In the Beginning
Genesis 1: 1-3 (NRSVA)
1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.
Before time existed, God existed from eternity to eternity, having no beginning and no end. Thus, verse 1, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,” refers to the origin of ‘time’ and ‘creation’; however each may be construed. We are not given any description of God, partly because God is unknowable. Indeed, the creation event is revealed as a process involving a series of stages in which God creates heaven and earth. So, we are to learn what God is like by considering what he reveals through his creation, speech, and acts in time and space.
However, the creation account gives us a deep sense of pause, “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.” The earth was in its primaeval chaos, formless and empty. Did hostile powers seek to thwart God (Psalm 74:12-17; Isaiah 27:1)? If so, they were utterly powerless because the Spirit (wind) broods over the chaos. And then look what happens. God speaks, saying: “Let there be light,” and there was light. Again and again, God speaks, and the earth takes shape and is ordered by God. Thus, God brings order out of chaos. God does that, the Spirit moves over the waters, and nothing has shape. It is all chaos, and the Creator God speaks and brings order out of chaos. Out of the formless void come light and shape and colour. Thus, a multi-sensory odyssey begins, and what God creates and the order he brings ‘is very good’ (Genesis 1: 31).
Six years ago, I visited Broken Hill in New South Wales in the middle of the Australian desert. One night I went outside to look at the night sky. I was amazed at the millions, perhaps even billions, of stars in the sky. Unlike Melbourne, where you can rarely see the stars because of cloud cover or pollution, I witnessed the most incredible sight. I was awestruck! I just stood there in timeless wonder, overwhelmed with awe at the beauty of God’s creation.
Lord, overwhelm us with the splendour of your creation. Amen.