My small quest for the universe started when I was young while I was gazing at the night sky in a summer night, lying down on a flat wooden bedding (“pyong-sang”) in the yard. Ever since that time on, gazing at a night sky has been a part of my life.
New astronomical findings and discoveries, factual or hypothetical could not satisfy my thirst for quest of the origin of the universe. Even brilliant philosophers failed to give us a full report of the universe in its scope and origin. Galileo of Italy in the Medieval Age was worthy to be called as the pioneer of the modern astronomical research and science, but his observation was the finding of round-shaped earth rather than flat-shaped one that people believed for many millenniums until that time.
I do not have an expertise in astronomy. It’s very true that no human can measure how big the universe is or how old it is. The followings are my understanding on the origin of universe based on Biblical revelation that I searched diligently and whole-heartedly for the most part of my life.
The search for the origin of the universe is an area that all humanity who have lived on this planet had diligently sought and yet no one can say definitely what it is exactly. It may remain as ‘unsolved quest’ as long as humanity exists on earth. People tried to search for how the universe came into existence rather than why it exists. The study of the origin of universe is ‘cosmology’ or ‘space science’. However the search for the ultimate purpose of universe as to why the universe came into being belongs to the realm of ‘theological study’.
According to the author of the first book of the Bible, Moses, the creation of the universe is planned and executed by the Creator God. The Hebrew verb used in the first verse of the Scripture is ‘bara’ which menas ‘created’ in English. What I would like to point out at this juncture is the syntactic and grammatical structure of this specific verse in Genesis 1:1. The verb ‘bara’ is normally used for the third person singular past tense, that means ‘He (El – God) created’. However, the subject of the sentence is ‘Elohim’ which means ‘Gods (plural)’ rather than ‘a God(singular)’.
Any language learner knows about the correspondence of number and case (subject and verb) in the sentence. If anyone say, ‘ Two books is on the table’, grammatically it’s incorrect because the plural noun ‘books’ doesn’t correspond to verb ‘is’.
From the grammatical point of view, there is a departure from the grammatical rule of correspondence between number and case in this verse we are dealing. The literal translation of the first verse of Genesis 1:1 into English will be like this; “In the beginning, Gods (plural noun) created (third person singular in past tense) the heavens and the earth” Will it be a Moses’ wrong usage of the Hebrew grammar? It’s not. It is the accurate account of creation written by Moses. What did ‘Gods’ create? Gods created the heavens and the earth.
Who are ‘Gods’? Moses knew only one God, Yahweh(Jehovah) who appeared to Him in the burning bush of the Median desert and charged him to go to Pharaoh, unlike the ancient Near Eastern people such as the Babylonians, Egyptians, Acadians, Sumerians and Phoenicians worshiped the pagan gods.
If we had lived in the Old Testament times and we read these words copied on sheep skin or papyrus, we might have concluded that this particular expression would have been an grammatical error made by Moses himself or any possible mistakes by the copiers of original scripts.
Be sure to have in mind that Moses was not the unlearned man. As a son of the most powerful King Pharaoh’s daughter he must have been educated under the most learned educators of that time.
Some might say, “Moses grew as son of Egyptian princess in the royal palace and he knew about the pagan views and practices of pantheistic (view of many gods) religion prevailed in Egypt and in other regions of ‘Fertile Crescent’ (fertile land of Niles, Tigris, Euphrates, and Persian Gulf), so he must have employed this concept of many gods when he wrote the Book of Genesis.”
This hypothesis doesn’t seem to be convincing because if Moses had done so, he must have picked the proper conjugation, that is to say, third person plural form of the verb ‘bara(בָּרָא)’. He did not do so. He left it grammatically incorrect in case and number. This makes us tantalizingly to look into this Hebrew sentence that perfectly explains the intention and plan of God’s creation in the very first verse of the Scripture.
Now let’s try to better understand God’s word. In order for us to achieve this goal, we need to humbly accept God’s word as infallible revelation of His will to humanity before we start this journey. A strong belief in God’s word has been exemplified by Christ Himself who proclaimed that He came to fulfill His Father’s will.
When Moses wrote the account of God’s creation of the universe, he was under the influence of the God’s Spirit and he had to use Hebrew as vehicle in conveying the intention of God’s plan for creation. And he used his mother tongue that he learned from his nursing mother (Jogebeth, his biological mother too!) rather than Egyptian, his another mother tongue that he acquired while he was raised in the court of king Pharaoh. He knew about the Hebrew language regarding grammatical correspondence in the sentence he composed. The Holy Spirit led him to use the third person singular past tense verb ‘bara(created)’ for the case and number of the sentence subject, plural pronoun‘Elohim(Gods)’.
Why is it? Did God really intend to reveal Himself as ‘plural Gods’ and didn’t God know that concept of pantheism would not be accepted by the Israelites? Did Moses raise any questions about this when he wrote? Absolutely not. Beyond all human understanding, God wanted Himself to be known as Powerful Gods having plural Godhead in the very first part of the Holy Scriptures. What was His role in creation? He was the Planner, Executor and Sustainer of all creation.
Some people might say, ‘That specific usage of plural noun case is ascribable to God’s majesty where Hebrew people pick up ‘plurality of majesty’ for single person in the writings. Similarly we find this sort of example in English such as ‘Great Waters’ when we denote the vastness of the sea full of water whereas in normal situation ‘water’ is used as non-countable noun that doesn’t take any plural suffix ‘-(e)s’. Whatever be the case, it would be totally unacceptable for Moses and his people to describe Yahweh God as Being who has a multiple personality. Moses should have used ‘El(God)’ designating the monotheistic God rather than ‘Elohim(=Gods)’ in order to avoid all ensuing problems.
Then question arises here. Why God the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to use ‘Elohim’ rather than ‘El’? Nobody knows. However we can construe from the revelation of New Testament (that clearly represents God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) that God is One but there are three persons in the Godhead. The Three Personhood of God is the truth that has been revealed by Jesus Christ when He said, ‘Father and I are One’. Further He said, ‘After I am gone, Father will send the Holy Spirit in my name.’ What does it mean ‘In My Name’? Father sends the Holy Spirit in Son’s Name. That means, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One in Essence and Person. The difference between Father, Son and Holy Spirit can be found only in designation of each one of Godhead when God revealed Himself to us in a different ways and times. This illustration might be helpful for your better understanding of the Triune God. I am a father to my children, Lois, Moses, Daniel and Rachel and a husband to my wife,Ock Hee. Also I am a Language instructor in a military school. In a different word, I am a father by my children, a husband to my wife and teacher to my students at the same time. Wouldn’t it be a closest analogy to the Triune God? I believe so. I can’t think of anything better than this example at this moment. Oh, it might be a little help too; The sun has a visible light, heat and energy for any living organisms.
The God of creation described in Genesis 1:1 started this world and He puts us in time and space. Yet He has no limitation in time and space. God has no limit in space and time. He can reveal Himself any place, any time, in any Personhood ( as Father, Son or Spirit). I oftentimes look up to the sky full of stars and I am amazed at its vastness of the universe. While I am gazing at the night sky, I praise God of Creation for His Greatness and Power and Glory. The night sky has been teaching me about God’s glory and power.
No other science books taught me about God’s greatness better than the universe. The Old Testament saints called God as ‘God of Hosts’. The original word for ‘hosts’ is ‘array of stars’ in its original meaning. What makes us more wondrous about it is that all creation of these trillions of celestial bodies was finished in the 4th day by a single utterance of His word, saying, “Let there be stars in the firmament, and there were stars….” What a powerful One He might be! And the most important thing for us is that we can cry out to the Creator of all of this as our Heavenly Father!
I don’t want really be involved with the controversial issue on the duration of the ‘day’ in the first 6 days of creation. The modern science discoveries supports that the age of the universe would be 14.3 billion years old from Big Bang. So they say ‘a day’ in the Bible could mean ‘billions of years’. I don’t really care about how old the universe is because I believe the Power of God who can call up everything into being either ‘in a second’ or ‘billions of years’ as He wishes. It seems natural that ‘a day’(yom) will be a ‘24 hour’ day because at the end of each creation day , the phrases ‘ it became a night and a day this is the 1st(2nd, 3rd….6th )day’ follows repetitively. The Creator can do anything beyond our imagination. It is not right to limit His power because we do not understand it. Furthermore we are supposed to acknowledge what God can do whatever He plans to do without being interrupted by anyone or anything. He is the One who raised Lazarus out of the tomb by calling, ‘Lazarus, come forward (out of your tomb)!’ and he came out alive as he was told.
True faith starts when we trust in the Creator of the universe who can transform our mortal body into eternal and never dying body just like Him. Apart from this kind of life giving Power He has, we can hardly think of His greatness. All human glory comes to an end when our heartbeats stop. It will be a real blessing if we believe in the Eternal One who lives forever and has power to create all things and maintain them until the day when He creates again the New Heaven and Earth where we will spend eternity with Him. Amen and Amen!