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 1:2, ESV)

The Genesis account of creation presents a subtle picture of God’s loving gentleness. At the very beginning of time, we discover the Spirit of God “hovering over the face of the waters” on the earth’s unformed surface. The Hebrew word translated “hovering” literally means “to relax, to be soft, to brood.” The “brooding” is not the pouting self-pity of a disappointed child, but rather the contemplative reflection of an artist who is planning how to paint his canvas, or more aptly the thoughtfulness of a potter considering how to shape his clay.

This word can also convey another sense: It can mean “be soft, tremble, brood” in the sense of a loving mother caring for her young, like a mother hen “fluttering” over her little chicks. This is not a picture of a powerful tyrant lording it over his dominions, but of a Being who is bringing forth a very precious new creature–and His entire being is focused completely on this creative act.

With all His eternal power at work during this first day of creation–with all three Persons of the Godhead involved, as we learn in John 1–we might expect a sudden rush of activity to burst forth, as God creates the universe. But that is not what we find as we move into verse 3; on the contrary, God merely speaks the earth into existence. We find this pattern repeated, in fact, during most of the creation process (with a couple notable exceptions, such as the creation of Adam): “And God said . . . and there was.”

We know from John 1, of course, that Jesus is the Word, and from a theological perspective Moses is telling us that the Son of God was present and involved in the creation of the universe. But from a simple literary perspective, it is worth noting that “God said” and it was so–He simply spoke; He did not shout or threaten, nor did He urge or request. God spoke with a word of command, having absolute authority to make something from nothing simply by speaking it. Yet He also did not lord it over His creation, even though He had absolute right to do anything He wished. Instead, He spoke with a voice of gentleness.

And so, from before the foundation of the earth, we meet with God’s Son, and we find Him both making all things that were made (John 1:3) and doing so in gentleness and humility.

And finally, we hear God say, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26, ESV). At the very foundation of the universe, God revealed Himself to His whole creation, giving the first glimpse of His triune nature–even before there were any living beings present to appreciate it (with the possible exception of angels). He speaks to Himself on day 6, referring to Himself in the plural. Modern theologians try to invent confusion about this, but the simple fact is that God is Three Persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–and He allowed Moses to see that all three Persons were involved at the time of creation–even though Moses knew little of the coming Messiah.

And once again, God fashions His creation in gentleness, humbling Himself to stoop down and pick up some newly made clay, forming it into Adam with His own hands. Those same gentle hands would one day be pierced for our transgressions, and the One who created all things would humbly submit Himself to death on our behalf.

 

 

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