A New Look at Creation

What if there is more to the Biblical creation story than we first imagined? I decided to take a closer look at this highly-debated account of humanity’s origins. To dig deep I decided to take this approach: Don’t assume anything, and question everything. Doing this allowed me to look at an old, familiar story with new eyes. What I found was quite interesting.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

First question: when exactly is “the beginning”? This phrase seems very subjective or ambiguous, doesn’t it? I can imagine countless creation apologists just wishing that Moses had substituted this with “In the year 4000 B.C.” to start things off instead. That would be simpler and would certainly settle the timing question once and for all. Yet, that’s not what God inspired him to write.

In Hebrews 1:10, we’re told that God laid the “foundation of the earth” in the beginning. And John 1:1, which is so strongly linked to Genesis 1:1, informs us that “the Word” (also known as the Son of God) was in the beginning. Even the devil gets added to the mix: 1 John 3:8 reveals that he sinned “from the beginning”. All this raises my eyebrows a little, as there is Biblical evidence that the devil existed before the earth was created. Does this mean God had already formed the foundations of what would become planet Earth before what is generally considered the first day of creation?

Things get really fascinating when we explore the symbolic or spiritual connections to this opening verse of the Bible. Proverbs 9:10 states that the fear of the LORD is “the beginning of wisdom”. So I decided to study wisdom, and when I read Proverbs 8:22-31 I stumbled upon an incredible connection.

According to these verses, wisdom existed “in the beginning”, but then we strike scriptural gold: it equates “in the beginning” to “from everlasting… or ever the earth was”. Full stop! “From everlasting” sounds like a really long time ago, but according to this verse the “earth” has been around just as long! But remember, we’re not talking about a fully-created (post-6-day creation) earth – we’re referring to the earth in it’s unfinished state (“the foundations of the earth”). There seems to be a difference, and Proverbs 8 goes on to clarify that. Wisdom came before the “depths” and “fountains abounding with water”, before mountains, hills, fields, etc. In other words, we’re talking about the blank canvas of the earth before God got out his paint brush.

But that’s the point: there seems to be some Biblical evidence that there was “a canvas” before the creation week – the foundations of the earth, as it were.

Let me be clear: this is not an endorsement of evolution. Nor am I suggesting that God created everything over indeterminable eons instead of literal, 24-hour days. Quite the contrary, the rest of Genesis 1 clearly points to a six-day creation and the 4th Commandment (the one that starts with the word “Remember” because apparently God knew people would forget) strongly supports that timeframe. But was there a dark, lifeless, earthly foundation of some sort floating around in space for who knows how long – something that God had created much earlier (“in the beginning”) – and then during the creation week He filled it, crafted it, and created it to be a beautiful paradise? This possibility is an interesting one, but certainly doesn’t lend any support to the evolutionary theory (a theory which, by the way, is totally contrary to what the Bible clearly states).

Without Form, and Void

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 1:2

So the obvious question is: where did this “earth” and “deep” and “waters” come from? You’ll notice that through each of the following six days in the creation account, God first says “Let there be…” and only then do things come into existence, and that, apparently without delay. But here we have an earth already in existence (though it is formless and void), it’s dark, and apparently there are waters – deep waters. There is no record of God saying “Let there be waters”. One can only assume that these waters were created “in the beginning”, or as we derive from Proverbs 8 – “from everlasting”.

But you may be thinking, Hold up! The verse says the earth was without form – in other words, there was nothing there at all! At first I thought the same, but then the prophet Jeremiah clears things up:

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. Jeremiah 4:23

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s as if he’s quoting Genesis 1:2 almost verbatim. But guess what? He’s not talking about the creation. If you read the context of this verse Jeremiah is describing what the earth looks like after the LORD destroys it at His second coming. There are still mountains/hills, broken down cities, but no living creatures left. This would seem to indicate that being “without form, and void” does not necessarily mean “not existing” at all.

Nahum 2:10 links the word “empty” with both “void” and “waste”. And 2 Chronicles 18:9 uses the word “void” to refer to an empty place as well. This adds further weight to the idea that the earth was an actual place that existed before the creation week, but it was in an “uncreated” or chaotic state.

Let’s take a closer look at “the deep”. In Job 38:29-30, God Himself is speaking to Job. He states that the face of the deep is “frozen” and the waters are hidden “as with a stone”. Think about this. Has God created light yet? No. That’s coming up very shortly, but right now He’s dealing with a planet in total darkness – a watery orb. If you take light away from water, things cool down really quickly. Remember, the sun hasn’t been created at this point either so there is no warmth, just cold darkness.

The result would be a frozen planet covered in thick ice.

Genesis 8:2 points out that the deep also has “fountains”, linking this back to Proverbs 8:24, 28. And Psalm 104:5-7 shows us that the deep clearly refers to the waters covering the foundations of the earth, which even included the mountains. It wasn’t until God spoke on the third day of creation that these waters “fled” and “hasted away”, revealing the land and mountains beneath their surface.

A Cosmic Object Lesson?

From the symbolic perspective, Psalm 82:5 links darkness and a lack of knowledge/understanding with “the foundations of the earth” being “out of course”. What’s the opposite of wisdom? A lack of knowledge & understanding. Several more verses use the term “void” when referring to a lack of counsel, understanding, and wisdom (see Deuteronomy 32:28; Proverbs 7:7; 10:13; 11:2; 12:11).

It’s fascinating that God also likens the deep to a “womb” (Genesis 49:25; Job 38:29). The parallel between human birth and the creation story is striking – out of a dark, watery place God creates life. The phrase “her water just broke” takes on a whole new meaning when considering this story.

In Job 12:22 and Daniel 2:22, we’re told that God discovers “deep things out of darkness” (secret things). Psalm 36:6 declares that God’s judgments are “a great deep”. Most striking of all, 1 Corinthians 2:10 says that the Spirit searches out “the deep things of God”. This instantly made me think of the Spirit moving over the “face of the waters” in Genesis 1:2. Finally, Proverbs 18:4 and 20:5 refers to the “words of a man’s mouth” and the “counsel in the heart of a man” as deep water(s). The phrase “wellspring of wisdom” is also used. Again, incredible imagery pointing toward wisdom/understanding.

This really got me thinking. What if the creation story is not only a literal account of the creation of the world, but also God’s means of revealing His wisdom to the intelligent creatures He has made (including angels).

This may be the greatest object lesson ever given – a cosmic class where the hidden wisdom of God, previously shrouded in darkness, is now brought to light.

Divisions

Below are some further observations I made looking through Genesis 1:

  • Light divided from darkness (“Day” and “Night”).
  • Water divided from water with a “firmament” (sky) in between – God calls this space “Heaven”. The word “firmament” comes from the Hebrew word “shamayim” (heaven, heavens, sky).
  • Waters under the heaven are gathered to one place (Seas) so dry land can appear (Earth)
  • Three distinct kinds of vegetation: grass, herb yielding seed, tree yielding fruit “whose seed is in itself”
    • Seed represents future generations – Gen. 3:15, Gen. 28:14
    • Grass linked to offspring also – Job 5:25
    • Herbs were for the animals to eat, fruit for man
  • Time was divided up into segments by means of the sun, moon, and stars
    • The sun ruled the day
    • The moon ruled the night
    • Their purpose was “to divide the light from the darkness”
    • Matt. 24:29 – interesting what happens when these things stop functioning
    • Rev. 12:1 – A woman (the church) “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”
      • Sun = God’s character/Truth?
      • Moon = The church (reflecting God’s glory)?
      • Stars = The sons of Israel/disciples?
    • It is interesting that a full moon only happens when the earth is not in between the moon and the sun. When the church allows the world to “get in the way”, it is not able to reflect the full light of God’s character & truth.

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