The Beginning (Genesis Series) Part 3 of 3
by John Lowe
There is one view of these two verses that I do not ascribe to, but it is accepted and promoted by some preachers of the Word. This view describes an earth wrecked by divine judgment (See Is. 34:11 and Jer. 4:23). Some have theorized that the creation of the heavens and earth described in verse 1 was destroyed in the judgment of Lucifer (Is. 14; Ezek. 23). This “Gap Theory” assumes a stretch of time between verses 1 and 2; verse 2 then begins the story of the re-creation. More likely, Jeremiah and Ezekiel simply used the phrase as descriptive of utter desolation. According to this view, verse 1 describes God’s first creative act, while verses 2–31 follow with a detailed description of His creative work following an interlude of unfinished business between verses 1 and 2. This view has been discredited by many in the past few years.
Isaiah 34:11 (KJV) “But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness”
Jer 4:23 (KJV) “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.”
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
“Darkness was upon the face of the deep” indicates the absence of God. Darkness is not always a symbol of evil in the Bible. Psalm 104:19–24 (See below) makes it quite clear that physical darkness (the absence of visible light) is not to be considered inherently evil or as the result of divine judgment. It conveys the fact that God makes the darkness and the night for animals to find their prey.
“The deep” is the whole fluid mass of earth and water mixed together. This abyss is called waters in the next clause; and it was all a dark murky chaos, without any light or motion. God seems at first to have created the elementary state of all things; and this formed the grand mass of matter, which in this state must be without form and void, or any recognizable parts: a vast collection of indescribably confused materials, of nameless “stuff” strangely mixed. The scene is wonderfully described by an ancient heathen poet:—
Before the seas and this terrestrial ball,
And heaven's high canopy that covers all,
One was the face of nature, if a face;
Rather, a rude and indigested mass;
A lifeless lump, unfashion'd and unframed,
Of jarring seeds, and justly Chaos named.
The most ancient of the Greeks have spoken nearly in the same way of this crude, indigested state of the primitive chaotic mass.
Psalm 104.19-24 (NKJV) “He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down. You make darkness, and it is night, In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God. When the sun rises, they gather together And lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work And to his labor until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom, You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions.” Here the psalmist turns his attention to God’s coordination of the heavens. HE CREATED THE MOON FOR SEASONS (cf. Gen 1:14). The Jewish calendar was a lunar calendar; dates followed the movements of the moon. Thus, the Jewish psalmist viewed the moon as all-important in setting the seasons. THE SUN KNOWETH HIS GOING DOWN (i.e., a poetic picture of the sun knowing when it is time to set). THOU MAKEST DARKNESS, AND IT IS NIGHT. It is at night that ALL THE BEASTS OF THE FORESTS DO CREEP FORTH and the primeval jungle comes alive with action. THE YOUNG LIONS ROAR AFTER THEIR PREY, stalking the night forests seeking God’s provision for their own sustenance. And then THE SUN ARISETH, which causes the jungle to rest when the lions and beasts of the forest LAY THEM DOWN IN THEIR DENS.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Interpreters have translated this passage in various ways. The opinion of some is that it refers to the wind, and they have suggested that the verse ought to be translated, “An awesome wind sweeping over the water.” But the context demands otherwise. It is definitely a reference to the third person of the Godhead (See Job 26:13 and Ps 104:30). Here God is depicted as having a “Spirit” who acts as His agent in creation, although the Spirit is not revealed as a separate member of the Trinity until the NT (John 3:1–21; 14:16, 17, 26; 16:5–14; 20:22). The Spirit of God is seen “hovering over” (See Deut 32:11), protecting, and participating in the creation with God the Father. John 1:1–3 and Colossians 1:16 make it clear that more than one person of the Godhead was involved in creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3; KJV). “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col 1:16; KJV). GOD is said to have created all things in Genesis 1.1, and in these two verses, Christ is said to have created all things: the same unerring Spirit spoke in Moses and in the evangelists: therefore Christ and the Father are ONE. To say that Christ made all things by a delegated power from God is absurd; because the thing is impossible. Creation means causing that to exist that had no previous being: this is evidently a work which can be accomplished only by omnipotence. Now, God cannot delegate his omnipotence to another; because if it were possible, he to whom this omnipotence was delegated would, in consequence, become GOD; and he from whom it was delegated would cease to be such; therefore, it is impossible that there could be two omnipotent beings. Hence, the Holy Spirit is also God, and He was there and participated in the original creation. The power of the Spirit was necessary in order to sustain it. The question may have occurred to the mind of someone, how such a chaotic glob could manage to stay together for even a few moments. Moses asserts that this glob, however confused it might be, was rendered stable, for the time, by the secret operation of the Spirit. Now there are two possible ways to understand “moved upon;” either that the spirit moved and excited Himself over the waters in order to give it vitality; or that He brooded over them because He cherished them. It probably makes little difference which view you adopt, though I believe the latter is correct, and I will explain why in the next paragraph. But if that chaos required the secret inspiration of God to prevent its rapid dissolution; how could this order subsist by itself, unless it derived strength elsewhere? The scriptures have the answer: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth” (Psalms 104:30; KJV). The Holy Spirit was active in creation, but as soon as the Lord takes away his Spirit, all things return to their dust and vanish away—“Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. (Psalms 104:29; KJV).
“And the spirit of God moved” suggests that He cherished creation, since the word for “moved” means brooded, like a mother hen broods over her little chicks. He brooded upon the face of the waters. The Holy Spirit began a ministry here which we will find Him doing again and again. It is recreation! He comes into this scene and He recreates. This is precisely what He does for us. And so the Scriptures represent the original earth as standing out of the water, and consisting of it, (See 2 Peter 3:5) and upon the surface of these waters, before they were drained off the earth, "the Spirit of God moved"; which cannot be understood as referring to a wind, as many Jewish writers, as well as Christians, interpret it; since the air, which the wind is a motion of, was not made until the second day. The Spirit "moved" or brooded, "like a dove on her young,” “upon the face of the waters,” to impregnate them and give life to them, like a hen upon eggs to hatch them; He separates the parts which were mixed together, and produces living creatures in them. The account of this new creation begins at the end of this second verse; and the details of the process are described in the natural way an onlooker would have done, who saw first-hand the changes that took place
Job 26:13 (KJV) “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.”
(Psalms 104:30; KJV) “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.”
Deut 32:11 (KJV) “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings.” God, by the influences of his Spirit, enlightens, encourages, and strengthens the minds of His people.
2 Peter 3:5 (KJV) “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” “Of old” means "from of old;" or from the beginning of all things, or FROM THE BEGINNING OF CREATION. “Earth standing out of” means “consisting of," that is, "formed out of the water." The waters under the firmament were at creation gathered together into one place, and the dry land emerged out of and above, them.