Vonk on Genesis 1 (4)

God gets the credit

The person who recorded Gen.1:1–6 for his contemporaries was writing truth. To whom do all things owe their origin—the things that we see and the things that we do not (yet) see, those referred to in one way in this age and in another way in that way—to whom else do they owe their origin than to the Lord, our God, the creator of heaven and earth?

In what other way could the author of Genesis 1 make clear to his hearers and readers that the credit for creating everything they saw was due exclusively to the one true God, than by addressing them in their language and by making use of their notions and conceptions? For that reason he gave the name raqia’ to that which we still perceive today as a vault—a Hebrew word which was associated at that time with notions which we no longer share, even though the separation of waters above and waters below is still highly significant for us today.

In this way we understand the intention of the author of these verses perfectly well, just as we can understand his intention for all of Genesis 1 in a similar way. This is especially true if we take note of the conclusion and the sequel of this chapter, for then we can discern the underlying plan. From the very beginning the intention of Genesis 1 has been lead the Israelites in a subtle way to praise the One who had let himself be called Yahweh by them ever since Horeb. As they heard or read this chapter, they were to come to the conclusion that the honour and glory of all that exists belonged to the God of Israel.

The entire story is constructed in such a way that the Israelites could not help but break out at the end in a song of praise to Yahweh, who had spoken to his people on Mount Horeb and identified himself there as the Creator of heaven and earth, and even of the fearsome sea. With a mighty hand and sovereign ease he had made them himself, and afterward took a rest which nothing or no one could prevent, and which he now gave, indeed commanded, to his Israel in a day of undisturbed rest and relaxation.

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