For many years philosophers, physicists, and theologians alike have tried to prove the existence (or non-existence) of God. One fairly recent case in point is the much heralded discovery of the so-called, “God particle.” This particle, known as a Higgs Boson, according to physicists is a tiny subatomic particle that weighs about 130 times more than an atom of hydrogen, the lightest gas. This particle supposedly explains why we have mass in the Universe, and is believed by many of them to explain the “Big Bang” theory as to the origin of the universe and all other matter.
In stark contrast, the Bible makes no attempt to ever prove the existence of God. It simply assumes that God is, and declares and reveals Him. The very first verse, of the first book of our Bible simply proclaims, In the beginning God… [See Gen. 1:1] He was before all else. He has always been, and always will be. He had no beginning Himself, and will have no end. God is. Admittedly, it is difficult to wrap our finite minds around the idea of our Creator. If we believe God’s Word, the Bible, we will have no problem believing in God. In fact, scripture makes it clear that believing that God is, is the prerequisite to coming to Him. [See Heb. 11:6]
I bring all of this up this time because we are going to take a look back in time. At least as far back as looking through the lens of scripture, and using some sanctified reasoning will allow us to. We started a new series last time on Dispensations. We laid some foundation on this subject in our last post, so I would direct the reader to that post, as we will not be covering the foundational material this time. If you would like to review that material, you can find it online at, https://pastorkj.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/gods-plan-for-the-ages-dispensations-pt-1/
Clarence Larkin [1850 – 1924] was a Baptist Pastor and author who wrote extensively on the subject of dispensationalism, but was probably best known for the detailed charts he drew illustrating various aspects of dispensationalism and Bible Prophecy. In fact, Bible teachers, including yours truly, are greatly indebted to the legacy of teaching and illustrations that Bro. Larkin left the Church. One of those charts is entitled, “Ages & Dispensations.” In this chart, Bro. Larkin shows the various ages of time, beginning with the Edenic Age, going all the way through to the Kingdom Age, to the Perfect Age. Occurring within and during these Ages, are the seven dispensations we listed last time. (It should be noted that Larkin actually saw a total of eight dispensations, with the period of the “New Heaven and New Earth”, or the Perfect Age, being the “Dispensation of the Fulness of Time”.)
At any rate, prior to the Edenic Age, Larkin shows a period of time that many typically refer to as, “Eternity Past”, or, “The Dateless Past.” In his chart Bro. Larkin refers to it as, “Alpha”, or, the “Creative Ages.” It was an indefinite period of time prior to the events we begin to see unfolding in Genesis 1:2 and following. To get an understanding of exactly what the Bible says about this period of time, we must do two things: 1) We must compare scripture with scripture, and 2) We must do a Hebrew word study. We will do both of these as we look at this subject. The Bible does not tell us a great deal concerning this time, but what it does reveal is very important.
Lets begin at the beginning, and I refer to the book of Genesis. The Bible says in Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Notice if you will the word, beginning. This is the Hebrew, reshiyth. It appears a total of 53 times in the Old Testament. It is translated, “beginning” 18 of those times. It is also, “first” (11 times), “firstfruits” (11 times), “chief” (8 times), then, “chiefist”, “firstfruit”, “much”, “principal”, and “time (each 1 time). Strong (H7225) defines this word as, “The first in place, time, order, or rank, the beginning.” Matthew Henry refers to this period of time as, “a period of remote and unknown antiquity, hid in the depths of eternal ages.” The point is, the “beginning” is a beginning that you or I cannot put a date on. We don’t know how long ago it was. Dr. J. Vernon McGee in his, “Thru The Bible” commentary on Genesis 1:1 states that you could estimate it at billions of years ago, and you would probably be correct. We simply don’t know how long ago the “beginning” was. The word refers to “Original Creation.”
Someone says, “Wait a minute! The chapter heading of my Bible at the beginning of Genesis says, ‘4004 B.C.’ That is the date of Creation. So, the “Beginning” was only approximately six-thousand years ago.” I have chapter headings like that in some of my Bibles as well. However, the thing to keep in mind about those is that they are not part of the inspired text. They are based on the research and conclusions of Bishop James Ussher (1581 – 1656), who was the Archbishop of the Church of Ireland. One Sir James Lightfoot improved upon Ussher’s calculations by setting the date of the creation of the world at October 3, 4004 B.C., at 9:00 AM. One might wonder at this point, how did Ussher arrive at the conclusions he did? Let me be very clear that I am in no way attempting to disparage the research and scholarship of James Ussher. However, I do believe that many of my “Young Earth” brethren have read too much into and relied too heavily on his dating system.
Ussher’s system was based on an intricate dating system based on a correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories, along with scripture. It was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, as a result it came to be regarded with as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Many Pastors and Bible teachers continue to hold Ussher’s chronology as an absolute standard in determining especially the age of the earth. They dogmatically insist that the earth is only six thousand years old, and this conclusion is based keep in mind, not on the Bible itself, but on Archbishop Ussher’s dating system. With all due respect, I do not accept Ussher’s date of creation. I believe the actual, “beginning” was thousands, if not millions, perhaps even billions of years ago. I do believe the earth received a “face lift”, if you will, six thousand years ago, but the “beginning” was actually much longer ago.
That which I am setting forth in this post is very different than what is taught in certain segments of the Church, I realize this. There are those who would accuse me of not believing in Creationism. I assure you, such is not the case. Then there are those like Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis who would accuse me of being a “theistic evolutionist.” Again, this is not true. I reject the theory of evolution as being the godless system that it is. However, I do stand with many evangelical scholars and teachers who see and have believed that God created the earth originally millions, if not billions of years ago. What many of my “Young Earth” brethren seem to forget concerning the age of the Earth is that the enemy is atheistic evolution, not those of us who teach “old earth” creationism.
Genesis 1:1 is speaking of the original perfect Earth, because we know that everything that God designs is perfect [See Deut. 32:4; Ps. 18:30; James 17:1]. The original creation was not as the next verse describes, without form and void. Something cataclysmic occurred between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 to make it that way. Just what that was, we will discuss a bit later. Lets continue on with our examination of Genesis 1:1.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.God is from the Hebrew, elohim. This is a uni-plural noun. The Trinity is latent in the word, elohim, but directly inserted in verse 26, 27. All three members of the Holy Trinity were directly involved in original creation. What did the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do in original creation? This brings us to our third salient word here in Genesis 1:1. I speak of the word, created.
Created, is the Hebrew word, Bara. It is translated variously, but has the idea of to form or fashion, and it always is found as having God as its subject. It speaks of something new. It has a total of 53 occurrences in the KJV, with 33 of those being translated, “created” as it is here. There is a thought in this word of fashioning or forming something out of nothing. It means to create anew. There is no preexistence in view here. The writer of Hebrews describes this aptly, By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.[Heb. 11:3 NASB]
It is important to understand that Genesis 1:1 really reveals to us the beginning of time. Prior to this original act of creation, while God existed, nothing else did. Time did not exist before God set it in motion with this act of original creation. Evolutionists come up with all kinds of theories to attempt to explain man, the earth, the Universe, etc. The problem however with all of their hypothesis is that they all begin with existing matter, consequently all of their hypothesis are wrong. They are searching for the “first cause.” The Bible reveals God (Elohim) as the first cause of everything. What did God create, or form, in this act of original creation? The Heaven and the Earth.
This would better be translated, Heavens and the Earth, because He created the entirety of the Universe at this time. This creation was absolutely perfect in every detail. It could not have been any less for God is absolutely perfect. With this in mind, lets take a look at Genesis 1:2,
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.This is not a picture of perfection, but rather of chaos. What happened? We’ll take the answer to that question up next time.