In The Beginning God (part 1)
A God with no Beginning
Genesis 1:1, which contains seven words in the Hebrew, states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” With profound brevity and without any fanfare, these seven words give us a very simple, clear, and unequivocal account of the seven days of creation and of how everything in the heavens and the earth came into existence. There is nothing ambiguous about Genesis 1:1.
- Kent Hughes wrote, “What we know about God, about creation, about ourselves, and about salvation begins in Genesis.” He added that “Genesis” is the perfect title because this book gives us the genesis (the beginning) of the doctrine of God, which rose to tower high over the pagan notions of the day. It is the genesis of the doctrine of creation, which likewise rose far above the crude mythologies of the surrounding nations. Genesis gives us the doctrine of man, demonstrating from the beginning that we are both fearfully and wonderfully made. (cf. Psalm 139:14). The doctrine of salvation also has its genesis in Eden (Genesis 3:15) and its grand development throughout the whole book.
Genesis describes for us the beginning of everything except God, who has no beginning. The surrounding nations had their own creation accounts. But they also had accounts of how their gods were created. By contrast, Israel has never tried to explain the origins of God (Yahweh). God has always been; and before He created, He was alone. That God spoke the universe into existence ex nihilo was a radical and new concept for the nations of the ancient Near East.
The Author of Genesis
The Bible clearly affirms that Moses was the author of the first five books commonly called the Pentateuch. Consider the following verses
- Exodus 17:14, “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial….””
- Deuteronomy 31:24, “It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were finished.” (See also Joshua 8:31; 2Kings 14:6).
- Romans 10:5, “For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.” (See also 2Corinthians 3:15).
Very importantly, Jesus Himself confirmed Mosaic authorship in John 5:45-47. Jesus said to the Jews, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
In keeping with His promise to Abraham, God delivered (redeemed) the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and brought them into the promised land of Canaan (Exodus 6:6-8). Moses wrote so that the Israelites would come to know their God, their history, and their identity as Yahweh’s covenant people. He wanted the Israelites to know that the God of their covenant community is THE God who is the Creator of the Cosmos. But in his writing, Moses would also dismantle and reveal the futility of the beliefs of the surrounding nations about God, creation, man, etc. Moses’ pattern would follow what God did when He sent the ten plagues upon Egypt. Each plague was an attack upon and destruction of an Egyptian god at the hands of the one true living God.
It is important to note that when Moses wrote he was actually penning Scripture, and he was writing under Divine revelation and inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” In the context, “all Scripture” refers to the Old Testament. Simply put, Moses wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 119: 160 says, “The sum of Your word is truth.” Jesus said in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” Moses wrote God’s word. Moses wrote God’s truth. Moses described God as the God of truth. (Deuteronomy 32:4; cf. Isaiah 65:16). Psalm 138:2 says, “You (LORD) have magnified Your word according to all Your name.” Therefore, we owe to the Scriptures, which is truth, the same reverence as we owe to God, who is truth. The application to Genesis is that we should accept the plain, straightforward reading of the Genesis text as a reliable account of the historical events that resulted in the creation of the world that we live in because the account was revealed to Moses by God.
Genesis 1:1- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
After this brief introduction, our study begins in Genesis 1:1. The Bible begins with the God who has revealed Himself. Psalm 9:16 says, “The LORD has made Himself known.” God has revealed Himself by general and special revelation. (See articles: Canst Thou by Searching Find God? Parts 1 & 2). God has not hidden Himself. God is not silent. God has manifested Himself. God has spoken. Genesis 1:1 introduces us to this speaking God who is the eternal, sovereign, all-powerful, wise Creator.
“In the beginning” marks for us the beginning of time and inauguration of history; the history of the world and the history of mankind. There is no pre-history, that is, no history beyond this beginning. Whatever is before the beginning is eternal. Only God is eternal and exists in the eternal. The verse indicates that time began when God began to create the heavens and the earth.
“In the beginning God.” As noted already, the Bible begins with God. God is the subject of the very first sentence in the Bible. This God is not an abstract idea. The God who is revealed speaks and acts. The Bible does not begin by trying to prove the origin and/or existence of God. The Bible simply declares, “In the beginning God.” In the beginning God was already there. It is important to note God did the same with Abraham. He just appeared to Abraham and commanded him. (Genesis 12:1ff.) And God did basically the same with Moses in Exodus 3. It is for this reason Hebrews 11:6 says, “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 seek Him.”
The name of God used here is the Hebrew word Elohim. The name Elohim is plural. But the verb “created” is singular. This is neither accidental nor an illustration of Moses’ poor grammar. This is God’s revelation. In the very first verse of the Bible God indicates to us that there is plurality in the one God. Kent Hughes wrote, “Remarkably, the mystery of the Holy Trinity is embedded in the first three Hebrew words of the text.” The name of God, Elohim, dominates the first chapter, appearing 35 times from Genesis 1:1 – 2:3.
The Bible is very clear on the fact that the God who revealed Himself to Israel and to the world is one. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD (Yahweh) is our God (Elohim), the LORD (Yahweh) is one.” Jesus would quote this verse in Mark 12:29. 1Corinthians 8:4 says, “there is no God but one.” (cf. Galatians 3:30; 1Timothy 2:5). But this one God is a Trinity or Tri-unity. The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To put it another way, God is one in essence (being) and three in person. The Triune God was at work in creation. (cf. Genesis 1:2; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:1-2).
(Continued in part 2.)