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In The Beginning

These first three words in scripture are vital and need qualifying to set the stage for what follows. The question we should immediately ask is: In the beginning of what? The answer is supplied: in the beginning, or genesis (Heb. Genesit), of “the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1: 1). The title of the book itself, “Genesis,” Hebrew: genesit, meaning, “origins, beginnings,” informs us that the account contained therein involves the history of mankind and the world God created to be his dwelling place.

bible verse

Notice what this verse does not teach. It does not teach that God is the beginning, although He is called “the beginning and the ending” in Revelation 1: 8, a way of saying God is eternal. The origin of God is not in view here but rather the origin of “the heaven and the earth.” In fact, God’s existence is presupposed from the outset by the author: “In the beginning God…” There He is, the Great “I am.” No attempt is made to prove God’s existence. He simply is and was present “in the beginning” when He created “the heaven and the earth.”

“God created the heaven and the earth.”

     Many overlook the qualifying aspect of this first verse and quickly move to verse 3 where they suppose God’s first creative work takes place (e.g., the gap theorists). But in this they do err. What was created first? The answer is immediate: “the heaven and the earth.” When were they created? Answer: “In the beginning.” Who created them? Answer: “God.” The phrase, “In the beginning” marks the starting point of our “genesis.” “The heaven and the earth”
are naturally mentioned first as they are necessary to host the creation of God which follows.

     But what “heaven” is the author referring to in verse one? There are three “heavens” in scripture: (1) earth’s immediate atmosphere; (2) outer space (i.e., galaxy or universe); (3) the dwelling place, or kingdom, of God. We can dismiss the latter outright because God’s kingdom is not in view. We can also eliminate the first, for this “heaven” was not created until day two. This leaves us with only one possibility – the second heaven, or outer space. This makes sense since the earth was not created in a vacuum. Our galaxy, perhaps even our universe, was created on day one so the earth could be hung therein. Job 26: 7 tells us that “He (God) stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

      “The heaven (singular) and the earth” were created together on day one. Yet, so-called science claims the universe is 17 billion years old and the earth 4.5 billion years old. Whether “the heaven” refers to our immediate galaxy or the universe is not important. The statement we just read in Job suggests that space was “empty” (Heb. tohu). To “stretch out” is an expression used of pitching a tent for the purpose of being occupied. Occupied by what you ask? Answer: first the earth, followed by the sun, moon, and stars. (See Gen. 1: 16). The Book of Job mentions the major constellations created on day four as we shall see in a moment. Interestingly, the largest of these constellations, Hydra, appears in our northern sky which Job declares God “stretched out.” Psalm 104: 2 says that it is God “who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” As we shall see in a moment, by day four earth was no longer alone in “the empty place” (i.e., “the heaven”).

     Read Job 38: 4-12. In this narrative God challenges Job to explain, as if that were even possible, His power and authority in creation. Not surprisingly, God begins in verse 4 with this question: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? He continues His line of questioning referring to the sea, the clouds, and the sunrise. God’s own account of creation begins with the earth, within creation week itself, not outside, and in the exact order found in Genesis!

     Within the first sentence of scripture, we find the answers to the who and when of creation. The, how, is forthcoming.

“Let there be light”

            The creation of light on day one was necessary to form the light half of the day.  Notice that the dark half preceded the light.  (See verse 2).  If a day consists of 24 hours, and the evening (dark portion) precedes the morning (light portion), then the...

“And God said”

            I used to think, like many today, that day one of creation began with the creation of light.  Why?  Because here for the first time we find the phrase, “Let there be” – a phrase conspicuously absent in verse 1.  This has led many to conclude that creation...

“And darkness was upon the face of the deep”

            Darkness can be defined as the absence of light.  There is no need to read anything sinister into the narrative as if darkness symbolized evil of some sort.  The important role “darkness” played in creating the first 24-hour day will be made evident...

“And the earth was without form and void”

            We are still in day one of creation.  Notice the description here of the earth the moment God brought it into existence.  The expression, “without form and void,” means the earth was empty (Heb. tohu), void, desolate, lifeless, and formless.  The earth was...


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