Sunday, September 6, 2015

Expository Look at Genesis 1:1

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

Of first importance is when this happened. "In the beginning." If we comb through the Word of God, we see two distinct "beginnings" mentioned. The first is here, but it may surprise you that this beginning isn't the one that first occurred.

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word ...

It is worth noting that these are two different beginnings. The Genesis beginning refers, as one might easily deduce, at the start of all things and is in fact the catalyst for all things to follow. John's beginning is different though, in that it refers not to an event, but rather to an era or rather to Eternity Past, that infinite point which was before time began.

Now the Johannan beginning only became the beginning once there was a pointilliar event which occurred at some instance within eternity, dividing eternity past from eternity future. This event is called Creation. And so we get two beginnings.

But we are in Genesis today and that is where we ought first to look. But I do think it is worth considering that God preexisted the beginning of Creation, which is of course evidenced by both Genesis and John - in the beginning God and in the beginning was the Word ...

So what did God do? Well for eternity past, God enjoyed fellowship within Himself, the perfect triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And then at no external printing, God began to create.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

The heavens. There are at least three heavens which were created in the beginning, as evidenced by 2 Corinthians 12:2

2 Corinthians 12:2 
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

Notice Paul's use of the phrase third heaven?

So what are the three heavens? Are there more than three? Let's take a look.

According to ancient Jewish beliefs, there are seven. This is explained in the Talmud. But that isn't the Bible, so we can't depend on it for these purposes. Three it is.

Traditionally, the three heavens referenced in Scripture are:
1. Terrestrial - the air we breathe and the sky;
2. Celestial - outer space;
3. Ethereal - the abode of the angels, God etc.

But Jews didn't believe in a spherical earth cosmology. They believed in a flat earth with a vaulted dome sky. And that lends problems to the idea of the second heaven in the sense that we have defined it. This is apparent in Amos:

Amos 9:6
The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The LORD is His name.

We won't go into that today, but we will assume three heavens and leave it at that. The rest is speculative for now.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"

Finally we come to the earth. God created the earth in the beginning along with the Heavens. This flies in the face of cosmic evolutionary thinking which posits that the universe preexisted the earth by billions of years. We have here an apparent simultaneous creation of the heavens and the earth. But we'll unpack that next time.

The first verse of the Bible is something of a thesis. It gives us information on what we will soon read. Verses 1:2-2:3 give us a closer look at the information in 1:1 and 2:4-25 gives us further insight on 1:27-31. But we aren't there yet.

For now, let us think on this:

Psalm 24:1 
A Psalm of David. 
The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.

And why is it The Lord's? Because He created it. We'll look into more next week as we unpack verse 2. 

[NOTE: All Bible verses and passages used are from the New American Standard Version. Used with permission.]

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