Saturday, February 5, 2022

"In the Beginning God..." (Genesis 1:1)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen. 1:1)

“In the beginning God.…” These first four words of the Bible form the foundation for faith. Believe these words, and you can believe all that follows in the Bible. Genesis provides the only authoritative account of creation, meaningful for people of all ages but exhaustible by no one. The divine record assumes the existence of God rather than seeking to prove it. The Bible has a special name for those who choose to deny the fact of God. That name is fool (Ps. 14:1 and 53:1). Just as the Bible begins with God, so He should be first in our lives.

Whether it is in the beauty, power, or complexity of creation, a taste of God’s wonder is engraved on all things as an unmistakable testament of His incomprehensible glory. The glory of God has been disclosed in the whole workmanship of the universe: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1) and “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3).

There are two helpful ways to express the presentation of God’s glory in creation. First, His glory is like a brilliant light shed abroad—even to the darkest reaches of the earth. This flashing light penetrates all men’s minds (Rom. 1:19–20). It radiates richly throughout all the heavens, where the Lord’s majesty is shed forth (Ps. 104:2). There is no place where the sparks of His glory cannot be discerned. Second, the glory of God is revealed in creation like an image in a mirror. The glory of the invisible God is reflected visibly by His creation (Heb. 11:3). This allows all to gaze upon the invisible nature of God, as portrayed in His creation. Whether God’s glory appears like a light or like an image in a mirror, truly men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see Him.

Though God’s whole creation displays His glory, it is man himself, as the pinnacle of creation, who reveals God’s glory most explicitly. He is a rare spectacle of God’s power, goodness, and wisdom. Infants have tongues so eloquent to preach God’s glory that there is no need at all for other orators (cf. Ps. 8:2). The human body—from its mouth and eyes to its very toenails—exhibits exquisite workmanship. Man’s soul, in intelligence, imagination, memory, and even in dreaming, speaks of his Creator. The image of God has been so fully stamped upon men that, as all are adorned with an air of His glory, God readily testifies that He is the Father of all (Acts 17:28). God has made man His masterpiece, surpassing all else in creation. Further, as the church is conformed to the express image of the invisible God, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), the glory of God becomes more distinct.

For the unbeliever, the expression of God in creation cannot be missed, even if the darkness of his mind causes the image to appear clouded. For him, the glory of God displayed in creation is a testimony against unbelief (Rom. 1:19–20). In addition to the inward witness of the heart, God has provided innumerable evidences in the world of His existence and of man’s duty to submit to his Creator (cf. Acts 14:16–17). The glory of God is inscribed in creation with bold letters, yet the unbeliever has exchanged the glory of the incorruptible for images of corruptible things (Rom. 1:23). This confusion of the creation with the Creator supplants the true God with a shadow deity, depriving God of His right as Creator and denying creation’s proper place as an announcement of the glories of its Maker. Though God sweetly attracts men with semblances of His glory, man’s rashness and superficiality, joined with ignorance and darkness, have led to disdain for creation’s testimony and, ultimately, to a rejection of the Creator Himself.

For the believer, the beauty of creation speaks of the majestic beauty of his God. With Scripture’s revelation and the Spirit’s work, the believer is able rightly to understand and appreciate the glory of God displayed in creation. He hears God’s awesome voice upon the waters, breaking the cedars, shaking the wilderness, and causing new birth; thus, the believer worships the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Ps. 29). Examining creation brings him to praise and submit to his sovereign Creator—who sustains the mass of heaven and earth by His Word. God’s nod alone shakes the heavens with thunderbolts; kindles the air with flashes; disturbs the earth with storms, and then silences them; and compels the sea to hang as though in midair, only to make it calm again. All of this incites reverential awe and adoration in the heart of every believer for the glorious God heralded by creation.