The Hebrew noun rē’šîṯ is defined as the “beginning, chief, first, or best.” Around the middle of the Third Century BC, seventy-two Hebrew Scholars translated the Hebrew text of the Torah (the Pentateuch) into Koine Greek, which was called “The Septuagint.” In the translation, the Hebrew word rē’šîṯ was translated by the Greek word archē. So, when John, the Elder, wrote about the “beginning” in John, Chapter One, he was referring to the same “beginning” described in Genesis, Chapter One. John wrote,
In the beginning [archē] was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning [archē] with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.
In both Genesis and the Gospel of John, all of the focus is placed on the Creator God, who is a God of wisdom and order. At Proverbs 8, we read that God’s wisdom guided God in His creation. Personifying “wisdom,” the author of Proverbs wrote:
The Lord created me [wisdom] at the beginning [rē’šîṯ] of His way, before His works of old. From eternity I was established, from the beginning [rē’šîṯ], from the earliest times of the earth. When there was no ocean depths, I was born, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I [wisdom] was born.
The Apostle Paul taught that God is not a God of disorder (1 Cor. 14:33). Yet, at Genesis 1:2, we read that “the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep.” The Hebrew noun tôû is defined as “confusion, without form, waste, vanity, and wilderness.” The Hebrew noun bôû is defined as “emptiness, vacuity, or a void.” The text does not tell us what caused the Primordial Chaos and darkness. Was it the result of the Angelic Rebellion, or was it a necessary part in the process of God’s creation? More and more, I see the chaos and darkness as a present option for the disobedient. Of great importance, it is noted that the Holy Spirit was hovering over the Primordial Chaos and darkness. The Hebrew verb rāḥap̄ is defined as “to hover or flutter above.” This is the same word used to describe a mother bird hovering above her chicks. The Holy Spirit hovers above with love, cherishing God’s creation.
When confronted with chaos, confusion, disorder, and darkness, God said, “Let there be [hāyâ] light [‘ôr]” (Gen. 1:3). The verb hāyâ is spoken in the “jussive” form, meaning it “is used to issue a command.” God’s answer to the condition of chaos, confusion, and darkness is “light.” The state of the Primordial Chaos in God’s creation mirrors the state of the inherent chaos and disorder in the human soul. We humans are inclined to disorder and instability. As evidenced many times in Scripture, physical light is symbolic of spiritual illumination or truth. Job stated, “Others have been with those who rebel against the light; They do not want to know its ways nor stay on its paths” (Job 24:13). The Psalmist said, “For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness” (Ps. 18:28). At Psalm 36:9, we read, “In Your light we see light.” At Psalm 43:3, we read, “Send out Your light and Your truth, they shall lead me; They shall bring me to Your holy hill, and to your dwelling places.” At Psalm 112:4, we read, “[God’s] [l]ight shines in the darkness for the upright.” In the New Testament, we read that the faithful followers of Jesus are a light to the world (Matt. 5:14). At John 1:4, we read that the life of Jesus is a light to humankind. At 1 John 1:7, we are commanded “to walk in the light.” The idea of God’s spiritual illumination being available to the humble of mankind is a repeated theme of Scripture. “He [God] teaches the humble His way” (Ps. 25:9). Of particular note, God called the light “good” (Gen. 1:4). We participate in our own creation by our positive or negative response to the light.
In Genesis, Chapter One, other than God’s naming of certain things (qārā’), the author primarily used eight different verbs to describe the actions of God “in the beginning.” God’s actions created and provided order to His creation. God’s actions were described as either (1) creating, (2) causing to be, (3) separating, (4) gathering, (5) making, (6) sprouting, (7) bringing forth abundantly, or (8) blessing. The Hebrew verb bārā’ is defined as “to create, to choose, or to make.” The Hebrew verb hāyâ is defined as “to be or to become.” The Hebrew verb bāḏal is defined as “to divide, to separate, or to distinguish.” The Hebrew word qāvâ is defined as “to gather or to bind together.” The Hebrew verb ʿāśâ is defined as “to make or do.” The Hebrew verb dāšā’ is defined as “to sprout or grow green.” The Hebrew word yāṣā’ is defined as “to bring forth abundantly.” Finally, the Hebrew verb bāraḵ is defined as “to bless.”
God’s actions and what He creates or performs tell us something about God. At Psalm 148, we read that all of God’s creation should praise God. Verse 148:5 states, “They [God’s creation] are [designed] to praise the name of the Lord. For He commanded and they were created [bārā’].” Praise is an expression of thanksgiving and appreciation. The verb bārā’ is used around 50 times in the Old Testament. The vast majority of the uses of bārā’ refer to God’s acts of creation. Examples of the author’s use of the verb bārā’ in Genesis, Chapter, One include the creation (bārā’) of (1) the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), (2) water and flying creatures (to include the Sea Monster) (Gen. 1:21), and (3) humankind (Gen. 1:27).
Additionally, proper thinking always involves making certain distinctions and separations. In other words, proper thinking involves a hierarchy of values and the making of distinctions between one thing and another – like separating light from darkness (Gen. 1:4). For example, the Lord told Israel, “So, you are to be [hāyâ] holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and I have singled [bāḏal] you out from the peoples to be Mine” (Lev. 20:26). Similarly, the Apostle Peter wrote the same command to Christians, writing, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I [GOD] AM HOLY” (1 Pet. 1:16). As used in Leviticus 20:26, the verb hāyâ can emphasize and disclose the mental attitude or intentionality of the actor. God provides light to humans and angels so that we can function in ways that are pleasing to God. When we follow the light, we receive a blessing, and we can become a blessing to others (Gen. 12:2). God wants to distinguish and bless those who follow the light. Further, God wants to limit, contain, and diminish those who do not follow the light. In other words, God’s creation offers a test to the free will of both men and angels. Our humility is the key (Ps. 25:9).
At Genesis 1:6, God called for the existence of an expanse between the waters above and the waters below. The expanse (rāqîaʿ) acts as a cosmological barrier. The stated purpose is to bring about a separation (bāḏal) of the waters. Then God called the expanse (or cosmological barrier) Heaven (Gen. 1:8). At Deuteronomy 4:39, we learn that the Lord is the God of Heaven and the Earth. God governs the affairs of both angels and men (Isa. 24:21; 66:1; Zech. 6:4-8). Of great significance, He governs the interactions between angels and humans. When angels disregard God’s rules of engagement imposed on angels in their interactions with humans, the angelic beings are judged and punished (Jude 1:6; 2 Pet. 2:4).
At Genesis 1:9, we read that God gathered (qāvâ) the waters below, which revealed and established the land. Water is an unstable platform, not suitable for human existence. The Hebrew word qāvâ includes both the idea of confining and waiting. A place suitable for human habitation is created by confining the sea, but the storms from the sea remain a threat to the land. We hope and wait for a day when the sea and the storms of chaos no longer threaten the land. God declared that the formation of the land (a suitable habitat) and the gathering (collection and/or confinement) of the water into seas as being “good” (Gen. 1:10).
As mentioned above, the author of Genesis, Chapter One, described God as speaking certain things (like “light”) into existence. The Hebrew verb ‘āmar is defined as “to say or speak,” and ‘āmar was used in association with the verb hāyâ, meaning “to be or become.” God spoke or commanded into existence the following: (1) light (Gen. 1:3), (2) an Expanse/Heaven (Gen. 1:6), (3) a separation of water and land (Gen. 1:9), (4) vegetation and fruitfulness (Gen. 1:11), (5) lights in the Expanse/Heaven (Gen. 1:14), (6) aquatic and flying creatures (Gen. 1:20) (but different verbs describe activity of the aquatic and flying creatures), and (7) land creatures (Gen. 1:24). All of these developments assist humankind in our quest to overcome the Primordial Chaos and darkness. Through our interaction with the world around us, we learn about the importance of things like humility, self-discipline, self-control, responsibility, sacrifice, hard work, learning, obedience, danger, love, and forgiveness, just to name a few.
All of the celestial luminaries (whether celestial bodies or angelic beings) were designed to provide guidance and direction to humankind. The celestial luminaries “serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen. 1:14). We organize our lives around time, whether by the week, month, season, or year. Additionally, for most of history, all travel and navigation was based on the stars. As further stated above, the Expanse/Heaven was designed to be a cosmological barrier and regulator of the interactions between angels and humans.
Agricultural production teaches us about the importance of routine, self-discipline, and hard work. Animal husbandry teaches us valuable skills in caring for the other creatures that share our existence. Think about all that we humans learn when we interact with a dangerous wild animal, when we train a dog or horse, or when we care for sheep or cattle. Think about the many times the Bible used cattle, oxen, wolves, sheep, lambs, goats, camels, horses, pigs, dogs, fish, lions, donkeys, eagles, doves, and snakes as teaching aids. As to the agrarian world, think about the many times the Bible used things like land, plowing, seed, sowing, planting, harvesting, wheat, threshing, pruning, grafting, fruit, fruitfulness, vineyards, wine presses, gleaning, gardens, drought, famine, and barns as teaching aids.
Finally, it should be pointed out that God made (ʿāśâ) Eve to be a suitable helper for Adam (Gen. 2:18). At Genesis 1:27, we read that God made humankind “male and female.” As previously discussed, the monogamous relationship between a man and woman is designed to be a key building block of human society and culture. A happy marriage and a strong family life are major factors for us in overcoming the Primordial Chaos.
In summation, as stated above, Paul taught that God is not a God of disorder and confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). Paul used the Greek noun akatastasia, which is defined as a “state of instability, disorder, and confusion.” Writing to the Corinthians, Paul wrote,
For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I might find you to be not what I wish, and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, selfishness, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances [akatastasia]…
(2 Cor. 12:20).
In the above verse, Paul outlined some types of sins associated with disorder and chaos. Unfortunately, our lusts (inordinate desires) incline us to such disorder. James wrote, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [akatastasia] and every evil thing” (Jas. 3:16). The Primordial Chaos found at the beginning of God’s creation mirrors the inherent instability and disorder of the human soul. Amazingly, we are given the privilege of participating in our own creation by our response (either positive or negative) to God’s light. Our humility, or lack thereof, is the key. We must be willing to receive God’s correction and transformation.
Finally, I want to refer you to a video by one of my favorite scientists, John Lennox of Oxford University. In the video, Lennox offers some scientific insights into the Beginning of Creation. (Copy and paste this link into your browser: https://youtu.be/mKh51FxQ4io?si=3GR54e8PBDWOSjmi)
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 “G746 – archē – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 18 Sep, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g746/nasb20/mgnt/0-1/>.
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 “H6213 – ʿāśâ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 18 Sep, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h6213/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.
 “H1876 – dāšā’ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 18 Sep, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h1876/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.
 “H3318 – yāṣā’ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 18 Sep, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h3318/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.
 “H1288 – bāraḵ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 18 Sep, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h1288/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.
 “G181 – akatastasia – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 18 Sep, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g181/nasb20/mgnt/0-1/>.