Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joyful Revelations in the First Sentence of the Bible


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

How compact and full is God's every word! It is like folded linen, which can be carried under the arm and spread upon the grass over a large area. How many, many priceless good things does this word of God reveal to us: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." First of all, it shows us that God is the only eternal and uncreated One. And this first revelation brings about in us the first inexpressible joy. In this whirlpool of change and transience, we are inexpressibly happy that our Creator is beyond change and transience. It further tells us that the one and only good God is the Creator of the world, and since He is the Creator, He is also both the Almighty and the Provider. And this second revelation brings about in us a second inexpressible joy. The world did not proceed out of chaos or chance, without thought and purpose, rather it proceeded from the All-wise God, omniscient and most-merciful, Who is in control of it and is guiding it toward its intended goal. It further reveals to us that this world had a beginning, and consequently it will have an end. And this third revelation brings about in us inexpressible joy. For it would be sad if this world were eternal, and if all its goals, immediate and distant, were to be found only within itself. This would indeed cause a whirlpool in the mind of the intelligent, and sadness in the heart of the righteous. It finally points out to us that God created two worlds, the heavenly and the earthly, or the incorporeal and the corporeal. And this fourth revelation brings us a fourth inexpressible joy. As we now raise our gaze to the heights and rejoice in the sun, moon and stars above our heads, so we can raise our spirit to the spiritual world, toward the angelic world, which is akin to us but purer and brighter than us. We rejoice, for we know that there is a world better than ours, which we will also enter and, like weary travelers, return home and find rest. Oh, how sadly would men's gaze wander around the world if this were the only world and there were no starry heavens! And how sorrowfully would the spirit of man wander in the material world if there were not a spiritual world, the heavenly!

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

Brethren, this is God's answer through the mouth of the prophet, the answer to the question that we all thirst to know: "Whence comes this world?" God hears our question, spoken or unspoken; He hears and gives an answer. Just as He gives rain to the dry earth, just as He gives health to a sick person, just as He gives bread and clothing to the body, so also does He give an answer to our spirit. He gives an answer to the question that has caused it hunger and thirst, pain and nakedness, until it (the spirit) is nourished and quenched, restored to health, and is clothed with the true answer. This is the question: "Whence, therefore, comes this world?" This is the answer: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This world is not of itself, just as nothing in this world is of itself, neither is this world of an evil power, neither is this world of many creators, good and evil, but rather it is of the one gracious God. This answer evokes joy in the heart of every man and incites him to good works. And by this we know, among other things, that this is the only correct and true answer. Every other answer, in contradiction to this, evokes sorrow and fear in us and incites us to evil works, and therefore we know, among other things, that such answers are false. Brethren, the world is from God-let us rejoice and be glad! The world is of divine origin, and consequently its end will also be in God. The world is of a good root, and consequently it will bring forth good fruit. It proceeded from the chamber of light, and it will end in light. When we know that the beginning is good, then we know that it tends toward good and that the end will be good. Behold, in these words about the beginning, the prophecy about the end is already hidden. As was the beginning, so also will be the end. He from Whom the beginning came, in Him also is the end. Therefore, let us hold fast to this saving truth, that we may have shining hope and be strengthened in love toward the One Who, out of love, created us.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

Brethren, whatever God desires to reveal to men is revealed, and whatever He does not desire to reveal remains concealed. Moses, the one who beheld God, could say nothing more about heaven than that in the beginning God created it. Having said that, he continued to describe in detail the creation of the earth. Why does Moses not speak in detail about the creation of heaven? Because God did not want to reveal any more to him, since the men of his time were neither mature enough nor capable of understanding heavenly matters beyond their senses. Only when many centuries had passed and God's New Testament had come to men, did God reveal much more of the heavenly world to His faithful and chosen ones. Only Christians began to see the heavens opened. St. John the Theologian bears witness to this: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven" (Revelation 4:1). St. Stephen the Protomartyr witnesses: "Behold, I see the heavens opened" (Acts 7:56). The Apostle Paul, who was "caught up to the third heaven … and heard unspeakable words" (II Corinthians 12:2, 4), speaks of the angelic choirs, about the thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, and says: "All things were created by Him, and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). His disciple, St. Dionysius, describes the celestial hierarchy in as great a detail as Moses describes the earthly world at its creation. This is how the unfathomable wisdom of God wanted it; that which God did not wish to reveal to Moses, He revealed to the apostles and their followers. What could not be told to children is told to mature men. The revelation of mysteries came through spiritual maturity.

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