First in a series of studies on some key verses in the Bible
Can you, without peeking, quote the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible? While it is one of the most well-known verses in scripture, it is also one of the most disbelieved!
Let me just say, before we get started, that a person who doesn’t believe the first verse in the Bible will find it difficult to believe anything else the Bible has to say. Genesis 1:1, therefore, is a very vital verse of scripture for us all. The first chapter of Genesis is the creation chapter. Everything in existence has its roots in Genesis One.
The Empty Space
Before we go much farther, I’d like you to look at the verse—even if you have it memorized. Look at the page in your Bible (or on your app). The first four words read, “In the beginning God….” As you look at the page, notice just above that first verse. There may be a chapter title there, but look above even that. Do you see the empty space, the blank space where nothing is written, located immediately above the verse? Look at
that small empty area for just a second. I’ll wait for you…
Do you see it?
Technically, you're looking only at paper or the screen on your device. There are no
letters or words there, nothing but blank space above that first verse of the Bible.
Now, here’s a remarkable thought! I’m going to blow you away with this! Are you ready for it…?
Apart from the will and purpose of Almighty God, NOTHING in Genesis, chapter one, HAD TO EXIST! Nothing HAD to be. Nothing HAD to happen. THERE DID NOT HAVE TO BE ANYTHING AT ALL! We need to get hold of that truth. Without God, there would have been nothing, including us!
Look at that blank space again and realize that the world in which we live did not have to be here. There did not have to be a Bible. There did not have to be a universe. There did not have to be planets. There did not have to be the sun, moon or stars. The earth upon which we live did not have to exist. None of the things that are in the earth or on the earth or above the earth had to exist. None of it had to be—apart from the will and purpose of Almighty God. If God had wanted to, if He had chosen to…this is deep…if it had been His will to have nothing else exist apart from Himself there would not have been anything—or anyone—else! No civilizations, no world, no worlds of any kind. Nothing! There would have only been the holy Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God would not have created even the angels if He had not willed it so.
Here’s the absolute truth. “In the beginning God.” Think about it. “In the beginning GOD.” Let these four words and their meaning saturate your heart and mind right now…
“In the beginning GOD!”
Everything is about HIM. Life has always been about HIM. It is still about HIM! Regardless of what we might believe or disbelieve, without God there would be no life. Because God is the creator of life. In present day America, life is still all about God. And many of us in America (and around the world) foolishly believe everything is about us.
No! “In the beginning God.”
The Beginning of Time
Look at the word beginning in Genesis 1:1. The word Genesis comes from a word which means origin or beginning. The Bible starts with the word beginning.
The beginning of what…? The beginning of time. Without Genesis 1:1, time does not exist. The empty space mentioned earlier represents eternity past. In other words, forever…in reverse. Normally, when we speak of forever, we’re thinking forward in time. Eternity future.
But God has always been. He has existed in all of eternity past and all of eternity future. I cannot fully comprehend it, but I believe it because the Bible teaches it. The God of the Bible has always existed. God is alive this very minute and He will always live. It is hard for our finite minds to get a handle on that thought because, to our way of thinking, all things and all people have a beginning and an ending, right? But God has always been.
Think about that! Adam, the first man, was created. Eve, the first woman, was created. We were born. All of us had a beginning. God never did! He IS the beginning. He’s the beginning of all things. Read Colossians 1:16-17. “…By Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
“In the beginning….” Time was non-existent prior to Genesis 1:1. The events between the first verse in the Bible (Genesis 1:1) and the last verse in the Bible (Revelation 22:21) are all marked by time. But there was a before-time and there will be an after-time. When we read in Genesis 1:1 the words, “In the beginning…” they are referring to the beginning of time.
Let’s briefly consider another aspect of the words, “In the beginning God….” The word “God” here is the Hebrew word, Elohim. It is a plural word. Which makes sense because our God is a Triune God, commonly referred to as the Trinity. Elohim means supreme or sovereign. Sovereign is a big word that simply means: all powerful, Lord of all.
Compare Genesis 1:1 in the Old Testament with John 1:1 in the New Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:2-3 continue: “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” From these verses we know that Jesus took part in Creation along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:2 speaks of the Spirit of God being involved in creation. We can see then how “In the beginning Elohim…” reveals to us that all three members of the Trinity—in divine unison—took part in creation.
When we refer to the Triune God, we do not mean three separate Gods. Rather, we are talking about one God with three different functions. A Three-in-One God. Don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t. But I believe it because the Bible reveals it. In essence, without doing any damage to scripture, the verse could read: “In the beginning God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit created the heavens and the earth.” That’s Elohim. That’s God.
Other verses from both the Old and New Testaments that declare God to be the Creator:
Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 33:6-9; Psalm 90:1-2; Psalm 102:25; Psalm 104:24;
Psalm 121:1-2; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 10:10-13; Jeremiah 32:17;
Acts 17:24-26; Romans 1:19-20; Hebrews 1:10; Hebrews 3:4; Hebrews 11:3;
Revelation 4:11; Revelation 22:13.
Take time to look up these verses and read them carefully. Then thank God… for God.
Darrell Nichols is an Elder and Pastor of Education at commUNITY church in Muncie, IN.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_nichols_dimes