In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The language of man follows things and imitates them; the Word of God precedes and creates them. Man speaks because things are; but these are because God hath spoken. Let Him speak again, and things will revert together with man who speaks of them, to nothing. Let us be content to perceive in creation a character which belongs only to God, and which distinguishes His work from that of His creatures. The human mind works only with the materials with which God supplies it; it observes, imitates, combines, but does not create. The best painter in the world, composing the most beautiful picture that ever proceeded from the hand of man, creates nothing: neither the canvas, nor the colours, nor the brushes, nor his own hands, nor even the conception of his work, since that conception is the fruit of his genius, which he has not given unto himself. Trace to the origin of each of the several things which have combined to form this picture, and you will find that all the channels from which they came, converge towards, and meet in the Creator, who is God. In thus showing us from its first page that the visible world has had such a wonderful beginning, the Bible informs us that it is also as a Creator that God saves souls. He not only develops the natural dispositions of our hearts, but creates in them new ones, "For we are labourers together with God"; but labourers working like the painter, with what God has given to us. We hear, read, seek, believe, pray, but even these come from God. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure"; and if we seek the principle of our salvation we shall find that we owe all to God from the beginning, and from the beginning of the beginning. "For we are His workmanship created in Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." "You have been taught in Christ," writes St. Paul to the Ephesians, "to put off the old man, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." "In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Thus speaks the New Testament. The Old uses the same language. Not only does David, rising from his fall, pray in these words by the Spirit: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:12); but all the Lord's dealings towards the people of Israel, that type of the future Church, are compared by Isaiah to a creation — "I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King" (Isaiah 43:15). If He alternately deals out to them good and bad fortune — He creates. "I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I, the Lord, do all these things" (Isaiah 45:6, 7). If He tries them for a time by chastising them through the hands of their enemies, He creates: "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument of destruction for his work" (Isaiah 54:16). If He raises up prophets to them, He creates: "I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace, to him that is far off, and to him that is near" (Isaiah 57:19); and if ultimately He give to that people, after many vicissitudes, happier days and an eternal rest, He will create: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: but be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing" (Isaiah 65:17, 18). The creation of the world affords us a new lesson as to the manner in which God acts in the dispensation of grace. There again, all that God makes is good, and very good; what is evil proceeds from another source. For all that is good and holy, let us ascribe the glory to God; for what is evil let us accuse ourselves. This doctrine, too, is necessary in order that you should not make a false application of what you have just heard respecting the sovereignty of God. He acts as Creator, we should say in things which belong to His government, but He only uses this sovereign power for good; He only gives birth to good thoughts, holy desires and dispositions, consistent with salvation. God creates, but how does He create? At first view we only see here the sovereign Lord, alone at first in His eternity, alone afterwards in the work of creation. But a more deliberate contemplation leads us to discern in this singleness a certain mysterious union of persons previously hidden in the depths of the Divine nature, and displaying itself at the creation, as it was to be manifested at a later period in the redemption of our race. And have you the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? The Three unite in the creation of the world; they unite in the redemption of man; are they also united within you? Are you born of the Father, and become His children? Are you washed in the blood, of the Son, and become members of His body? Are you baptized with the Spirit, and become His temples? Ponder upon these things; for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life. Finally, God creates, but for what purpose? does He only wish to spread before you an enchanting exhibition? No, He has nobler designs. The Lord has created all things for His glory, and His first object is to render visible the invisible things hidden within Himself, by giving them a body, and, if one may so speak, by exhibiting them in the form of flesh.
(A. Monod, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.