We read in this passage: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Some opinions regarding this passage.

First, the question arises: Must Genesis 1:1 be regarded as a superscription or title of the entire narrative of creation, or must this text be regarded as occurring at the very beginning, the first moment of time. If the former be true, then Genesis 1:1 gives us a brief synopsis of that which follows. If the latter be true, then this particular work of God in these two verses precedes all that which follows.

Secondly, others would read Genesis 1:1-3 as follows: In the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth—the earth now was without form and void, etc.; ….then God said, Let there be light. According to this interpretation, in verse 2 the earth as without form and void is presupposed, and was already in existence when God proceeded with the work of creation. That is, the Lord created the heaven and the earth when the earth was without form and void.

In connection with these “explanations” we wish to remark the following. On the one hand, the second interpretation is surely impossible. Presuppose that tire earth, be. it without form and void, was already in existence when the Lord created the heaven and the earth. Why, then, should we read in verse 1 that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth? Was not, according to this interpretation of Genesis 1:1-3, the earth already in existence? Besides, there is no reason whatsoever, grammatically, to interpret Genesis 1:1-3 in such a way that the earth without form and void must be presupposed as already existing before the creation of the heaven and the earth. And, on the other hand, we also reject the first suggested explanation of this passage of Holy Writ. Then we have in verse 1 a brief summary of the creation narrative in Genesis 1 and 2. However, reading these chapters we notice, I am sure, that nothing more is said about the creation of the heavens. How, then, can verse 1 be a summary of Genesis 1 and 2 when nothing is said in these chapters of the creation or existence of the heavens?

But one possible interpretation remains.

“In the beginning” must refer then to the very first moment in history, the first moment of the first hour of the first day, etc. That God, “in the beginning,” created the heavens and the earth means or refers to that act of God when He, at the very beginning, made in principle, the heavens and the earth. Then the material was formed, the basic substance. And also at that moment time was created.

Even so, however, Genesis 1:1-2 teaches us several interesting things.

First, this world as it exists in time had a beginning. We need not again enter into a detailed discussion of the tremendous truth that the world, the world as we see and know it, had a beginning. That the Lord “in the beginning” created the heavens and the earth surely implies that before that moment nothing was in existence. We merely wish to repeat that Gen. 1:1-2, therefore, denies an eternal substance; an eternal materialism or matter; it denies that God merely formed things and did not create them, that the Lord simply worked with a substance already present. Before this beginning, therefore, there was nothing, and whatever exists was called into being by God’s almighty and creative word.

Secondly, this “beginning” was also created by God. The Lord here created time. Time, we have already remarked in this series of articles, is not to be confused with, is not a part, be it ever so small, of eternity. Eternity is not endless time. It is not true, therefore, that God “waited” until finally this particular moment arrived before He began to call the heavens and the earth into existence. Time itself is a creature, created by God, and may be defined as the peculiar and necessary mode of existence for the creature, that which is created by the Lord. The creature is characterized by time. It constitutes his peculiar mode of existence. The creature is characterized by development and change, goes ever and irresistibly forward. Time, which we cannot see or hear or feel or touch, is that mysterious and real “thing” which causes us to move ever forward, causes us to advance from year to year, subjecting us constantly to change and development. When the Lord, therefore, in “the beginning” created the heavens and the earth, He also created that beginning, called Time into existence.

Thirdly, that God created the heavens and the earth “in the beginning” also implies, therefore, not only that the world began, but also that it began, and that for that very reason the universe now stood at the beginning of a certain process and development. To be sure, the original creation of the Lord was also characterized by a marvelous oneness, unity. Fact is, God created the heavens and the earth. The one God, therefore, is the supreme creator of all things. Presently, having created at the first moment of history (and that first moment included) all things substantially and basically, the Lord will proceed to call into existence, out of that lump, as it were, an amazing variety of creatures, in the heavens above and upon the earth beneath and in the waters under the earth. This does not mean, we understand, that all these creatures will simply assume their own peculiar form, that the things of themselves will develop in their own strength; but they will be called into being by the same almighty and irresistible and creative word of the living God. And, created by the one God, these creatures will be characterized by an amazing unity. They will be wonderfully adapted to each other, to serve one another, and together they will reach their apex in man, and, in man, the living God, so that all things, in and through man, will serve and glorify the living God.

But, this “beginning” also implies that God’s creation stood upon the threshold of a history, and that it was adapted to serve that divine purpose of the Lord. This means that the creation of the world was adapted to run the course of suffering and death, of sin and grace, of darkness and light which the Lord had sovereignly willed before the foundation of the world. Indeed, that all things were created good, according to the word of the Lord in Gen. 1:31, does not merely imply that all things were created without defect (this is also true), but also that the creature was adapted unto the purpose which God had sovereignly ordained so that it could become the sphere of the fearful struggle between light and darkness, life and death, righteousness and unrighteousness, the seed of the serpent and the Seed of the woman. This, we understand, does not apply to the creature as it shall enter into the eternal glory. The heavenly Jerusalem shall be characterized by immorality, and this means not only that we shall never again die, but also that we shall never again be able to die. Immortality, however, was not characteristic of the original creation; it stood at the beginning of history; and it was adapted to serve the purpose of the Lord also as far as the struggle between light and darkness, life and death was concerned. This glorious truth alone can comfort us also in connection with the awful phenomenon of sin and death, of misery and woe, of the fact that this world at present is one huge vale of tears. God alone is at the helm and He created the heavens and the earth exactly with a view to these things.

For this reason we may also declare that God created the heavens and the earth as a symbol of the heavenly renewal of all things. The first man was surely lord of the earthly creation under God, servant of the Lord, God’s covenant-friend, the Lord’s prophet-priest-king to know the Lord and to proclaim His virtues and declare the name of the living God. However, he was of the earth earthy, the first Adam, and surely a figure of Him who was to come, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord out of heaven, Immanuel, the second Adam, the second Adam also in the sense that He is the end, the final Adam, unto whom the first Adam was adapted. As such he is a figure of the Christ, of Him in whom man would be recreated to serve Jehovah God in immortality, in blessed, heavenly life, never again to die and never again to be able to die. And not only is Adam a figure of the second Adam that was to come, but also all things are a figure of the things that are to come. The earthly Paradise is a figure of the heavenly, also as far as the tree of life is concerned which stood in the midst of the garden. That tree of life was Adam’s sanctuary where the first man exercised fellowship with the living God. And the fact that that tree stood in the midst of the garden emphasizes the truth that the blessed fellowship and communion with the Lord constituted for Adam the very heart and core of the original Paradise. And when we read that the tree of life also appears in the very midst of the heavenly Jerusalem, the implication is surely that also of the heavenly Jerusalem the fellowship and communion with the Lord is the very heart and center. Yea, the entire creation was one tremendous symbol of the heavenly; in fact, the universe speaks one tremendous symbolic language. In the world of colors we have such colors as red, white, blue, etc., which colors occur repeatedly in Holy Writ, also in connection with the tabernacle and temple of the Old Dispensation. That the numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12 and their various combinations have significance in Holy Writ none would deny. The sun is a mighty symbol of the sun of righteousness, the moon and the stars symbolize the Church of the living God. Among the animals we have the lion, the lamb, the sheep, the eagle, etc. We are all acquainted with the symbol of the seed that must die in order to bring forth its fruit, of the bread and the water and the wine. The calm night, the stormy night, the calm and the stormy sea speak a language with which we are all more or less familiar. Attention could also be called to the various relationships in human life, that of the father and his son, of the mother and her daughter, of the employer and his employee, of the bride and the bridegroom, etc. All things were created as a mighty symbolism of the heavenly and better Jerusalem. Indeed, in the beginning the Lord created the heavens and the earth, and this surely implies that the universe was perfectly adapted unto the unfolding of God’s eternal counsel.

This truth is also emphasized in a text as John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Notice particularly in this text: In the beginning was the Word. We do not read: Before the beginning, but: In the beginning. To be sure, this “word” is the everlasting and eternal Son of God, and as such He is before the beginning of the world. But the ord of John 1:1-3 is also the Christ, who is, to be sure, the eternal Son of God, but also the blessed Savior and head of His Church. This is He of whom we read in Col. 1:15-20: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things, in earth, or things in heaven.” This Christ is the firstborn of every creature. In God’s eternal counsel He stands at the center; all things serve Him. Supralapsaristically, He is before all things; sin and misery and death are sovereign means in God’s good pleasure, with a view to Christ, the glorious head of the Church. That Word was “in the beginning”—that is, when God created the heavens and the earth, He did so with a view to Christ. Christ is not merely a remedy, one who simply does what Adam could have done but failed to do. Christ is God’s eternal objective. The earthly was first historically, but the heavenly is the Goal. Adam was first, historically, but he must prepare the way for the second Adam, and the Lord made all things so they could serve the heavenly renewal of all things in heavenly glory. This truth we must constantly bear in mind. Then nothing happens by chance. And if nothing happens by chance, but all things occur, also sin and death, according and by the sovereign will of the everlasting God, then all is well, and the Church of God may have at all times the perfect and unspeakably glorious assurance that she is always more than conqueror through Him that loved her, the everlasting God in Jesus Christ her Lord. We have then the victory, not only in spite of all the forces of sin and death, but also through them, inasmuch as the Lord uses all things unto our eternal salvation, also the sin of Adam and the subsequent fall and corruption and death of the human race.