The word “create” is used six times in Genesis 1-2. It’s used seventeen times in Isaiah.
In Isaiah, God’s prophet is speaking to God’s people who are living in a dark and dreadful place. Because of their sin, they have been separated from the place God put them. They’ve been scattered and driven away by the Babylonian Empire. They’re living in exile in a foreign land. But God promises that because he created them and saved them and because he loves them, he’s going to create in them and for them something brand new.
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket
or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?…
…Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?…
…Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry hosts one by one, and calls them each by name…
…Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth!”
The Spirit of God who hovered over the deep darkness in the beginning continues to move, he continues to create. Genesis 1-2 is not just telling us how the world began. It’s not just an origin story to tell us how the sun was made and how the elephant got its name. It is a testimony to the ongoing creation work of God’s Spirit in our world right now.
“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert the cedar and acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know, may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
The word “create” is not just what God did one time for one week a long time ago. “Create” is what God does today for his saved and called people. The men and women he has placed on this earth and given life and purpose — God creates in them and for them still!
“This is what God the Lord says —
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand…
…See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare!
Before they spring into being I announce them to you!”
God’s people felt so uncreated in captivity. They felt so empty and dark, so unformed and unfit for where they were and what was happening around them and to them. Isaiah brings every detail of the Genesis creation stories right into the present, right into their lives and their place right now. God reminds his people, “Hey, I’m the Creator! I make brand new things out of nothing! I shine light into darkness! I bring life to where there isn’t any!”
“Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made…
…I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.”
~Isaiah 43:7, 15
This is creation language from Genesis. I made you. I formed you. I created you. You don’t think I can do it again?
“I have made you, you are my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you…
…This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself.”
Nothing Israel could do was going to make any difference. God’s people were standing around empty-handed and confused. It was dark and they were dead. They were helpless. Hopeless. Nothing made sense anymore. Everything they were experiencing was totally foreign from what they thought they knew. The only hope they had was for God to do in them and for them something only God can do: create.
“Behold! I will create new heavens and a new earth!
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind!
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.”
God, create in us something new. Breathe in us, O God. Form us. Make us. Bring to us your light and life. Create in us your Spirit and your holy image.
God’s Spirit is near. God’s Spirit is hovering over our darkness and emptiness and our sins. God’s Spirit is moving.