Genesis 1:1 Commentary - Church Pulpit CommentaryTHE SUBLIME INTRODUCTION
‘In the beginning God.’
What an inspiring thought is brought before us in the text—the Triune God, the Foundation and the Centre of all things!
I. God the Centre of the Universe.—‘In the beginning God.’ So says the text, and this is our faith in regard to the creation of the world. Geologists and scientists may tell us that the world is much older than any one can conceive; but that does not shake our faith. We go back to the beginning of things, and say that, whenever that time was, God was the Creator of the Universe (see Illustrations below). No scientific teaching can get behind that. What the scientist cannot explain, the humble believer can appreciate by God’s own revelation. And just as God created the world, so He upholds all things by the Word of His power.
II. God the Centre of the World’s Affairs.—Men talk of empires as though they could build them up as and when they wished; but the empire in which God is not recognised rests upon an unstable foundation. Men are too apt to say, ‘Is not this Great Babylon that I have built?’ forgetting altogether that the Most High can say, ‘Thy kingdom is departed from thee.’ And this thought begets another. The empire that will endure is that which is built on the eternal principles of righteousness.
III. God the Centre of the Individual Life.—Are we conscious of this great truth that the great Triune God is the centre of our life, that in Him we live and move and have our being? Do we realise (a) the controlling, (b) the guiding, (c) the inspiring, (d) the impelling power of God in our own individual life? If not, it is because we have let sin have dominion over us, and thus God has been shut out.
(1) ‘As there never was a time when God did not exist, and as activity is an essential part of His Being (Joh 5:17), so probably there was never a time when worlds did not exist, and in the process of calling them into existence when and how He willed, we may well believe that God acted in accordance with the working of some universal law of which He is Himself the Author. It was natural with St. John, when placing the same words at the commencement of his Gospel, to carry back our minds to a more absolute conceivable “beginning,” when the work of creation had not commenced, and when in the whole universe there was only God.’
(2) ‘The words of Gen 1:1, as read by a young Japanese in 1864, were the means of awakening within him a strong desire to learn more of the God of whom they speak. The Japanese youth referred to, named Neeshima, and belonging to a good family, had got hold of a geography book in Chinese, published by an American missionary, of which the first words were, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” “Who was this God?” the youth asked himself. “He did not live in Japan; but, perhaps, He was in America,” whence the author of the book came, and thither he would go and seek for God. The old law forbidding the Japanese to leave their country was still in force; but at the peril of his life he made his way to China in a trading vessel, and thence to Boston. Here he found himself greatly perplexed, and said to the ship captain with whom he had travelled: “I came all the way to Boston to find God, and there is no one to tell me.” The captain took him to the owner of the vessel, Mr. Hardy, a well-known Christian merchant. This gentleman treated him as a son, and sent him to college. He soon found the God he had been seeking, and became an earnest follower of Christ. In 1875 he returned to Japan as a missionary, and became principal of the Dôshisha, a Christian college at Kioto, in connection with the American Congregationalist Misson. There he was destined to have a mighty influence in awakening the hearts of his countrymen. The college over which he presided, the largest Christian one in Japan, has produced a very deep impression on the religious history of that country in late years. As long as Neeshima lived, he was the centre of that influence. His wisdom, his personal character, and true devotion to his Master, were widely felt, and though since his death in 1890 other workers have been raised up, those who knew him well and were his colleagues feel that they will not look upon his like again. Some time after the death of the first principal there was for a time some apprehension that the influence of the Dôshisha was going to be cast on the side of a Socinian form of teaching that was emasculating the Christian faith. But since the great revival that recently passed over Japan this danger has been happily averted, and the Dôshisha is still as stout a champion of the Gospel as ever.’
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Church Pulpit Commentary
The Church Pulpit Commentary includes work by various important members of the church such as Thomas Arnold who was a supporter of the Broad Anglican Church Movement, English theologian and socialist Rev. F.D. Maurice and John William Burgon who served as the Dean of Chichester Cathedral in 1876 and was an English Anglican Divine.