Tag Archives: ex nihilo

Person

Studies in Genesis 2

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22 ESV)

God does something only God can do. He creates. This is not ex nihilo creation. God does not create the woman out of nothing. Instead He takes available material, the first man, whom He had fashioned from available material, dust or dirt, and makes a new person, like the first man yet at same time, unlike him. This act of creation is consistent with the description of God’s other acts of creation.

Adam, the first man, was formed from earth, or dirt. Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV) Here, the word “formed” means to squeeze into shape, or mould as a potter fashions a vessel at the wheel. It is a different word than the one used by God when He built the woman. “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22 ESV). In this verse the word “made” means build or rebuild, or to make something continue. It does not mean to add on to an existing thing.

We cannot ignore the word of God when He created Man in His image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 ESV). God uses the same word when He created Man as He used when He created the universe, and then the sea creatures. The word “created” means to make something new that did not previously exist using either already created material or creating ex nihilo, out of nothing. Only God can create either ex nihilo or out of existing material He has already created.

The woman is not an extension of the man but one of two persons God uses to begin building the human race. It takes two, a male and a female, to make the population of people grow. Though God could fashion everyone out of the dust of the earth or from the rib of anyone, He does not work this way. He works, and fashions people according to the natural laws of procreation, in a way that requires one know another physically intimately. We are not told whether the first man knew what God was going to do to make a helper for him. As a servant of God the man would be willing to do whatever God wanted done.

God caused the man to fall into a sleep so deep he would not know the pain of the surgery performed. Taking a rib out of a person is a painful procedure. It would have been much easier for God to create the woman out of the dust of the earth. In the surgery is the act of giving oneself completely to another as an act of selfless love to both God and the woman, his helper.

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God, The Ultimate Authority

Studies in Genesis 2

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4 ESV)

From Genesis 2:4 though the end of Scripture God tells the history of Man created in His image.

When God speaks of the “generations” of His creation He is not talking about seasons and years and specific times and rhythms of nature. He established these rhythms on the fourth day of creation when He set the sun, moon and stars in the heavens. He is talking about the successive “generations” of people, who live and breathe and reproduce and then die. “Generations” means descent, family, or family history and genealogy, is a noun and plural and feminine and is used 39 times in the Hebrew Scripture to give an historical account of a family’s history. Genesis 2:4 is the first time the word is used (see also Genesis 5:1 and 6:9). “Generation” is a name for a group and the related successive groups in their entirety. As a feminine noun, it denotes a successive line of people born through the natural reproductive cycle.

God uses the phrase “heavens and earth” and then reverses it to the “earth and the heavens” to denote, not the totality of creation but the created space-time reality of those people that live, breathe, reproduce and die. God’s heavens and earth, as non-living, material stuff, exists from a beginning, brought into existence by Him, until an ending, through an expanse of time beyond comprehension. The material of the heavens and earth does not live, breathe or reproduce, and as such, cannot die. Heaven and earth will cease to exist, but that which does not live cannot die.

“Created” is the same word used throughout Genesis 1. God spoke and brought into existence all material stuff, ex nihilo, out of nothing. He then took that stuff and began forming, or creating, all which now exists, including that which has life and that which is not alive. God also uses the same word for “day” here that He uses throughout Genesis 1-2:3. Here the word “day” cannot mean a literal 24 hours, for He includes all He created on days three through six in this one day.

Finally, God gives Himself a more complete name. He is “LORD God.” LORD is the Hebrew word YHVH. The Hebrew language does did not have vowels. Scholars have added the vowels to the word, using the vowels from adonai, and transliterated it “Jehovah,” a word so ingrained in the modern Western evangelical mind people believe that is how it has always been written and pronounced. Yet, Hebrew writers considered God, and His name, so holy, they would not pronounce it, but would instead say adonai or “LORD.”

Yehova eloheem means God, the self-existent One. He is responsible for all of creation, having brought all into existent through divine fiat, for His purpose, according to His will, with His design and function. He names Himself. Eternity does not have a dimension as we could know or comprehend. Nor can those who are finite know or comprehend God, the Eternal. We can know what He reveals to us about Himself because we are in His image. From the beginning of the history of Man, to its end and into eternity, God reveals Himself to those who are His as the ultimate and only authority.

God Finishes

Studies in Genesis 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3 ESV)

God has accomplished the unimaginable. Finite minds cannot comprehend the eternal work of God, who surrounds the universe and has intimate knowledge of every atom and molecule contained therein.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV). He began his work of creation. Nothing existed except God prior to creation. There was no universe. Then there was. He created matter, ex nihilo, out of nothing. Every atom and particle of matter came into existence at the direction and authority of God. Our universe is a closed system. Nothing inside of it can get out of it and nothing outside of it can get in. Except for God, the Creator.
What God begins He finishes. God uses the word “finished” twice in these verses.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished.”

“God finished his work that he had done.”

“Finished” is a verb and is used 223 times. It is translated using a variety of English words in the King James version. It is also translated “consumed” or “consume” and “end” “fail” “done” “accomplished” “spent” “determined” and many other words. It can mean “consummated” “accomplished” “fulfilled” and “wasted away,” “exhausted,” “to come to an end,” “to perish” or “be destroyed.” What does God mean by describing what He has done with this word?

These are the first two instances of this word in the Scripture. Our tendency is to use all of the instances of the word to determine its meaning, with order and placement holding little account. Yet, this is the first time the word is used and God is using the word, twice, to describe what He has done. Perhaps we should give placement in Scripture more emphasis when seeking to understand the meaning of a word. Especially when the word is used by God in His description of Creation. He has not failed in His work but accomplished all He determined to do. He has not consumed anything but has brought all things into existence. His energy and resources are not spent because He cannot exhaust Himself. Does He finish creation to then simply destroy it?

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 ESV). Jesus explicitly states there is an end to creation. That which has a physical beginning also has a physical ending. Yet, God did not created Man in His image for any to cease to exist.
Jesus also finished His work in tortured agony on the cross. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30 ESV). “Finished” is an echo of what God has done in creation. There is no more to do because all He has determined to do has been accomplished.

There is a physical end to the physical universe. There is a physical death to that which lives in the physical universe. Jesus was raised from physical death to spiritual life. So, those who are His, when they physically die are raised to eternal spiritual life. A physical end to the physical universe does not mean the end of existence.

God finishes that which He begins and that which He accomplishes carries the eternal, unmistakably vibrant mark of God.

Light and Darkness

Studies in Genesis 1

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. 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. (Gen 1:1-4 ESV)

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, there was darkness. From the words used in Genesis 1:1-4, creation was chaotic and dark. His first act after creating the heavens and the earth, while there was darkness, was to command the presence of light. From creating light He gave order to what was chaotic. Why would God not create with order?

We will use Scripture to understand what God is saying and implying in the first few chapters of Genesis. However, we will try to interpret the rest of Scripture based upon our understanding of Genesis, not Genesis based upon other Scripture. God uses words in Genesis to define what He has created. Thus, we are constrained to understand how the words are used in Genesis to understand how they are used in the rest of Scripture.

There are three words in Genesis 1:1-4 used also in Isaiah. They are “light,” “darkness” and “create,” which is used twice in this verse.  “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV). “Darkness” is literally without light and figuratively means misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. “Light” literally means illumination or the source of light or illumination. “Light” may also mean to learn, to know intellectually, to come to an understanding. “Create” is a verb and means to make. God created ex nihilo, out of nothing, all that is in the physical universe. He then formed from the stuff created all physical things.

I believe God set up creation in such a way as to help those created in His image to understand Him and the spiritual realm. He is not created but did create heaven or the spiritual world. Some of what we see in physical creation is a type, copy or illustration of a spiritual reality. We need to take care to not manufacture illustrations where there is none. Darkness and light have spiritual meaning as well as physical meaning

John tells us Jesus, the Word, created all there is in both the physical universe and in heaven, the spiritual realm. Only God, Himself, is uncreated.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Joh 1:1-5 ESV)

Darkness is not just a lack of light but a lack of order and understanding, that which is not conducive to life and growth. Light is not just illumination but knowledge and wisdom, intricate and defined order, that which encourages life. From the beginning of creation God worked according to a principle of love for and complete involvement in His creation throughout time and space, especially for those created in His image.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:13-17 ESV)

 

God Uttered

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said. [Genesis 1:3 ESV]

Elohēm awmar. God uttered. God declared. God spoke.

These two words are a simple and elegant phrase of God’s creative being.

Behind these two words is the infinite intelligence and purpose of God. He determined before He created what a thing is and how it will act within the larger context of all things and how each acts and reacts to every other thing.

He created all matter ex nihilo, out of nothing. All matter exists. Now, in these two words, He begins to shape matter into different elements according to His eternally determined desire.

Words imply laws, such as grammar and syntax. Yet, words also suggest the physical, moral and emotional laws which govern the speaker and about that which is spoken. Physical laws and moral laws are absolutes. Everything exists and moves according to an established boundary encompassing existence and movement. Nothing can break a law without suffering specific consequences.

God established the laws which govern the universe.

Words also imply action of will. God does not just speak to hear His own voice. When He speaks something happens. He may speak into existence, changing matter from one element to another or He may whisper to people direction, rebuke, insight or encouragement.

When God uttered His full being was engaged in creation. He is all knowing, omniscient. All He creates is irreducibly complex (to borrow a phrase from Michael Behe) things from their inception. All parts are present, working together as they are designed to work, for the thing created to exist and move in a universe built especially for all the universe contains.

By Design

Studies in Genesis 1

In the beginning, God created the universe. [Genesis 1:1 ESV]

God built and designed the universe. Before, there was nothing. Then there was something. He created ex nihilo, out of nothing. Then, from matter and energy God brought into existence He designed and fashioned all there is in the universe. He built the elements, made stars and solar systems and galaxies and set everything in motion.

Each galaxy is made of billions of stars with the greatest concentration toward the center. This massive concentration of stars has a gravitational pull which keeps them within the confines of the galaxy which moves and spins at a constant rate of speed.

Every star is unique and may be smaller than our sun or so large our solar system would fit within its diameter. Every star has a different color, level of energy, mass and temperature. Every star has gravity pulling near objects toward its self. Orbiting objects maintain a steady speed and distance from its star because of the exact pull of gravity.

There are uncounted galaxies filled with uncounted stars. We may make educated guesses about the number of galaxies and stars within each, but cannot know. Yet, God knows the exact number of galaxies and stars because He created them and placed them in the universe by design. No star is birthed or dies without His knowledge and direction. Every galaxy, star, solar system, planet, object with their mass and speed and unique characteristics are there because of the design of God.

God’s Handiwork

Studies in Genesis 1

In the beginning, God created. [Genesis 1:1 ESV]

There are good reasons why people are not the best source of information about knowing God. There is also a good reason why people could be a valid source of knowledge about God. People were created in the image of God. Yet, sin has invaded and distorted people’s perception of everything. This is a discussion for another time.

Nature, creation itself, is a good way to know about God. By examining nature we can see the extent of creative thought and action needed by the mind behind creation. Yet, we must take care to not embed into creation divinity. Creation is not God but points to God, the Creator.

Everything in creation began and will end, constrained by time, moving forward, growing and shrinking, gaining power and then losing power. At least, this is the perception of creation from the largest galaxy to the smallest molecule. Within all are the building blocks, the material of which atoms are made. Even the particles which make up every atom move and rearrange, come together and break apart.

I am not a physicist. Perhaps my understanding of physics is skewed. Underneath everything is energy and matter. One of the assumptions of physics is that the level of energy and matter in the universe is constant.

When God created something out of nothing, ex nihilo, He then took that something He created and made all which is made in the universe. He took matter and energy and fashioned as He pleased.