THE BOOK OF BEGINNINGS
BY: ADOLPH E. KNOCH
The beginning of both creation and generation is the burden of the scroll the Greeks called “Genesis,” which denotes Generating. Since the first and foremost function of this book is a record of God’s creation, we use the Hebrew heading, B-rashith, IN-HEAD, or IN-BEGINNING, as a title of the whole book. Thus we discover the inspired summary of this sacred scroll, which presents God’s creative work, as well as the first generations of mankind, which fill the balance of the book.
It is characteristic of mortals, when estranged from God, to look back to the time of creation, rather than to the creation itself. The rendering “In the beginning,” is probably as close to the significance of the Original as English idiom will allow; still it is sufficiently inexact to cause cloudy conceptions and questionings to arise. It seems to fix a definite point of time, and to be limited to the single act of creation, whereas the Hebrew is not the name of a specific instant in the past, but a descriptive term, giving priority or origination to the contents of the whole book.
The Hebrew stem, rash, denotes HEAD, and is used idiomatically in the sense of principal, summit, top, beginning, first (in time). The special form used here, rashith, must usually be rendered by first of, or beginning of in English, as “the beginning of his kingdom” (Gen.10:10), “the first of the firstfruits.“ (Ex.23:19) The very phrase with which the Bible begins, B-rashith (B is IN), occurs four times elsewhere, and is translated “In the beginning of” (Jer.26:1; 27:1; 28:1; 49:34), and is always followed by a noun, “the reign of.” But in Genesis it is followed by the verb create – In the beginning [of] He-creates…This seems to show that it is not a part of the sentence, but the title. The beginning spoken of in this section is creation, in contrast to the rest of Genesis, which speaks of generation.
“To make something out of nothing,” that is the usual definition of create. This is confirmed by the dictionary, which makes it: “To bring into being; to cause to exist… the world is regarded as brought into being out of nothing.” But we have been unable to find any confirmation for this in God’s Word. Indeed, the only passages, which throw any light upon this point, teach the opposite. Peter wrote to the dispersion, “You may be subject to every human creation… (1 Pet.2:13). No man can create anything out of nothing. When God created the Circumcision and Uncircumcision into one new humanity, these were already in existence. (Eph.2:11-15) He simply made both one by putting them into Christ. The Scriptures teach that all is out of God (Rom.11:36; 1 Cor.11:12; 2 Cor.5:18), not out of nothing. This includes all the substance of all later creations, for God’s creative acts are not confined to the beginning. Not only was the joint body of Ephesians created out of the Circumcision and Uncircumcision, but we are a new creation, created in Christ Jesus, just as all was created in HimBG in the beginning. (Eph.2:10; Col.1:16)
In Christ we can see clearly that creation was not out of nothing. He calls Himself “God’s creative Original,” or, as the AV has it, “the beginning of the creation of God.“ (Rev.3:14) And He Himself also said, “I came out and am arriving out of God.“ (John 8:46) What is better evidence than a double witness from the lips of Truth Himself? It is further confirmed by our apostle, Paul, who calls Him the “Firstborn of every creature, for in Him is all created…” (Col.1:15,16). All was in Him in the beginning, even as all humanity was in Adam at first. And we feel sure that all who love Him and have tasted of His grace will be slow to say that He was nothing, when they would never think of saying that Adam, in whom we were made sinners, was nothing. God, when He created Adam, and humanity in him, did not create it out of nothing. He used previously created soil and atmosphere. These must be continually renewed in order to keep human beings alive. If we had been created out of nothing, then it might have been our lot to live out of nothing. This, I suppose, would be very welcome to some. But those who have tried it have returned to the soil from which they sprang.
Probably the worst effect, V which this false view of creation produces, is the warping of our thoughts as to the future. If creation came out of nothing it could easily return to oblivion. This would lend color to what is usually termed annihilation. On the other hand, if creation originated in God, then it is almost impossible for a sound mind to be fully content with any other ultimate than an enriched return to its Origin. This is marvelously expressed for us in the summary of the didactic portion of the book of Romans (11:36). There we are told that,
not only is all out of Him in creation, but also through Him in the eonian times, and for Him in the consummation, when He becomes All in all.
After the heading, “In the beginning,” the Word of God says that creation was by Elohim, by Toward-Subjectors. The key to this use of the plural soon follows, in the third verse. “Yet the spirit of Elohim is vibrating over the surface of the water.” God is spirit, and He works by means of His spirit, yet through those to whom He has imparted it. Not only the Father, as Subjector, but also His Son was engaged in the creation of the heavens and the earth. God was the Source, for all is out of Him (Rom.11:36), but all is created in the Son of His love. (Col.1:16) It also may have included such as those sons of Elohim who were present at the foundation of the earth. (Job 38:7)
An absolute beginning is unknown to the Scriptures, as well as an absolute end. Such a thing is beyond human comprehension, even were it mentioned in the Word. The beginning of Genesis is not the beginning of all things, but only of the material heavens and earth. As all was created in the Son of God’s love, He is before all else, and all has its cohesion in Him. Although there were no human beings before Adam, there were sons of Elohim present at the founding of the earth, as made known to Job. In order to put him where he belongs, with all the rest of humanity, Job was asked some pointed questions (Job 38:4-7):
Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell if you know with understanding. Who determined its measurements – for surely you know! who stretched out a measuring tape upon it? What were its sockets sunk? Or who directed its cornerstone in place, When the stars of the morning were jubilant together, all the sons of Elohim raised a joyful shout?
Here we are introduced to those who were present in this work of creation. They were powerfully and joyfully impressed by the founding of the earth. It seems to have a prolonged process, a period of time, rather than an instantaneous miracle, which is here likened to the erection of a great edifice on earth. God’s spirit is literally imperceptible, even when present in others. It would be impossible to describe it in literal terms, so that these early sons are also presented under the figure of stars. The coming of Christ was predicted by a Star out of Jacob (Num.24:17), which guided the magi to His birthplace. (Matt.2:2) Abram’s seed are compared with stars (Gen.15:5). The moon and stars are messengers of the ecclesias (Rev.1:20), and the Root of David will be the resplendent Morning Star, harbinger of the coming kingdom. (Rev.22:16) So, in the beginning, the stars of the morning celebrated the advent of the earth. This is most suggestive. When the earth was founded, the day was about to dawn, for it was to be the means of God’s fullest revelation to all His creatures.
The Disposer, or Subjector, created the heavens and the earth. This shows that that title God, in English, or Elohim (Alueim), in Hebrew, or Theos, in Greek, is broader and more comprehensive than Creator, and includes it. The meaning of the title Elohim, Toward-Subjectors, is by no means limited to creation. In the first chapter of Genesis Elohim goes on to vibrate by His spirit, and so inaugurated all motion, which resulted in the light and the atmosphere and the waters and the dry land. In other words, His power was exercised in subjecting or placing all the elements He had created to prepare the earth for the living souls which He was about to create. May we not take this as a primitive example of His way of working? There is to be a future new creation. Is the Disposer idle meanwhile? Is He not doing as He did in the beginning, operating in the present creation in preparation for the new? By His spirit He has already introduced His saints into the new creation, in anticipation of that which is to come. This should show us that God is far more than Creator. He is the Operator, the Controller of that which He has made. Otherwise how could He make any advance toward the consummation?
All intelligent creatures are overwhelmed with awe when they contemplate the innumerable, immeasurable, infinitesimal, incomprehensible marvels of creation. Nothing is so great and nothing so small but it reveals the wonders of His workmanship. We cannot except the tiniest atom from His attention, for who else could create it? Nor can we excuse Him from the task of making such an incalculable number, for no one has the power or the skill to form even one. It is well for believers to contemplate these things, and meditate upon them, for they are tangible and material, so present no problem to faith. These marvels of the Creator should prepare us for the more marvelous movements of the Subjector, Who operates the creation in order to work out His will.
If God, the Subjector, had simply flung the stars into space, and did not hold them to their orbits, all would soon be confusion, and chaos. Their movements, as well as creation, are due to His disposal. If He did not regulate the times and seasons on the earth, life would soon vanish from its surface. His revelation tells us very little about creation. It is almost altogether concerned with His operations among the sons of Adam. The unbeliever does not see His hand, or realize His presence. Although the Scriptures are full of examples of His directive and corrective influence, few of the saints fully realize the pervading power of His spirit. Indeed, it was not fully revealed until Paul’s full and final unfoldings show us that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will. (Eph.1:11) May He give us grace to receive it and believe it!
The preceding article is compiled from portions of studies by Brother Knoch, appearing in Unsearchable Riches, volumes 40, 42 and 45.
© Concordant Publishing Concern
BOOK OF BEGINNINGS, THE [Adolph E. Knoch] 1