Eternity (Before Genesis 1.1)
Eternity refers to the time before the creation of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1.1), and the time following the destruction of the heavens and the earth (2 Peter 3.10). Let us consider the period of time prior to the creation in this article. Let us consider: What was created before the creation?
God had an eternal purpose.
There are several passages that mention or allude to the eternal purpose of God. It is from these texts that we find the answer to what transpired prior to the creation. In eternity, only God existed (cf. Psalm 90.2; Isaiah 57.15).
Let us next consider: What was God’s purpose for creating? We find from Romans 1.20 that God’s “everlasting power and divinity” were declared in the things that God brought into existence. However, the physical creation does not reveal why God created man in his image. Those answers are found only from what God communicated to man in his word (cf. Psalm 25.14; Amos 3.7; Hebrews 1.1-2; 1 Peter 1.10-12).
God created with purpose.
In the entire vast universe, God’s revelation declares that God purposed eternal life only for those he created in his image. Out of the entire creation, we find from Hebrews 2.6-7 that man was “crowned with glory and honor” and “set over the works of thy hands” (cf. Genesis 1.26,28). Because of this, only humanity is capable of explaining the creation as well as his own purpose for existence. We read in Hebrews 11.3 that this is possible “by faith.” The “world” for which God purposed eternal life (cf. John 3.16) were those made in his image. He calls us through his word saying, “Cease from living in sin and be conformed to the image of my Son.” This was his purpose in making us in his image (cf. Romans 8.28-29). For those who will accept this offer of eternal life with an obedient faith (Mark 16.16; Luke 24.47; Acts 2.38; 3.19), eternal life will be their inheritance (Matthew 25.34).
God prepared a kingdom.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come…inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25.34). It has been stated that “heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” If this be true, the when did God prepare — or rather, purpose — this people? The answer is found in a statement by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1.4: “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…that we should be holy and blameless.” These for whom the kingdom of Matthew 25 was prepared are called by a variety of terms in scripture (cf. Romans 9.22-24 — “vessels of mercy” and Titus 1.1-2 — the “elect of God”).
God prepared an eternal fire.
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, ‘Depart…into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25.41). Peter stated of the angels who sinned that God “cast them down into hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2.4). Jude likewise wrote, “And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1.6). Peter would sum it up in this way: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2.9). While heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, hell is a prepared place for an unprepared people.
God purposed spiritual blessings in Christ.
The apostle Paul mentioned this in two of his epistles. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1.3). “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1.9). Those who will inherit this prepared kingdom are the saved here on earth and their salvation was purposed through Christ prior to the creation (2 Timothy 1.1,9). As the “elect,” they were promised eternal life (Titus 1.1-2).
One such spiritual blessing was adoption as his spiritual children through Jesus (Ephesians 1.5-6). Again, in Romans 8.28-29 we read that this adoption was purposed prior to the creation: “And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even unto them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
This “conforming” to the image of Christ is accomplished proportionately to continued obedience to the gospel. This is what is meant in the scriptures when we read of God’s eternal purpose. “Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal…” (Romans 16.25).