[Sorry, the RefTagger program messes up the title. In this second Valerie-inspired series on thankfulness, we stay with Genesis 1:1.]
As I observed last time, when Moses writes "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," he is asserting that God's first creative act was producing the universe out of nothing. This truth is jam-packed with meaning. We shouldn't rush past it too hastily.
We know for a fact, then, that everything was created from nothing by Someone. That Someone — the infinite-personal God revealed in Scripture — thus stands apart from, above and beyond every created thing. Genesis 1:1 is Genesis 1:1; it is not 1:1b. It is not preceded by a verse detailing the origin of God.
Why not? Because it is the nature of God to be without origin. God alone is the Uncaused Cause. Think of it this way: there are two orders of things in the universe — caused, and uncaused. In the former column stretches a vast, almost endless list detailing every created thing. In the latter column, one entry alone: God. As Moses himself would later sing,
Before the mountains were brought forth,That teaches us something vital, then, about all creation. It is all contingent. It all depends on something else for its origin. Nor is it surprising that it all continues to be contingent, depending on something else for its continued existence (cf. Colossians 1:17; I develop this theme more in this conference session). It is temporal, passing, evanescent (Psalm 102:25-26; Isaiah 34:4; 40:6-8).
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:2)
But all those facts teach us corollary truths about the Creator. Unlike creation, He is unconditioned and non-contingent, depending on nothing for His being nor continuance (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2; 102:27; John 8:58; Hebrews 13:8). He is supreme above all, in every sense.
All these "theological" truths bear very practical fruit. They tell me verities I desperately need to know, or I literally do not know the first thing necessary to make sense of Life, the Universe, much less All That.
- I should not live for any created thing. All things are on the same plane, with a few variations: money, pleasure-in-things/experiences, fame, influence. All things are just things, and all things are temporary, contingent, secondary (at best). No created thing is sufficiently weighty, stable, significant, nor worthy to give ultimate meaning nor purpose. All will pass away, as will all who live for them (1 John 2:16-17a).
- I should live for the Creator. Meaning and significance are not to be located in the effects, but in the Cause; not in the tributaries, but in the fountainhead. I should hold Him chief in my mind from my youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1), because I will only learn my design from my Designer. Neglect that, and I will live a meaningless, trivial, wasted life, no matter what I do.
- I should not live in fear of any created thing. None is ultimate. No matter how fierce, powerful, nor forceful, there is One who transcends them. Like me, they are contingent. Like me, they are limited. Like me, they can be bested. What's more, the worst they can do to me is kill me.
- I should live in fear of the Creator. The worst a creature can do is kill me, but the Creator can do far worse to me (Matthew 10:28). Unlike creatures, the Creator is unconditioned, relentless, unlimited, incapable of being bested. The buck always stops with Him. (Besides, whether a creature kills me or not is the Creator's call, anyway.)
- In sum, the center of my life must be the knowledge, worship and service of the Creator, not the creature. Miss that, and I miss life, period: I am fatally off-target as to the meaning of myself, of my world, and of others. I'm like someone who thinks The Lord of the Rings is all about this forgetful innkeeper named Butterbur, or that A Christmas Carol centers around the tale of a woman named Fezziwig, married to a generous business owner. These are minor, peripheral characters — focus on them, and I've missed the whole story. Focus on creation rather than Creator, and I've missed the whole story, and far more beside.
And so, from Genesis 1:1, I thank God for the stark and clear revelation of the Creator/creature distinction. In that light alone can I make sense of life, and find my place by finding His face.
Thus we can —
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3)