East ways of describing chaos are all listed here:
without form
void
darkness
the deep
the waters
If we think some of our fears are new, they’re not - we still fear those things we cannot quite define,
The biblical narrative throughout
The phrase “heavens and the earth” idiom
void - think of looking over a cliff into the void
darkness - Most of us are afraid of the dark or as one person put it, “I’m not afraid of the dark it’s what’s in it that makes me scared.”
the deep - again, the unknown
the waters - anyone whose lived near an ocean has experienced the power that is there and it’s an unknown force - as if it takes on a life of its own. We saw the power of the ocean this past week along our coastline.
Yet throughout these verses the one constant is God. God is there. If there can be a confidence that we can gain from these verses it is the presence and sovereignty of God.
It doesn’t matter what “unknown” you’re facing today.
Job decisions
Life decision
Disease
Injuries
Family crisis
Cancer
God is there. God is present. God is sovereign. God is in control.
If there is something we can take away from this it may perhaps be summed up in God’s Word to Joshua
Joshua 1:9 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The God of all creation is with us wherever we go. Jesus echoes this sentiment in
Matthew 28:20 ESV
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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