In the Beginning
Moses, the servant of God, wrote: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The English word ‘beginning’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘bereshithd’ which means, “the first, in place, time, order, rank.” This Hebrew word’s definition is different from the Greek word for beginning as found in John 1:1: In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Greek word for beginning, ‘arche’ is defined as, “a commencement, or chief.”
Elliot’s Commentary for English Readers describes the difference in this way:
“In the beginning.--Not, as in John 1:1, from eternity, but at the beginning of this sidereal system, of which our sun, with its attendant planets, forms a part. As there never was a time when God did not exist, and as activity is an essential part of His being (John 5:17), so, probably, there was never a time when worlds did not exist; and in the process of calling them into existence when and how He willed, we may well believe that God acted by the working of some universal law, of which He is Himself the author. It was natural with St. John when placing the same words at the commencement of his Gospel, to carry back our minds to a more absolute conceivable "beginning," when the work of creation had not commenced, and when in the whole universe there was only God.”
The English word ‘God’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘Elohim’ which means, “gods -- the supreme God, magistrates, a superlative.” It is a word plural in form, but joined with a verb singular, except when it refers to the false gods of the heathens. This contradiction is only explained by the triune nature of the one true being of God in three different persons (entities), the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only in the Bible is Elohim one, the Worker is one, and His work one.
The English word ‘creation’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘bara’ which means, “to create, to cut down, select, feed.” This is a rare word and employed chiefly or entirely in connection with the activity of God. Bara in its strictest definition conveys the idea of creating something out of nothing, from inert matter to animate life, for which science knows no force, process, or energy capable of this accomplishment.
Since God is three persons in one (a true mystery), there are only three words that can adequately describe Him.
Omnipotence means all-powerful, having supreme power. This means God can do what he wants, without any limitations, unlike created beings. It means He is not subject to physical limitations like man or angels are. Being omnipotent, God has power over His creation which includes wind, water, gravity, physics, etc. God's power is infinite, or limitless.
Omniscience means all-knowing. God is all-knowing in the sense that he is aware of the past, present, and future. No event or action takes Him by surprise. His knowledge is total. He knows all that there is to know and all that can be known, and has foreseen it all.
Omnipresence means all-present. This term means that God is capable of being everywhere at the same time. It means His divine presence encompasses the whole of the universe. There is no location that He does not inhabit. This should not be confused with pantheism, which suggests that God is ‘one’ or synonymous with the universe. God’s omnipresence indicates that He is distinct from the universe, but inhabits the entirety of it. He is everywhere at once.
God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present. In the book of Job, God revealed His omnipotence to Job, after He had tested Job’s faithfulness by allowing great calamities to occur to him and his family. When Job questioned God’s reason for these judgments against him, God answered him with a series of questions that cover four chapters (Job 38-41). Of course, these questions are unanswerable to any human but they demonstrate God’s wisdom and omnipotence. Here is a small sample of these questions:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy.”
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?”
“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.”
“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?” (Job 38:2-20).
Sometime between John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1, God created the beings known as angels, sometimes referred to as the sons of God. The Hebrew word ham.mal.a.kim, is translated as ‘angels’ in the English language and means ‘messenger’ of God. Angels are beings who have greater power and ability than humans. (2 Peter 2:11) They exist in heaven, or the spirit realm, which is a level of existence higher than the physical universe. (1 Kings 8:27; John 6:38). Angels are also referred to as spirits or the sons of God (1 Kings 22:21; Psalm 18:10).
There are believed to be nine different ranks or types of angels. There are angels and archangels. The angel greatest in both power and authority is Michael, the archangel. (Jude 9; Revelation 12:7). The Bible only mentions one archangel, Michael, but some theologians and non-canonical sources believe there is more than one. Seraphim are high-ranking angels who are stationed near Jehovah’s throne. (Isaiah 6:2). Cherubim are another high-ranking order of angels having special duties. For example, cherubim guarded the entrance to the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were expelled.(Genesis 3:23, 24). They are also found in Ezekiel 1:10; 10:9-10. Yahweh or the Angel of the Lord is sometimes said to ride on a cherub, like a horse (2 Samuel 22:11, Psalms 18:10). Lucifer or Satan is said to be a cherub.
There are four other types of created beings in heaven that were created by God, the Son (Yahweh/Jesus Christ) according to Paul. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities (rulers) or powers (authority). All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him, all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:15-18). The 9th type of angel is called virtues or ‘strongholds.’ “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).
There are two theories on the timing of Genesis 1:2, “Now the earth was formless (Hebrew – tohu) and void (Hebrew – bohu), and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” The first theory is that God created the earth originally as wasteness (tohu) and emptiness (bohu). It expresses here the primeval matter after creation, perhaps just the shell of the planet after it was formed by extreme heat. The ‘deep’ is thought to be the sea or waters on the earth that was used to cool the earth. Genesis 1: 1 & 2 are thought to be the first day of creation when God also created ‘light’ and thus ‘time.’ “Then 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. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:3-5). This day was followed by five more ‘workdays’ of creation and one day of rest. This is known as the Creation Week.
The second theory is that there was a gap of time (perhaps millions of years) between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This is called the Gap Theory or the Ruin and Reconstruction Theory. Verse 1 refers to God’s initial perfect creation of the earth and heavens. Verse 2 assumes that a great catastrophe occurred sometime after God’s perfect creation and was the cause of the earth to become ‘wasteness’ and ‘emptiness.’ After this unknown amount of time between the two verses, God began restitution or re-creation of the earth, which took Him six successive 24 hour days of workdays to accomplish and then He rested on the seventh day. This re-creation is assumed to have occurred approximately six thousand years ago. Therefore, Genesis 1:3 – Genesis 2:3 is a second creation (or re-creation) and encompasses creation, judgment, ruin, and re-creation. This theory provides a (possible) solution to the ancient geological age of the earth, whereas theory one only allows for a relatively “young age” for the earth.
Many adherents to the gap (ruin and re-creation) theory believe the original earth was the home of the angels in which Lucifer (light-bearer) was their prince. Lucifer is thought to be of the class of cherubim due to the passages in Ezekiel 28:14,16 where he is described as the anointed and covering cherub. He is thought to have been the leader of a rebellion against God that took place eons ago, probably before the creation of the heavens and earth mentioned in Genesis 1:1 or between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Here is how Ezekiel and Isaiah describe him and his apostasy towards his creator:
“You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you.”
“By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you” (Ezekiel 28:12-17).
Lucifer might have been the first angel created by God. He was created perfect and was the most beautiful and wisest angel of them all. He was probably the closest to God (anointed cherub who covers) and therefore shined the brightest as he reflected the Shekinah Glory of Elohim – thus the name Lucifer the light-bearer. The original Eden (gap theory) was a garden of precious stones (diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gold) eons before it became a garden of plants and trees. Interestingly, Lucifer’s covering (that adorned his spiritual body) consisted of nine precious stones. The number 9 generally represents judgment in the Bible.
These same types of precious stones were used by the children of Israel when they made the breastplate of judgment for the first high priest Aaron (Exodus 28:15-30), only the artisans used 12 precious stones and not 9. The breastplate had four rows of three precious stones each. In the 3rd row, a jacinth, agate, and amethyst were missing from Lucifer’s ‘covering.’ The 12 precious stones of the high priest’s breastplate represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Likewise, Lucifer’s 9 precious stones (in 3 rows of 3 stones each) could have represented the nine types or hierarchies of angels In which he was a type of high priest.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Lucifer wasn’t satisfied with merely getting accolades from his fellow angels. He wanted their worship, like the Most High received. I don’t believe he necessarily wanted to take God’s place, but he did want to be a God over the other angels. With the help of one-third of the angels, he tried to place his throne in heaven next to God’s throne, but was rejected by the other two-thirds of the host of heaven and was cast down to the earth.
The gap theory adherents believe this was when God destroyed the earth the first time (before the re-creation) by a flood. That is why we see much later the Spirit of God hovering over the ‘deep’ in Genesis 1:2. Some believe that is why God made a covenant with Noah and his sons that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood, for He had already done so twice. “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11).
One-third of the angels in heaven have followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God according to Revelation 12:3, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” These are the fallen angels and are now known as demons. They follow Lucifer and live to do his bidding to destroy mankind and to bring as many to hell with them as possible.
After the fall of Lucifer and the rebellious angels, God decided to create (or re-create, depending on which view you believe) the earth and the heavens. On the 6th day of creation, God created living creatures with souls (minds), including man. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
Man was the only creature on earth that was also created with a spirit that could know and communicate with God. God/Elohim made man in His image and gave them dominion over the Earth. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). This verse confirms the triune nature of Elohim (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) with its use of the plural pronouns, “Us, Our.”
Although the man, Adam, was made in the image of God, he was made lower than the angels in power and knowledge. He was made from the elements of the earth, where angels were spirit beings, invisible to man. Like angels, man was created originally to be immortal and have fellowship with his creator. Lucifer was jealous of God’s new creation, man, who was made in the image of God and was to have dominion over the earth; so he devised a plan to bring about man’s downfall.
The next time Lucifer is mentioned (although not by name) in the Bible is in the Garden of Eden on Earth. “The LORD God had planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Exodus 2:8-9;15-17). This is the only rule or commandment that the Bible mentions for Adam and Eve to obey. Lucifer also knew this fact and it didn’t take him long to take advantage of it.
Evidently, the man could eat from the tree of life, as God had not prohibited eating from it as He had with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In the garden of Eden, Lucifer is not in his glorious angelic form but has possessed the mind and body of a serpent. During this time after the creation, the serpent must have been much different than it is now. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (Genesis 3:1). It evidently could talk as well. “Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die. Then the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
Lucifer, through the serpent, told the woman two lies. The first lie was a whopper. He said God was lying when He told the woman “You will not surely die.” The second lie was that they would be like God. This lie was the same one that Lucifer had told the other fallen angels. He convinced them that he would be like God. He would be their God and was deserving of their worship. The rebellious angels found out the hard way, Lucifer was a liar. Adam and Eve also found out the hard way when they believed the lie of the devil regarding eating from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Lucifer did, however, tell them one true thing, their eyes were opened and they knew good and evil.
Of course, we know the end of this story (for we are still living it). For disobeying God’s only commandment, Adam and Eve were judged and banished from the garden and personal fellowship with God. Lucifer lied when he told them they would certainly not die, for they would no longer be immortal but would eventually die and return to the dust of the ground from which they were created. Their judgment and subsequent punishment are found in Genesis 3:16-19. This same judgment would apply to all of Adam and Eve’s progeny throughout the ages.
Before the first couple left the garden, the Lord God made tunics of skin (from a slain animal) and clothed them. These tunics replaced the fig leaves they had used originally to hide their nakedness after they had eaten fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the first of many sacrifices to come of innocent animals being killed to ‘cover’ the sins of man. It was a temporary ‘fix’ until a permanent cure could be implemented that would not only cover up (atone) their sins but completely erase them. For since they had eaten the forbidden fruit, humankind would be subject to ‘knowing’ evil (the way of Lucifer) as well as good (the way of the Lord).
At this point in mankind’s history, God gave His first prophecy regarding the future of man and Lucifer. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). God prophesied that Lucifer would hate mankind and wage spiritual war against them, but God would raise up a savior (from the seed of the woman) who would eventually destroy the devil and his evil works. It’s highly unusual that the Lord used the words “her seed,” as the seed (sperm) comes from a man and not a woman. The savior to come would have to have a supernatural origin for this to occur. This news or prophecy from Elohim must have worried Lucifer greatly and encouraged Adam and Eve.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). This brings into question “Did Adam and Eve ever eat from the tree of life?” Most theologians believe the answer is no, for the verse says if ‘he’ (meaning Adam and Eve) was to eat from the tree of life, he would live forever. This means he would live forever in his “fallen state” like the fallen angels. If this was the case, then why didn’t Lucifer, with all of his knowledge, convince the woman to eat from the tree of life first (especially since it was not forbidden) and then eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It would have damned them forever.
This is why some scholars believe the fruit from the tree of life must be eaten periodically to obtain immortality. That is why we see its reappearance in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22). The adherents to this view believe that they might have eaten from this fruit and that is why the antediluvian descendants of Adam and Eve lived such long lives. The effects of eating this fruit eventually started wearing off after the flood and the longevity of men slowly began to decline throughout the centuries. Regardless, Adam and Eve were banished from the garden of Eden.
“Therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man, and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).