"Creation": The General Idea of the Preface

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 10
S. L. Jacob
The General Idea of the Preface.
Genesis commences with the words “In the beginning GOD.” God precedes all things, and by His word were all things brought into being. Next we come to the original act of creation: of this nothing is said but that God created. We know not in what far distant ages this may have been, nor what interval of time separates verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. In other scriptures we are given just a glimmering of what may set forth some long past terrific cataclysm which followed on the inception of sin in angelic beings, and which overwhelmed the fair creation of God.
Into those secrets of the ages past we are not initiated, but in verse 2 is brought to view a world in a condition other than that in which it was created. At this point begin the dealings of God with the earth and the heavens in view of man, and in particular in view of the Man of His counsels, in whom the whole conflict between good and evil should be brought to a triumphant issue in the eternal victory of good.
In verse 2 we read “the earth was without form.” In Isaiah 45:1818For 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. (Isaiah 45:18) the inspired statement is made, “He created it not in vain.” The word translated “without form” in Genesis 1 is the same word as is translated “in vain” in Isaiah 45. Unmistakably, then, the earth was not, in the second verse of Genesis 1, as God created it. Moreover, unrelieved darkness was upon the face of the deep: this was not of God. According to the universal meaning of the symbol, “darkness” here presents the state of a lost world (similarly elsewhere of a lost soul), fallen under the power of sin, alienated from God, and without remedy unless God intervened.
But the next sentence speaks of God’s work, for “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” God being at work, all must be well eventually; but everything must be done thoroughly, deliberately; there must be no haste, for spiritual and moral work is portrayed, and such work cannot be hurried. He that believeth shall not make haste, because God does not make haste. The word for “moved” in this passage is remarkable; it is quite different to the word “moving” in the l0th verse, or “moveth” in verses 21 and 28; it is only used twice elsewhere in Scripture, viz., in Deuteronomy 32:1111As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: (Deuteronomy 32:11), “As an eagle... fluttereth over her young,” and in Jeremiah 23:99Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. (Jeremiah 23:9), “All my bones shake”; so that it is evident the motion is not progressive as in the other cases in Genesis 1, but vibratory or oscillatory. God moved and continued moving. What a change from the stillness of death I God is a living God; by Him all things are preserved in life (1 Tim. 6:1313I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; (1 Timothy 6:13) JND); all is activity with Him, and He impresses activity on all things. Nothing is still in Nature; even the most rigid body, such as a steel blade, is composed of particles in rapid vibratory motion. Otherwise there is nothing but death and dissolution for things animate or inanimate; and rest is not cessation from motion, which would be stagnation, but by the triumph of good over evil, so that conflict may cease, and the activities of love flow on unchecked.
The Proof — The First Day
The proof that good and evil are here symbolized comes out clearly in the first day’s work. “And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Before, it was all dark; now the light had come in: and the light was good, very good, whilst the darkness speaks of evil.
The passages are numerous by which it could be proved that this is the meaning of these symbolic words: that is, light always speaks of good, and darkness invariably refers to evil, either directly or indirectly. Thus, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:55And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:5)). Again read 2 Corinthians 4:44In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4) (which we quote from JND Trans. as more correct): “In whom the god of this world has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so that the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine forth for them.,  ... Because it is the God who spoke that out of darkness light should shine, who has shone in our hearts for the radiancy (see marginal note) of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Here is the darkness — moral and spiritual — but the light must shine brighter and brighter till in the end those in whose hearts it has shone shall appear in all the beauty and glory of Him who has shone upon them, in that heavenly city where there will be no darkness and no night, “For there shall be no night there,” for the glory of God shall lighten it, and the Lamb will be the light thereof.
In the meantime, however, there is the darkness as well as the light, the night as well as the day, the evening as well as the morning, and one must succeed the other until the light completely triumphs. It is still the night in the world’s history, though “the night is far spent and the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:1212The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)). True “the darkness is passing (not past as in the A.V.) and the true light already shines” (1 John 2:88Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8), New Trans.); but still both are here, and in the history of each individual soul there will be many evenings before the many mornings, till the last grand morning dawn. There must be many nights before the various days of the many experiences through which God has to pass us till night be no more.
Weeping must still endure in the evening (margin) if joy (or singing) is to come in the morning (Psa. 30:55For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)), for we are still in the veil of tears; sorrow there must be, and pain and deep grief; death is still here, and death must work in us if life is to work in others; and there is no growth, no blessing, save through the various exercises through which our Lord passes us. The valleys must be crossed before we reach the hills, and each hill leads to another valley, to lead again to a higher height of Christian joy and experience. There is no such thing as one unbroken pathway ever upward in the Christian’s experience; the most placid life (judged externally) has still its storms and its calms, its depths and its heights, its tears and its joys, its agonies as well as its ecstasies. This is God’s order in this fallen world, and he who seeks to evade the sorrows will not participate in the joys. If there be not the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, how can there be a share in the reigning?
All this, and much more, is spoken to us from the opening verses of the Bible.
What is true of the individual is also true of the world; Zion must travail before she brings forth her children; it is the barren woman, or the desolate wife, who has suffered, that brings forth the most and best children for God. There must be the travail that effects nothing (that is, darkness and night in sorrow), Isaiah 26:17-1817Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord. 18We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. (Isaiah 26:17‑18), before the travailing where a nation is born at once (that is, light and day) Isaiah 66:88Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. (Isaiah 66:8). It is thus we learn how bitter and how evil a thing it is for a soul, or a world, to have departed from God; and how exquisitely sweet it is to see the blessed light of the glory of God, which shines in all its beauty in the face of Jesus Christ, dispel and overthrow the darkness; and then to know that we are to go out from that light into the darkness no more. For though there must be at present the darkness as well as the light, the night as well as the day, yet once the light has shone upon us, it is never the same darkness as before, and the second evening and morning is an advance on the first, and so on until the glorious consummation at the end.
We are children of the light, and sons of the day (Eph. 5:88For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (Ephesians 5:8); 1 Thess. 5:55Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5) JND), and God our Father is taking great pains with our education, for as of the light we are to share in the glories of the reign of our beloved Lord, so that all that is being worked out in us in much sorrow here, is to come out in all its value in that day, for the glory of Him who has redeemed us.
Thus these few opening verses are quite sufficient to prove our point, but there is much more. It is better to have thus portrayed before us the actual world in which we live, with its ups and downs, its sorrows and its joys, its training and its progress under the hand of God, than a world which none, save Adam and Eve for a brief moment, ever saw. If we want to see God’s world we must learn to see the world of God’s purpose, not a world which was lost in one brief moment and can never be again; the former excels the latter as much as Christ excels Adam; the difference is infinite, immeasurable, but God is working all out in His own matchless way, and in these seven days of God we see how He does it all.
All is effected by the Word of God; eight times in this first chapter we get, “And God said;” “He commanded, and it was done,” “He commanded, and it stood fast.” Yet as one has well said, the nulls of God, grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small, for He must do the work so thoroughly; and when He has finished, evil and darkness shall never raise their heads again, and the accomplished glory will be of such a character that it will never be tarnished, for it must be such that it will satisfy the heart of God the Father, and be an adequate expression (as far as God Himself can effect this) of the work and Person of God’s beloved Son, and of the agony He endured for the glory of God and the unspeakable blessing of the creature, especially of man.
EDITORS’ NOTE. — These papers are intended to be suggestive rather than dogmatic, to be stimulative of study rather than to present its final and completed results as to the detail of a subject at once so great and so seldom considered.
Beware in your prayers, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that you ask or think.
Obedience is in the present tense.
It is not the bee’s touching on the flowers that gathers the honey, but her abiding for a time upon them, drawing out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most on divine truth, that will prove the choicest, strongest Christian.