Genesis: The Creation Spirit

01.24.2012 by Reed Dunn


This post is part of the contours in genesis series (click to view the other posts in this series).

Genesis 1:2 starts the Bible off on a strange note.  There is mention of darkness that is somehow related to the waters - the waters of “the deep.”  Of course, there are issues like, where did the water come from?  Did it predate creation?  Those are questions that the hyper-literalist needs to answer.  I, thankfully, am not one of those so I can just let that be a literary device.  And literary device is specifically used to give us a very unique picture - a picture of the Spirit, hovering over the water.

According to some scholars, having the Spirit show up like this is meant for us to think of a primordial war, brewing before time began.  The Spirit poised for attack.  The dark soupy chaos, ready to counter.  This definitely fits what the Jews would have expected.  Spending 400 years in Egypt and now walking through the wilderness, Israel would know versions of creation that started the same way.  But if you keep reading you see God speak, nothing but speak, and light happens.  No fight.  No counter attack.  What a great truth!  What a great God!  If that were the only point, it would be good enough.  But this hovering Spirit keeps showing up.

The flood story of Genesis 6-9 is an account of un-creation.  The water God had pushed back to create land, comes crashing back over it.  From the deep places below the earth to the oceanic reserves in heaven - it is as if God made a bubble of land and air in Genesis 1, and in Genesis 6 he simply pops it!  The rest of the story is meant to reflect that first creation account: several words only show up in the creation and flood accounts, and when Noah gets out of the boat he is told to “be fruitful and multiply.”  Sound familiar?

Guess what shows up in the darkest hours of the flood?  In chapter 8 the Bible says God “remembered Noah.”  What does God do next?  God made a wind blow over the earth (Gen 8:1).  The Hebrew word for wind and spirit are the same, so we literally have a second act of creation.  The Creative Spirit of God blowing through to recreate man and earth.

Fast forward however many years and Israel is standing on the banks of the Red Sea.  The sea on one side, the Egyptian military machine on the other.  They need a miracle.  They get one.  God parts the sea and they walk across on dry land!  How does God part it?  He uses “a strong east wind” (Exod 14:21).  If you love science and the Bible, you will take a deep sigh at this moment and realize that God used natural means to do supernatural things.  But Jews didn’t care that God was being scientifically proper.  These people didn’t have a scientific world view, they had a Genesis world view.  And what they saw was another creation.  They saw the “spirit” blowing over the water and they new God was giving them land.  Land he had created for them!

And finally, we find ourselves in a room in the middle of Jerusalem sitting with a group of scared disciples.  When, out of nowhere, a wind rushes into the house (Acts 2:2).  The Creative Spirit-Wind of God comes again!  This time he doesn’t blow over water, he blows over PEOPLE.  The people, themselves, become his new creation.  Their lives become the space where redemption would play out, and God makes them into his new nation - born of spiritual decent.  In short, the church is born and the New Creation dawns.  Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like Genesis 1.

This post is part of the contours in genesis series (click to view the other posts in this series).