George C. Lubbers is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
It has been said by very astute and studious, scholarly saints that he who preaches well on Genesis 1:1 also preaches well on Revelation 22:18-22. He preaches the Alpha and Omega, the Lord God Almighty. He preaches Christ Who is yesterday, today, and forever the same.
We heartily agree!
Such preaching is the true application of the Reformation principle of the Sola Scriptura.
Genesis 1:1 is the revelation of God, the Creator of heaven and earth. It is a basic Article of the Christian faith. Fact is, that unless this Article is believed with the heart and confessed with the mouth we cannot be saved in Christ Jesus. He who denies the creation of the world by God has re jetted the very foundation of all pure religion before God the Father.
Scripture teaches us that it is by faith that we understand that the worlds (the ages = tous aioonous) were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen are not made of things which appear (Heb. 11:3). By faith we believe what God the Creator, our Father in heaven, tells us as to the wonder of the “becoming” of the heavens and the earth.
Such is our vantage-point of faith. Yes, such is our vantage-point of hope in the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, which shall be realized by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the death. With this hope in our hearts we open our Bibles and we read in glad anticipation of hope that He Who created the heavens and the earth in the beginning with all that are in them, all the hosts, will also one day usher in a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness shall dwell (II Peter 3:13). CompareIsaiah 60:21; Isaiah 66:22.
Yes, here in Genesis 1:1 we do have a revelation of the “beginning” of Gods works; but here is also the foundation laid for the “ending” of Gods works in the eternal Sabbath, when the Tabernacle of God shall be with men. Truly, rightly considered, we have inGenesis 1:1 an overview of history as it unfolds till the time when all of the present earth shall perish and vanish away (Ps. 102:25 ff.; Heb. 1:10-12). Do we not read of this heaven and earth, which the LORD did lay in the beginning, “they shall perish; but Thou continuest, and they shall all wax old as a garment, and they shall be changed, but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail”?
Yes, here we already have a prophetic perspective of all of history, as the unfolding of the counsel of God; here is already the more sure prophetic word which shines more and more unto the perfect day. Let it never be overlooked or forgotten that Moses penned these words as a part of the “Law” which he gave to Israel, the “Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). He is not standing here on the morn of creation, when he pens these words, but he is standing in the midst of the church as the “man of God.” He is standing on the mount Sinai, where the tabernacle of God was planted, and where the passover was kept, and where the glory of God had filled the Tabernacle from off the mercy-seat (Ex. 40:34).
Here in the wilderness Moses wrote Psalm 90:1-4. In the Spirit of Christ (I Pet. 1:11) Moses addresses the great Adonai, Lord of the universe. And he confesses in deepest reverence that this Jehovah-Adonai has been the “dwelling-place” of the church in all “generations.” Moses’ gaze in the Spirit goes back across the history of the world up till this point. It is a time of over two thousand years of the generations of the church. And this is the church which the Son of God fathers, defends, and preserves from the beginning of the world to the end out of the entire human race, a church elected unto everlasting life, gathered in the unity of faith. (Heid. Catechism, Ques. 54; Eph. 1:1-5; I Peter 1:19-21).
What a vision of Moses in Psalm 90:1-4!
It reaches beyond the “beginning” into eternity. Yes, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the (inhabitable) world, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God! (Ps. 90:1, 2).
This is the Moses that also writes Genesis 1:1!
Here the Holy Spirit gives us commentary of Genesis 1:1. And it is infallible Poetry, in which we see something of the reaches of eternity “before the foundation of the world.”
The Jews called the entire book which we call “Genesis” by the name bereeshith. This really meant the “head” of all things. It was also the designation of the “firstfruits,” and the “firstborn” (Gen. 49:3). In Proverbs 8:22 it refers to the firstfruits of things created by God. This is in line with the thought of Revelation 3:14 where Christ calls Himself the “beginning of the creation of God.” (Compare Colossians 1:15-17.) In the Septuagint translation the term is translated “Genesis.” We do not consider it going far afield to see here in Genesis 1:1the first rays of what Matthew writes, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ.” This thought, as we hope to point out here subsequently, is further expressed in Exodus 2:4: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth . . . .”
It is, however, true that Moses does not at all speak explicitly yet of the Christ, the Seed of the woman. The date of this revelation of Christ as the firstborn of all creatures must wait till after the account of the “Fall” by one man (Gen. 3:1-7; Rom. 5:12-20).
The realization of the eternal hope is wrought by God by means of a good creation of all things in heaven and on earth, all things sanctified into His service on the seventh day; further, by means of the “Fall,” “the transgression” of one man, through which all men are under sin and condemnation; and, lastly, by means of the great redemption and reconciliation of all things in Christ Jesus (Gen. 1:31; Gen. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:12-20; Gen. 3:16, 17; Col. 1:20-22).
Briefly stated this is: Creation-Fall-Recreation!
We do well to pause here a minute and to reflect.
Did God in the beginning really make all things through Christ the “firstborn” of all creatures? Was it in Christ in the womb of the counsel of God that Christ is the center, the beginning of all creatures both in heaven and on earth? We understand full well that the first creature which God made was the “earth void and without form” upon which the Spirit of God brooded, causing it to pulsate with life and the potentiality to be formed in the six days of the creation week into one harmonious Cosmos! But the Spirit could not brood upon this earth were it not for the Word, the Logos in creation. Of this Logos we read in the Gospel of John, chapter 1:1-4. This was the Word which was in the beginning. And this was the Word which was with God, facing God (the preposition in Greek is “pros”), and the Word which was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made which was made.
Here the vistas of the Divine thoughts and of the revelation of them are opened to us. Yes, here we see wondrous things out of Gods Word. The glory of God shines in every creature of God as His handiwork. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard (Ps. 19:1-4). Yes, their line is gone out through all the world!
Here we see set before our eyes the “manifestation” of the Eternal Wisdom, the personal Wisdom (Chokmah) of Proverbs 8:1, 11, 12 etc. This is especially true in what we read in Proverbs 8:22-31. We do well to take our Bible and read this section carefully and repeatedly and with a devout heart and mind. For here the depths are sounded by the Holy Spirit concerning the “deep things of God.” The vail is lifted upon this already in the Old Testament by the Spirit, and we get to see something of the glories revealed in the Prologue of John’s Gospel. Yes, the Word waswith God, as God.
Could it be said better than in Proverbs 8:22 ff.? “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way” (the first of His works of old), or better translated “before His works of old.” And Proverbs continues, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was.” Yes, when God had not yet made anything, neither earth nor heaven, then the Wisdom, the Logos, was with Him! Writes the Personal Wisdom, “I was daily His delight, rejoicing continually before Him, rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth, and my delight was with the sons of men”!
Thus it was in the beginning!
Yea, thus it was before the beginning.
From out of this “before” the beginning arises our daystar of hope, the bright and morning star when all the morning stars sang together! What a gloriousTris-Hagion, Holy, holy, holy to the Lord God Almighty arises from the Counsel of Wisdom.
Here we begin to obtain an inkling of what it means that Christ became for us from God the Wisdom of God in the Cross. Here we take the shoes from off our feet, and humbly confess that this “Wisdom” is not after the Fall ours except in Christ Who has become to us “righteousness, sanctification, and complete redemption” (I Cor. 1:30).
Let us say it together: He that glories, let him glory in the LORD.
For God made all things for His own glory.
Both the first Sabbath of Creation spoken of in Genesis 2:2, and the eternal Sabbath which remains for the children of God, resound with the doxological praises to God.
“Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory, honor, and power: for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).