Opening the first chapter of Genesis . . . has the feel of an Indiana Jones movie. You step from the familiar 21st century world into a cryptic underground cavern. Dust hangs heavy in the air. Pages of an ancient document feel like dried leaves to your touch. Here lies the record of the beginning of everything.
The language isn’t 21st century scientific. (How could it be if it was written in the second millennium B.C.?) It reads rather like a children’s story–simple statements that allow the imagination to soar.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:1,2).
God the Master Potter. Before him a massive lump of clay, formless and empty. But hidden beneath deep waters, held in place by the presence of the Potter. And all is dark. Had there been human eyes to see, they could not have, because there was no light. But there was movement. The Spirit of the Master Potter–like fingers ready to form what his mind envisioned–hovered. Instead of probing and pushing, however, he spoke . . .
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day (Genesis 1:3-5).
Into existence, out of the darkness, he spoke light. He was satisfied with what he saw. Light not driving away all darkness, but separating itself from darkness. Day and Night. Day One in the beginning.
The ancient document repeats the pattern. God spoke. And into existence came an expanse he called. Heaven. Day Two. God spoke. And waters under the heavens gathered themselves into massive pools around which dry land appeared. Good, God saw, The third Day (Genesis 1:6-13). God spoke. And it was as God said: a great light to rule the day, a lesser light to rule the night–and stars. God saw it was good. It was the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19). God spoke. Swimming creatures swarmed Earth’s waters. Birds soared across Earth’s heavens. Good. Multiply! It was the fifth Day (Genesis 1:20-23). God spoke. Living creatures came forth, creeping and walking and bounding across the ground. It was good.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26,27).
God spoke. Let us make man! In our image! Multiply! Fill the earth! Subdue it! Rule over it! Feed yourselves on every plant and fruit I have given you! And so it was. And God looked over all he had made and look!–it was very good. The sixth day (Genesis 1:28-31).
Is this ancient document for real? Do these dry, yellowed pages that pre-date science tell the truth of the beginning? If natural science snickers at such a story because it can’t prove it in its labs, must we reject it as religious myth? But there’s so much science can’t explain, isn’t there. Wide-mouth wonder when an eight year old sees the ocean the first time. Young love that captivates each by the other. Elder love that keeps two wrinkled hands clasped through decades of joy and sorrow. Laughter. Tears. Loneliness. Best friends. Intuitively we know these are more than chemical processes. Just as we know the creation cries out, “There is a Creator!”‘ Whose very words bring into being what hadn’t been. Whose creation is delightful to him and an Eden for us. Who formed us in his likeness that we might–under him–rule over what he has made.
And that we might sing with the psalmist . . .
May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works . . . May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord (Psalm 104:31,34).
You see, this simple ancient story about this complex creation isn’t about the mechanics of creating. It all points to the Creator.
It’s about him and his delight in what he has made. And it’s about us and our delight in what he has made that moves us to delight in him who made it.