Originally Published September 30, 2020
In Genesis 1:2, we read, “the Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters.”
So this is before creation, so where does the water come from? Why does it exist before the first day? And if there is the “face of the water”, it seems there must be gravity somewhere? What is the state of the universe at this time?
This question provides an opportunity to show the importance of carefully reading what God has given us in His Word. It is far too easy for us to read Scripture without really thinking carefully about what it says. Several times in the gospels we read that Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Have you not read…” (Matt. 12:3; 19:4; Mk. 12:10; etc.) Of course, their eyes had passed over these Scriptures, they may even have memorized them, but had they really understood what they were reading?
We often speak of the “days of creation” forgetting that Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” At this point, we can observe that there are two ways to understand this.1 Either Genesis 1:1 is a prologue which gives us simply an “abstract” of what is to follow, or it is, in fact, the initial creation. The phrasing of the question shows that the questioner is assuming the first of these options. If we assume the second option then there is no confusion. That is, Genesis 1:1 is describing the initial material creation. Water and earth are part of that material creation. A scientist might say that Genesis 1:1 describes the instantiation of all “matter, energy, space, and time.” What is so important about this view is that it shows the clear distinction between God’s creation of the material universe and the special work of preparing the earth for human habitation.
In addition, the distinct days with all their details provide in the form of a metaphor2 the work of God to bring about the New Creation represented by the seventh day. These days also represent God’s work in each of us as believers.3
So, after the material creation, we find in verse 2 the Spirit hovering over the surface of the water which covered the earth. It is very remarkable that water is the third most prevalent molecule in the universe. Furthermore, it is an inorganic molecule and so it is clearly not dependent on anything living to produce it. It is not at all surprising that the simple material creation of Genesis 1:1 would result in a planet covered with water. Typologically, this is significant because it represents a barren, lifeless condition. This is exactly what man is before God begins to work in his soul. This, too, is represented by the “hovering” Spirit. In John 3:5 we are told that we must be “born of water and the Spirit.” So, the amazing feature of Genesis 1:1-3 is that it so exactly shows the spiritual lifelessness of man and the necessary work of God through the Spirit to bring him to Himself.
I cannot leave this question without pointing out that the work of God on the first day is referenced by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 as a metaphor of the shining in our hearts of the light of the gospel. So, we have the plainest indication of the typological significance of the first chapter of our Bibles. I believe that the passage from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 gives us a “table of contents” to the Bible as the record of God’s plan to glorify Christ by bringing “many sons to glory.” (Heb. 2:10; Col. 1:15–16)
1. Hebrew scholars may weigh in on one side of this argument or the other, but for us English readers we can simply use a good English translation to resolve the question.
2. An extended metaphor is often called a type. Hence, a passage may be said to typologically represent some other relationship. The story of Mechizedek in Genesis 14:18-20 is a type as described in Hebrews 7:1-3.
3. A. E. Booth, Eternity to Eternity: A Chart of the Ages. (Sunbury: Believers Bookshelf, unknown date).
I Genesis 1 we have the wonderful creation in Six days that God says was very good. I do not therefore think we can look at Gods work on the first day and see it as anything other than perfect. Darkness is not a bad thing as it was part of the creation (day and night). Light gives us the ability to see. Paul comment in 2 Cor 4:6 speaks about the light of the gospel bringing the truth about the Lord to us. We were sinful because of the fall and needed that light to show us our Saviour God. Therefore I believe it is not correct to use the creation week as a picture of the work of God in the soul. Everything about God’s creation was perfect. Many have tried to make the days equate to being a picture of God’s work in the soul but there is no sin at this point and no sacrifice. It is all God’s perfect work.
I know that many of our earlier teachers in trying to argue against the popular theories of their day taught that there was a gap of extensive time between verse one and two in Gen 1. But They did not seem to realise that it went against so much that Scripture teaches. They were so convinced by the so called science of men that they could not see the inconsistencies it caused. You only need to read W Kellys book on Creation to see how much weight he puts on man’s opinions about rocks and fossils all of which we know are only opinions and were based on a denial of the creator.
The scripture is absolutely clear in Exodus 20:11 For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.
Some have tried to say that as it says made and not created it its speaking about remaking not original creation. However the words are very clear that is is speaking about the substance and the contents of all that God had made. Nehemiah 9:6 shows that Made includes the whole of creation.
There is much good material available on this subject.
Thank you for taking an interest in our website and in my post. We really appreciate all interest and any help we can provide to believers to appreciate the work of God, our Salvation in Christ, and the amazing Word that God has given us. We strive here at Patterns of Truth to provide sound teaching that is helpful and accessible. This does mean that sometimes we touch on topics that are at the fringe of our understanding and which might result in some disagreement.
Because your comment is long and we try to keep these discussions short, I am only going to comment on the first paragraph of your comment.
I have to confess that the comment is confusing because it seems to depend on a failure to distinguish the actual creation acts and objects themselves and the referent for which they are pictures. When the Lord Jesus said, “I am the door” he certainly did not mean he was a literal door of wood or metal. Similarly, what God did during the creation week, the actions and the resultant objects were certainly “perfect”. That in no way limits the application, in a metaphorical or typological sense, to actions or objects which were perfect in any sense. It should be quite clear from the apostle Paul’s own words, which I reference in my article and which you also refer to, carry this same distinction. So, Paul very directly supports my contention. (You will have to wait a while if you want to argue with Paul about his language.
As to the material in the second paragraph, I would only agree that much has been written about this topic. I can only urge in the strongest way possible that you and anyone reading this post study all sides of this issue. It is complex and there is much misinformation. I strongly recommend to anyone wanting to investigate the various views on creation that you start by reading Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should Not Divide Over the Age of the Earth, by Theodore J. Cabal and Peter J. Rasor II, (Wooster: Weaver Book Co. 2017).
Going farther than Roy, I would ask: Where does Gen.1 show the creation as “perfect?” I am not a language scholar, but others tell me “good” and “perfect” are different words in the Hebrew. Some Restoration Theology advocates (including many young-earth creationists) believe the creation was made in flawless perfection or something like it, then sinful corruption, then future restoration (in contrast to New Creation). I loosely went along with the “perfect creation” view (not the rest) for a long time, but when challenged I read it more carefully.
What it does say, as noted, is that God reviewed aspects of His creation and “saw that it was good” (vv.4,10,12,18,21,25); then all together, “behold: very good” (v.31). But “good” for what? Good for God’s purpose, perhaps? Could this be any purpose other than redemption work, through His Son?
So here’s a very interesting question: did it cease being “good” when Adam sinned?