BEFORE “IN THE BEGINNING” (2)
A Meditation on Exodus 3:14-15 and other Selected Scriptures
From all eternity—before “In the beginning”—the Triune God lived in perpetual joy and love, basking in the glory of one another. In Jesus’ High Priestly prayer toward the end of His life, He said, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (Jn. 17:4). The one great motivating factor in all that the Son does is the glory of the Father. Jesus went on to pray, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed… Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (vv. 5, 24). Before the creation of the world, the Father loved His Son, and as a result He crowned His Son with glory. Then the Son reciprocates with love for the Father and does all that He does for the glory of the Father. And, wonder of wonders, Jesus returns to heaven to once again enjoy that glory, but now He asks His Father that we, His elect, be given the privilege of also basking in that glory.
If we’re going to understand why God created the heavens and the earth, and the fullness thereof, including ourselves, we must see it all in relationship to Trinitarian glory. The glory of God is the linchpin that holds it all together. Answer seven in the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” That is to say, all that God causes to happen was planned, by Him, in eternity past to display His own glory in the future. There is one ultimate answer to all such questions as: Why did God create the universe? Why did He create angels and humans? Why did He permit sin and evil to occur? Why did He choose the nation of Israel? Why does He elect some from all the nations for salvation? Why does He not elect others? The answer to all these and similar questions is that “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths” for the glory of His name (Ps. 135:6). The whole universe emanated from glory and will culminate in glory, when all the nations that God has made shall come and worship Him, and shall glorify His name (Ps. 86:9). We look forward to the day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14); the day when we will forever enjoy His glory in the kingdom that He had prepared for us, before He laid the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34).
There is no mention of the creation of the angelic beings in the creation account, but when the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, He stated that during the six days of creation, “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God (i.e., angels) shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Apparently some time before the “In the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 God created the angels. John Piper tries to picture this memorable moment described by Job: “God cannot resist, it seems, mentioning what the mood of heaven was like at the moment of creation. ‘All the sons of God shouted for joy.’ All the angels had evidently been created before the universe. And it is not hard to see why. God meant there to be an audience when he created the world. I am sure he said, ‘Watch this!’ when he spoke the galaxies into existence. Imagine the awe and wonder that exploded among the angels. They had never seen or even imagined matter. They are all ‘ministering spirits’ (Hebrews 1:14) and have no material bodies as we do. When God brought material stuff into existence with all its incredible variety and utterly unheard-of qualities of sight and sound and smell and touch and taste, this was totally unknown to the angels. God had made it all up. It was not like the unveiling of a new painting made of all the colors and paints we are all familiar with. It was absolutely, totally, unimaginably new! And the response of the sons of God was to shout for joy” (John Piper, The Pleasures of God, p. 83).
The angels responded to the creation of the universe, like we respond to fire works on the fourth of July—with oohs and aahs. Can’t you hear the angels? God said, “Let there be light” and it immediately sprang forth, with the multitude of angels letting out a reflexive and corporate shout for joy, as they stood in awe of what their Creator was doing before their very eyes. “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their hosts…Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps. 33:6, 8-9).
~Pastor Wayne Christenson