Of late even the man in the street has become aware of the vastness of space. In fact, even while these lines Of late even the man in the street has become aware are being written, three men are orbiting the moon with a view to another landing upon it. And the man in the street receives the report of their progress, and is told how many miles they are away from us here on this earth. Likewise is the man in the street given much technical information about the distances of space and of plans to go to other heavenly bodies.
We do, then, gather a more detailed knowledge of this great universe which God brought forth, and which had its beginning by the Word of God’s power, than by-gone generations had. Space—and time as well—was created by God in the beginning. The expression in Genesis 1:1, namely, “In the beginning . . .” does not simply mean in the beginning of time, although it is true that time had its beginning and is a creature. It means also that space and all-the creatures which occupy space had their beginning.
We are not to consider Genesis 1:1 to be a summarization of the whole chapter. Some would do that, and state that after the general statement to cover the whole work of creation Moses goes into detail in regard to it. Rather does Genesis 1:1declare that in the beginning God created the chaotic mass of heaven and earth out of which He subsequently would call the other creatures. Only, then, of this original chaotic mass can we say that for Him to create it was to “make something out of nothing.” This cannot be a definition of the work of creation as it was executed after that initial act. What, otherwise, shall we bay, then, of Adam, of Eve, of the beasts of the field, of the fish and the work of creation as it was executed after that fowl, of the plants? Man was created out of something, for he was created out of the dust of the earth. Eve was created out of a rib of Adam, the beasts out of the ground, the fish and fowl out of the water, and the plants out of the earth. Better is Scripture’s own definition: He called into being the things that are not as though they were, Romans 4:17.
But what we wish to present to you at this time is the fact that “In the beginning” means that here we have the initial act of God whereby He brings forth that which will appear in the day of Christ. In the first chapter of the Bible God informs us of the beginning of His work of realizing the glorious kingdom of Christ that is pictured in the last two chapters of the Bible. We must see that. We will not correctly nor fully understand Genesis 1 nor anything that follows in Holy Writ, if we do not see that truth. We must understand that from the moment that God brought the world into being, even as a chaotic mass, He had this goal in mind. Before He created the first heaven and earth, He had the new heaven and earth in mind. This new heaven and earth which are still to come are not an afterthought of God. They are not that which He recreated because His original heaven and earth turned out to be different from what He planned them to be. The first heaven and earth—into both of which sin entered—were meant only as a stepping stone to the new heaven and earth. They were not meant to be permanent but to serve the coming of the eternal heavens and earth.
The truth of this is clearly demonstrated in many passages of Holy Writ. One of the strong and striking passages is Ephesians 1:9, 10, where Paul writes, “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him.” Note that Paul speaks of the fulness of time, which definitely means the end of time, and therefore the time of Christ’s return to this earth. He speaks also of the mystery which is made known. This truth that God would unite all things, the whole vast universe with all that it contains in one Person, namely, in Christ, was not known when the world was created. No one in the Old Testament dispensation saw that. They may have had visions of the Christ being King over all the earth, but never of heaven and earth united under one creature as their king. And at the creation of the heavens and the earth this truth was not seen. Adam was created as king of the earth, and Satan, perhaps, as king of the angel world. At least man was made a little lower than the angels, and therefore was not created as their king. Heaven and earth have remained separate ever since that creation. One King over both heaven and earth was nowhere indicated. It was a mystery that God would do this, and that He would do this in the Saviour of mankind. But in the beginning He created time. He set things in motion. He got things moving toward that day when the whole vast universe would be united and gathered together in one grand and glorious domain in Christ. That this universal kingdom of Christ might come to pass, God created the heavens and the earth that we now see and know to exist. “In the beginning. . .” then refers to the beginning of this work that is the climax of God’s sovereign, eternal, unchangeable counsel or living plan.
There is another passage of Holy Writ which declares that same truth from a different point of view. Paul writes in Colossians 1:15, and he is speaking here of Christ, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Now it is evident that Christ is not in the sequence of time the firstborn even of mankind, to say nothing of the birds and beasts and plants. Many of the insects and germs beget shortly after their own “birth” and are “born” after a very brief incubation period. Therefore it means that in the mind of God Christ is before all creatures. In a logical sense Christ is the firstborn of them all, that is, all other creatures (and the human nature of Christ is creature and was born—were created and born to serve Him and therefore with a view to that which we just pointed out, that He be the King of that universal domain that includes heaven and earth and all their creatures.
Or again in Revelation 13:8 we read of Christ as “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.” In God’s mind, therefore, Christ is not an afterthought. He is not someone Who fits into God’s plan after the fall of man as though that fall made His advent necessary. It is rather thus, that because God had that new heaven and earth united in Christ in mind, the fall of man in that first earthly creation was necessary. And we may add, the fall of the devil and his angels in that first heaven was also necessary. And when John speaks of Christ as the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, it is evident that the cross of Christ was in God’s mind before the foundation of the world was. Note that the statement is not “before the founding of the world” so that we have here a time element. But the statement is “before the foundation of the world” and thus John speaks of an object that is created to serve that cross of Christ and logically is after that cross; because the cross is the goal, and the foundation of the world serves that goal.
Now, we say all this, because we want you to see that a perfect beginning was made here by the All-wise God. And we want to point out that the frequently recurring phrase in Genesis 1 has its explanation in this glorious truth. We have reference to that statement: “And God saw that it was good.” What can that mean but that after each act of creating God saw that what He had called into being would serve perfectly the realization of that glorious universal kingdom of Christ. It refers first of all to the first heaven and earth. But we may not stop there. God saw each time that what He had made was a perfect means, instrument, tool for the end-work of Christ’s glorious kingdom.
He saw that no new creature had to be created. No creature had to be altered. No creation had to be done over or be allowed to drop again into nothingness. It all was a perfect foundation upon which He would build this universal kingdom of Christ.
In this connection we may also consider the fact that God made man fallible. Adam was not created in the highest freedom. He was created so that he was able to fall. We may put it thus: Adam was created so that he was able not to sin. After the fall he was not able not to sin. In Christ he receives the highest freedom of being not able to sin. Now this is no flaw in God’s work. It does not mean that God did not see correctly when He saw that “every thing that He had made . . . and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 Man, even though he was so created that he could sin and could fall away from his righteousness, was created very good by God. He served exactly, and was so created that he could serve exactly, God’s purpose of uniting all things in Christ.
Of course God could have made him—and the angel world as well—so that they could not sin. But it is not a question of what God could do. Rather is it a case of God planning something else for the praise of the glory of His grace. The first Adam must fall, so that the saving grace of God in the Last Adam may shine forth. The first Adam must lose his righteousness so that through the cross of the Last Adam God might display His perfect righteousness, holiness and justice. And with a view to all this, Adam and all the earthly creatures were exactly as they ought to be in order that the Son of God in our flesh might die, rise again, be raised to God’s right hand and become the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords in heaven and on earth, the universal Potentate of all potentates, the Supreme Authority over men and angels, over the entire creation of God.
A creature is good only when that creature is able to serve the purpose for which it is made and intended. God saw that all was exactly as it had to be in order to serve the purpose of bringing in ultimately the fulfillment of that mystery. And that some men today do not see that everything was good, does not change the matter at all. Godsaw. And when He Who knows the end from the beginning, He Who planned it all and had the whole goal and plan constantly before His mind sees that everything is good, then it is good. Then it is able to serve the purpose for which He has designed and created it.
The beginning was perfect. And so is every step of the way from that moment of the beginning onward through all time. Let us beware then of judging anything that He made not to be good. Let us refrain today from criticizing any of His works as He moves these creatures around, gives them, and then takes them away again. Yea, even the enemies of the church serve a good purpose, as Satan served in the realization of man’s fall and in Christ’s crucifixion. All do not serve consciously and willingly in a good way. But all do serve. Of the cross God also said, as He looked down from heaven, “Behold it is very good.” Of the fall of man He said the same thing with a view to the higher glory that man will have in that universal kingdom of Christ. God does not always declare a judgment of moral, ethical good upon the deeds of His creatures. So often His judgment will be, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity!” But with a view to serving the fulfillment of the mystery and preparing the way for His Son to gather all things in one His judgment of every event is that it is good. For it is always according to His sovereign good counsel; and nothing ever slips beyond His control but is constantly under the control of His will and power to unite all things in Christ.