Sometimes when wondering where to begin with explaining who God is it is best to simply go to the beginning – of the Bible and of creation. In the opening verse of the Bible we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The beginning spoken about here was not God’s beginning; God doesn’t have a starting point; He is from everlasting to everlasting (Ps. 90:2; 103:17); and Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, felt no need to offer an introductory apologetic for God’s eternal self-existence.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (Jn. 1:3)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Col. 1:15 NASB)
The answer to the question posed in the title of this teaching is “yes” – Jesus is eternal and He is the firstborn of all creation. While there isn’t a contradiction that exists between both of those suppositions, there can appear to be one if the use of the word firstborn in Colossians 1:15 is misunderstood.
Restorer. Notice how the chapter begins: “Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South” (vs.1). And so the dismal days of unbelieving, lying, self-protecting behavior that earned Abram a reprimand from an ungodly king were behind him. Interestingly, it’s as though the geography reinforces that idea. After all, Abram went – now watch how the text describes the locale – “to the place where his tent had been at the beginning” (vs.3b) and “to the place of the altar which he had made there at the first” (vs.4a). In back-to-back verses that specification is given. These historic reminders bring us back to Genesis 12:8 – the place where Abram built an altar and worshipped the LORD before going to Egypt. In one sense, yes, it was ‘back to square one.’ But it’s also as though Abram was getting a fresh start since he was back at the place where he was before he failed. Even though he faltered he would still become ‘the father of the faithful.’ A spiritual slump in Egypt didn’t send Abram into early retirement. You could say that here in Genesis 13 we get a kind of hint of what we would see so vividly displayed later on in redemptive history in the life of Peter – God is a restorer. Although sin is serious, it does not indefinitely sever a believer from usefulness. Peter, for example, was called to strengthen his brethren and feed the flock post his thrice denials (Lk. 22:32; Jn. 20:15-17). So there is indeed good news for failures like Abram, Peter, and us – God is a restorer. He can restore years (Joel. 2:25-26), nations (Jer. 30:17), joy (Ps. 52:12), and all things (Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 21:1-5) – including faltering patriarchs and stumbling saints.
1. The Eternality of God. “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1). The very first words of the Bible point us back to the very beginning of creation but not the beginning of God. So while we see the creation of light, day, night, the heavens, the earth, vegetation, sea creatures, animals, and man in the opening chapter of Genesis, we are aware that the God who created all these things was Himself uncreated. While understood here, such revelation would become clearer as God continued to reveal Himself to man. In Exodus 3:14 God revealed Himself to Moses as, “I AM WHO I AM”, signifying His eternal self-existence – He is who He has always been. At a later point in time, perhaps while reflecting upon the very subject we’re considering, Moses would write these words in a song:
You’ve probably heard it said by someone in a prayer meeting at some point, “Lord, you said, ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” And it’s true, God did say that. What many may not know is – He said that to Jeremiah. And what is, perhaps, even less known is what exactly the great and mighty things that God desired to show Jeremiah were. Quoting Scripture is great, particularly in prayer. And making an appropriate application is, of course, fine and good; however, if the original meaning of a text is missed the application of that text can be misused. It’s always safest and hermeneutically appropriate to understand what a particular promise meant to its original recipient(s) before we try to figure out how it applies to us. So with that being said, let’s create some context and set the scene so as to discern what God was saying to Jeremiah and whether or not we have a similar invitation today.