This chapter reveals that Genesis 1, verses 1&2 are just an introduction to what is about to be created and not a declaration of creation.
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. This must be an introduction because the actual creation of the heavens is detailed later in verses 6-8, and the appearance of the earth is detailed in verses 9-10.
OK, so it’s that simple. Well, it is never that simple. There are some subtle issues I will bring up later about things being created before they appeared. But the point is that none of these other issues can avoid the simplicity that verse 1 is talking about things that subsequently happen and so it is an introduction. The only reason for insisting that it be a declaration of creation is because we couldn’t explain the water-covered planet.
Everywhere God created something on days 1-6 He would first say “Let there be ...”, or “Let the ...”. This did not happen in regard to the earth formless and void in verses 1 and 2.
After each created thing, God would repeat that He had done it, usually ending with “and it was so”. But we don’t see this format for the earth formless and void. Rather, verse 2 seems like a description. But the waters above on day 2 are not described. The dry land on day 3 is not described. When it comes to the living things, the plants, the fish, the animals, there is more detail but this is mainly for purposes of defining function. The same applies for the sun, the moon and the stars. But none of this is like the description in verse 2.
But most importantly, verse 2 says that “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”. This is picturing the Spirit of God poised and ready to implement God’s will. This is the prelude to all of creation.
Verse 1 looks like an introduction. Later there is a summary statement in Genesis 2:1 that they were completed. Then Genesis 2:4 declares another “account of the heavens and earth when they were created”. Everyone seems to agree that this is an introduction and not a declaration of a second creation. So too, Genesis 1:1 is just an introduction.
Genesis 2:5-6 describes the state of the earth following the introduction in Genesis 2:4. Everyone is happy to picture this as a description of the state of the earth prior to the creation of Adam. Similarly, Genesis 1:2 must be seen as a description of the state of the earth prior to the creation days.
John 1:1-3 declares that “In the beginning” Jesus was with the Father and that all things came into existence through Jesus. The “beginning” is before the start of time and before anything is created. Some look at verse 1 and say that it was not only the creation of the heavens and the earth but also the beginning of time. But God is eternal. This universe, all things, came into existence as an act of His will. The “beginning” must reflect this and that is what the introduction achieves. I will discuss this later in more detail but for now these two scriptures should help you to see what is happening:
Picturing the water-covered planet in verse 2 as something real in this realm, that is in this universe, before light was created has some technical problems. You see, until light is created there is no time. Time is defined in this universe by the speed of light. This is a fundamental understanding that comes from the fact that the speed of light is the same for all observers, and underscores the Special Theory of Relativity. So, if light has not yet been created, then time has not yet begun. Our conceptual framework is invalid and the phrase “formless and void” is amazingly appropriate.
This will challenge many people who have pictured verse 3 simply as the lights turning on to give light to the water-covered planet, but scripture does not say that. Verse 3 does not mention ‘light sources’ – it describes ‘light’ alone. Lights for the purpose of ‘giving light’ to the earth came on day 4.
It is not easy to make the switch to the significance of light without a light source. That is why I see this as a paradigm shift. But it actually turns this light without a light source into a strength of the creation account, rather than something that has to be explained away. It is also a strength because it reveals Jesus, the light of the World. It is a strength because unbelievers are already conditioned to accept the universe appeared ‘as light’ and now we see it appear in the Bible, ‘in light’.
I did not dream this up to pander to the world’s understanding. This came from the Word of God. Do I have to apologise that it is more acceptable to the world than our original understanding?
The funny thing is that the Special Theory of Relativity started with the assumption that the speed of light was the same for observers travelling at different speeds. It was a paradigm shift for physics. This counter-intuitive assumption seemed to run against Newtonian physics, but actually Newton’s rules were a simplification of Relativistic physics and are still accurate in most practical applications. In the same way, what I share does not destroy the original understanding of the creation account – it just opens the door to see the fullness of what God is saying.
Everything that was created in Genesis 1 was prefixed by the statement, “Then God said: ‘Let ...’”. I repeat, everything, on every day. But the introductory verse, “In the beginning God created”, was not spoken by God – it was not creation by the Word of God.
Now, 2 Peter 3:5 declares that the heavens were created (existed) by the word of God. So according to Peter, creation is happening in the “Then God said” statements and not in the introduction, especially in regard to the heavens.
John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:20 and 1 John 5:6 show that we are saved through water. 2 Peter 3:5 goes further to say that the earth was formed through water. So Peter would seem to have seen the earth formless and void and covered by water as the starting point and through this water the earth was formed. And sure enough on day 3 the waters were gathered together to reveal the dry land or earth.
So creation, new birth through water is a fundamental principle and seeing the starting point as water covering the earth reinforced this fundamental principle. Indeed, this is likely to be the reason God chose this picture of the starting point. So creation starts after verse 2, not in verse 1.
Some people suggest from 2 Peter 3:5 that perhaps the heavens were also created through water – but this verse does not say that. I will discuss this later, but for now, it should not be a point of contention.
In fact, if the earth was first created with a covering of water, then perhaps the stars, in their initial state before God made them to shine, had a covering of water. The stars also include the other planets in our solar system which appear to us just like the stars. We know that Mars once had a large covering of water. We know that Saturn’s rings are made of ice that may have formed from its initial covering of water.
The “Gap Theory” says that verse 1 is the declaration of the creation of the heavens and the earth and that after some unspecified period of time, usually assumed to be billions of years to accommodate secular scientific opinion, the earth had decayed to some wasteland that is described in verse 2. Then verse 3 is taken as the first step in a re-creation. Well, I obviously do not support that. I find no hint of a re-creation in the text of verses 1 and 2. (Actually the re-creation idea comes from a misunderstanding of Genesis 1:28, where the KJV uses the word “replenish” but all other translations use “fill”. This is a misunderstanding of replenish as it was used in old-English where it did not imply “to fill again” as it does today.) But Gap Theory does treat verses 1 and 2 as an introduction to this re-creation.
Because there have been many battles rightly fought to reject Gap Theory, a predisposition exists to deny the possibility that verses 1 and 2 are just an introduction. This is a significant barrier to discussing what I propose about “The Father’s heart” view.
To me, the plain reading of verses 1 and 2 is an introduction where the initial state is just an unbounded dark sea. Optionally, we can use present-day insight to picture that as a water-covered planet. But someone who wants to attack the Bible asks: “Where did the sea come from?” This person sees the plain reading and wonders where the sea came from and since it is not obvious when treating verse 1 as an introduction, this person concludes that the Bible is in error. Well, of course this has been answered by asserting that the sea (planet) was created in verse 1.
So, just as in the defence of the Bible against the Gap Theory, this defence of the apparent plain reading has created a predisposition to reject verses 1 and 2 as just an introduction.
Any acknowledgement that verses 1 and 2 are just an introduction would seem to weaken the defence of the Bible and would seem like a back-down on the previous stance that verse 1 is a declaration of creation. And what does a staunch defender of the Bible get for this back-down? ... Some spiritualised re-interpretation of the clear-to-them plain reading, about the Father’s heart and about all things through Jesus.
If I was such a defender I would also be concerned that someone attacking the Bible would then provocatively ask: “So when does this God start talking to us plainly?” And by this they insinuate that He is lying or the plain reading cannot be trusted. I would also be concerned just what other re-interpretations of Genesis would come forth, perhaps undermining the whole message.
I address these issues in later sections. For now I want to bring them out in the open so we can recognise our biases. But can I also make this point – I think that God could have easily made the text less open to attack. But I think it was really important to Him that He acknowledge His son right from the start. This was never an issue to the Jews pre-Jesus. But it is for us that this revelation has been saved. People will always attack the Bible. This small vulnerability to misinterpretation was never a problem to God. If you believed in God the creator then there was never a fault in the text. But so that He could acknowledge His own heart and His own son from the beginning, He left this vulnerability in the text so that we can now see His heart and His son.
In regard to trusting the plain reading – I have not undone that. If someone insinuates that the plain reading cannot be trusted in order to discredit the Bible, then that is their problem. They are simply looking for some reason to discredit the Bible. But the plain reading has correctly depicted God as Creator of all things in language that has been applicable for thousands of years. That God chooses to reveal mysteries and work in ways that we do not initially understand is evidenced throughout the Bible.
If you think about it long enough, this is not as much about trusting the plain reading as it is about trusting God. Try not to fear what others might mistakenly do when you assess the revelations of this section.