In spite of its name “Genesis,” which means “beginning,” and in spite of its position as the first book in the Bible, the Book of Genesis isn’t the beginning of everything. Genesis 1:1 reminds us, “In the beginning God.” So, before we study the basics that are laid down in Genesis 1-11, let’s acquaint ourselves with what God did before what’s recorded in Genesis.
What was happening before God spoke the universe into existence?
That may seem like an impractical hypothetical question, like “How many angels can stand on the point of a pin?” but it isn’t. After all, God doesn’t act arbitrarily; and the fact that He created something suggests that He must have had some magnificent purposes in mind.
What, then, was the situation before Genesis 1:1, and what does it teach us about God and ourselves?
God is eternal; He has neither beginning nor ending. Therefore, He is totally self-sufficient and needs nothing more than Himself in order to exist or to act. “God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made,” wrote A.W. Tozer, “but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself.” God needs nothing, neither the material universe nor the human race, and yet He created both.
If you want something to boggle your mind, meditate on the concept of the eternal, that which has neither beginning nor ending. As creatures of time, you and I can easily focus on the transient things around us; but it’s difficult if not impossible to conceive of that which is eternal. Contemplating the nature and character of the Triune God who always was, always is, and always will be, and who never changes, is a task that overwhelms us. “In the beginning God.”
Moses wrote, “Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (Ps. 90:2, niv). Frederick Faber expressed it like this:
Timeless, spaceless, single, lonely,
Yet sublimely Three,
Thou art grandly, always, only
God in unity!
“Process theology,” an old heresy in modern dress, affirms a “limited god” who is in the process of becoming a “greater” god. But if God is God, as we understand the word, then He is eternal and needs nothing; and He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present. In order to have a “limited god,” you must first redefine the very word “God,” because by definition God cannot be limited.
Furthermore, if God is limited and “getting greater,” then what power is making Him greater?
That power would be greater than “God” and therefore be God!
And wouldn’t that give us two gods instead of one?
But the God of the Bible is eternal and had no beginning. He is infinite and knows no limitations in either time or space. He is perfect and cannot “improve,” and is immutable and cannot change.
But that’s just part of the story…..
Genesis opens with the formation of the solar system, the preparation of the land for habitation, and the creation of life on the Earth.
Genesis is the book of beginnings – of the universe and of humanity, of sin and its catastrophic effects, and of God’s plan to restore blessing to the world through his chosen people. God began His plan when He called Abraham and made a covenant with him.
Genesis traces God’s promised blessings from generation to generation, to the time of bondage and the need for redemption from Egypt. It lays the foundation for God’s subsequent revelation, and most other books of the Bible draw on its contents. Genesis is a source of instruction, comfort, and edification.
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Basic (Genesis 1-11)