“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:1–6, ESV)
Genesis 1:2 describes to us the condition of the earthly realm as it was immediately following God’s act of absolute creation which was described in Genesis 1:1 and prior to God’s forming of that realm in the world as we know it as described in verses 3 and following.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Verse 3: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.’” Verse 6: “And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’” Verse 9: “And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’” Etc., etc.
So God did at first call into existence the heavenly invisible realm, along with the earthly physical realm, and the earthly physical realm was at first without form and void, darkness was over the face of the deep, andthe Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And after this God did shape, form and fashion the earthly realm into the world as we know it – a place suitable for the maintenance of life and a habitation suitable for man.
In The Beginning God Created Heaven
Remember that the “heavens” of verse 1 refers, not to the place where the birds fly, nor to the place where the stars reside, but to, what Paul refers to as, the third heaven. It is the realm where God’s glory is now manifest, where the elect angels stand before the throne of God to sing him praise, along with the souls of the saints who, having departed from this world, do now enjoy the presence of the Lord as they await the consummation of all things.
In the beginning God created two realms: the spiritual realm, which is typically invisible to us, is called heaven. And the material world which we encounter with our senses is called earth. This acknowledgment of and distinction between heaven and earth is so fundamental to a Christian worldview, it would be foolish to rush through the establishment of it.
That the scriptures teach the existence of a spiritual realm, which is typically invisible to us, is undeniable. Many examples could be presented from the scriptures where God gives some person, or group of people, a glimpse of this heavenly realm. For now it will suffice to remind you of our recent study of the book of Revelation. Remember how the visions shown to John shifted continuously between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm. In one moment he would say, “And I saw a beast rising out of the sea…” (Revelation 13:1, ESV), or “I saw another beast rising out of the earth…” (Revelation 13:11, ESV). And in the next moment we would hear him say, “Then I saw heaven opened” (Revelation 19:11, ESV), or “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” (Revelation 6:9, ESV). John was one of those who was shown something of the heavenly realities which typically lie beyond our sense perception.
These two realms – the heavenly, and the earthly – are mentioned continuously throughout the pages of Holy Scripture. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool…” (Isaiah 66:1, ESV). Friends, our worldview is not biblical – certainly it is not mature – if we are not continuously mindful of the heavenly realm that God made in the beginning. In the beginning God created the heavensand the earth. The heavensand the earth remain. And at the end of timeheaven and earth will become one when God makes all things new. The Christian is to live being ever mindful, not only of the earth (which we see with our natural eyes), but also of heaven (which we can see only with eyes of faith). Therefore, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).