“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1]

There are many interpretations of this initial scripture because it’s by far the most popular Bible verse in I don’t know… the heavens and the earth?

It’s Target One for skeptics and a manifesto vigorously defended by creationists – the subject of a long debate concerning human origins.

But it’s special because it introduces curious types to the Set-Apart Scriptures.  After the most casual reader opens a Bible, the first thing he reads is “In the beginning God...”

This was the certainly the case for me; when I first read the Picture Bible the same words appeared to me… “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I didn’t understand at age 8 what I now know at 35: the choice of words is perfect.

When someone reads a religious book, what is he really trying to answer? I believe it’s the answer to THE two questions everyone has to ask himself sooner or later: ‘Where have I come from?’ and ‘Where am I going?’

These two questions appear throughout the Scriptures in various forms, but only in two places do they appear together as one thought. The first is a question that God poses to a runaway slave girl who is in distress [Gen. 19:8]; the second is a greeting extended to a happy and wealthy Israelite traveling with his reunited wife [Judges 19:17]. The fact that these same two questions are asked to two extraordinarily different people- polar opposites in fact- is no coincidence.  It may be God asking you these two questions, it may be another human being asking you, but these two questions apply to everyone- slave or free, rich or poor, man or woman. Therefore, my two big questions are everyone else’s two big questions: “Where have I come from, and where am I going?”

These two big questions are the reason for the debate and controversy surrounding the Genesis creation story and its implications. “Where have we come from?” is the greater of the two for the obvious reason that origins define possession. If we came from a higher Power, it means we belong to Something or Someone; if we came from primordial ooze, we belong only to ourselves.

It’s for this reason the Bible starts off “In the beginning God…” Immediately, without pretext, God answers the first and greatest of the two big questions: “I did it; it was Me; you came from Me.” In that short phrase God declares Himself the Owner of all things.

God also grabs our attention here because He begins to answer the second big question at the same time, for as much as He calls his work a “beginning” it implies that there will someday be an ending.  So, this is God’s clever way of inviting us on a journey.  We start at the beginning, and maybe, by the time we reach the ending, we will have confidence to say “I know where I come from, and I know where I’m going!”♦