“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 (ESV)
The basis for the propositional truth for the worldview of Biblical Theism, and its consequential implications including being accountable to the God of the Bible, stems from the very first verse from the first chapter of the first book of the Bible: Genesis 1:1. This verse is not an archaic, ancient or outdated text having no application to our lives today. Instead, the text establishes the foundation, source and starting point for all the biblical theist believes, and consequentially does, in knowing and living for God the Creator.
To begin with we observe the event of creation. “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1, ESV). The phrase is one word in the Hebrew (רֵאשִׁית / rēʾšît). It refers to the point in time which is the beginning. It is the beginning of time at the point of the initiation of life that God created. The word appears fifty times in nearly all parts of the Old Testament. The primary meaning is “first” or “beginning” of a series.
This word may refer to the initiation of a series of historical events (Gen 10:10; Jeremiah 26:1) but it also refers to a foundational or necessary condition as the reverence or fear of God (Ps 111:10; Proverbs 1:7) and the initiation, as opposed to the results, of a life (Job 8:7; 42:12).
It is also used frequently in the special sense of the choicest or best of a group or class of things, particularly in reference to items to be set aside for God’s service or sacrifice. The “first fruits” (Lev 2:12; 23:10; Neh 12:44) and “choicest” (Num 18:12) fruits are so distinguished. Difficult uses of the term occur in several passages. In Deuteronomy 33:21 the King James Version reads “first part.” While in Daniel 11:41, the text reads “chief of the children of Ammon.”
The most important use of rē˒šı̂t in the Old Testament occurs in Genesis 1:1. There has been a great deal of debate over this use of rē˒šı̂t. Many commentators, both ancient and modern, have tried to read the phrase as “when” rather than “in the beginning” as do several modern English translations. John 1:1 correctly translates the Hebrew and follows the Greek Old Testament Translation precisely in its reading of Genesis 1:1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1–3 (ESV)
The use of this root word leaves no doubt that Genesis 1:1 opens with the very first and initial act of the creation of the cosmos. To the contrary, naturalists like Carl Sagan believe that the cosmos is all there ever was, all there ever is and all there ever will be. The Bible sets forth the propositional truth that the universe is a result from the creative act of the One, True Eternal God revealed in Scripture.
One commentator writes, “Genesis 1:1 tells us God made everything out of nothing. In the beginning, the verse tells us, there was nothing else besides the Almighty Himself. We read nothing of angels, human beings, or any physical material. Even time itself did not exist before the Creator acted to bring something out of nothing. Moses can only speak of a “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 because of God’s intervention to get things started. Prior to His work of creation, the Lord alone was, and He was from all eternity. As Hebrews 11:3 tells us, “The universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
The Creator-creature distinction is fundamental to biblical theology. Every act of sin arises when we forget that we are not the Creator and then attempt to live by our own rules thereby living in disobedience to the Creator. May each of us who are believers in Christ live obedient lives today.
Soli deo Gloria!