First, it tells us God is eternal: “In the beginning… God.” Time begins, and God already is active, working according to a plan of which we are unaware. God is the Being who begins time by His action, who by His Word initiates time and creation. He is the Author of all history without being controlled by it; He is the Creator of time who never needs to submit to its march.
Secondly, it tells us God is powerful: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The extensive marvels that we see around us were created by Him. The valleys watered by streams, dense forests and jungles, deep oceans, mountains that reach beyond the clouds, distant planets and faraway stars, all of them were created without a drop of sweat, with no physical exertion but only by His powerful Word. The prophet marvels at the ease with which He created everything: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? (Isaiah 40:12) Human comprehension and achievements cannot compare with God’s power; instead, they depend on His work.
Third, God is righteous. The heavens and the earth obey the laws that He has imposed; there is not a single part of creation that exists outside of His continuous control. As He declared to His servant Job: “Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb… [when I] prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” (Job 38:8-11) He is the Creator with all power and authority over His creation; therefore, He defines justice and righteousness, and all creation must follow His command.
Fourth, God is good, and that is evident in the fact that everything He has created is worthy of blessing. Notice the repetition in all of today’s reading: “And God saw that the light was good” (Genesis 1:4); He saw that all He created was good (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25); and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31). We don’t have to hide ourselves in terror from a malignant and perverse creator; instead, we stand in awe and worship the Creator who is eternal, powerful, righteous and good.
Fifth, as the psalmist sings, God is merciful. Creation was made to produce and sustain life. Psalm 104 rejoices in the mercy that gives daily provision to all living creatures, from the beasts of the fields to the animals furthest away from human settlement, from beasts of the jungles to human beings, from the birds of the sky to the innumerable creatures of the oceans. We all depend on God’s merciful hand to give us sufficient and accessible provision through His creation.
From our first reading, the Bible reveals to us that God is eternal, powerful, righteous, good and merciful. May this be the first of a year full of readings to help us better know and worship our Creator.