In The Beginning - Part Two
Scripture: Genesis 1:1– 2:3
In The Beginning-Part TwoGenesis 1:1-2:3
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
Imagine walking through the Black Hills of South Dakota. You hike up and down steeped slopes, wind in-between the beautiful foliage and pass massive granite cliffs. And then all to your amazement, you see four large faces staring at you right there in the surface of the stone! Upon further investigation you notice the striking resemblance to four of our nation's most famous presidents. Amazed, you ask how they appeared. Your friend responds that it must have been millions of years of rain, wind and erosion. He even said if we wait more millions of years, they might start talking to us! Would you believe him, or would you naturally assume that the artistic work was the result of a talented and deliberate creator?
The world we live in today is vastly more detailed and complex than Mount Rushmore. Did it evolve? How did it all originate? From unintelligence do we get intelligence? From death do we get life? From chaos do we get order? From nothing do we get something? Or do we simply accept the first verse of the first chapter in our Bibles? "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).
As of last week we started our study in the book of Genesis. As I mentioned, I anticipate that our overview of the creation account will leave many of your questions unanswered. If you like more information, I'll direct you to Tim Eshelman's Sunday school class or "Answers in Genesis" on the Internet. A few essentials we did conclude last week are the following:
First, God is distinct from His creation. Created matter is not a part of God nor is God a part of created matter. God spoke and all things came into existence. Second, God created all things without any preexistent materials. God said, "Let there be" and it was so. Psalm 33:9, "For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." And third, the purpose for which God created was to display His glory and enable people to enjoy Him forever. God delights in sharing Himself. Let's remember that creation was brought into existence in no way to meet some deficiency in the all-sufficient God (Jn. 17:5).
Three points to this morning's message. We'll review and finish the first point and then conclude the two final points. May God bless our hearts now through the teaching of His Word.
1. What Did God Make?
This first point, "What did God make?" Since God was the only One that was there, let's look at the Bible and take His word on it!
By way of review, on day one God said, verse 3, "Let there be light." Not the origin of the sun, but the creation of light in general. On day two verses 6 and 7 teach us that God created the expanse (our breathable atmosphere) to separate the waters in the sky from the waters that are on earth. On day three verses 9 and 10 say the waters were separated horizontally. The interconnected seas and oceans were formed and then dry land appeared. With the land now prepared, also on day three, God said in verse 11, "Let the earth sprout vegetation" - plants and trees. On day four we see in verse 16 that, "God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also" - celestial bodies. On day five, life forms of greater complexity were created as God made, verse 20, the fish in the sea and the birds of the sky.
Now as we move into the new material, we see in verse 24 that the creation of all the land animals was on day six. This includes, according to the verse, all the "cattle" (domesticated animals) and "creeping things" (those which crawl close to the ground) and the "beasts of the earth" the larger animals which would include, yes, the dinosaurs). Like all of creation, these animals were made, verse 25, "after [their] kind." There is no evolutionary struggle. From the get-go these animals will all reproduce similar to themselves. The monkeys will not be giving birth to humans millions of years later!
God created the animals and then later in day six, different from the animals, God created humans. The crowning jewel of His creation was saved for last. Look at the passage, beginning in verse 26, "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Skip down to verse 31, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Gen. 1:26-27, 31).
We'll get a fuller description of the creation of humans when we enter chapter two next week. What we can't miss at this point is how the language changes when humans were created as compared to the rest of creation. Did you notice the distinct shift in the description?
First of all, there is a unique and deliberate expression that precedes the creation of humans. Verse 26, "Let us make man." Before time (get your minds around that concept!) there appears to have been the decision within the Trinity ("Us") to make (or we can say "hand craft") humans unlike and more special than the rest of the creation.
Second, the uniqueness of humans is that the Triune God would fashion us according to His "image" and His "likeness" (mentioned three times in verses 26 and 27). Though this was marred by the fall (which we'll see in chapter 3), humans today are still created in the image of God. Jesus Christ came that He might restore that image in us, but all humans are made, unlike the animals, in the image of God. Even though your beloved dog is viewed as part of the family that dog cannot think abstractly, appreciate beauty and most importantly worship God by imaging forth who He is in the world. In Isaiah 43:7 the Lord refers to people as those "whom I created for my glory." When Rover dies his life is terminated. When we die our soul which is eternal will spend our continued existence either with or apart from God. Unlike the trees and animals and even the angels when God made us, He stamped His very image upon us. We have been created in a way to be like Him and to enjoy a special relationship with Him where we can depend upon Him for joy and fulfillment that can only come through a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
And third, what is the repeated phrase we have seen God use when each intended day of creation was completed? "It is good." And now when humans are created, male and female, God says in verse 31, "Behold, it was very good."
In verse 28, we were blessed. God chose to bless man apart from personal merit. The first picture of grace! In verse 28, we were given our first command to "be fruitful and multiply." Not a bad commandment! In verses 29-30 we were given dominion over the earth (cf. Psm. 8:6-8). Work was not a result of the fall.
Then on the seventh day, 2:1 says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed." There would be no continuing evolutionary process. In verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2 we see four occurrences of the words "completed" or "done." God finished His work of creation only to shortly begin, thanks to the fall of our original parents, His work of redemption.
And on the seventh day, verse 3 says, God "rested." This was not a rest because God was exhausted. This was a rest of enjoyment. Sitting back and marveling at His creation with the desire to share it with others. And every man in this room created in the image of God knows exactly what I am talking about! No matter what we build, it's almost as if we need to share it, show it off to the family. And when they are bored of looking at it we pull up the lawn chair to gaze at our work and internally marvel over its beauty! "That's good! That's good!"
2. When Did God Make It?
Let's move to the second point, "When did God make it?" The question I'd basically like to answer here is how old is the earth? According to some scientists they say the "facts" (which are forever changing) point to an "old earth," say 4.5 billions of years. Many other scientists claim the earth is relatively "young," say 10 thousand years old. So what does the Bible teach? Speak with Christians and you will get believers on both sides of the fence. Again, few believers will admit the earth evolved apart from God. The debate in-house is did God create the earth over a lengthy period of time or in a relatively few days? The Scriptures must provide our answer.
Those who argue for an "old earth" often stake their claims on one of two theories. One is the "gap theory." The gap theory asserts that there was an indeterminate time of billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. In other words, God created a fully functional earth, destroyed it (perhaps when Satan fell) and then recreated it in six days. The other is the "day-age theory." This theory asserts that each day in the creation account from Genesis 1 should be interpreted as millions of years.
Although I believe both of these theories are incorrect, I can respect the Christian who has done a careful exegesis of the Bible and has come to this conclusion. In my humble opinion I struggle with the believer who goes this route in an effort to be accepted by the mainstream consensus. We must remember that natural man will always look for ways to suppress the Bible. Again, in my humble opinion, I believe honest science and moreover the Scriptures point to a young earth. Briefly, here are some reasons why:
Number one, there is a logical sequence in Genesis 1 that points to a reading whereby creation was made in a literal six days. Of each day we read the same general sequence. God said…God created…It was good…There was evening and there was morning…"one day" (Gen. 1:5)…"a second day" (Gen. 1:8)..."a third day" (Gen. 1:13)…"a fourth day" (Gen. 1:19)…"a fifth day" (Gen. 1:23)…"the sixth day" (Gen. 1:31). If the Lord wanted to teach us that creation took place in six literal days, how could He have stated it more plainly than Genesis does?
Number two, when the Hebrew word for day (which is "yom") is modified by a number (i.e. first day, second day, etc.), and this occurs over a hundred times in the Pentateuch alone, it is always a literal 24-hour period. You will find this also if you examine its over five-hundred occurrences in the Old Testament.
Number three, Exodus 20 reads, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy" (Ex. 20:9-11). This describes our work week and the comparison to God's "work week" would make no sense if Genesis 1 was not to be taken literally.
Number four, when we read Genesis 1 we see God declare after each day that His work was "good." And after the sixth day He said it was "very good." Can we really believe this would be accurate if there were fossil records that indicate disease and struggle for existence and sin and especially death? A careful reading of the Bible suggests that sin which brought about death came as a result of man's fall (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). So how can we have sin and subsequent death before the creation of man? And why would God declare that the earth is "very good" if it was already plagued by billions of years of death?
And number five, why do we think God needed so long to make the world? He could have spun this universe together in seconds if He wished. As John MacArthur said, "The amazing excellence revealed in the creative work of God is forfeited to a very large degree if we abandon the days of creation in favor of an ages-long evolutionary process" (The Battle for the Beginning, p. 183). MacArthur goes on to say, "According to Revelation 21:1-5, God will immediately create a new heaven and a new earth (cf. Isa. 65:17). Do we really believe He can do that, or will it take another umpteen billion years of evolutionary process to get the new heaven and new earth in working order? If we really believe He can destroy this universe in a split second and immediately create a whole new one, what's the problem with believing the Genesis account of a six-day creation in the first place? If He can do it at the end of the age, why is it so hard to believe the biblical account of what happened in the beginning? (The Battle for the Beginning, p. 45).
3. How does This Apply to Me?
So as we move to our final point, and if your brain has yet to explode, allow me to provide four points of application that I have gleaned in my study from the first chapter of Genesis.
First, we must deny and fight against the "theory" (and I would better say the "hypothesis") of evolution. Jesus did not accept it - nor should we! Regardless of where you line-up on the age of the earth, we must all agree that that naturalism is evil and its beliefs which are being taught today (like evolution) have eroded trust in the Bible and the accountability we have to God. After all, if God didn't make me, He doesn't own me. And if He doesn't own me, I can live my life without Him ever being a part of it. And if we evolved over time no different than other species, our sexual instincts cannot be curbed (we are just animals with no morals or self-control), our respect for life is devalued (the bald eagle egg is the same or more valuable than the life of the unborn), our conception of truth is relative (who's to say who's right?), our concern for the afterlife is nonexistent (this life marks the end of it all), and our definition of marriage is open to "evolving."
Second, I walk away with a greater appreciation of God's greatness. From what we covered the past two weeks, creation points to the glory of our Creator. Romans 1 declares, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1:20-22).
May we contemplate creation and not substitute idols for the true God or walk away with the right God, but perceive Him as "weak" or "boring." Rather may we see a God who is independent and transcendent and sovereign and majestic. May we see a God who has a delight in beauty and a mind to create and a power to do the impossible and still a heart to bless His people. Charles Misner once said, "The design of the universe...is very magnificent and shouldn't be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion... He must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty then they had ever imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he'd run across did not have proper respect...for the Author of the universe."
Third, I believe the creation account gives us a healthy self-image. Thanks to the belief in evolution, our children are taught in most science classes that they can trace their family tree back to the monkey and going back further to the meaningless primordial swamp. Then they move to health class and are instructed in the self-esteem movement that they are great and they must think the world of themselves. And even though your evolutionary existence is equal to a housefly, you're special and make sure the whole world thinks you're special too! No wonder our youth is so confused!
Rather, as we read the Bible, we see that we are created unlike all the other life forms. We see that we were made in the very image of God through His purposeful, thoughtful, creative and detailed work. And individually, we are created exactly as He wanted us to be by His wonderful design. Humans have value. They have dignity. Even Jesus Christ was not ashamed to be "made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7). The great early church theologian Augustine said, "People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering."
And fourth, since we were made by God in the image of God for the purpose of having a relationship with God, we will never be satisfied until we are right with Him. Due to the fall, all of us from birth are separated from Him because of our sin. But God has decreed it in such a way that He sent Jesus Christ to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and conquer sin and death by His atonement and rise from the dead victoriously. We can know the true God intimately when we come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. And when we come to Christ, He through the power of the Holy Spirit begins to transform us and recreate us progressively to God's likeness. The entire purpose of creation is achieved in Christ. Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Creation purpose accomplished!
Sam Storms said, "You weren't created for boredom or burnout or bondage or sexual lust or greed or ambition but for the incomparable pleasure and matchless joy that knowing Jesus alone can bring. Only then, in Him, will you encounter the life-changing, thirst-quenching, soul-satisfying delight that God, for His glory, created you to experience" (One Thing, p. 18).
My friends, let's learn from the first chapter in Genesis. You were designed for something better. You were built for the contemplation of something infinitely more complex, something incomparably more fascinating than your own "self." You were created for the joyful contemplation of God through Jesus Christ. You and I need it and God expects it!