Just to examine God in the first four chapters of Genesis is extremely insightful. What would Adam have known about God? What do we know about the One who brought all things into being? There are different names for God even within the creation account. The prevalent name from Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 2:3 is God, or Elohim. The word can denote plurality. Beginning in Genesis 2:4, there is a definite shift in God’s name. From 2:4 through 3:24 the prevalent name is LORD God, or Yahweh Elohim. In chapter 4 the primary name is LORD, or Yahweh. There is one reference to the Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2.
This “God” from whom all things originate, must have intimated the creation account to Adam after his creation on the sixth day. Adam proceeds with knowledge of who God is, understanding his subservience to Him. To say that the creation account of chapter 1 was not revealed until Moses is severely short-sighted. Adam understood God’s voice having intimate interaction with Him. Therefore, I include Genesis chapter 1 within the knowledge of Adam. Even though He was not present, God related these events directly to Adam as the earliest witness to creation, beside God Himself.
“God” preexists creation. God speaks and creation obeys. God takes authority over His creation by naming aspects of it. It seems that God sits back in a commanding position ordering it to do His will, which seems to be whatever He likes. God determines what He likes, or what is good.
God is separate from His creation. In the beginning God created; He made things beside Himself. He simply gives the command, and it happens. There is no labor to bring creation forth. It is simply done as He speaks.
Words to describe “God” would be Creator, Initiator, Master Planner, Father, Sovereign, and Separate One.
The “LORD God” seems both similar to “God” and yet there is a shift in the nature of the person we are reading about. This “LORD God” is taking care of intimate details within the scope of creation, specifically regarding the formation of His crowning achievement, man and woman. This account of creation is quite different from what we read in 1:1-2:3. The former is characterized by broad, sweeping commands to which creation obeyed. Now with the “LORD God” we have Someone intricately designing the physical aspects of man, breathing breath into his nostrils, then planting a garden for him. It seems quite intimate. He takes Adam, puts him in the garden that He just planted, and personally gives him instructions. He presents Adam with His very own wife. Do you see that this LORD God is treating Adam with such precisely delicate care?
The LORD God walked in the garden that He had planted. He talked with the man and woman whom He loved. When they sinned, He made clothes for them. It seems that while “God” was separate from His creation, the “LORD God” came alongside man, interacting with him as if they were in a relationship. The texts do not state that the LORD God had a body, but there He was – walking with man, talking with man, forming Him like a potter would form a clay pot, breathing into His nostrils, planting a garden, forming individual animals just to see what he would name them, and fashioning them with clothes to continue the relationship that they had tried to sever.
Words to describe the "LORD God" would be Designer, Caretaker, Brother, Friend, Philanthropist, and Intimate One.
The Spirit of God
We only have one reference to the “Spirit of God” with not quite as much information as the other two names, but no less important. While “God” is separate from His creation, commanding things into existence, and the “LORD God” seems to have almost human qualities allowing Him to walk and talk with man, the “Spirit of God” is moving upon the face of the waters. The reference is before dry land comes into existence. So the Spirit of God is moving upon planet earth which has yet to be filled with life. To be throughout earth at the same time in an incorporeal being would be a manifestation of the presence of God displayed in neither “God” nor the “LORD God”.
As “God” commands from wherever He is commanding from, the Spirit of God seems to be the witness to the effects of His commands. As creation unfolds, the Spirit of God is not to be forgotten. He is a present witness of all that takes place. Anytime anything happens on the earth, the Spirit is present as a silent witness.
Words to describe the "Spirit of God" would be Ever Present, Watchful, and Spirit.
After mankind’s sin, the transition to the word “LORD” is apparent. There is a notable difference in the relationship between the LORD and mankind, which now includes others besides Adam and Eve. Instead of walking with man in the garden, mankind now lives outside the garden, but yet in the presence of the LORD. Mankind hears the voice of the LORD. Eve receives a man from the LORD. They bring offerings to the LORD. The LORD holds them accountable. Cain departs from the presence of the LORD. After the birth of Enos, men call on the name of the LORD.
While the LORD God was personally present with man and woman, now the relationship has changed. The LORD is present, but it is as if He is behind a veil. Mankind lives in the presence of the LORD, but He doesn’t walk with them like in the garden. He speaks to mankind at appropriate times, but not all the time. He is to be obeyed, but the world is full of sin. He sees the heart of each individual, determining if their worship is genuine. In short, there is a relationship between the LORD and mankind, but compared to the relationship in the garden of Eden, it is a strained relationship.
Words to describe the "LORD" would be Giver of Life, Deity, Counselor, Judge, Ruler, and Savior.
In the creation account, it seems that we have three facets of God interacting with each other, God (our Father), the LORD God, (our Brother), and the Spirit of God. We could call them Persons of God. Since God is Elohim, which is plural, we could say we have three persons within the Godhead. Each one is distinct simply by studying the way they interact with mankind. Yet each one is truly God, as they move with one purpose.
After sin enters into mankind, the LORD seems withdrawn from mankind. The nature of the relationship between God and mankind changed radically. Mankind can no longer experience the intimacy with God as witnessed in the creation account.
When I worked in GR as a clerk when I was first hired at the post office, I overheard a conversation between two other clerks. One was a young Vietnamese fellow and knew little of our culture and less of Christianity. The other seemed to be a middle aged, educated Republican. He was trying to explain the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament to this Vietnamese fellow, who, by the way, is very intelligent. This is what he said to him:
“In the Old Testament, the focus was on Yahweh. In the New Testament, the focus changed to be on Jesus Christ and not on Yahweh anymore.”
I disagree completely. The Bible teaches at the beginning of creation that God appeared to man in a certain way. He continues to manifest Himself in that same way all throughout the Bible. Jesus IS Yahweh. The LORD God that walked with Adam and Eve is the same being that we know as Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God that moved upon the face of the waters is the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer. Father, Son, and Spirit were all present in the very substance of God at the beginning of creation. They are coexistent. There has been no change in God’s nature, only revelation of God’s plan to mankind.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman