“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 NIV).
The opening words of the Bible begin with a majestic declaration that in the beginning of all things there was God and that God was the creator of the beginning. This opening declaration teaches us that the world did come into being by itself, but it had its beginning by the action of a creator. The opening declaration of Genesis is also an affirmation of the sovereignty of the one who by the power of his word created all things.
The creation of the world as presented in the first chapter of Genesis (Genesis 1:1-2:3) is structured around a patter of sevens. In the Ancient Near East the number seven carries the idea of completeness. The first verse of Genesis contains seven words in Hebrew. Creation is accomplished in seven days. The expression “And God saw that it was good” appears seven times in the narrative of creation. The expression “God saw” also appears seven times. The word “God” appears thirty-five times in Genesis 1:1-2:3, that is, five times seven. God rested on the seventh day and the section dedicated to the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3) has thirty-fine words in Hebrew, that is, five times seven.
The declaration that God is the creator of all things is an affirmation that God is the owner and Lord of the heavens and earth. Since this sovereign God made us in his image, we must acknowledge him as our God: “Our deliverer is the LORD, the Creator of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary