Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Four details about God from Genesis 1

The chapter obviously teaches the pre-existence of God. There is a sense of grandeur in the opening verse, not merely that God did something, but that he was there before anything created appeared.  Linked to his pre-existence is his self-existence - he was not brought into existence by anything. 

A second detail about God in Genesis is that he has a programme according to which he works. On each of the days he did particular activities. God was capable of creating everything in one second, but that was not his plan. Instead he worked according to his own purpose. This is a reminder that God is sovereign (he alone decides what to do), that he has power (he is capable of bringing about his purposes), that he is patient (he is willing to wait for his purposes to come to fulfilment), and that he is orderly (every detail has its use and prepares for what comes next).

The chapter also indicates that within the one God there is a plurality of persons. It is hinted at in the first two verses where we read of God (a plural noun with a singular verb) and of the Spirit of God. But it is explicit in verse 26 where God says, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ Although some scholars attempt to dismiss the obvious by suggesting God is including the angels in the work of creation or is using the grammatical technique of plural of majesty, a straightforward reading indicates this plural reality in the Godhead. Verse 26 is not the only time such language occurs in the Old Testament. Another example is Isaiah 6, where Isaiah heard the exalted Lord ask, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ (v. 8).

A fourth detail that the chapter tells us about God is that he took pleasure in his work of creation. At the close of each day, apart from the second, the divine cry of delight was heard, ‘It is good.’ Perhaps it is to this cry of joy that the Lord refers to when addressing Job in Job 38:7 about the times ‘when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy’. In that chapter in Job, the Lord reminds Job of what took place at the creation and it is not difficult to think that the angelic song is a response to the divine delight expressed daily at the beginning. The days of creation echoed with the songs of the heavenly choir until they reached their climax with the creation of humans, when God saw that it was very good.

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