“In the beginning, 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.” Genesis 1:1-2
There is certainly a place for the discussion of how God created the earth. Is it young or is it old? How long is a day? How do we reconcile the Bible and science? While these topics may be profitable, it is vital that we do not lose God in the debate. The author of Genesis is not as concerned with how God created the world as he is about telling the story of the God who created the world.
After introducing God (Gen. 1:1) the author introduces the world (Gen. 1:2). The news is not good. For the ancient readers of the narrative the choice of language is sinister and unmistakable. The earth was without form and void. It had no meaning. There was nothing but chaos. There is no surprise here because it seems that the earth is the victim of an evil realm, the darkness and the deep.
Readers of ancient Mesopotamian mythology can sympathize with the terror here. The darkness and the deep are the lairs of evil. The abyss of the sea was the chamber of the underworld. The darkness was the breath of demons. Man lived life in constant fear trying desperately to ward off these evil forces but to no avail. Not even the gods could tame the chaos of the darkness and the deep. In the Mesopotamian mind Genesis 1:1 is just the name of another God, because Genesis 1:2 is the end of the story. No god can overcome such evil. Life is hopeless. Chaos rules.
The author brings us an early note of good news. The Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters. The creator God is not from the darkness or the deep. The creator God is not threatened by the darkness or the deep. He hovers over it. What we should expect here is a great battle to ensue. The evil spirits of the chaos rising up and victimizing yet another god of the pantheon; but there is no battle. The creator God simply speaks and immediately the darkness is gone and there is light (Gen. 1:3). As he speaks the world comes to order and where there was once only dark, deep, formless void there is meaning. The creator God tames the chaos.
There are many spirits rising from the evil of the abyss with which we must contend. Each of them seem to interrupt an otherwise enjoyable existence by introducing chaos. Globally we deal with terrorism, government conspiracy, and economic instability. It seems there is growing chaos in our environment. Every few years there seems to be a contagious virus we cannot tame. We have always had storms, but they seem bigger now. More people are dying due to the weather. The Fujita scale is used to measure the intensity of a tornado. They calculate it based on the damage to human life a storm causes. Some of us seem to always be living life at F-5, total chaos. As bothersome as the agents of global chaos may be, they are not nearly as concerning as the personal ones. Darkness is bad, but when the darkness is near you; in you . . . We are no match for this sort of evil. We all want a happy life, but somebody, something inevitably walks in with chaos. We need rescue.
Left to itself the world descends quickly into chaos. An abandoned building, an untended garden, an orphaned life; all of these are the easy victims of chaos. Even with our constant attention there seems to be some forces in life for which even the best of men are no match. The deep reminds us we are in over our heads. The darkness we may not see, but we certainly feel. We are in desperate need of someone greater than we who can give life meaning and offer hope. Without an advocate we are easy victims. The good news is that there is a creator God who is not from the evil. He is not of the evil. He is not even threatened by the things that threaten us. His Spirit hovers over. He is working to tame the chaos. The more he speaks the more life means. The chaos is controlled easily by three words, “And God said.” We grossly underestimate the power of God’s Word.
God has spoken. This is good news.