In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day (Genesis 1:1-5, NASB).
The short answer to the question: “Was the Holy Spirit present at Creation?” is a resounding yes!
The second sentence in all of Scripture reveals the power of the Holy Spirit already at work as we see the “Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
The Spirit of God
While the details might cause some glossy eyes and distracted minds, it is significant to note that the Bible includes the only cosmology that records the origin of the space-time-matter continuum in both ancient paganism and modern naturalism. And the Holy Spirit plays an important role in the origin of these binding forces in our universe.
The First Law of Physics states that no matter or energy is created or destroyed, just sort of shuffled and reordered. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (along with other natural laws) also indicate a clear beginning of both energy and matter, in that systems of energy aren’t naturally going from simple to more complex forms, but rather regressing from more complex to simpler, or lesser in nature.
In Scripture, the Hebrew words used to communicate the Holy Spirit’s role in creation are unique and reveal the source of the energy of our world as the Holy Spirit Himself.
Scientists who love the purity of God’s Word and the study of science, have unpacked this Genesis journey for the rest of us:
Then the “Spirit” (Hebrew ruach) of “God” (Elohim) proceeded to “move upon the face of the waters” (literally, “vibrate in the presence of the waters”). Waves of gravitational energy and waves of electro-magnetic energy began to pulsate forth from the great “Breath” (another meaning of ruach) of God, the Prime Mover of the Universe. The unformed “earth” material (Hebrew eretz), as well as the “waters” permeating it (Hebrew shamayim) quickly coalesced into a spherical form under the new force of gravity, and the first material body (Planet Earth) had been formed at a point in space (The New Defender’s Study Bible).
The Hebrew words used in the Creation account are unique. This was the process of creating, not making. We make dinner from ingredients in our kitchen. We make cars from materials formed into useful parts. But here is the Hebrew bara, which speaks of creating from nothing. When we imagine waters, we probably have a wide ocean in our mind’s eye.
Yet the word doesn’t communicate that, it’s more like water substance or materials for water. These early verses in Genesis record the forming of not only the world we observe but also the laws of nature that hold our world together.
The Mover of the Universe
As the text moves forward, we see the beginning of time as the planet rotates on an axis (which indicates the force of gravity now at work in our universe), noting the passage of the first day. Gravity and time — the foundations of our world.
Matter, as we know it, can’t exist without the bounds of energy (like gravity) acting on it. The Creation account includes a description of both the physical world and the laws that hold it together.
I love Morris’ name for the Holy Spirit as the Prime Mover of the Universe. There are often those among us who prefer to place the Holy Spirit within certain bounds. One group often limiting the current role of the Holy Spirit in our world, while still believing in the purity of the Creation account and His involvement in it.
Another group, doubting the purity of Scripture’s words concerning the beginning of words of Creation, yet looking expectantly for the Holy Spirit’s revelation and work today as we see it in the New Testament.
Scripturally, the Holy Spirit is referred to as our Helper. And our help comes from the One who set the world in motion. So, let us make great space in our hearts for Him to be both Creator and Sustainer.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).
Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (Psalm 124:8).
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever (Psalm 146:5-6).
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power (Isaiah 40:28-29).
The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4).
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:7,13).
Morris, Henry M. The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 1994.
Morris, Henry M. (Scriptural Annotations) The New Defender’s Study Bible. Nashville, TN: World Publishing. 2006
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April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April here and here.