In the Beginning
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1–3)
Every story has a beginning. As you open a novel to the very first page, of chapter one, the reader is introduced to characters, the setting, and a plot. It is still much too early to guess what direction the story will go from here, or what twists and turns are in store, but if it is a well written book you already feel yourself intrigued.
Scripture also has a beginning. The Bible is not a collection of random religious sayings, it is a unified story about an amazing God and His love for mankind. These opening lines introduce us to the characters: it is about God, and the people He creates. We are shown the setting: the universe created by God, and more specifically the little blue planet we call earth. We get just a hint of the plot: what will become of the good world that the Lord made, and the creatures He formed to bear His image? Our modern “scientific” minds have so many questions, and there are so many details we would like to know about how and when all of this took place. The passage is not concerned about those issues. What it does affirm is of much greater significance.
“In the beginning, God…” There was a time when this universe did not exist. The earth was not spinning in orbit around the yellow sun of our solar system. There was not a single star burning in the darkness of space. There we no creatures to behold the mighty miracle about to explode across the cosmos. There was only God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Genesis 1 records the origin story for the world, but has nothing to say about God’s origin because He is eternal. He is the everlasting. He is not a part of the physical world, since all that exists came into being as the result of His mighty hand. Elsewhere in Scripture we are told that the Lord is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is “I AM,” the God who is eternally present.
There is much that can be discovered about the nature of God from these opening lines:
- God is infinite. Just think about the vastness of space. Human beings have been looking up at the heavens for ages, mapping constellations, naming the stars, navigating their way by the landmarks above. Yet, we are nowhere close to understanding the limits of space. Even with modern technology, launching telescopes into the great beyond, the conclusion we have reached is that the universe is constantly expanding. It has no end. Only an infinite God could fashion and sustain and infinite creation.
- God is powerful. A parent becomes fatigued after spending an afternoon with his children building things out of Legos, and all he did was snap a few blocks together. God built an entire universe, and wasn’t even winded. He rested on the seventh day for our benefit, not His own. God is the one who lit the stars ablaze. From our perspective, they may look like tiny specks of light twinkling up above, but we have come to realize what these luminous balls of hydrogen and helium gas truly are. There is unfathomable energy at work in even the smallest of them. The inner core of our sun burns at a temperature of nearly 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. Light and heat radiate from its surface in all directions across the solar system. And this is only one of countless celestial bodies. Only an Almighty God could set in motion a force so immense.
- God is wise. The planning, and precision that would be required to design a system so complex is well beyond the scope of our collective knowledge. Hundreds of hours are spent drawing up plans for a skyscraper. There are prints for the foundation, the frame, the electric, the plumbing, and more. Calculations must be made to determine how tall it can tower, before collapsing in on itself. The universe in which we live is far more complex than this. Even if it were possible for nature to unleash a big bang all by itself, without any divine assistance, the conditions required to support life are far too intricate and precise to happen by accident. Only a divine being of supreme intelligence could devise plans for such a universe.
There is much, much more we can infer about the God of creation from these opening lines of the Bible. As we continue reading, these observations will only be confirmed as we come to learn more about Him and His interactions with humanity. While modern man pats himself on the back for how much we have discovered about our universe, the reality is, we are only just scratching the surface. Unlocking the mysteries of the universe does not explain away the idea of a Creator, but points us to the handiwork of God. The more we learn, the more we ought to be humbled by the glory of the maker of heaven and earth.
Does this opening chapter grab your attention? Are you intrigued to find out where the plot goes from here? I hope so. There will be many exciting twists and turns along the way, as we turn the page to continue reading the greatest story ever told.