“In the beginning God CREATED the heaven and the earth….”
Part of the reason I believe the Bible is the word of God, rather than the work of men, is because there is this underlying thread that remains consistent throughout the Biblical record, despite the fact that these books were written across many years by several different authors. I also believe that God was very specific with his words and those who truly heard from God spoke His words faithfully and even the slightest change, as insignificant as it might appear to some, can have a huge impact.
One of the claims of the LDS Church is that “plain and precious truths” have been removed from the scriptures, and those things have been “restored” through Joseph Smith and/or other LDS Prophet. However, when I read LDS scripture and many of the other things written by Joseph Smith, like the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST), called “the inspired version,” it appears to me that Joseph Smith is the one guilty of removing important truths from scripture. Truths that, while precious, might not be so plain, especially to the “uninspired,” if you will.
Most Christians, when they read Genesis 1 and 2, think of the creation of the physical world that we live in. And this appears to be how Joseph Smith saw it, as well. But, while it does speak of the physical world (heaven, earth, sun, moon, stars, man, beast, etc), it speaks to more than that, as those things which “are seen,” being temporal, bear witness to those things which “are not seen,” which are eternal. (2Co 4:18)
We see an example of this in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians where he makes reference to the creation account in Genesis when speaking of “the light” that God has shined “in our hearts.”
(2Co 4:6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness (Gen 1:3), hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Paul also uses Adam and Eve and the marriage relationship to teach us about “Christ and the Church.”
John makes use of the creation account, as well, when speaking about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
(1Jn 2:15-16) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
(Gen 3:6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (the pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
What a lot of people do not notice is that Gen 1 makes a distinction between that which God “created” and that which God “made” and “formed.” This may seem like an insignificant or unimportant (and even meaningless) detail to many, but I believe it is hugely significant, as it is a detail that makes up part of this “underlying thread” that God has woven throughout scripture, as it relates to “creation,” particularly as it related to God “creating” man in His own image and likeness. For this “creation” BEGINS with a man who is FIRST “formed out of the dust of the ground,” but ENDS with the “one new man” CREATED “in Christ,” WHO IS “the image of God.”
So, I find it rather fascination that scripture tells us that there is “A GENERATION TO COME, and the people WHICH SHALL BE CREATED shall praise the LORD”? (Psa 102:18)
They are CREATED NOW, and NOT FROM THE BEGINNING, even before the day when though heardest them not, lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them. (Isa 48:7)
[Read all of Isa 48, which also talks about being “called a transgressor from the womb” and being “chosen in a furnace of affliction.”]
Thou SENDETH FORTH THY SPIRIT, they are CREATED: and thou RENEWEST the face of THE EARTH. (Psa 104:30).
I believe we see this in a similitude when God breathes the breath of life into Adam (whom he FIRST “formed” OUT OF THE DUST OF THE GROUND – AN EARTHEN VESSEL), making him A LIVING SOUL, thus “creating” him “in the image of God.”
And, as it is “in Christ,” who is “the beginning” (Rev 21:6), even “the BEGINNING of the CREATION of God” (Rev 3:14), that men are “created in the image of God,” we read in the very first verse of scripture: “IN THE BEGINNING God CREATED…..”
As is pointed out above, there is spiritual significance tied the use of the word “created,” which ties this verse of scripture to so many other verses of scripture which speak to “creation,” especially as it relates to “Christ,” about whom Moses wrote! (Psa 40:7-8; Heb 10:7; John 5:46)
Yet Joseph Smith came along, claiming to be a Prophet of God, and claimed that God commanded him to (re)-“translate the Bible.” And not only did he CHANGE the wording of many passages to make them fit his own doctrines, he ADDED passages, including passages that, supposedly, contain prophesies ABOUT HIMSELF. And these changes begin right at the beginning of the Bible in Gen 1, such that the JST does not begin with “IN THE BEGINNING God CREATED….” And when we do get to this verse in the JST it was changed to read: “Ye, in the beginning, I FORMED the heaven and the earth upon which thou standeth.” (Gen 1:3 JST)
It seems to me that this was done to make the Bible fit within LDS Doctrine, which claims that God did not “create” the world or mankind, etc, but only “organized” or “formed” it out of matter which already existed. But, whatever the reason, Joseph Smith seems to have been completely oblivious to the fact that these passages speak to MORE than the creation of this physical world, because not only did he change “created” to “formed” in the JST of the Bible, he ADDED the words “upon which thou standeth,” which we also see in the book of Moses (though, there, he retained the word “created”).
Moses 2:1 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth UPON WHICH THOU STANDETH.
Irrespective of all of the other changes that surround it, this one change alone demonstrates, to me, a complete lack of spiritual insight into the deeper meaning hidden within the creation accounts in Genesis, and how they relate to “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” as there is far more to “the heavens” and “the earth” than just this physical world that we see or “this earth upon which [we] stand.” (see also Moses 1:40).
By removing the word “created,” Joseph Smith also cut the thread, so to speak, that exist between Gen 1:1 and many other passages of scripture. And by adding the words “upon which thou standeth,” he limited the context of the passages to the creation of the physical world in which we live, though Moses imposed no such limit and anyone with a deeper understanding of the scriptures would reject such a limitation.
So why couldn’t this “Prophet of God” understand what Moses was talking about? And why couldn’t he see this connection that Gen 1:1 has to so many other passages of scripture?