After four long years of research and writing, I have finally finished the rough draft of my book, In the Beginning . . . God: A Focused Study in Genesis 1-11. I want to share part of the first chapter with you. Be looking for the book to be completed before September 1, only a few weeks away.
The best place to begin is in the beginning. It is no coincidence the book of Genesis is placed first in the canon of Holy Scripture for it tells of the beginning of all things. It is the foundational book of the entire Bible and without a proper understanding of this book, much would be lost.
The story of the earth and her people, their purpose, and their destiny is summed up in the book of beginnings we call Genesis. It is God’s story for all mankind. The Apostle Paul states in Romans 3:4, “…yea, let God be true, but every man a liar . . . . “
Man has tried to discount the writings of this book through any means possible, through attacks on its historicity, through attacks on its scientific accuracy, through discrediting archeological discoveries and more. Still, God’s Word remains – and it remains true.
To admit the accuracy of this book demands we are creatures responsible to our Creator, the Living God. To dismiss the truth of Genesis is is to dismiss our responsibility to God. We may dismiss that responsibility, but God does not remove it. We will all stand before Him and give an account of our lives.
There seems to be a high-interest today in discovering our ancestry. My father was this. My mother was that. So, what does that make me? I take a DNA test. It shows me my father was more than this, my mother, more than that. I’m of the Heinz 57 variety.
This information is nice to know, I suppose, but what about our spiritual DNA – DNA that speaks of our purpose in life. DNA that shapes us for all eternity. DNA that works out our very destiny. Luke mentions in Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
God purchased His church with His own blood. That blood runs deep. His blood runs as deep as Genesis 1:1, for, in the beginning, God already had a plan to redeem His fallen creation. The question ultimately becomes, do you have God’s blood running through your spiritual veins? It’s nice to know where I’ve been, but it is much more important to know where I am and where I am going.
The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which we must build. The original Greek word for foundation, θεμέλιος (themelios), means something put down, that is, a substructure (of a building, etc.)
The purpose of a foundation is two-fold. 1.) to hold up the main structure, and 2.) to hold together the structure above it. If a foundation is properly laid first, it increases the amount of abuse a structure can take and remain safe for the people and objects inside. Jesus Christ is that Foundation.
Paul again says in II Timothy 2:11, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure . . . .” We are completely safe when we are resting on the Foundation. When our lives are built upon the Foundation we will strive for, and accomplish great things for God.
To fully understand our spiritual ancestry, we must follow the DNA back to the beginning. The veins run deep and the foundation is sure, but it has its beginning in the book of Genesis.
The title of the book, Genesis, would appear to be a transliteration from the Greek word γένεσις, meaning “Origin”; The first book of the Hebrew Tanakh, בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bərēšīṯ) literally means “In [the] beginning”.
Genesis is a book of beginnings and firsts. We see the beginning of creation, the beginning of the human race, the beginning of sin. We find within its chapters the first lie, the first murder, the first hint of a redeemer.
This wonderful book was humanly written by God’s man, Moses, as were Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The time was about 1445 B.C. We are told in I Kings 6:1, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”
We know that the fourth year of Solomon’s reign was about 966 B.C. 480 years before that would give us the date of approximately 1445 B.C. The book of Judges adds some more information concerning the date. Judges 11:26 asks the question, “While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?”
The book of Judges was written sometime between 1045-1000 B.C. Adding the 300 years to the time of the writing of Judges gets us close to 1445. While no one can know the exact date, and biblical scholars differ from time to time, we can assume it was during this time period (1300-1445 B.C.) that Moses wrote the tremendous book of Genesis.
God is consistent with Himself. He tells us in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not; . . .” The writer of Hebrews underscores the fact by telling us that, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
What we need to see is that this book of Genesis has as much purpose, meaning, and practicality today as it did 3,500 years ago.
Moses writes in Genesis 1:5, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” We see that light was created on the first day. We’ll take a deeper look at that later, but for this to take place, other events necessarily had to take place first.
It is in the first verse of the first chapter of the first book that we find these initial events. After all, Genesis is the book of beginnings, of firsts. There is no better place to start than in the beginning.
When teaching the book of Genesis to a class, I often remind the students that to be in the beginning, one must be before the beginning. If one is late for class, he is not present in the beginning of class. To be in the beginning of anything, you must be before the beginning.
And so it is with creation. The phrase, In the beginning, indicates at least two things. First, someone or something previously existed. As Christians, we understand that God existed before the beginning of creation. We are told in Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, . . .”I am certainly not advocating that God is a creature from outer space, an alien. That simply isn’t the case, but we must recognize the fact that God is from another dimension – a dimension we know little about. It’s called eternity.
Eternity has neither a starting point nor an end. Time does not exist in eternity. There is no beginning. That is a very hard concept for us to grasp as creatures of time. Nevertheless, there is a dimension where time does not exist, and that dimension is eternity.
Secondly, “In the beginning” is a reference to time. “In the beginning [of time] God created . . . ”
What exactly is time? According to The Free Dictionary time is “A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession on from the past through the present to the future.”
It takes roughly ten minutes to travel to the grocery store from my house. As I leave point A going in the direction of point B, I am traveling through space, approximately six miles. I am also traveling through time, a period of about ten minutes.
Space and time are a continuum that seemingly goes on without end. For God to create all that He had in mind, He first had to create time.
In the beginning, God was before time, and He created time. Although an atheist, even the world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking says, “All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning.” (http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html)1
In the beginning God created the heaven . . .” After the creation of time, It was necessary for God to first create a location in which to place His creation – the heaven.
The word heaven is plural in the original Hebrew language. It is the same Hebrew word translated heavens in Psalm 19:1. There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible. The first heaven is that of the birds and clouds. We read about this in Daniel 4:12 and Matthew 6:28. It is the sky where airplanes fly, and from where rain falls.
The second heaven is where God planted the sun, moon, and stars – outer space. This is referred to in Psalm 19:1;
The third heaven is God’s throne. It is mentioned in II Corinthians 12:2 and Revelation 21:1, 2. I have heard that scientists have discovered an empty place in space void of stars, constellations, and galaxies several billion miles past the north star. Although I have not been able to verify this, it does fit the biblical description of the third heaven, the place where God dwells.
So what is space? It is “The infinite extension of the three-dimensional region in which all matter exists; The expanse in which the solar system, stars, and galaxies exists; the universe” (thefreedictionary.com)2
Please note that even though God created the heaven, the expanse we call space, it was not until the fourth day of creation that He filled it.
Next, God created the earth – matter. At this time, the earth was basically a ball of water. Dry land did not appear until day three of the creation model.
So what is matter? Once again, we turn to thefreedictionary.com. Matter is defined as “That which occupies space and has mass; physical substance.” (thefreedictionary.com)3
It is interesting to consider the Apostle John’s statement in I John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;”
“From the beginning” can be translated before the beginning. He goes on to say that his eyes have seen and his hands have handled. He is describing matter – a physical manifestation of the Lord. That physical manifestation is located in space.
Jesus has entered our dimension to identify with man and to offer His life, a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He, who was before time, entered time and space and took on a physical body for the purpose of calling His lost creation back to Himself.