"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." - Genesis 1:1-2
What thoughts or images come to your mind when you read the first two verses of Genesis? Perhaps you’ve read it many times before, and have a firm understanding of what it’s all about. Others may come to this text and read it with a defensive mindset. They examine the general idea of God’s work of creation as if to passionately disprove proponents of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and then move further throughout the text with the same disposition. Although the debate and defense of creation has its merits, this principle is not the chief reason for our understanding of God. Rather, as we read these opening verses of the Bible, we should approach God from a standpoint of worship. From this standpoint, we should be focused on God’s wisdom, power and avoid small thoughts of our Lord.
To obtain a glimpse into God’s creation I turn to Matthew Henry’s deeply spiritual writings on Genesis 1:1-2. Henry was a fine scholar and preacher, and most notable for writing a commentary of the whole Bible. In a lecture to his students, Charles Spurgeon encouraged them to read Henry’s writings. He stated:
“If you publicly expound the chapter you have just been reading, your people will wonder at the novelty of your remarks, and the depths of your thoughts, and then you may tell them what a treasure Henry is.”
Like any great writer, Henry dedicated his early years to the listening of sermons, wherein he would rewrite what he had heard in memorandum format. Years of study had a profound effect upon his mind. His dedication to the Word of God is solemnly demonstrated when he said,
“I esteem it above all; I desire it as the food of my soul; I greatly delight in both reading and hearing it; and my soul can witness subjection to it in some measure; I think I love the Word of God for the purity of it…”
Ironically, it is in that small measure of subjection of Henry’s soul that illustrates his true and edifying remarks of the Bible. He reiterates the importance in understanding that Genesis gives a general idea of the work of creation. Henry, through visible observation of the world around him, drafted six certainties about the epitome of God’s creation. They are listed below.
Great Variety – From big to small, the variety of creatures and beings in this world can be overwhelming. My frame of reference begins with my simplemindedness. If sent on an errand by my wife to the grocery store, I become overwhelmed by the multiple assortments of brand names of each kind of cereal. Nevertheless, God in his immeasurable wisdom creates beings that vastly differ both in their disposition and composition from each other. The different colors, textures, sizes, temperatures, sounds, smells, and tastes prove the great goodness of our creator.
Great Beauty – If the establishment of God’s variety sparks curiosity in us, then the beauty of it all is where we find satisfaction. Painters and sculptors examine the world around them and produce beautiful and scenic works of art. When God created the world what did he have to go by? What was the model? What sketch did he use? Simply stated, when God created the world, he was Himself. Imagine this, if man can look at the blue sky, the green earth, and unending oceans and capture it’s beauty on a canvas, or through a lens, how transcendent and beautiful must the Creator be?
Great Exactness and Accuracy – The closer you look at creation the more fascinating it becomes. As an example, place a spider under a magnifying glass, and you can see the complexity and fineness of its workmanship. Put the spider under a microscope, and you have the paradox of a complex design in a delicate and small creature. Even today, no computer or machine can manufacture the spider in all its exactness and accuracy. If God pays that much attention to the creation of an insect, how much thought does he put into you?
Great Power – There is life and energy in every creature. One thirty-minute segment on the local news channel, or a glimpse into history and you can see that humans have become experts at taking life. But none of us have the power to give life. Doctors can help sustain life, but they do not give it. What kind of power is required to make non-life into life? What kind of power is needed to turn water into living fish, and to make man out of the dust of the earth?
Great Order – There is a mutual dependence of beings and creatures. The world can sustain human life in the billions, and perhaps more. Look back in history of the damage that has been done to this world. The toll that cities have taken, the exploding of underground nuclear bombs, the destruction of forests, the pollution of the oceans and many other wicked things men have done. But, through our great engineer, the world continues to sustain us.
Great Mystery – This principled genre is conceivably the most fascinating. There are great mysteries in nature that cannot be solved. The silent complexity of it all cannot be fathomed or accounted for. We can observe the world around us, and yet it is incomprehensible. The average person knows he does not have all the answers. Without the answers to the world in which we live and breathe, how are we able to think that we can figure out God and His ways?
These are but just six boundless descriptions of the author and cause of this great work. At times, the depth of its understanding may seem distant to us. The author and creator of this work is God. He is the owner and possessor of heaven and earth. If it is all done by Him, then all must be to Him.