“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”M19 I have read these ten words from Genesis 1:1 over a hundred times, without stopping to think about the meaning behind these words. It’s simple enough to understand, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
It seems like a daunting task to stop and think about each verse of scripture, but unusual things begin to happen when you do. When the mind starts to fathom the meaning of each word and what they are trying to say, one begins to understand that something is being said, and it’s from just a few words. The Spirit of these words starts to sink in.
By spending a lot of time, meditating on the meaning of this one verse, we begin to understand that there was no heaven or earth, in the beginning before God created it. There was nothing except God. At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.
In the beginning there was God, there was nothing except for God, and the first thing that God started to do was create the heavens and then the earth. It’s important to understand that God exists outside of heaven and earth. God existed before He created heaven and earth.
Below is a simple illustration to visualize the fact that first there was God, and then God created the heavens and then the earth.
Could you imagine if you were the only person in existence and there was nothing, no heavens or earth just you?
How would you feel, if it was only you?
Would you feel happy?
Would you feel alone?
Would you feel sad?
Think about it for a few minutes. Spend some time and actually, give it some thought. The Cherokee tribe of Native Americans said, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”
How can we begin to understand God and His plans for us if we don’t put ourselves in His shoes once in a while?
That’s just a figure of speech. God probably has some colossal shoes, and for that matter, a mile might be a couple of light years or several million miles.
Naturally, we can’t put ourselves in God’s shoes, but the exercise of putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes begins to make us ponder and more importantly opens our mind up so we can start to understand the reasoning behind the why.
This method is limited to the exercise of the mind, for indeed we cannot begin to understand the motives of the heart. The actions of the heart have no reasoning because emotions cannot be understood only defined.
We can base our understanding of probable and most likely outcomes based on what we have observed and what is statistically the highest result. But the matters of the heart will always be a mystery.
What is it about the heart that obscures all understanding?
Emotions are what guide most of our choices in life, even the emotion of not being emotional. When we begin to see how we make our decisions, and how the heart influences our choices. We then begin to realize that even when we think we are leading from the mind, our heart is merely holding itself back and letting us choose that which is fair and logical.
The Bible talks a lot about the heart, in 1 Samuel 16:7 the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”M20
The heart is typically associated with love, but so too is jealousy. There are some choice words used to describe the heart in Jeremiah 17:9-10.
The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his deeds.M21
For if we cannot understand the heart of a man or a woman, how can we even begin to understand the heart of God?
In Proverbs 3:1-6 it says, my son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and long life and peace will they add to you.
Do not let mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so you will find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.M22
When we keep God’s commandments in our heart and place trust in the Lord with our heart, our roads will be laid out by God. It can be said that from the heart of God came the way of salvation, and the creation of the heavens, and the earth.
When we think of the heart, we think of love, and I am reminded of a few verses from 1 Corinthians 13.
In 1 Corinthians 13:2 it says, if I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.M23
And from 1 Corinthians 13:3, if I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.M24
If everything done without love, is nothing; it would mean that everything done with love is love.
EVERYTHING DONE WITH LOVE IS LOVE
It is said in 1 John 4:8, anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.M25
To know God, we must first know love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is often quoted to explain what love is, and it says.
Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.M26
If we replace the word love with God, for God is love, we get the following:
God suffers long and is kind; God envies not; God flaunts not Himself and is not puffed up, does not behave Himself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
God suffers long and is kind, because in 2 Peter 3:9 it says, the Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness. But He is patient with us, because He does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance.M27
God, who is love, endures all things because He does not want any to perish.
If God is love, everything that God created is love. God created the heavens and the earth out of love. Out of nothing God created everything. Sort of like an artist that is given a blank canvas. An artist draws and paints that which is inside the heart.
I don’t know about you, but if it were just me with the ability to create anything, I would create something to love, and what I create, I would love.
Who doesn’t love what they create?
Have you ever tried to clean up a house and attempt to recycle a piece of paper with scribbles done by a little child?
That child will stop you from recycling it and if you listen, you learn from a child, why it can’t be recycled.
That child will tell you an incredible story about every little dot and line. What you will learn in a few minutes is how much that child loves what they drew and how each dot and line on that piece of paper tells a story, and because you love that child, you will keep it around a little longer, at least for the sake of the child.
How much more do you think God loves us and lets us keep around a little longer the way we are drawing our life?
I think it would be fair to state to know God; one has to love and know what love is. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) it says, and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.N1 If God is love, who then is faith and hope?
God is love, and it is love that created the heavens and the earth.
If we look at the words “created the heavens” for a moment and did a bit of a deep dive into the meaning of the word create in Merriam-Webster. We learn that create, is to bring something into existence, it has to be produced through artistic skill, and we also learn that it is to cause a situation to exist.MW2
So that would mean God created and brought into existence, through His imagination “the heavens,” which would also create a situation to exist. What situation did God create to exist by creating the heavens?
We can talk about that later. First, let us focus on the fact that God speaks about the “heavens.” i.e. more than one heaven.
God created more than one heaven, and then God created the earth.
Let’s illustrate a picture of everything so far.
How many heavens did God create?
I don’t know the answer to that, but in Genesis 15:5 God gives an impossible task to Abraham.
He brought him outside and said, “Look up toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So will your descendants be.”M28
God was speaking to Abraham and told him that your descendants will be as many as the stars. God didn’t say that they would be no end to Abraham’s descendants because in Genesis 22:17 God said something fascinating. I will indeed bless you, and I will indeed multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the gate of their enemies.M29
God created a limit to the number of his descendants; God did this because it says it Genesis 1:1 God created the heavens. The word created implies that that He finished creating the heavens. So there is a finite or a definite number of heavens. Likewise, in Genesis 1:16-17, God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. Then God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.M30
God made the stars and, therefore, the number of stars are fixed and defined when God placed them in the expanse of the heavens.
The next interesting thing that I noticed in Genesis 1:1 is the word “and” that word signifies the last thing God created after creating the heavens. God created the heavens, “and” then He created the earth. By itself, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but as with everything in the Bible it begins to grow on you.
Why did He create the earth?
Why was it significant?
God created the heavens and He also created the earth. Earth is just a planet, one of probably hundreds nestled in the galaxy we call the Milky Way.
Earth was something special for God. He created it for something special to exist, for something special to take place in.
What was that something?
To understand that we need to know what was happening in the heavens when He created it. This sentence “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” States that God first created the heavens and then He created the earth. So what happened or what did God know would happen in the heavens, that He needed to create the earth?
Isaiah 46:10 has some insight, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My good pleasure.”M31
God already knows the end from the beginning as He is declaring it. God is God, He is the one that created everything. Who are we to question why?
There is a difference in asking why to understand the reason behind something, and asking why where the authority of something is questioned.
It would be foolish to question the authority of God! If you don’t believe me just read Job Chapter 38 – 42. The reason I ask why is because I want to know the untold story. I want to understand why God created what He created, why God did what God did. When you begin to understand why God does what God does, you start to have a glimpse of God’s heart.
So why did God need the Earth?
Before we can answer why the earth was needed. We need to understand what was going on in the heavens after it was created and before the earth was created.
We know that God created the cherub. I think the cherub and the angels were created when God created the heavens. I also believe that we have been established in some shape and form even before the earth was created. I would say we were created when heaven was created and before the earth. I’ll explain more of that in a later chapter, but for now, I will provide the context for my statement in Ephesians 1:4. He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love.M32
In case you missed that, it said “before the foundation of the world” so in the beginning God created the heavens, and before God created the foundations of the world (earth), He chose us.
You can’t tell me there isn’t a story there.
So what’s the story?
That’s where it gets exciting, God chose a group of people before He created the foundations of the world (earth) to be holy and blameless in His love. And in Ephesians 1:5 it says, He predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will.M33
How’s that for a story! Not only did God choose us, but His choice included having Jesus Christ as part of our destiny, our predestined fate. Yes, you read that right.
All this was in God’s heart when He created the heavens. So why then was the earth needed?
Well, the Bible has an interesting way of filling the gaps, or of telling the story without actually telling you the story.
All of this reminds me of Proverbs 25:2. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.M34
In Merriam-Webster, we learn that the word “matter” means “something that is being done, talked about, or thought about.”MW3
Therefore, if it is the glory of God is to conceal something that is being done so it won’t be talked about or thought about, it is the honor of kings to search out what was done, what was discussed and considered.
If we were to search out the purpose of the earth when God created the heavens what would we find?