In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1
Each of us began life as a baby, and we were unaware of what was going on around us or what the world was like. But as we grew older, we started to take note of the world—the sky, the sea, the winds, the birds, the flowers, the animals, the trees, and all of life around us. As we became aware of the world, we inevitably asked some questions about it. Those questions are the ones answered for us in brief compass here in the opening words of Genesis.
What are the questions? First, we ask ourselves,
What is all this? Driven by an insatiable curiosity, humans have been attempting to answer that question ever since they first appeared on earth. They seek to explore the universe and the world in which they live.
Second, we ask,
How did it begin? This question is the emphasis of science. Then we ask,
When did it all start? How long has the world been going on like this? Finally, we come to the great philosophical question,
Who is behind it? Who is back of these strange and remarkable processes? These questions are answered in this verse, and thus it serves as a tremendous introduction to the great themes of the Bible.
Take the first question, the one most obvious to us—the wonder of the universe itself.
In the beginning, we read,
God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Someone has said that this phrase is the beginning of true science, because a fundamental part of the task of science is to observe and classify all that can be observed in the makeup of the world of nature. Here is an early attempt at classification. What do you see around you? You see two great classes of things—the heavens and the earth.
One of the marvels of the Bible is that it uses language that communicates with people of the most primitive and limited understanding, while at the same time it still has significance and inexhaustible meaning for the most erudite and learned scholars. It addresses itself with equal ease to all classes of humanity. That is the beauty of Bible language.
The Bible avoids the utter ridiculousness of some of the early myths about creation found in other religions. It was the Bible that first said that the number of the stars is beyond computation. It declares that God
stretched out the heavens (Isaiah 51:13) into limitless expanse that can never be measured and filled it with stars that are as numerous as the sands upon the seashore (cf. Genesis 22:17). Modern science has now established this to be true.
It is also the Bible that says the earth is suspended over nothing (cf. Job 26:7). In that poetic way it describes the mysterious force of gravity that no one even yet understands. It was the Bible that said that
what is seen was not made out of what was visible (Hebrews 11:3), thus predating by many centuries the discoveries of science that finally recognized that all matter is made up of invisible energy and that matter and energy are interchangeable.
Lord, I praise You as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. From the very beginning of time, You have not changed, and I am grateful to know You as the One who has made all things.
The design of the Bible is not to tell us how the heavens go, but rather how to go to heaven. What is the beauty of Bible language that makes it so all encompassing?