Most Christians are able to quote Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” But not many know the very next verse. It’s not God’s famous declaration, “Let there be light!” No, it’s a bit of a surprise: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”
I have to admit, I’ve often found that statement odd. It looks like God intentionally begins his creation by making a dark, empty mess—and only then, in “part 2,” does the Word go to work with the famous “Let there be” lines.
This is actually incredibly significant. And I believe this was intentional. By starting with chaos and darkness, God teaches us two truths about how he works:
1. The Word brings order out of chaos.
When God created everything, he did it by starting with a formless void and then shaping it with his Word. He did that to show that, in the same way, our lives are a formless void until God’s Word comes in to bring life and peace, beauty and order.
The opposite is true as well: when God’s Word departs from our lives, they descend back into chaos. We see this, for instance, in the plagues that God sends to Egypt in the Exodus. Moses brings a word from God directly for Pharaoh, and when Pharaoh rejects it, the plagues begin. If we’re not reading closely, we might just think of the plagues as random cosmic punishments. But they follow a pattern of creation unraveling: the Nile turns to blood, which destroys the ecosystem; out of the Nile come frogs; from the dead frogs come gnats; from the gnats come disease. When God’s Word is rejected, order becomes disorder, light becomes literal darkness, and goodness becomes terror.
Had God simply wanted to flex his muscles for Pharaoh, he could have just used a blatant display of power—shrinking Pharaoh’s army down to an inch tall or having Moses levitate or something. That might have gotten the job done. But God wasn’t merely demonstrating his power. He was also, perhaps moreso, demonstrating what sin and rebellion do. Sin tears creation apart at the seams.
The Word of God creates. Sin de-creates. Every time. Without exception. And the same is true in our lives. Sin unravels our families, puts darkness into our hearts, and places us in bondage to addictions.
But that leads to the other (beautiful) side of the coin:
2. The Word will one day redeem what sin has destroyed.
The Apostle John opens up his story of Jesus’ life by connection him to the creation story:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
–John 1:1, 3-4
Jesus, the Word, would come to re-enter a dark, sin-filled, chaotic world. And that Word would bring life and light once more.
We see Jesus do this all throughout his ministry, undoing the chaos and darkness left by sin. He heals diseases. He opens the eyes of the blind. He makes the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead come to life. He walks on water and tells hurricanes to “sit down and shut up” – and they listen. He forgives adulterers, murderers, and thieves, drawing them in for intimate fellowship—transforming the impure and the shameful into pillars of character and virtue. You see, wherever sin had left a dark void in the world, Jesus comes with a thundering word: let there be light. And there is.
But then, at the end of Jesus’ life, the strangest thing happens. He is put into darkness and chaos. When he died, the earth shook and a pitch-black darkness fell on the earth. The Spirit of God, who had hovered over him for all of his life, flitted away. When Jesus cried out, “God, where are you?” the answer was a stunning and horrifying silence.
Jesus, the architect of creation, the Word of life itself, was put into the darkness and void of sin. And he walked that road so that we, who had rejected the Word, could have light and life again. Jesus allowed himself to be de-created on the cross so that we could be re-created in the resurrection.
Is your life destroyed by sin? Is your family unraveling? Your self-image mired in darkness? If you turn to Christ, he makes all things new. Your life may very well be the picture of chaos, but if God could create everything out of nothing, he can surely re-create everything in you. He does it every day, every hour, every single moment.
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.