What Was God Doing Before He Created the Universe?

    It is interesting to note that only the Biblical revelation, out of all the world’s religions, speaks about a special creation of all things in the beginning, out of nothing. All of the other religions and philosophies of men, both ancient and modern, have been evolutionary systems, starting as they do with eternally pre-existing matter.
    The Bible, unique among the sacred writings of mankind, begins with an eternal, omnipotent, personal God, Who brought all things into being, not out of primeval chaos or eternal matter, but out of nothing! Special creation is a concept absolutely unique to the Bible. To the ancient Israelites, accustomed as they were to thinking in terms of the evolutionary cosmologies of the Egyptians and the Canaanites, this was a radically new idea. The writer of Genesis therefore had to be quite clear and emphatic in his account of creation, in order to keep them from reading their evolutionary preconceptions into it.

    This is why the first chapter of Genesis teaches so plainly and definitely that all things—“the heavens and the earth and all the host of them”—were spoken into existence and brought into their finished perfection directly by God alone. He was not in any way dependent upon pre-existing matter or upon natural processes in this accomplishment. Thus, there was nothing at all before the creation period—only God.
    Our minds cannot really grasp the idea of an eternal God, existing independently of the universe which He created. But, for that matter, neither can they comprehend the idea of eternal chaotic matter, or an infinite chain of secondary causes extending back to eternity. Our minds are finite and are bound by the framework of the space-mass-time universe in which they function. They cannot successfully comprehend infinity and eternity or any kind of existence outside of and prior to space and time.
    But what we cannot comprehend, we can believe. Millions of people through the ages have found mental and spiritual rest through simple faith in an eternal Creator, revealed and incarnate in Jesus Christ.

    The special creation of our space-mass-time universe is declared by the introductory statement of the Word of God. “In the beginning (time) God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).” The tri-universe thus spoken into existence reflects the triune nature of its Creator. The triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is thus the great First Cause, the source of all meaning and reality.

    Skeptics sometimes attempt to ridicule the biblical chronology by saying, “But if creation took place only six thousand years ago, what was God doing before that?” One can surely see, however, that is the same question as, “What was God doing prior to the hypothetical creation of the universe five billion years ago?” Infinity minus six thousand is exactly the same as infinity minus five billion.

    In either case, there is only one way in which we could possibly learn anything whatever about events prior to the creation. We can only know what God has been pleased to reveal in His Word. And there are a few such glimpses given us in the Holy Scriptures.

    We are given an insight into the heart of God when we hear Christ pray to the Father: “Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). The three persons of the Godhead apparently shared a mutual love and fellowship in their eternal counsels.

    In these counsels, we are told that somehow the Triune God made plans for the history of the universe and its inhabitants prior to the creation. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

    And then we learn that a certain body of people would be created who, before they even existed, were “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Furthermore, a “book of life” was prepared in which their names were written, although there would be many born in the future world “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 17:8).
    But God, knowing that man would choose to rebel against His will and thereby deserve nothing but punishment and separation from Him, undertook also to work out a marvelous plan of salvation for those whom He had chosen. It was agreed that God’s eternal Son would become a man and would endure the punishment and separation from God which men deserved. He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

    On the basis of this great sacrifice, God could then “promise eternal life, before the world began” (Titus 1:2) to all who would come to God’s Son, believing that promise. The marvelous redemption planned by the Triune God was thus “the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).

    Finally, having planned and provided all details, God then could proceed to the actual work of creation of the universe and its inhabitants, thence to the work of redemption, and finally to the effectual calling and salvation, through the preaching of the gospel, of all those whom He had chosen in Christ.

    Thus, it is God, and He alone, “who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

    Henry M. Morris and Martin E. Clark

    Published by Intentional Faith

    Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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