Let's begin our study by reading Genesis 1:1-2.
1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
It is also helpful to read from different translations.
In verse 1, "In the beginning", means the beginning of creation of the heavens and the earth, and not the beginning of eternity. (We will be discussing the word heavens further on in this study, so we shouldn't question the use of the word here.) This also marks the first recorded break in the past endless eternity.
Yes, endless, for prior to this creation event, we have had no indication of the beginning of time, or that "time" even existed. Time, as we know it, may only exist in the physical state, and not in the spiritual realm. The only actual "time clock" begins with the creation of Adam, as we shall discuss later in our studies.
In verse 1, "God", is the Hebrew word Elohim. It is a plural word. It is also a generic name, or term for deity, as well as a proper name for our true God.
See Genesis 31:30 where it is used of pagan gods which belonged to Laban.
30. "And now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father's house; but why did you steal my gods [elohim].
In Exodus 12:12, "elohim" also refers to pagan gods, as spoken by the Lord to Moses.
12. 'For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods [elohim] of Egypt I will execute judgments - I am the Lord.
In Exodus 21:6, "elohim", refers to "judges", as translated in the King James and New International versions, but "elohim" refers to "God" as translated in the Amplified, New American Standard, and the Revised Standard versions. This is one of those verses where it becomes important for us in our studies to read several translations. In order to understand the verse in context, let's look at verse 5 also.
5. "But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,'
6. then his master shall bring him to God [Elohim], then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
To say in verse 6, that his master is to bring him to the judges, may have an equal meaning, if the "judges" refers to the elders, or religious leaders, who judge the matters of the Law of God, for he is in essence being brought before God.
The eleventh century Jewish commentator, Rashi, refers to judges, "(I.e.,) to the court, which is to the religious leaders
In Psalm 8:5, "elohim", is translated "angels" in the King James, "heavenly beings" in the New International, and "God" in the Amplified, New American Standard, and Revised Standard versions. Note that this verse refers to man as being created in the image of God, and prophetically to the incarnation of Jesus (Hebrews 2:6-8).
5. Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,
And dost crown him with glory and majesty!
It is interesting to note that when this verse is repeated in Hebrews 2:7, "elohim", is translated, "angels".
In Psalm 82:6 it refers to men.
6. I said, "You are gods [elohim],
And all of you are sons of the Most High
However, the word Elohim most frequently refers to our true God, but remember that we must always translate it in context with the passage.
The reason for its varied use is that "Elohim" can mean: strong one, mighty leader, or supreme Deity. This is the same as we do in English with the word God or god. We write it with a capital "G" when it refers to the Lord God of heaven, and we write it with a small "g" when it refers to other so-called gods.
As we said above, Elohim is a plural word which can be an indication of plenitude of power and majesty, or represent a multitude of personalities.
The multitude of personalities leads to the New Testament revelation of the tri-unity of the God Head. This Trinity revelation can also can be seen in the Old Testament verse, Isaiah 48:16, where Isaiah is speaking for Messiah.
16. "Come near to Me, listen to this:
From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there.
And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit."
Elohim does not mean more than one being when referring to God. See Deuteronomy 6:4.
4. "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God [Elohim], the Lord is one!
There is only one God, but there are other, so called, gods; thus, it is important for us to read Bible passages in context, that we understand the proper meaning.
Returning to our study verses of Genesis 1:1-2: In verse 1, "created", the Hebrew word "baw-raw", is one of three words which refer to God's creative activity. The other similar words used in Scripture are "aw-sawh" and "yttsehr". "Baw-raw" and "aw-sawh" mean essentially the same thing, to do or make, except, that in proper context, "baw-raw" means to make from something that never existed, hence to create. "Aw-sawh" means only to make from what was preexistent. See Genesis 1:25.
25. And God made [aw-sawh] the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God said that it was good.
When God created [baw-raw] the heavens and the earth, He also made [baw-raw] the elements, which did not previously exist in physical form, and from which everything else can be made [aw-sawh], thus God "made" [aw-sawh] the animals from what had previously been "created" [baw-raw]. The same is true for Exodus 20:11.
11. 'For in six days the Lord made [aw-sawh] the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
"Aw-sawh" is used, because what was created in Genesis 1:1 was made into everything else.
It is also important for the student to understand that this word usage defines only one creation, that of Genesis 1:1, and its condition, 1:2. The remainder of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 basically refer to what God did with the original creation.
The Hebrew word, "Y'tsehr", means "formed". Note the comparison between Genesis 1:27, and 2:7.
27. And God created [baw-raw] man in His own image, in the image of God he created [baw-raw] Him; male and female He created [baw-raw] them.
The image of God is what is being created here, as compared to 2:7 where God forms man. This is one of the exceptions to the original creation, for here we are seeing not the physical creation of man, which is described in 2:7, but the spiritual.
7. Then the Lord God formed [y'tsehr] man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [soul].
The word, "baw-raw", does not preclude the use of preexistent material, as we have seen, but can also refer to other things. (See Isaiah 65:18)
18. "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create [baw-raw];
For behold, I create [baw-raw] Jerusalem for rejoicing,
And her people for gladness.
Here is another important reason to always put God's words in context. In Genesis 1, there is no indication of preexistent material. In this Isaiah verse, which takes place in the future, as it refers to the Kingdom, God could be recreating what He had already made, but this time in a different form, perhaps in a new spiritual format, as with the creation of man. It also might refer to something similar to that of Jesus' resurrected body; a body that could be touched, but one that could also pass through walls.
Perhaps the above is not convincing enough, or requires additional reinforcement. Consider Hebrews 11:3, which gives us a Greek interpretation.
3. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
We don't see the spiritual, but only the physical.
"Baw-raw" is used exclusively in relation to God. Only God creates. See the last part of Romans 4:17, which expresses the New Testament understanding.
17. (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
Man can make things, or even be creative such as in the painting of a picture, but he cannot create in the context used in this study.
Also in verse 1, the word "heavens" is a plural word. The root part of the word is the word "water". Note Genesis 1:6.
6. Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."
The word "heaven" appears to actually be a combination of the Hebrew words "fire" and "water"; and maybe, there is more to be revealed than first meets our eyes. Does it, perhaps, indicate the presence of God, and the way His Glory is depicted as fire or unapproachable light? This concept is just something else to ponder in our minds.
There are three heavens mentioned in the Hebrew text. God created all three.
First Heaven is the atmosphere around the earth, as indicated in Genesis 1:8.
8. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
It is the home of the birds. See Daniel 4:12d, where the King James refers to heaven, and most others translations to air or sky.
12. 'Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
Now compare it with Matthew 6:26, where all of the translations refer to air.
26. "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Most of the translators have pick up the Hebrew intent of first heaven as being the atmosphere about the earth.
Second Heaven is the universe. It is the home of the moon, sun, and stars. See Psalm 19:1.
1. The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Third Heaven is the home of the angels and the departed saints. See 2 Corinthians 12:2.
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.
We should also understand that there is no single word in the Hebrew language that expresses what we understand by the word "universe". The expression, "the heavens and the earth", may here be used as an expression of this understanding. An Arabic derivation expresses this understanding as the upper and lower regions.
There is a theory that places an indeterminate period of time between verses 1 and 2. It is called "the gap theory". It is used to explain the apparent differences between that which is spoken of in the Bible, and what most scientists say is the life of the earth and its creatures.
The Hebrew calendar, which begins with the creation of, or forming of Adam, is now only in the middle of its 58th century.
Proponents of the gap theory translate the beginning of verse 2, "And the earth became", rather than "And the earth was".
While the Hebrew word may mean "became" as in Genesis 19:26, the construction of the clause does not indicate that verse 2 was subsequent to verse 1, but was part of the same process described in verse 1.
We don't have to bend Scripture to conform to the scientific. The Bible is not a scientific book; it's a spiritual book. There is no specific time period listed for Genesis l:1-2, and the creation, "baw-raw", could have taken some time. This understanding still allows the use of the correct word, "was". The earth was simply formless and void for some undetermined period of time. And there is nothing to indicate one way or the other that God had to create in any specific way. He could just as likely have created the heavens and the earth in their "aged" form.
The word order indicates that the initial creation was simply formless and empty. This condition was soon remedied. See Isaiah 45:18, which indicates that while the earth was formed formless and empty, the main intention of God was to make it an inhabited place.
18. For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens
(He is the God who formed the earth and made it,
He established it and did not create it a waste place,
But formed it to inhabited),
"I am the Lord, and there is none else.
The gap theory also takes into account, as part of its proof, fossils which came from death, which was sometimes violent. This contradicts the word since the Bible states that Adam brought sin into the world, and with it death. Therefore, the gap theory is scripturally incorrect. See Romans 5:12 for confirmation.
12. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-
Also note 1 Corinthians 15:21.
21. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
From the above we can say, that at this point in God's creation, the earth simply had not been completed. It was yet unfashioned and uninhabited. For "the gap theory" to be functionally correct, the heavens and the earth would have had to have been in their completed states, which they were not. Therefore the answer must lie somewhere else.
It is also important to note that the term "the deep" does not refer to the mythological Babylonian monster deity Tiamat, as some have alleged, simply because of similarity in names between the Hebrew word for "deep", t'hohm, and the Babylonian deity. It simply refers to "waters", or the components from which the waters were made, i.e. hydrogen and oxygen, or even something even more basic.
The term "was moving" means something like hovering in a protective way, and participating in the creative work. Some mistakenly believe that the Holy Spirit did not come to earth until Pentecost. Here we specifically see His presence in verse 2.
Before we leave these two very important verses we should consider the relationship of the Trinity in the creation process.
We mentioned above that the word used for God is a plural word.
We have just seen that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, was present.
If we refer to John 1:3, we will also see that Jesus was present and a participant.
3. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
In 1 Corinthians 8: 6, we see the confirmation of the creation by both the Father and the Son.
6. yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
In Colossians 1:16, we see Jesus as the Creator. In order to see this in context we will look at verses 15 and 16.
15. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.
16. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things have been created by Him and for Him.
And in Hebrews 1:1-2 we see the relationship of the Father working through the Son.
1. God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2. in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Within these first two verses is the whole of creation. This is a type of planning stage, much like that of an architect drawing up a set of plans and specifications for a building. The building has been created on paper, but it has not been physically built. The following chapters will present a more detailed construction procedure of creation.
1. Isaiah, Rabbi Abraham Ben, and Sharfman, Rabbi Benjamin, The Pentateuch and Rashi's Commentarv (Brooklyn, NY, S. S. & R. Publishing Company, Inc 1949), Exodus 21:6.
2. Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A. R.; and Brown, David, A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments, (Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1946), Genesis 1:1 note.
3. Leupold, H. C., Exposition of Genesis, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1942, 1982 printing), 47-48