In stillness and silence Moses, the Lord’s Prophet, seeks and searches for God in Himself. What or who he searches for is what is not anything that he has experienced or encountered in the universe around him. In the universe are changing, moving, growing, and becoming beings. In himself he finds a changing, moving, becoming, being. Not only can he not step in the same river twice but he is not the same person who stepped in the river. Before he stepped into the river he was changing. While he was stepping in the moving and changing river, he was changing. After he had stepped in the moving and changing river, he was changing and still is never the same. Nothing that is always becoming is ever the same. Moses knows this. And yet on the other side of the equation, he is always changing, moving, growing, and so forth. Moses knows that he is the subject of the change and motion. So now he seeks for the source, origin, and cause of all changing, moving, growing, and becoming being. He seeking the cause of his becoming and seeks the source of his being. Being as changing, moving, growing, and becoming nevertheless exists. It partakes of or participates in being. What is being? Who is being?
Moses believes that God is Pure Being. Pure Being never changes. He is that substance that is complete, full, whole, entire, and absolute. His Being is simple, unadulterated, unconditional, and unlimited. He is I AM. He generates His own Being. God is Being in and through Himself. He depends upon no one and nothing for His being. (D. House) Before all beginnings, before partial and created beings begin to become, God alone exists, God alone is I AM. If he were caused, if there had been a cause of His Being, He would not be God. God is, God was not made. God’s being is God’s substance. God’s substance is God’s nature. God is, God thinks, God wills. These are three attributes that Moses discerns as relations within the Godhead or the Being of God. To say that there was a time when God was not is absurd and irrational. To say that there was a time when God did not think because He did not know how to think or had to learn to think is absurd and irrational. To say that there was a time when God did not will is absurd and irrational. God’s Being is such that He thinks and He wills always. Besides, before God created time, there was no time. So it is equally absurd and irrational to limit God to time since His Being is Eternal. There was a time relates only to history. History describes created time. God is I Am, I Know, I Will. These three relations describe the Eternal Being of God. There never was a time when God was not. I AM is not made or created. I AM is always.
What God thinks and wills is known to man only in and through time. Man has no access to God’s being beyond time other than that He always is Being and Knowing and Willing. Man has access to God in and through the time with which he was created. Thus, what man can know of God comes about through a reflection on the creation. What God has made is the only subject matter available to man for discerning and detecting God’s knowing and willing. Through what He has made, man can come to know something of God. Through what He has made man can come to know God’s attributes. Yet, in addition to coming to know who and what God is through creation, man also comes to see what God is not. Moses comes to see that God is not anything that has a beginning, is becoming, or has an end. What has a beginning, middle, and end exists in and with time. To have a beginning means that there was a time when someone or something was not. God is I AM. God has no beginning. God does not exist with and in and through time. God is I AM.
Moses knows that if he has any being, it is partial being. His being began to be at a certain point in time because God shared His Being with the creature that was beginning to be. To begin to be means that the creature begins to participate in and partake of God’s Being. I AM lends His Being to all that comes to be. For Moses, no creature comes to be unless Pure Being causes or brings it about. So, all creatures are becoming beings. This is to say that all creatures are striving to become some being in particular. God’s Being creates and makes all becoming beings. They are becoming in so far as they are striving to perfect a form of being that God established for them.
Man comes to be as he comes to know. Coming to know is part and parcel of becoming a true human being. Coming into knowledge therefore is in need of the same cause as coming into being. This salient feature of created human nature is ignored by most pseudo-scientists and pseudo-philosophers. They are pseudo because they will not admit of the need for God the First Cause in their acquisition of knowledge. Evidently, they believe that there exists no Being who Knows. But if there is no being who knows, then there is no knowledge for becoming beings who are becoming knowers! Being is participated in by beings who begin to be. Beings who begin to be eventually come to ponder, wonder, study, explore, and investigate because all men by nature desire to know. Their end is to know what can be known and is indeed known by the One Being who makes them. His making them involves His Eternal Knowing. When He makes them He knows what He is doing and what He is making. Man strives to understand what is already made as becoming being. Man strives to know things as God knows them. If God doesn’t exist, they cannot be known. Partial becoming knowing depends upon the Knower and the known. What is waiting to be known can be known only by discovering the knowledge of God the Knower who make, sustains, and thus defines them. So God is not just Being but Knowing. Another way of putting it is that God is Mind.
The author of Genesis is familiar with other ancient accounts of creation. He rejects them as not having solved his problem. His problem is that He wants to come to know the creation. He knows that it must be derivative. Becoming being, moving and changing being, being that is in time, for a time, and only for a time confronts him only with a kind of end and not a beginning. He is in search of beginnings. Of course, so were the other ancient cultures. But here there is a difference. A careful study of Enuma Elish, the ancient Babylonian creation account, might have been known to our author. If so, it is unsatisfactory. It seems to begin with divine division and multiplicity. It begins also with cosmic conflict and warfare. The author of Genesis is in search of a truly transcendent cause. God must be one and not many he thinks. God must be transcendent and not immanent. God must be beyond change, alteration, and becoming. Moses is in search of the Absolute Being and the Absolute Knowing. This is to say that he searches for what is unopposed, unalterable, unchangeable, and not moved or defined by anything or anyone else. He searches for one thing or one being that causes and informs all that is other than itself or himself. He seeks what is, what is I Am. This Being will be beyond all, above all, and responsible for all. Everything that comes to be, into being, must depend upon God. God is omnipotent. The power to begin to be and to begin to know come equally from God. God is omnipotent Being and Knowing and Willing. The willing is the necessary consequence of His free desire to make and create.
Some of you are disturbed by the assertion that the universe is created by the Uncreated God. Everything must have a cause, you assert with Bertrand Russell. Your assertion is faulty. Only what has a beginning must have a cause. What does not begin to be does not need a cause or reason for its being. He who is I Am needs not reason for being since He is Being Itself. Because it does not begin to be, it needs no catalyst from the movement from nonbeing to being. What does not begin to be is God. God by definition does not begin to be because God is Being. Everything else begins to be by entering into Being or by commencing to be when it had not been and thus must have a cause. What begins to be is moved out of non-being and into Being. It can begin to be only by beginning to participate in Being. What comes into Being, comes into what is and not what is not. Something is made or created that has or partakes in Being. What comes into being, once was not, now is, and will not be again. Being is. Becoming being is temporary and thus is imperfect and incomplete. It is partial being. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is a something that participates in Being while it exists. When it ceases to exist, it returns to nothingness. (I speak of course of those beings whose natures do not admit of a surviving faculty or element like the soul in men.) It was not, it is, and it will not be again. What is temporary participates in Being for a time or season. A time or season is a measurement of space that defines the endurance of a particular becoming being. Being for a time is not being forever. Being forever is one thing. Becoming being is temporary and thus is defined by duration. Becoming being and time are creatures. This means that both participate in eternal being but are neither eternal nor perfect. Being and Eternity are of God and thus belong to the Creator. Creatures come into being with time and are defined as being only with and in time.
What is interesting about the author of Genesis is that he is articulating a reality that not only participates in Being but has Meaning. Meaning is the definition or nature of a thing.The partial being of creatures can be known. It is known only in relation to the Mind or Intellect that causes it to be. Pure Being is Pure Mind. Pure Mind makes all things and gives meaning to them. They possess meaning in so far as they can be seen to be in the process of becoming some-thing. To say that they are some-thing means that they participate in Being beyond mere existing. It means that there is more to their reason or logos that defines their respective and particular natures. Or to maintain that they have any meaning at all means that they have natures or essences that define them as one-thing over and against another-thing. What they are –their natures, all partake in Being to a degree or extent. Thus, who or what they are can be related rationally back to God and the Meaning of His Being. Whatever God creates will reflect a degree of participation in Pure Being and Meaning. So, the reason or logos of particular created things is an articulation of the meaning of their being.
But before Moses describes what God makes, he must describe how He does it. Pure Being and Meaning create meaningful beings only by way of a method. Notice that we do not read that God simply makes in a kind of explosive bing-bang way. A big-bang is mere sound, fury, exploding energy, and chaotic motion. God’s Being and Meaning as they are discerned in the creation are articulated to rational creatures in an orderly and disciplined way. Uncivilized brutes cannot abide the gentlemanly manner of God. But uncivilized brutes also are never much interested in the Being and Meaning of God as the necessary cause and reason of all that exists. God does not act with an arbitrary will to power. For Moses, God thinks and communicates His intention through Logos and then establishes His desire through Spirit. God thinks and then speaks: Let there be….God speaks and then creates: and there was. Being, Thinking, and Willing reveal the ordered relations and operations of God’s eternal discipline. That discipline reveals the intention and purpose of the Creator that can be found in the creation. Moses is the inspired prophet who moves from the effects back to the First Cause.
We say that Moses moves from the effects back to the First Cause. By process of negation or apophatic theology he discovers the necessary Being of God. By way of what God cannot be, he finds what God is. From there he describes the movement as it proceeds from cause to effect. He begins with the purely spiritual, moves into the material and physical, and ends with the crowning communion of both in Man. He begins with the angelic and ends with the human.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons