and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:2
Was Moving Over – It’s a clarion call, a red banner, a sky rocket announcement and headliner. This God is different! If you don’t realize just how different the Genesis account is, then you will miss the great revelation of the character of God right here in the opening verses of Scripture. If you don’t understand how Genesis opposes all other cosmogonies (i.e. explanations of the origin of everything), your relationship with this God will start on the wrong foot and be forever off track.
All ancient cosmogonies except Genesis portray the beginning of everything as warfare. In other words, this world began in conflict, in the divine battle between good and evil. From Babylonian to Egyptian, the pattern is the same. An evil force tries to defeat the protector of human beings. In a cosmic struggle, good triumphs, usually at great cost. The result is the creation of this world, laced with the remnants of Evil’s prior dominance; a world of struggle and triumph. This is the Superman cosmology, repeated over and over in Saturday morning cartoons, comic books, epic poems and movies.
But this is not the biblical account. In the Bible, God does not create from conflict. He creates out of love. There is no battle with evil. There is grace, right from the beginning. God doesn’t struggle against another divine force seeking to overthrow the human world (in spite of our popular mythological understanding). God creates the world perfectly, without a war, without flaws and without resistance.
This is best seen in the Hebrew word me-rakhefet. The root is rakaf. It means to hover, to tremble or to move. Here it is a participle – a continuing action like hovering. It’s not used very often in Scripture but when it is used it is about things like eagles hovering over their young chicks. Certainly it does not connote violence or struggle. This is a word that describes tender, loving care. This is particularly important because in this instance the waters represent the formless and chaotic void. The first part of this very verse speaks of the emptiness and darkness on the earth and in the depths. Yet God’s spirit does not enter the scene like a conquering hero. No, it would be much more appropriate to say that the spirit of God approaches the material world like a gentle mother. With tenderness and compassion, God forms all that we observe from that stuff of creation.
The God of the Hebrews is not like any of the gods of war, not in character and not in method. This difference is so startling, so radical, that it can hardly be overestimated. It sets a completely different tone about the nature of the universe. If the creation reflects the Creator, then something truly wonderful has happened. Yes, sin has broken and disrupted the heavenly harmony, but it has not diminished the original design or the Designer. We are part of a program of universal redemption – back to the original. And the original was (and is) totally unique.
Isn’t it comforting to know that from the beginning His hands were soft and warm?
Topical Index: Creation