Friday, January 18, 2019

Creation or Chaos?

"How the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Genesis 1:2).

The creation myths of the pagan nations encircling Israel held that the world emerged as a result of the struggle between the “gods” of the eternal forces of chaos and order, of darkness and light. These were seen as equal beings, involved in an eternal power struggle. In some of those myths, we see the battle between the forces of light and darkness, between the deity and the sea monster who lurks in the depths. For that reason some have said Genesis 1:2 reflects the same idea.

Not so. Unlike the pagan myths, Genesis says that the one God created these waters, this void, this darkness. The point of verse 2 is not to say that God somehow prevailed over these “agents of chaos.” Rather, we have a description of the stages of creation. Against the pagans, this verse shows the triumph of God’s plan over any possibility of chaos.

Verse 2 shows us that God created raw material. As an Artist, He set His clay before Him and then went to work on it. The world had been created, but not yet shaped. It had not yet been completed as a work of Divine architecture.

It is tragic that in our own century, with the rise of existential philosophy, we hear voices say that creation never got beyond that stage. What was true at creation is still valid, particularly with respect to the meaning of existence. They tell us that life is ultimately chaotic and there is no purpose to the universe.

Genesis 1:2 does not stop at the point of formlessness. The sentence goes on with the word and. This last clause separates the Christian from the existentialist because it says the Spirit of God was also hovering over the surface of the waters. God immediately began to work with His raw material by means of His Spirit.

Some translations say that the Spirit was “brooding” over the deep, and others that He was “sweeping across the waters.” The Hebrew word used here denotes the mother eagle as she hovers over her nest, feeding and protecting her young. Likewise, God through the Spirit cared for His creation and brought harmony and purpose to the world.

As we see a “world in chaos” today, what comfort can we derive from Genesis 1:2? Make specific applications of this comfort to your own life and the distresses you are going through.