Consider the book of Genesis in the Bible. It opens with this crucial statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and voice; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

“In the beginning” refers to origins; the starting of all things. God created the universe and all that it contains. We find our existence in Him. He is the beginning and the ending. He started things and we find in Him meaning and purpose for all things—life through death and beyond. Death, indeed, is not the end. The whole “intelligent design” movement has real meaning and significance in learning about what is.

Also in the beginning there was formlessness and darkness. These two things go together and there is meaning in their connection. Formlessness and darkness. What is involved?

The Spirit of God was present from the very beginning of all things. In this we must define God and find in Him the reason for all being and activity. God is not to be ignored without consequences. “In the beginning God!”

First, here is God REVEALED. This is a revelation of who God is—Creator and sustainer of all that exists. God is shown to be the originator and creative genius that He is. Revelation is important. It is both practical and purposeful. God has revealed Himself for who He is. He is the Creator. He has brought all things into existence. Nothing exists that does not have its origin in Him. He may not directly create or allow things, but all exists because and by His act. He is the Creator, the initiator and sustainer of all that is. Nothing can exist without Him.

Second, this is also a word about REALITY. There is a real world that we must relate to. We live in a real time and a real place. We find ourselves in this real world. It is a physical world that takes form and fullness. God is real. The world is real. This certainly addresses the question of atheism and agnosticism. God is busy speaking and showing Himself to what is. This is a real God and a real world and we can know and relate to both. This real world is a place that we can experience and know.

Third, in this there is also God RESPONDING. God hasn’t just created the things that exist. He responds to them. He is sovereign and supreme. God works in and with His creation. He isn’t the absent land-lord that some have explained in considering the role that God has in regards to creation. This means that God takes relationships seriously and importantly. God has a place for us. We do not have to worry about this fact. God can communicate. We can communicate. In fact, one of the ways that we are “like” God is our ability to think and to express what we think. Language is an important topic to talk about. What are some of the issues that this raises for our consideration?

Fourth, there is here also some REFINING taking place. There is a difference between creating and making. Creation is ex nihilo, that is, out of nothing. God made what is out of nothing. This addresses the heresy of materialism, that is, that the only substantial and eternal reality is that of material creation, physical substance.

God is a Spirit. God exists, but He doesn’t have to depend upon physical reality or physical substance to manifest Himself. This also points to revelation because God can only be known as He reveals Himself. We do not FIND Him. We come to know Him because He has opened the way for us to come to Him and He has spoken to us. God speaks and shows. This is what Carl F. H. Henry discusses in his famous theological works.

God is busy about showing Himself and speaking about Himself. In this is an explanation of revelation and reality. What we know about God we know because He has revealed Himself to us. He has spoken in a way that we can understand Him and hear Him. He has clearly revealed Himself. He has shown Himself to be there.

He is, as Francis Schaeffer says, “The God who is there.” He exists. He speaks. He hears. He is the real God who delights in hearing and answering His people when they pray.

Fifth, there is much that is REMARKABLE in this statement. God is not only real, revealed and responding.

He is remarkable in that He choses to identify with His creation. He has not left us alone.

This is certainly true before Jesus and is supremely revealed in Jesus Christ’s incarnation. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Another thing. This is a remarkable book. It is a book about beginnings.

There are many things that we need to keep in mind reading Genesis. With these issues in mind, begin a reading journey through Genesis. It is a journey that needs to be deliberate and determined. God is in this journey because He has left us with this word. It is a revelation that gives us essential information about God Himself.

Another book to aid in Genesis is the Gospel of John. John reveals to us that God is associated with “the Word.” He is language. He communicates. He speaks all things into existence. This Word is the revelation of God and the origin of all things. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). Not only is God the Word. He is also the Life. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5). Life is the power that gives form and purpose to what is. God made us and we are in His image. The life that is in us is related to Him. We need God for life to have purpose and meaning. Then, third, God is light. Light is vital to life. Without light there cannot be life. Darkness is death. In this statement in John we have an insight into the reality of God’s power and purpose in creation.

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— You can send your thoughts to drjerryhopkins@yahoo.com, or by “snail mail” at P. O. Box 1363, Marshall, Texas 75671. Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a historian and retired professor