Wednesday Bible Study
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Out of Nothing
In the beginning
I’m going with the conviction that this is referring to time. So it can mean ‘at that time’ or ‘when there was no time’ or ‘when the world began’ or ‘it began in this way’.
God created the heavens and the earth.
There is no mention of the day creation took place. There is also no mention of what God said that created the heavens and the earth.
The heavens and the earth are not what we have now.
It is called by many theologians throughout history and even some scientists today, primary material or primordial ooze. It is a composite of all things that make up heaven and earth but has not yet been separated and distinguished. This is the material God uses in His later work (Exodus 20:11). Secondary material is something like what we call raw material. For example, a cabinet maker uses wood to make a cabinet. Wood is the secondary material for the cabinet maker, who then forms the wood into a cabinet.
God did not create the primary material outside the six days. He created it out of nothing early on the first day.
The simple meaning of verse 1 is that everything that is (seen and unseen) was created by God. Later in the day, He creates light in order to expose the crude mass of heaven and earth.
The earth was without form and void
There are no hills or valleys, plants or animals, people or roads or towns. Isaiah 34:11 is a threat from God to stretch this formlessness and voidness over the earth. When earth and heaven, water and land, trees, cities, etc are removed and thrown into a shapeless mass, the result is what Moses writes, “without form and void.” Luther goes to 2 Peter 3:5-6, “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.” The best example of “without form and void” is the result of the flood. For smaller examples, Jerusalem is laid waste by the Romans in 70 A.D. and Rome is laid waste by the Barbarians.
And darkness was on the face of the deep.
Creation, early on the first day, is a dark, unformed mass. Our Father is credited for ‘making the heaven and earth’ It then the Christ who is to separate and distinguish this dark and unformed mass into what we recognize as creation. Jesus does this work by speaking.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
It is the great consensus of the Christian church that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is set forth at the beginning of Genesis. Our Father creates out of nothing, through the Son, whom Moses calls the Word, and over this primary material the Holy Spirit hovers.
Luther writes concerning the Holy Spirit that He is like a hen that broods over her eggs, keeping them warm in order to hatch her chicks. Holy Scripture says the Holy Spirit brooded on the waters to bring life to those substances which were to be quicken and adorned. For this is the Office of the Holy Spirit, to make alive.
So, let’s set aside other opinions and consider the following as sufficient:
Out of nothing God created heaven and earth as an unformed mass so that the unformed earth was surrounded by the unformed heaven or mist.
This requires profound humility.
Our minds are not able to grasp what is outside of time.
God manifests Himself only through His works and His Word.
Luther mentions: perhaps God appeared to Adam without a covering but after the fall into sin God appeared as a gentle breeze as though enveloped with a covering. He was later covered in the tabernacle by the mercy seat. He was covered in the desert by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Moses calls the coverings “the faces of God.” Cain calls the place he sacrificed to God as “the face of God” (Genesis 4:14 - 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face).
My nature has become so misshapen through sin, so depraved and utterly corrupt, that I cannot recognize God or comprehend His nature without a covering. It is for this reason coverings are necessary. Today, He covers Himself in Holy Baptism, Absolution, Holy Communion, and the proclamation of His Word. No one can recognize the true God apart from these coverings which are the Face of God in His grace. (God also covers Himself in various ways according to the Law. Luther calls these the masks of God. Your dad and mom are the covering of God for you. God covers Himself in the form a farmer, factory worker, truck driver, grocer to give you a loaf of bread and care for all your needs.)