Posted by Pastoral Musings on August 22nd, 2012
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
As Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the thing that was foremost in his mind was that Israel worship YHWH. For them to worship YHWH, they would have to know Him. For this purpose Moses leapt right into describing the nature of God.
We have already seen that the statement, “In the beginning God created”, shows us that there was a beginning to time. It also teaches us that God is before, above, and Lord of time.
Not only did God create time, but He also created space and matter. He created the heaven and the earth. Not only do we have time, but we have space and matter. Time, space, and matter are the creation of God.
The Ancient Near Eastern myths presented their gods as the products of matter. The ANE gods were not necessarily eternal, but had beginnings. They were often the products of the procreation of the gods. Some were created by other gods. The God of Israel, however, is the Creator of all things. He is before matter. He is above matter. There is nothing upon the face of the earth that should be considered a god, because the Creator is God of matter.
Moses understood this very well, because he wrote a song of praise to the LORD which said, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:1–2) Moses’ aim was to show Israel this truth so that they would recognize that YHWH is so vastly superior to the gods of the world that there is truly no comparison between them. They are made of matter, yet YHWH is God and Lord of matter; thus He is God and Lord of all things.
Today there are many who wish to present the Genesis account of the creation as being comparable to the ANE creation accounts, or even as having borrowed from them. Once we understand that the God who created all things is shown as so vastly superior to the gods of the world, we must reject this notion of parallelism and borrowing. There is simply no true comparison between the ANE myths and the Genesis account of creation, just as there is no comparison between the gods of the world and the Creator of all things.
Not only is this so, but there are those who wish to deny that the Genesis account of the creation is a historical narrative. We are told that we should not take it literally, because it says nothing about science. Once again, this is a notion that the text bids us to reject. Why? We must reject it because it makes a bold scientific statement that says God is the Creator of matter.
If we accept Genesis 1:1 as making a theological statement that God is Creator of matter and greater than the gods of ANE cultures, we must also embrace the whole of the Genesis creation narrative as speaking historically about God and His creation. To do otherwise is to be arbitrary, seeking to speak to the Scriptures instead of allowing Scripture to speak to us.