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Reflections on Genesis 1:1-5 part 2


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"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)?



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Reflections on Genesis 1:1-5 part 2


'God Created'


The word for “God” here is “Elohim” (אלהים ) and contains the idea of plurality. 1 God is not an abstraction, he is not an idea, neither is he part of the universe. He is a living personal being who acts: he "creates" (the word translated “created” is the Hebrew verb bara (ברא ), in the masculine singular form, so that clearly a personal being is meant. It is interesting to note the idea of plurality in unity, a plurality of form in one divine being. The Hebrew word bara is only used of God, it is creation out of nothing, from no pre-existing material and therefore beyond the ability of any human being. The whole Bible relates how God guides, provides for, and relates to his creation and to man in particular. He is constantly at work: "My Father is still working, and I also am working". (John 5:17) “the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10). Precisely how and when the Father works through Jesus is the subject of the rest of the bible. God created and God continues to create using the very channels and laws that he himself established at the beginning of time. He creates also through us. If we accept him as the Lord of creation and our Lord we shall see him acting in us and through us powerfully: “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do” (John 14:12).

 

'The Heavens'

The expression "heavens and the earth" is a figure of speech meaning simply "everything". Let us lift up our gaze from the ground on which we walk. It is good and right to keep our feet firmly on the ground but it is not natural nor is it right to fix our gaze on that ground constantly. Look up at the night sky to see what God has created and let us list some of the things we see there: the moon that gives us light in the midst of darkness with the stars twinkling in their orderly formation. Just imagine the night sky without these, how terrifying that would be! And what about all those things we cannot see: the numerous other planets and galaxies? What about the day sky with the sun with its light that allows us to go about our daily duties and that nourishes the earth and matures the food of the earth? Let us notice the cloud formations that provide the rain which, in combination with the rays of the sun, makes the produce of the earth grow to give us food. Let us take it all in: the variety of the elements of nature at our constant service, the immensity of it all and yet God is infinitely greater than all of this. The universe cannot contain him. Now let us imagine ourselves not only in relation to the immensity of the heavens but also in relation to God, who towers high above them and who does not need them as we do. Are we not infinitely small as he is infinitely great? To cultivate awareness of this is to cultivate humility. Humility is not debasing ourselves, nor is it measuring ourselves against others but seeing who we really are before God, highly precious in his eyes, object of his love and protection and being always ready to be filled with his light, life, character and power in order to serve those who cross our path in our small corner of this vast universe. It is to realise fully the truth that “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and equally “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).


'and the Earth'

Again let us list some of the things we are familiar with and compare ourselves to their vastness: the snow-capped mountains, the hills, oceans and lakes, towns and cities, our street, our parish. God towers above all of these and we feel infinitely small and insignificant.

After these observations and if we knew of no other verses of Scripture is it not true that our impression is one of a great but distant God, a being so important that it is hard to understand why he should ever be interested in us? Would the king, queen or rulers of our country be interested in you or I as individuals? Probably not. Then why should God? Do we not feel something of the surprise of the psalmist who said: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)

If this were the only verse to speak about God then indeed he would appear to be an infinitely distant God. There is a distance that man can never bridge. Man has tried to be equal to God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:5). Men have tried to build a tower with its peak in the heavens to reach the God who towers above all (Gen. 11:4). That was called the tower of Babel. It brought in its wake confusion and destruction. Man, by his own efforts, cannot have access to God; one is so distant from the other. How this distance can be bridged in order to establish a relationship with God is the subject of the rest of the Bible. It tells us not only how this infinite distance has been bridged but also that we now even participate in God’s own divine nature:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4)

Are we not anxious to make this discovery? Dare we even think that the bible is not relevant to modern man?

Whoever trusts in God not only welcomes the Bible as a guiding principle of life and a book of wisdom that has stood the test of time but, above all, is guided towards a relationship of love that transforms. Without this relationship of transforming love there is no true self-fulfilment. In this relationship of love there is a stable sense of belonging and solidarity, a sense of harmony and completeness. The Bible is a book of secrets revealed to those with the right disposition and it is a book of power for those who are committed.

 

NOTES

1 The original word אלהים (Elohim), God, is the plural form of אל (El), or אלה (Eloah)


 

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