The first book of the Bible.
The first book of the Pentateuch.
There is so much foundational information contained within this book that to simply skim it or breeze through it would cause any of us to miss out on what is being built upon here in Genesis.
We have first and foremost God’s creating the entire universe from nothing by His divine speech. What a summary statement – a prologue – that begins our journey into the self-disclosure of God! In the beginning, God created. The Hebrew verb "bara" used there is only ever used of God in describing His creative activity. No one else has the power to bring forth tangible matter out of nothing, although there are some today who seem to think that they can speak things into existence. What a sad travesty and insult to the omnipotent God!
This summary statement also begins the polemic against the Ancient Near Eastern cultures and religions of that time, which had such competing stories such as the Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh Epic. These stories were rival accounts of creation and the flood that displayed the activity of the gods of these false religions. But if you read these stories, you will see that the gods of these religions are impersonal, selfish, and only really concerned about themselves and the offerings that the human beings “presented” to them (Ps 115:4-8).
Not so with our God! Our God is personal and has given us a selfless example to follow in His Son, Jesus Christ (Php 2:1-11).
These gods are also not as powerful as they are made out to be. In the account of the flood in the Gligamesh Epic, the gods cannot control the flood, nor can they control the outcome. In their lack of wisdom, they destroy humankind and now cannot receive the sacrifices that they depend on.
Not so with our God! Our God is sovereign and rules over His creation with knowledge, wisdom, and power. All of creation is by His design and for His purposes (Ps 115:1-3).
And so begins the painting of a beautiful panoramic picture which will display God in all of his splendor, and reveal a plan of redemption which will span the lengths of time.
Here is our God, before a void and formless canvas, a dark and chaotic atmosphere and yet He is unfazed and unmoved. He is not intimidated, nor is there any concern in His mind.
He simply speaks.
And it is so.
The darkness must give way to the light. It will do the same thing in the end when we witness the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21-22). And so now God begins by using the first three days to form what was once formless: sky, land, and sea. You have to see the awesome display of God’s wisdom here, because what He forms will be the “arenas” in which the void will be filled in the next three days: sun, moon, stars, and birds in the sky, fish and other creatures in the sea, cattle and other animals on the land. Is that not amazing?
But it also tells us something else of God. He is a God of order. He is a rational God. He does not do things by impulse, nor does He do things randomly. Everything that He does is for a reason and for a purpose. There are many micro-purposes, which take place within creation, some that we can see and others that we cannot, but ultimately His main purpose for all He does is for His glory. Here in the book of Genesis, we see the beginnings of His plan in the heavens and the earth: that they be filled entirely and completely with His glory (Num 14:21; Ps 57:11; Ps 72:19; Isa 6:3; Hab 2:14).
If that is His ultimate plan, then what is any of His creation to rise up against Him in any form or fashion, especially His crowning creation, mankind?
As Bruce Waltke so put it, “The finite mortal, whose understanding of the cosmos and history is like a thimble of water before the ocean, has no right to challenge the Creator’s sovereignty; God fashions the creation, including earthly mortals, according to His wisdom and good pleasure, even as a potter fashions clay vessels (Job 10:9; Isa 45:9; Jer 18:6; Rom 9:20-21 et al.). In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:24-28).
We would do well to consider the deeper implications of this summary statement and first few verses of the creation account as our feet strike His earth day to day, as our faces are warmed and lighted by His sun, and as our bodies are cooled by His wind, among the many other aspects of His creative display of power for His glory and His glory alone. Amen.