When we talk about creating something, we’re generally referring to what people produce. We admire a landscaper’s creatively designed garden; we brag on our kids’ creative projects; we enjoy a choreographer’s dance creations. I personally love the way sports writers create impact with their words. (I always read the sports section.)
Moses, the writer of Genesis, makes it clear that the creation of the world was done by God and no other. He does so by using a special word for “created” that refers exclusively to God’s creative activity. That makes sense, because God’s kind of creation is unique. While people must use what God has already made to create something, nobody supplies God with anything. He requires no outside resources – the Master of Creation creates all else from within Himself.
Moses also repeats himself a lot. Many biblical writers (and perhaps some of your friends and family) do this. They made a point by saying something over and over (and over). Moses is no exception. In Genesis 1:1-2:3 he uses the special Hebrew word “created” again and again (and again) to emphasize his point. He also makes God the subject of sentence after sentence. Take a look at the introduction to the bible:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 1:21 And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind…. 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He [God] created him; male and female He [God]created them. 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He [God] rested from all His work which God had created and made.
You get the point.
Moses and Merisms (A Very Short Grammar Lesson)
When Moses says that God created “the heavens and the earth.” He’s using a figure of speech called “merism.” Merisms state a topic’s boundaries but actually refer to everything within those boundaries. We speak the same way. If I say my uncle works “day and night” I mean he works all the time. When Moses says “heavens and earth” he means that God created everything which heaven and earth contain. Everything. All matter – on the earth, in the earth, and around the earth – came from God.
Reading Between the Lines – Three Thoughts about Creation
First, a creation cannot precede its creator. If God created everything, that means God was there first, before the “everything.” Some Ancient Near Eastern religions (and many modern thinkers) believe God came second. Ancient religions say that matter like the sea or the sun brought forth gods; Marx (and Freud) thought God an illusion produced by mankind to help them feel safe by comforting themselves with false hopes.
The Genesis record, if true, allows no such conclusions. God is the developer and master of creation. He was there before He spoke creation into existence.
Second, this Creator brings about profound change. Read on in Genesis and you’ll see newness spring into being. Empty spaces fill up. Order replaces chaos. Light invades darkness. It’s wild … yet controlled. It’s miraculous (and by that I mean way beyond human ability).
Third, God the Creator produces things that never before existed. We have no way to predict or anticipate what God will do next. But, as we see elsewhere in the bible (e.g. 1 Samuel 15:29, Psalm 102:25-27, Malachi 3:6) while God creates changes that surprise us, He does not change. His character stays consistent; His values are dependable. That’s our stability. We can’t predict God’s actions, but we can count on the consistent goodness of His heart.
Explore Your Own Beliefs and Behaviors
• Genesis 1 showcases God’s mastery over His creation. Do you think God still has mastery over the world He created?
• When God speaks, surprising things come into being. How do you deal with surprise? Do sudden shifts unsettle you or delight you? Are you comfortable with change? (Some of us are … some of us aren’t.)
• If God’s unpredictable deeds unsettle you, how do calm yourself? How do you try to provide your own predictability?
• How would your life change if you were certain that God’s heart is absolutely and predictably good?
Two Kinds of Creation (God’s and Ours)
© Lynne Fox, 2017