I am fascinated by energy. The studies on energy being conducted within the science discipline of Physics, and especially Quantum Physics, are riveting. I read different articles and, as I’ve come expect in the science world, for every postulation there is an equal and opposite refutation. I don’t mind as I find there’s something to learn from both sides of the argument. I take what I read and go to the scriptures, wondering what they might say on the subject.
As I said last week, I do not completely agree with the belief that all things that exist were created out of nothing. I don’t completely disagree either: I do believe that there was a time when nothing we know existed and there was only God. Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” I think this passage clearly states God did not create from matter already existing but the idea that he created from nothing is not an accurate portrayal of His creating. In the beginning, there was the Intention of the Father, described in Ephesians 1 and also peppered and salted throughout both the Old and New Testaments. This Intention was expressed by The Word and everything spoken by The Word was energized by the Spirit thus forming the heavens and the earth and then filling them both. There is a beautiful passage in Proverbs: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew” (Verses 19-20).
Isaiah 11:2 gives this description of the Holy Spirit: “…the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” This description of the Spirit paralleled as it is in the verses of Proverbs is so very exciting. Psalm 104:3, in speaking of the things God has made says; “You send forth Your Spirit and they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.” The Holy Spirit is an integral part of creation and I haven’t heard many teachings on this subject. It’s something I want to spend more time on but, for now, I want to keep my focus on the meaning of the word “create”. Whatever its intended meaning in Genesis 1:1, the word is used again in Genesis 1:27 and 5:2 where the scriptures speak of God creating man. It is clear man was formed from the dust of the ground so man did not come from nothing.
And so, this week, I continue my search for a satisfactory definition for create. “Create” is bara in the Hebrew and I shared the confusing entry from Strong’s concordance in last week’s post. Many other scholars have said-and I agree-that the meaning of a word does not drastically change no matter its context. I don’t see why bara should be any different: there ought to be a consistent meaning that fits with every instance of its usage. One Hebrew teacher I listen to likes the “make fat” or “fattening” meaning found in the 1 Samuel 2:29 passage. He plugs that meaning into Genesis 1 and says that the creation story doesn’t suggest at all that God created from nothing but rather he “fattened” or filled the heavens and the earth. I can see his point but there are many passages where that meaning doesn’t exactly fit. Case in point is Joshua 17: 15 & 18 where my NKJV translates bara as “clear a place” in verse 15 and “cut it down” in verse 18. I have to stretch the idea of “make fat” almost to the breaking point while trying to make it make sense here. Clearing a place or cutting down doesn’t work in other scriptures: I don’t think anyone would accept God cutting down the heavens and the earth as an appropriate translation of Genesis 1.
I did amuse myself by plugging the different definitions found in the Strong’s into different scriptures. I liked the idea of God “dispatching” the heavens and the earth as that gave me the strong sense of creation having a purpose. I was reminded of Isaiah 45:18: “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord and there is no other.” The forest Joshua commanded be “cut down” in the afore mentioned passages could also have been dispatched but, ultimately, I didn’t find this definition to be satisfactory so kept looking.
The Davis Dictionary of the Bible defines creation as, “The act or operation of God whereby he calls into existence what did not before exist. The verb always has God for its subject and the result is an entirely new thing.” I found a similar idea in the New World Dictionary where “create” is defined as: “to grow, to cause to come into existence, bring into being; make; originate…to bring about, give rise…” The definition “to bring about a new thing” isn’t expressly used but I do think it can be applied. Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies gave me the most thorough definition of create: “to bring into being; to produce, put in form, or renew; to put in a new or happier condition. It is a word having a special reference to God and his operations by an infinite power. The leading import of bara is two-fold: (1) The production or effectuation of something new, rare, and wonderful; the bringing something to pass in a striking and marvelous manner. (2) The act of renovating, remodeling, or reconstituting, something already in existence.”
As I look at this definition, I do see Isaiah 45:7 could be translated “I create evil/calamity” and it could mean God brings evil into being. I think a careful read of the first few chapters of Genesis shows this isn’t true: evil is not a part of the creation God calls “good”. However, He did cause every tree to grow in the garden and, in the midst of the garden were both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. All fairness to our God, He did warn our ancestors not to eat of that tree. I do think there’s enough to consider Isaiah 45:7 is not saying God brought evil into existence but rather He will reconstitute evil and calamity: He will put in a new and happier condition. He sends His spirit forth and renews the face of the earth.
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
De Novo = From the beginning, anew
Some Interesting Reading:
Davis, John D., Illustrated Davis Dictionary of the Bible, Revised Edition, Royal Publishers, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1973, Page 157
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990
Wilson, William, Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, Page 101