“In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1a ESV).
The Hebrew word used for God here is Elohim. This particular form of Elohim occurs 680 times in the Old Testament. It is plural and denotes the bigness of God’s majesty. In other words, There is no other God, Elohim is supreme.
Moses is the author of Genesis and notes that Moses did not feel the need to defend the existence of God. It would be preposterous for Moses to defend the existence of God.
I think the Apostle Paul’s logic helps give the answer for why Moses didn’t need to defend the existence of God:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23 ESV).
Now I won’t spend too much time on this because this isn’t an article on the doctrine of man, but Paul notes a few things that Moses understands and even assumes:
- What can be known about God is plain. (V19)
- Creation is evidence for the Creator, Elohim (V20)
- All man knows that God exists, but suppresses that knowledge because of idolatry (21-23)
So, “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1a ESV).
From this we know that; God is eternal.
He has always existed. There was never a time when God did not exist. He is neither old or young. God “is” and everything flows from Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the first and the last. God has no start and He has no expiration.
Soak in these passages about your God for a moment:
Job 36:26 states, “Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.”
Isaiah 41:4 states, “Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.”
Psalm 90:2 states, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Doesn’t that stir something inside your soul? Our God isn’t bound by time. He doesn’t age. He doesn’t increase in knowledge. He doesn’t learn. He doesn’t forget. God “is”.
God Is Creator and Sovereign over His Creation
The second thing that “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1a ESV) indicates is that God is Creator and is sovereign over His creation.
Consider God’s questioning to Job after Job questioned God in Job 38: 4-7, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements- surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
God is saying, “There was no one there with me when I created all things. Everything that exists, exists because I tell it to.”
God is reminding Job of Genesis 1, right?
Listen to Genesis 1:1b-2: “… God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
Now, what are the implications of this?
Think about what is happening to Job for a moment. God has allowed everything to be taken from Job except his life and for no other reason than for His glory. The Job 38 passage was a rebuke. This was God rebuking Job for complaining and questioning Him. Amazingly, after the rebuke, Job makes this confession in chapter 42:2, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2 ESV).
After pondering the eternality of God, after reflecting on God as the Supreme Creator, after being reminded by God that God is the Supreme Creator, Job confesses the sovereignty of God and the rightness of the sovereignty of God. It’s not just that God is sovereign, but that He has a right to be sovereign because He is God.
I hope you see why it is profitable to spend time thinking about the doctrine of God. This should bring us to our knees in worship.
Right Doctrine Fuels Devotion to God
Right doctrine fuels right devotion.
Jobs weighty consideration of God as the Creator led Job to remember that God is absolutely sovereign.
And we see this a couple of verses later in Genesis 1:3: “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
God speaks and His will is accomplished. This is all over the Scripture.
We often confess this truth or read verses like this without giving any consideration to what it means.
Everything that happens is by God’s Word.
The weeping prophet Jeremiah declares in Lamentations 3:37-41 during Judah’s captivity by the nation Babylon, “Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” (Jeremiah’s contemplation of God’s sovereignty (character) motivated Jeremiah’s repentance and worship).
God says in Isaiah 45:7- “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD (Yahweh- the proper name of the God of Israel), who does all these things.” (bring calamity/disaster as he did to Babylon through Cyrus or he may deliver from disaster as he was about to do to the people of Judah through Cyrus).
Amos 3:6 states, “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD (Yahweh) has done it?”
I’m moving around the Scriptures to show you that this truth is found all over the place.
If this is surprising to you, it could be because we are prone to have a faulty view of God. I know some of these passages were surprising to me and I grew up in a local church.
God’s Sovereignty in Salvation
Let’s continue to take our study of God further for a moment:
God’s sovereignty extends to salvation.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:6-11 “The High Priestly Prayer” ESV)
It is clear from this passage that God set apart a particular people for salvation before the foundation of the earth and this is who Christ is praying for in this passage. Who are these particular people? Christians. Who are Christians? Those who repent and believe in Christ.
Paul strengthens this in Ephesians 1:3-6:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
God purposed Christ to die for a specific someone, not a generic everyone. This is important for us to consider frequently. If you are a Christian, Christ died on the cross for God the Father’s glory and for your particular sins. Every ounce of God’s wrath for your particular sins was poured out on Christ on the cross. All of it. Every ounce of it.
Theologian J.I. Packer offers this introduction to Christians regarding the sovereignty of God:
“I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in his world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. In prayer, you ask for things and give thanks for things. Why? Because you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgment of helplessness and dependence.” (Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 15).
God is Eternal
So how is this relevant to a conversation about the doctrine of God?
Because God is eternal and because everything flows from Him. He has absolute right and authority over His creation.
“What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy. For the Scriptures says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:14-21 ESV)
Praise God for His Sovereignty over all things. If this were not the case, we would still be in our sins destined to perish for all eternity.
Some Recommended Resources on the Doctrine of God
Here’re some recommended resources for further study on this doctrine:
- The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink
- Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
- Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer.
- The Doctrine of God by John Frame
In our next post in this series, we will consider the Trinity.