The opening chapters in Genesis are among the most discussed in all of Scripture, primarily because of the different interpretations regarding creation of the universe. Much of the debate seems to boil down to the meaning of yom (day); whether it is a 24-hour period, an age, or some other figurative reference. Often pointed out is the repeated use of “evening and morning”, suggesting that when God repeats something like that, it’s often important. So it seems worth noting that the most repeated phrase in the account really has less to do with creation itself, than with the Creator. Let’s take a moment to consider what this tells us about Him. Perhaps we can learn more from Scripture about creation of the world, by first considering what it says about the world’s Creator.
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. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
And God said… (Genesis 1:6a, 9a, 11a, 14a, 20a, 24a, 26a, 29a)
Even in these brief opening verses, we learn profound and significant truths about God. Obviously, one of the clearest is that He is the Creator of the universe. People may argue about the details of these verses, but the fact that He is Creator of everything seems pretty clear. Another thing that seems clear is that He speaks, highlighted by the repeated phrase “and God said”. Genesis immediately introduces God as the creator, but then repeatedly pictures Him as the God who speaks.
This truth of His nature is echoed throughout Scripture. From His interactions with Adam and Eve and the patriarchs, to His first command when the Israelites left Egypt, before giving the Law (Jeremiah 7:22-23). From Ezekiel’s experience of His “still, small voice”, to the testimonies of His voice throughout the prophetic writings. The Old Testament seems to ring with the truth that God spoke to His people.
However, this isn’t limited to the Old Testament, where God spoke by the prophets in many ways, for in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). Note that every account of the Transfiguration ends with the command to “listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35), which we can do because Jesus is always with us, and we should learn to recognize His voice (John 10:1-5).
These, and many other passages, point to the importance of God’s voice.
Genesis 1 shows that He speaks, and then it becomes so. Yet to me this passage reveals much more than His power, for the description of God’s voice is not just an abstract picture. His voice is very real, as important to relating to Him as natural speech is important to human relationships. God is not an omnipotent yet distant deity, but a nearby Spirit who desires us to know Him, as real and tangible as the love we feel for each other.
Unbelievably, the majestic, omnipotent Creator of the universe speaks personally to each of us, as a parent to to a beloved child.
I think it is more important to live the reality of that truth than to understand the physical implications of Genesis 1. The repetition of that statement doesn’t just point to Him as Creator, it foreshadows the intimate relationship made possible by Christ’s work on the cross.
Unfortunately, we often get caught up in the almost secular argument of physical meaning and miss the vital pointer to His personal presence. The repeated reference to His voice should alert us to its significance.
And so, at least for a while, I pray we can set aside the rancor so often associated with these passages, and focus on the One who is revealed there and the relationship towards which He draws each of us. Let’s ask Him to speak to us of His priorities, His heart, and His guidance.