24 November 2009

Grateful for the revelation of the one Creator God (Thanks from Genesis 1:1, part three)

by Dan Phillips

[Sorry, the RefTagger program messes up the title. In this third Valerie-inspired series on thankfulness, we dig further in Genesis 1:1.]

In our first reflection on Genesis 1:1, we saw that the words "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" teach us that God first produced the universe out of nothing.

Then we focused on the impact of the revealed truth of the Creator/creature distinction, the fact that God is other than and apart from His creation.

Now we pause to focus on what is perhaps a more fundamental fact, as expressed in the second and third words of the (Hebrew) Bible: "God created." Though the word translated "God" in Hebrew ('elōhîm) is plural in form, the verb (bārā') is not. One God created.

This was nothing to be taken for granted in Moses' day. Polytheism was the rule, and creation-myths were very different from Moses' account in every important way. The earlier Babylonian Enuma Elish depicted a great battle, with Marduk killing the evil Tiamat, and forming earth and heavens from her corpse.

None of that can be found in Genesis 1:1ff. One lone God creates everything out of nothing by mere fiat. The Bible stresses this fact over and over. Job speaks of God "who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea" (Job 9:8).

Again, Isaiah 44:24 declares, "Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: 'I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.'" God creates unaided, and unopposed.

Thus Paul can cry out without exaggeration, "For from him and through him and to him are all things" (Romans 11:36a).

We would not know these truths from musing on creation itself alone. Creation attests that there is a Creator, and that the Creator is powerful (Romans 1:19-20), but not a lot more. It falls to Scripture to tell us of the nature, essence, character, attributes, and will of this Creator God.

So it does. We must recognize that Genesis 1:1 is but the beginning of one long, long revelatory sentence that goes on and on and on, not finishing until the final words of Revelation 22:21.

When we read Genesis 1:1 in that light, we know that behind the mysterious 'elōhîm indeed lies a plurality-in-unity, as the Father created all things through the Son (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). We know that this one God already had made a plan for the ages in Christ (Ephesians 3:11), an eternal plan providing for the redemption (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-5) of those whom He had already selected and predestined (Ephesians 1:3-5).

We creatures need not wander in trackless darkness, wondering what we are, and what or who made us. This God made us; He defined us; He defines our universe. In the end, we shall give account to this one God, and face His judgment. Our great need — every one of us — is to know God our Creator, on His terms.

Nothing that we need to know has been held back. All has been revealed, including the mind and heart of this one infinite, personal Creator. By that revelation, we can know who He is, and we can know Him.

Thank God!

Dan Phillips's signature


Shanti said...

I have been really enjoying this series! Thankyou.

DJP said...

Thanks, Shanti.

Nice to know someone has.


Stefan Ewing said...

Thanks to the Lord God, that He is a God who created and transcends time and space themselves, and yet who intervenes in history to redeem a people unto Himself from every nation, to deliver them from slavery, to nuture and care for them, to grant them citizenship in an eternal Kingdom, and to grant us a King who is Lord, Saviour, Judge, and Redeemer. All for His Name, and all for His Glory.

anonymous said...


I'm pickin' up what you're layin' down. :-) I LOVE IT!!! You could post on this every day and I would not tire of it. I would rather thank God for who He is rather than all He has done for me...although I AM thankful for all He has done for me. When the Lord saved me I said that if He never did one more thing for me that I would be happy because He has already given me all that I really need in drawing me to Himself and reconciling me to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. BUT He has done much more for me than just giving me salvation...He has continued to draw me closer to Him, He has helped me love Him more each day, and He has given me the desire to abide in His word and to point those who are still lost and perishing to His Son. Words cannot express my thankfulness.

Anonymous said...

"We would not know these truths from musing on creation itself alone. Creation attests that there is a Creator, and that the Creator is powerful (Romans 1:19-20), but not a lot more. It falls to Scripture to tell us of the nature, essence, character, attributes, and will of this Creator God."

Don't sell Creation short! It attests to much more than that. I'm with Luther when he says, "God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." All the beauty, majesty, and grandeur in creation, reflect in some way the similar aspects found in God. All these features also show his love for us as well. In the same way, natural disasters and other such things show that something has gone horribly wrong -- sin.

And even much more could be said... I just didn't like that line, "not a lot more."

Stefan Ewing said...

It's a good thing that God doesn't take a gamble on us. His promises are sure, His Covenant is everlasting, and His Word does not return void.

Stefan Ewing said...

...Sealed with the blood of Christ.

Stefan Ewing said...

And one more comment:

I can attest this very day, this very hour, that God does hear and answer prayers, and is in the business of saving people. Glory be to our Rock and Redeemer, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Matthew said...

I to have really enjoyed this Dan.

I leant about the wording in Genesis 1:1 a little while ago and was astounded to learn that Elohim was used and that it is plural.

I have shared this with many [jw's, jews and muslims alike] some have been amazed.

love the series, love the blog.

Stefan Ewing said...

I know I'm not the first person to point this out, but Dan, you're soldiering on with this series on gratefulness for God in His glory and getting comments in the single-digit range, while a week-plus-long series on gambling gets an order of magnitude more comments every day...


Shouldn't the proportions of comments be exactly reversed?

redbeard said...


I agree. Paul says, in Romans 1:18-20:
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Therefore, it is clear from Scripture that both God's eternal power and his divine nature are evident from examining creation.

Paul says, "men are without excuse."

He says in Romans 1:16 of the gospel, "it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" - and if the power of God is evident in creation - clearly seen (v. 20) - then the gospel must somehow be knowable solely from the voice of creation.

I don't know how that can be, physically, but I'm sure that the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, and God can manage it.

The same Power that created the universe is the Power that redeems us - and, indeed, is the Only Power that can redeem us.

To newly create someone, to redeem him from sin, requires that same creative power. Therefore, if there is a Redeemer, it can only be the Creator. This is evident from creation.

Romans 10:15-18:
"How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world."

Paul here quotes Psalm 19:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

So, obviously, Paul is of the opinion that the message of the Gospel can be discerned in the voice of creation - since that's the voice he speaks of in Romans 10:18.

Creation speaks loudly of God's glory, wisdom, knowledge, power, and purpose.

The fact that most people refuse to listen is no excuse; they will not be able to say, at judgement, that God didn't tell them about following Him. Because He did; it's written in creation, and EVERYONE has sensed creation in some way. God has left everyone Without Excuse.

one busy mom said...

Great post! Isn't it wonderful that God is who He is!!!