Genesis 1:1 Commentary - Neighbour's Wells of Living WaterIn The Beginning God
In these days of humanizing God, we need to give more time to the study of God's eternity. The Bible opens with the expression, "In the beginning God." Let us consider three things.
1. God's solitariness. God was before all things because He was in the beginning. He was the Creator, and was, therefore, before anything was created. The human mind cannot grasp this marvel, God existed alone in His triune personality before ever anything came into being. He existed in illimitable space, in uninhabited immensity. AH things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that is made. The Creator preceded the creation.
2. God's rightful place. If all things were made by Him and for Him, and if, in Him all things consist, then He certainly is greater than all things, and should hold the primacy in all things.
The first verse of the Bible places God first, thus giving Him the pre-eminence. Let us keep Him first, giving Him the adoration and the worship which is due His Name.
We need to know the God our fathers knew-a Living, Loving, Life-giving God. The God who makes His way in the whirlwind and in the storm; the God who makes the clouds the dust of His feet. We need to worship a God who is both omnipotent and omniscient, possessing all power and filled with all wisdom. We need to worship a God who created all things, and who upholds all things by the word of His power.
Let the loftiness of man be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man be made low. Let every one that is proud and lofty, every one that is high and lifted up, fall down and fear the Lord and worship Him for the glory of His Majesty. Let the Lord alone be exalted, for He is God. Praise ye the Lord! Magnify His Name forever.
3. God first in all things. We want to suggest that God is first in creation, and therefore, all things should do Him obeisance, and bend the knee before Him. However, God is not only first in creation, but He is also first in regeneration. He is the Author of our second birth, as well as our first birth. There is a little verse which says: "The new man" where "Christ is All, and in all."
Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ." The verse suggests that Christ was the Author of life, the Sustainer of life, the Inspiration of life, and the Goal of life. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being. How can we do else than crown Him Lord of all?
I. THE PRIMEVAL EARTH (Gen 1:1)
1. The earth was created. It did not evolve; it did not happen; it did not develop; it came into existence under the command of the Eternal. The word "created" carries with it the thought of something made out of nothing. It pre-supposes the miraculous. We may make many things, but we make them out of things which lie at hand. God created the heavens and the earth.
2. When was the earth created? The Bible says, "In the beginning God created." The creation of man is another matter. The renewing of the earth is also another matter. These will be discussed in their proper place. Of the prehistoric earth, we know but little; however, we know that in that period called "the beginning," it was created.
3. How was the earth created? There is one thing we know-the earth was created in Divine perfectness. Let us read a verse in Isa 45:18,-"For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else."
The word "in vain," in the Scripture just quoted, is the same as the word "without form and void" in the second verse of the Bible. We take it, therefore, that when God created the heavens and the earth it was not created a (tohu)-without form and void.
II. THE EARTH DESPOILED (Gen 1:2)
1. The fact. Our verse says, "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Since God did not create the earth in this manner, some cataclysm must have fallen upon it. Darkness suggests sin. To the wicked is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. The ungodly love darkness rather than light.
God, Himself, is Light and is the Author of light. In Him there is no darkness at all. We read that in the New Jerusalem where God is supreme, there will be no night there. We thus conclude that the earth became waste and void; and darkness hovered over it, because sin had entered in.
2. The cause. Who was it, in those pre-Edenic days, who had sinned? Whose iniquity caused the curse to fall? We may not be too dogmatic, but there are certain Scriptures which lead us to think that Satan himself, and many of the angelic hosts were connected with the cause of the earth's overthrow.
Satan has brought the present earth into its fallen estate. He is the one who has made the world a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof.
Before ever Satan entered the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve, God had cast him as profane out of the mountain of God. Satan had "sealed up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty"; every precious stone was his covering. They were prepared in the day that he was created. He was God's anointed cherub that covereth. He was "perfect in all of his ways till iniquity was found in him." His heart was "lifted up because of his beauty, and he was corrupted by reason of his brightness." Thus was he cast down and the earth which, no. doubt, was his Eden, was destroyed, and became waste and void.
III. THE EARTH RESTORED AND BLESSED (Gen 1:2, l.c., 1:3)
1. The Spirit's brooding. Our text says, "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." In passing, let us observe that the Holy Spirit, Himself, came upon the scene-God sent forth His Spirit, and the heavens and earth were created. Now God sends forth the Spirit, that the earth may be renewed and blessed.
The Spirit "moving" upon the face of the waters, carries with it the thought of "brooding" or "hovering" over the waters. There was darkness; then, as the Spirit of God brooded, there was light. Our minds immediately think of the Spirit descending at the baptism of Christ in the form of a brooding dove. We, also, think of Gabriel's expression to Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Above all, just now, we think of how the Spirit brooded over us in the day of our darkness and sin, and how God gave us new life and light. We were born from above.
2. God's fiat. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." How wonderful it all was! How long the earth had been without form and void, with the darkness upon it, we may not know; we do know that God said, "Let there be light: and there was light." That marvelous creation of light which scattered the darkness from the pre-Adamic earth, was no more wonderful than that glorious light which shone into our hearts, when God dispelled our darkness and the light of salvation shone in.
IV. GOD'S FIRST MESSAGE ON SEPARATION (Gen 1:4)
We will pause long enough to study the spiritual significance of God's dividing the light from the darkness.
1. The spiritual significance of darkness. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." "Darkness" in the Word of God always stands for sin and its shadows. In God there is no darkness at all, because God is holy, and in Him there is no sin at all.
The age in which we are now living is an age of darkness; it is an age in which the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one. Whenever Satan and sin rule a life, that life is beclouded.
2. The spiritual significance of light. Light stands for everything that is holy and righteous and pure. Jesus Christ was the Light of men, John came to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. John, himself, was not that Light, but he came to bear witness of that Light. "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." In Heaven there will be no darkness, because there will be no sin, no sorrow, no pain, no tears.
3. Light and darkness cannot fellowship together. This is the word the Spirit spoke when He said, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" God's eternal call to all believers, therefore, is: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord."
V. DAY AND NIGHT CONTRASTED (Gen 1:5)
Day stands for joy, and night stands for sorrow. Of course, light stands for righteousness. Day is the result of light, and joy is the result of day. On the other hand, darkness stands for sin, and sin is the author of sorrow. Therefore, darkness is the author of night and night means sadness and sighing and everything that bespeaks the anguish of the soul.
As the Lord Jesus hung upon the Cross, bearing the sins and sorrows of the lost, there was darkness over the face of the land. When Jesus Christ came forth from the tomb, it was morning to the saints, and Christ, meeting His disciples, said, "All joy."
When the Children of Israel wandered away into sin, darkness fell upon them. They wept as they hung their harps upon the willow trees. They waited for the Lord, more than they that wait for the morning.
When Paul was driven upon the Mediterranean by the Euroclydon, it was dark. For fourteen days they saw neither sun, nor moon, nor stars. Thus it was that when all hope that they should be saved was gone, they cast out four anchors from the ship and waited for the day.
God has placed in the Church a memorial known as the Lord's Supper. It is called supper because the Church is dwelling in the night. The truth is that when Christ died, the sun went down. In this age of darkness, we who are saints are said to be shining as luminaries which shine in the night.
The Return of our Lord for the Church will be heralded by the bright and the morning star, and Christ's Coming to the earth and to the Jews, will be as the sun, rising with healing in its wings.
If this age is called darkness and night, the next age will be morning followed by a long and blessed day. The Shulamite was called by her shepherd lover to arise and come away, for the winter was past and the rain was over and gone; the flowers appeared on the earth and the time of the singing of the birds had come. Then said the Shulamite, "Until the day break and the shadows flee away."
VI. THE FIRMAMENT (Gen 1:6-8)
1. The dividing of the waters. We know of the waters upon the earth, but we know nothing of the waters above the earth. As we read our Scripture, therefore, we will discover something of conditions which, no doubt, preceded the flood.
(1) A mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. You have entered a hothouse and you noticed somewhat of this effect. There was a moisture that filled the air. Under such a condition plants grow rapidly and luxuriantly. Thus before the flood, there must have been a marvelous growth both of vegetable and animal life. Scientific research verifies this.
(2) Longevity belonged to man. The life of man in those days and up to the flood reached almost to the thousand year mark. After the flood the age limit steadily decreased.
(3) At the flood it rained for forty days and forty nights. This seems to us to be abundant proof that the waters which were above the earth fell.
(4) The fact that the sun and the moon are spoken of as a greater and lesser light, carries with it the thought that these lights may have radiated by reason of the waters above the earth, and, accordingly, did not cast a direct but a reflected and mellowed glow, upon the earth, eliminating, in part, the intensity of heat and cold which marks our present day, and the severity of the seasons.
2. The firmament. The firmament was the great space which lay between the waters, above the earth, and the waters upon the earth. This firmament was called heaven. The firmament is one of the three heavens in Scripture, You remember that Paul spoke of being caught up into the third Heaven.
VII. THE SEAS AND THE DRY LAND (Gen 1:9-10)
1. The seas. At the first the waters covered the whole earth. Then God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place." Thus the seas were caused, and thus did the dry land appear.
(1) The seas stand for separation. There are five great continents, and numerous islands, divided from one another by large stretches of water. These divisions keep peoples apart from each other. However, as the ages have worn on, man has found himself able, more and more, to span the distances which divide between the nations. And each people become more and more affiliated with all other peoples. The steamboats, the cables, the radio, and the airships, all tend to break down "separation," and to make possible the dream of many-The United States of Nations, under one supreme head, even the antichrist.
(2) The seas stand for mystery. What marvelous secrets has the mighty deep enfolded! It has been for the most part an unexplored region. Its depths have been too great for the diver, and the eye cannot scan its hidden treasures.
2. The dry land.
(1) When we think of the earth we think of solidity, stableness. Thus we think of the assurance of our hope in God. Our homes are builded upon land, and not upon water. We walk upon land, and not upon the sea.
(2) When we think of the land we think of fruitfulness. The earth is the sphere of man's husbandry. It is there we plant, as well as build. The cattle graze upon the hills and dales. The fields wave with ripened grain.
Thus it is that all that God has made carries with it great lessons of spiritual significance. The Lord found it easy to speak of many things in nature and from them to draw lessons of spiritual value. He said, "A sower went forth to sow." Then He mentioned the wayside, the thorns, the stony places, the birds, the sun, the tares, the good seed, the harvest, the leaven, the mustard tree, the pearls, the drag net, the reapers, etc. And around these things He clustered seven wonderful parables, found in one chapter, with lessons that scope the whole age and operation of the Church.
"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert. In February, 1931, our district was reduced to a state of famine, and there was yet another month to wheat harvest. We had helped many, but one day when the Christians came for help we had to tell them we had nothing left. I told them that God was a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. They proposed to come and join in prayer each afternoon. On the fourth day of intercession I was called out of the meeting to see what was happening. Away in the north was a dark cloud approaching, and as we watched it crossed our district and rained heavily. It was not an ordinary rain, but a deluge of little black seeds in such abundance they could be shoveled up. They asked, 'What is it?' reminding us of the Children of Israel in the wilderness who asked a similar question. The seeds proved edible and the supply so great it sustained the people until harvest We learned later that the storm had risen in Mongolia and wrecked the place where this grain (called Kao Liang) was stored. The seed was carried fifteen hundred miles to drop on the district where prayer was being answered."-Abbreviated from an article in "The Evangelical Christian."
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Neighbour's Wells of Living Water
Wells of Living Water by Fundamentalist Southern Baptist Robert Neighbour. His 14 Vol.
Wells of Living Water contain 10 years of his messages from 1929 to 1939. His 12 Volume Sermons and Bible Studies contain concise and pithy comments on hundreds of topics and passages.