Gen 1:1 ESV – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The questions here are
- Beginning of what? Time itself? The start of what we are relative to something else?
- God here is intriguing because it is not the name, it is a title (elohim) . And the title is problematic in that it seems to be used in plurality.
- Was this referring just to planet Earth, the solar system, the universe, or all of creation? Traditional assumption is simply everything, but that is not distinct or made clear here. There are references later that talk about there being no stars (at least visible lights), definitely no sun or moon, so it is clear at least that there is nothing visible from within our universe out.
- Heavens are the sky, as well as the visible non earth, and the abode of God.
- The Earth is literal land. It isn’t talking about things past the literal place of material substance.
In a Hebrew/Jewish context, Elohim as a plural of God here is a potential problem. Later we learn God is ONE, so therefore what is this plural usage? An interpretation from a Hassidic Jewish reference (Chabad) : “ In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.” This therefore avoids all concept of Trinitarian (Christian) thought.
Another take on this, and it is rather involved and cannot be reviewed here easily, is the idea of a “Divine Council” or spiritual beings. Elohim does mean rulers, angels, divine ones etc…It is not out of bounds to conceive of this as Yahweh initiating creation, possibly even delegating parts of pieces of creation to other spiritual beings. While there are no clear explanations given, it seems safe to say that we could easily make at least one (or more!) of the following assumptions
- This is best rendered in the Chabad example given, and the plural is simply making it a personal description (God’s creation).
- Yahweh is being referred to by title and it is plural within the Godhead, implying at least binaterianism if not trinaterianism. Binitarianism is an intriguing concept in that it provides a place for the operation of “2 Yahwehs”. Co-equal, yet operational differing faces of God. This is revealed as early as 516 BC as was not considered problematic to Jewish thought. For a wild ride look at work done by Michael Heiser on this subject. A great article can be found here. This also looks at how this was translated in the Targums as “The Memra” or “The Word”, which interestingly enough points to the affiliation of Christian theology to Yeshua from Nazareth as “The Word of Yahweh”.
- The term elohim is referring to a whole stratum of spiritual beings. We would think clearly they were under the direction and command of Yahweh the uncreated, and the source of all things. Apostolic scriptures talk about Christ/Mashiach being how all things were made, and through all things were made.
Creation of Planets
Modern understanding of how planets are created http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet#Formation
This theory depends on other planets being already present or at least matter that gets initiated into gathering together. According to this verse, nothing was visible at least from inside our universe, if not all of creation. Therefore the material and the physical laws required to exist (mass, energy, gravity, strong/weak nuclear force etc…) had to be initiated by Yahweh, from Yahwehs own substance and nature.
Based on the above logic, it isn’t a stretch to say not only did Yahweh created the earth, but all of the underlying framework for matter or energy to even exist. Atomic elements (protons, neutrons, electrons), the concept of polarity, the concept and actual dynamic of having (or not having) a charge to make this possible etc… Physical laws, relationships, ratios etc… The very concept of something being one thing, then changing its essence into something totally different through interaction.
Taken from a broad view, there is almost far more miracle and depth in the existence of the framework of creation, than creation itself. The governing principles, rules, laws, behaviors etc… these are all required to be in place completely before the emergence of matter and energy, let alone anything beyond that.
When we say in the beginning Yahweh created the heavens and the earth, it means something so far beyond human comprehension its astonishing.