Welcome back to the HTS Genesis series by Dr. J.P. Mosley, part 5!
2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Again, many people have misunderstood this passage. Some have said that God created this long before the days of creation, or that God had material from which He began His creation, which as you can see, goes against the church’s confession that God created everything out of nothing.
In these blog articles, I have already hinted at those who argue creation, or that this world was not created, but creation has some form of pre-existence. They would look at this passage and see this verse pre-dating day one instead of as a part of day one. I see verse 2 as a part of day one. In other words, by the time we start reading verse 2, we are already considering the first day of creation. In fact, we could say, already back in verse 1 we are in day one of creation. Everything that follows until we read “evening and morning…” we are talking about the first day of creation.
Therefore, properly understanding this passage when God began to form the heavens and the earth, which is what we are going to look deeper in the next set of verses, the earth was formless and void. It is like what a great sculptor said prior to forming a masterpiece of art, “The statue is there, I just have to chip away the extra pieces.” What we see here is not something that existed prior to God creating it, but what God created and then gave form to it.
As we will go on further to see, God spoke the earth into existence, and then gave to the formless, void, dark earth order, substance, purpose, and light. God does this by His Spirit, hovering like a bird gliding on the wind, over the face of the waters.
These waters will be separated by God’s word in the next few verses to reveal even further created surfaces called land. But what we must take home in this article is that God the Father created this by His very Word, and it is the Spirit of God who gives substance, order, and light to His creation.
We already see the work of the Spirit in creation. It should not be surprising for us to learn that the word in the original language for Spirit is the same for ghost, wind, or even breathe. The Spirit is the very wind that we cannot catch, while at the same time, He is that ever-present reality giving us the calming order even in our chaotic sinful lives. Since these opening days of creation, the Spirit has always brought order and structure to all that has been created.
Dr. J.P. Mosley, Jr., is the Academic Dean and Registrar as well as Heidelberg Theological Seminary’s Professor of Biblical Studies and Systematic Theology.