Thinking Through Genesis 1:1 and its Significance

Keith Crosby 

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Ten words in English and only seven words in the original Hebrew. But what do they mean? I don't mean "what is the meaning of these words." I mean "what do they mean for you?"

Because the Hebrew grammar is in narrative form, it is a given that this is a historical account. I'm not here to discuss theistic evolution, young earth, old earth, etc... Read any commentator, Christian or Jewish, saved or secular and those who work in the original language will tell you that the account is in narrative form, whether or not they accept the inspiration of Scripture, or the authority of the Bible. Most credible evangelical theologians will tell you that if Genesis 1-3 are allegorical, then there was no original sin and therefore no need for a Savior---and the cross becomes allegorical or irrelevant. With that said, let's return to our original question.

What does Genesis 1:1 mean for the average person, Christian or non-Christian, eternally speaking? Often we gloss over passages or verses like this without too much thought. Genesis 1:1 says a lot about our world, our life, and our future---no to mention our worldview.

The first five English words (in the Beginning God created) imply significant realities.  For example, God exists independently of and from His creation. God always was, is, and will be; but the time, matter, and space continuum has not always existed, having a definite beginning point, just like it will have a definite ending point (cf Revelation and the Minor Prophets). God does not depend on His creation. It adds nothing to His existence. He simply chose to create it.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" rules out Pantheism. Pantheism is the idea that all is God and God is in all the creation. This is something like the idea of "mother earth," or earth worship. Genesis 1:1 speaks to the transcendence of God. He is bigger than the universe. The universe can't contain Him. He is separate from His creation.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" rules out naturalism and materialism. Genesis 1:1 invalidates the idea that all that we see is all that there is (materialism). Genesis 1:1 rules out naturalism, the idea that all we see occurred by natural rather than supernatural processes. Creation is no accident. It was purposeful and involved thought and design. Moreover, matter was created from nothing. Genesis 1:1 does not say "in the beginning God glued together and formed the heavens and the earth."

Speaking of naturalism, Genesis 1:1 rules out atheism. After all God created. No God, no creation. The idea that all this just happened apart from Divine activity. When you look around, God's 'fingerprints' are on everything. Everywhere you look at the structure, order, and pattern---and beauty of Creation speaks to the existence of the Creator. Looking at your house, you see evidence of those who designed and built it. The same is true of Genesis 1:1 and the pattern and order of the universe.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" rules out polytheism. Polytheism is the belief in many gods (like Hinduism and Mormonism and many indigenous religions). A single God created all that we see, including humanity (including you and me). A single God owns everything.

Genesis 1:1 rules out moral autonomy. You and I are neither accidents or freaks of nature. We are intentional and purposeful creations. We have a Creator, or rather He has us. He owns us. He made us for a reason. Our Creator owns us. We are beholden to Him for our existence. He has plans for us. We have a purpose.

People deny God's existence with some reason (not a good reason) in mind. To acknowledge and admit His existence is to acknowledge and admit our accountability to Him. He rightfully has a say in what we think, what we do, how we are, and what we say. Romans 1:1-24 informs us that men and women deliberately suppress the reality of His existence in a futile attempt to live life without Him.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" points us to our Creator. Genesis 1:1 also points us to the rest of the Bible. You see the Bible is God's love letter to us. It, among other things, is a record of His dealings with mankind and mankind's betrayal of God. The Bible tells us who we are, who God is, how God is, His plans and expectations for us, and His requirements for us. It also tells us that God wants to restore the relationship we can have with Him and tells us how.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" points us to the Bible. You should spend some time there. That way, you'll come to know God in a saving eternal destiny changing way through Jesus Christ. Also, it shows us how to grow closer. Are you close to God?

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