Auto Generated Transcript
I’m going to invite you to turn to the book of Genesis and our 10 11 year olds. You are dismissed for class. As you get to the book of Genesis, we’re going to be in chapters one to three and I’ve been wanting to hit this particular passage of scripture for some time. This is an important piece of literature within the text of the Bible for us and it is significant to where this takes place in the history of of Christianity and how it lays the framework for a biblical understanding throughout the rest of the Bible. Within the first three chapters of the Bible, you really have the pillars of Christianity communicated and it helps us to lay the framework for the way the rest of scripture is going to unfold itself for us. And so today we’re going to start a series on the topic of belief and I’m glad you’re here as we start this journey together because today we’re going to lay the foundation of the understanding of God and then we’re going to build from that as it’s communicated itself through the rest of scriptures.
And I want to tell you in the old Testament, my favorite passage of the Bible is the first three chapters of the book of Genesis. It may be my favorite chapters in all of the Bible because of the way it lays, the framework of understanding for Christianity throughout the text of scripture, and it identifies major questions that we would ask about life and I wanted to, I want to, I want you to know that if you’re, you’re approaching this text of scripture, maybe this is the first time in a church context. You’ve gone through these passages together with, with someone that when you approach this, the, the major questions that are answered are not only important for you, but this is written in a poetic, a story for us that we can communicate this story to others as well. Moses is the author of this book.
This book gets us named Genesis as a book of beginnings. In fact, the, the, the story starts like this in the beginning, right? And this phrase in the beginning literally means Genesis. It’s, it’s where the book derives its name. And so when Moses is writing this book, he wrote not only Genesis but the next four books following, and he is helping a people group find identity in who they are. You think when Moses was writing this book, he has just led the children of Israel out of Egypt as slaves. They at this point, their identity was in slavery. And so Moses is helping them shape the idea of who they are in light of who God is. And so these first three chapters are so important because what you find within the context of Genesis as you read it, is that history goes rapidly through the first few chapters of the Bible from, from the time of Adam to the time of Abraham.
I spent a thousands of years just covered in just a few chapters of scripture. Moses has getting to the the children of Israel so they can find their identity. And he lays the particulars out to the rest of the Genesis on an Exodus, Leviticus, numbers, and Deuteronomy. But the first few chapters just say to them, this is who we are. It answers the question of where did I come from? Why do I exist? Where am I going? What is the problem of evil? How did it get here? Do snakes actually talk? Who knows? We’ll talk about that. Right? Did Adam and Eve eat an Apple?
I don’t know. We’ll find out. Right? The important questions of life. Moses lays out for Israel, not just Israel, but also for us and he shares it in a beautiful story on that. I’ve even found as I’ve encountered people in this world that that don’t claim to know God or worship Christ. As I’ve shared the story of Genesis with them, people are enthralled with the way God demonstrates himself in the first three chapters. I mean literally I went through the story of Genesis recently with someone on an airplane flying back from North Carolina to here and these individuals. The story started as we took off in the air in North Carolina. Four hours later we’re landing in salt Lake and these people are following me down the terminal to the luggage claim for getting, they have another flight to catch just right behind me as I’m heading out the airport because of what God communicates in scripture. And most people try to identify themselves and you ask the question, why do you exist in life? They feel like the answer is to do the best you can, but, but God’s got such a bigger picture than just do, do, do for who we are and our identity in him. I think when we see it laid out within Genesis, there’s attraction to the, to the beauty of who God is as he communicates that to us within these first few chapters.
And so when this context of this, this passage starts, Genesis chapter one this morning, all I want to do is set the framework for where we’re going together and all of this as established in the idea of who God is. And so we’re going to look at just the first couple of verses within this context and you’re going to have to click cause I don’t have power. In Genesis chapter one and verse one, this is all it says in the beginning.
God, in this polytheistic society in which Israel comes from where Egypt would have more ship, multiple gods, Moses now shaping the identity of Israel in the singularity of thought, not not in polytheism, but in monotheism. He says it one God in the beginning, God, well, this word for God in which he’s using in this passage is the word Elohim. It’s a generic name for God.
Fact. This name is so generic that it can, it can mean less than God. It can simply mean judges or rulers of this world that that phrase is used even in reference to people of authority. And so he’s using this phrase, God in the beginning, God, and he begins to describe all that God’s created. But as as Genesis, the narrative unfolds in this first three chapters, he then begins to to to to explain beyond this thought of just this Elohim he takes Israel to, to a new identity in God. When he’s talking about God, he’s not relating it to the polytheistic gods. He’s referencing the singularity of who God is and so Moses uses this one thought for who God is, that he continues throughout the rest of the chapters. And so in Genesis chapter two in verse four he starts to use this compound word and reference to God. He uses this word 20 times between Genesis chapter one to Genesis chapter three to help Israel identify the specific God in which he is referencing the one and only God. He says in Genesis chapter two in verse four the Lord God made heaven and earth.
This combination of these terms are important in the identity of Israel because the next one is chapter three when Moses encounters God, he asks God before he goes back to Egypt and leads the children of Israel out of Egypt as slaves. He says, the God, who do I say to the people that you are, who do I tell them sent me into Egypt to set these people free and he says in Genesis, Exodus chapter three in verse 14 says, tell them I am that I am has sent you or as we say today your way, I am that I am or yacht way has sent you the name that God gives to Moses is this phrase for the self existent one. I am that I am.
It’s saying to us that out of everything created in this world, God himself is the only one who finds purpose and definition for existing within himself. Everything else is created and finds purpose outside of himself, but God is sustaining within his own creation because he is the one who created all things and so the name he gives to Moses, it’s Yahweh. I am and I am.
It’s Yahweh and the word God, Elohim combined. I’ve seen some teachings try to decipher between, these are distinguished between these as if there’s, these are two individuals, but the context of scripture, what it says to us repeatedly throughout the Bible is that Hawaii is Elohim or or Yahweh. Yehovah is Elohim. This word for Yahweh, it’s also translated. Sometimes we say today is Yehovah and in some languages there is no why. There is no w and so they’ve replaced the Y with the J and and the w with the V. and so they pronounce the same name that we would say y’all play as Yehovah. It’s the same person being communicated y’all way. And Yehovah are the same word. It is in his Lord. And so when you look at it in the context of your scripture, the way it writes out in the Bible is this, L O R D is always in capital letters. And when it’s connected to the word God, if it’s referring to way. And so in Genesis chapter two and verse four, when Moses is saying to Israel, this is the God who created all things, it is, it is Yahweh Elohim.
I am who I am. This word for y’all way. When I began to understand, as God has communicated himself in scripture, when I first started to study this myself, it used to drive me crazy. In fact, sometimes I would just get irritated by it. And this is the reason why, um, we, we really honestly don’t know how to correctly pronounce the name of God. And Exodus chapter three in verse 14, when Moses asks God, who do you say that I am? And God tells Moses, your name is Yahweh. Well, when the Hebrews would write the name, Yahoo [inaudible] they didn’t have, at the time they didn’t have valves in their alphabet. It was just consonants. And so they, they put this what’s called a Tetra Gramaton, these, these four letters to, to write out the name Yahoo boy.
And the only way you would know how the Val sounds or the pronunciation would go into this phrase is you would have to utter it, right? Y’all but Israel, because they revered the name of God so much, okay? They refuse to utter this name because they considered it sacred and Holy. In fact, they would replace the name Yahweh with adenai out of reverence for God.
And so what happens in their reverence over time is we the connect, correct pronunciation of [inaudible] is lost. We don’t exactly know how it’s pronounced. We have a general idea that it’s some somewhere in the form of Yahweh or Jehovah, but, but the specifics of it, it’s no one can say for certain. That’s how you pronounce the name of God. And that used to drive me crazy like God, God gave us his name and we don’t even pronounce it. But then I began to recognize as I approached texts for Lord God were combined exactly what would be going on in the Hebrew. Mine is they would read these words, they didn’t want to pronounce it because it was sacred and Holy. They met a moment when they saw these letters on a page that they, they used that opportunity for reverence within their lives. Right?
Got a sacred, got us to be revered and this add an I this y’all way to read these words to utter his name as something beyond what what man really deserves apart from the grace of God. And so for them it was a moment of reverence and for us this morning and understanding this creator God who has made all things, this monotheistic God and a polytheistic system of which Moses is proclaiming it is this God who has made it all in your own personal reading. Every time you see this word Lord capitalized with God. It’s it’s in the Jewish mind. One, a moment of reverence, a moment of reflection, a moment of sacredness, a moment of holiness, a moment when in our lives we recognize that there is something far greater than us who has organized, put design, created everything that exists in this world around us and he is to be revered. In fact, the rest of scriptures you read in Deuteronomy chapter six give me a click. Shalom. Deuteronomy six the Lord is our God. The Lord is one. It tells us this is, this is the great Shamal. The Lord is our God. It’s saying y’all. Why is our Elohim? Yahweh is one and Isaiah chapter 43 in verse 10 and the singularity of goddess scripture continues to expound upon it. It says this, the Lord is talking here. He says, you are my witnesses, declares the Lord and my servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he before me. There was no God formed, neither will there be after me.
This monotheism continues throughout the rest of scripture. Psalm 96 and five it tells us that all other gods are merely idols, that there is only one God and Isaiah 44 in verse six and eight he says, there was no God before form before me and there was no God formed after me. He knows of no other God and Isaiah 45 verse five and six in verse 22 the same thing, the singularity of God, there is God. There is one God and Moses makes that declaration in the first four words in our English Bible which has really two in Hebrew, but in the beginning, God, we talk about this God in scripture, it’s Moses writes this word, the declaration is made to Israel and to the world that this God and creating all things desires to be made. No, the very fact that we have scripture to even declare his identity for us, a saying to us that God in the magnitude of who he is is also personal and desires to be made known and theologians have referenced. There’s two ways in which God has revealed himself to us that we may know him because God has created us for the purpose of knowing him and those two concepts are referred to as as general revelation or natural revelation and special revelation which we can come to know this God. General revelation refers to the knowledge about God and spiritual matters discovered through natural means or observation of nature, this physical universe, this philosophical thinking and reasoning points to the identity of God.
In fact in Psalms 19 one it says this, the heavens are telling the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands. In Romans one 20th Paul lays out the reason that we have no excuse to claim a a lack of understanding of the existence of a God who says this. 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 what Paul is saying. If you want to understand the nature of God, you could just simply look at creation and see that the the omniscience of God, the omnipotence of God, the all knowing and all powerful God, this Holy God, this, this creative God is demonstrated by his hand of design of this world.
When you read the book of Genesis, it assumes the existence of God. There’s not even an explanation as to this is how you know there is a God. It simply States to us, as Romans is saying here, that if we just look at the divine design of all things, that, that the evidence of God is made known. And so Genesis starts under the assumption of God and the singularity of who he is. But let me just ask the question for, for us this morning so that we don’t get ahead of the curb. How, how do you know God exists?
How, how do we know that God exists and consider the alternative to believe in a life that there is no gun and the God doesn’t exist? The thoughts that one would have to wrestle with when I consider the alternative to the existence of God and the thought of general revelation, not just special revelation we’ll get to in a minute, but then the terms of of general revelation through natural philosophy, natural existence, philosophy and reasoning. When I consider that alternative, apart from God, I find it takes more faith to believe this, that something could come from absolutely nothing. Nothing creates nothing. And so to embrace that something would come from nothing is is, is difficult for the mind to even begin to fathom that that something could come into existence from nothing. And in Genesis one verse one, when when he chooses the very next word, he says this in the beginning, God created and we use the term X and the Heela, which literally means out of nothing, but what it’s identifying for us in that nothing. There is a causation for which things come from that nothing creates nothing. But when something has to exist, it’s got to come from somewhere. And so what Moses is saying is the causation for all things in the origin
of who God is excellent. A Hilo out of nothing, something came into existence because the cause of all things is God. But if you believe that something came from nothing, then you must also begin to believe that chaos creates order. When you think about what chaos is the the thought that chaos could create order and design and live consistently in that becomes too much, too much for me to grasp in terms of faith other than believing that God himself would have designed things in, in order and with structure. It’s like saying this, trying to convince people that the thing that built your house was a tornado, right? That in the chaos that is a tornado, that it happens to rip through an area of woods, pick it up and design intelligently a home for you to live in. So I can’t believe that something came from nothing and in that chaos created order. But even beyond this, if I believe that something came from nothing and chaos, create an order, I then must believe that although the world resembles logical, intelligent design, I have no ultimate absolute purpose for which to exist.
Though all things seem to exist logically and consistently. I can’t live consistent with that worldview. Meaning when I wake up tomorrow, I’m going to live as if tomorrow was consistent with today. Not that things are chaotically progressing, but that things were designed intelligently with order. One of the things that I’ve personally wrestled with, and I haven’t, I haven’t read much on this myself, but Oh, in a, in a, in a personal way, just talking about my faith as I’ve approached the idea of God not existing. Here’s, here’s one area of my life that, um, I would think without the existence of God, I would have to acknowledge and feel free to correct me if, if anyone has any thought on this after today, but in order to think that things would just continue to evolve apart from a God and I consider humanity without the creation of a, of a designer that has put together humanity. I can’t figure out how I couldn’t be a racist if I just thought all of this happened to evolve into what it is today. I mean by design of evolution, things start in assessed pool of goo and eventually become what humans are. And if I continue on that ladder, humanity would continue to progress. And so within civilizations of humanity, there would be races of people that would be superior to others, right?
I mean, that’s the kind of thing that breeds Hitler [inaudible] thinking, but with the divine design of a creator. When I look at the beauty of what humanity is, people of tribes, tongues, languages, [inaudible] in God’s design, according to revelation, it tells us that people of every tribe and language and in revelation chapter five are worshiping the lamb. That God has created us wonderfully and beautifully in his image and intentionally and in his design. And so I can’t embrace those thoughts. But what we’ve seen in history is that philosophers, theological thinkers, have really come, come through several arguments as to why the existence of God is the most rational way of thinking. When you think about general revelation, two of those ways of thoughts are called the cosmological argument and the Telia logical argument. Those that have really propagated those in history. If you’re a history buff, Thomas Aquinas, William Paley, the the man who who, who walked along a sidewalk one day, he saw a watch and he said, and when I see a watch, I automatically assume that there is an intelligent designer behind the creation of this watch. That it didn’t just happen together. But when you look at the parts that exists within it, it points to the intelligent design. And so when we talk about the cosmological argument, it’s, it’s this thought of cosmetics. This, it’s the same word for where cosmetics come from. It’s it’s order and beauty.
And so when you look at the world, what you see within it is his order and beauty. I think about the beauty of what God has created as I experienced it within this world. There, there are places in my life that as I experienced the beauty of what God has created that just captivate me in something deeper than just myself. And what I mean is I recognize in those moments I’m, I’m a person that’s really created for Warsh because when I stand on the edges of the beaches or, or I visit the grand Canyon or, or I see the Buffalo roaming Plains, I, I don’t just come to those moments and say, man, I am awesome. Rather those are moments that captivate our attention and take our breath away. Recognizing that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and outside of ourselves. We see these moments as opportunity of, of worship in our lives. We, we, we plan vacations to experience those opportunities to be captivated by this cosmological way of thinking of order and beauty.
I mean even in scientific discovery, the, the Hubble telescope has, has told us that the universe is actually expanding, that this divine design continues to go outward and that as space continues to expand that you can actually retract space too to just one singular point of beginning of which science has dubbed the big bang. And I say that I like the term the big bang. It’s called God spoke. Life existed and from that everything comes forth. In Genesis it says it like this. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was formless and void. Then God said, let there be light and there was a light God, eczema. Hilo creates all things and what Moses takes us through as he begins to describe this creation is that God is intentional in the way that he has designed things that is not, it’s not randomness of existence, but rather this earth being formless and void as God is designing. He begins to intentionally create it with with purpose and meaning and as he goes through the six days of creation, saying to us as it’s described in Genesis through these days that God, God is intentional in the way that he’s designing the things that he is designing as he seeks to create them and God speaks. It tells us repeatedly throughout Genesis one that God speaks and things come into existence and as God speaks creates things orderly, very specific in the way that he designed beautifully.
Cosmologically. I’m telling you logically, which means those things in which he created it has purpose. They have an end or reason for which they exist. You can see within the design of life that multiple things created at one time or in interdependent of one another, that their existence depends on one another. For example, if you think within her own earth, the idea of the moon and the ocean at the moon, the gravitational pull around the earth creates the waves on the ocean. The waves are what? RA the the sea. The the aeration of the sea gives the life to the plankton which begins the chain of life within the ocean that supplies everything for, for feeding within the sea. That that if the moon didn’t exist, that that that would stop the, the waves of the ocean from going back and forth, which would kill life on the ocean and ultimately would kill life on earth. That these things that are created seem to intertwine with one another. They create balance within a lie. If they have purpose in their existence, even within the animal kingdom, the way that it’s structured from from the highest animal to the lowest animal, they, they serve as a in purpose and harmony to one another. That if you disrupt that within a, within a an area of the world, that the entire kingdom suffer by just
removing one species from existence in an area. Even quantum physics has demonstrated the, at a level of subatomic particles, there is an irresistible urge of electrons towards symmetry depending upon one another. Everything has purpose and meaning. And when you consider the Telia logical argument from just a spiritual perspective, I think it’s the reason why deep within our souls we grieve at death. I hate death and it’s the moments of experiencing death, whether it be the beloved pet or someone that you care about, that something within your soul just says to you, this is not right that were created for more than this. And, and scriptures tell us when it relates to Jesus that Jesus triumphs over death. Because he, he affirms that, yes, indeed. We are created for life. In Ecclesiastes three 11 it says this, he has made everything beautiful in its time and he has also set eternity in the human heart.
God has created for a purpose. It’s important I think this talk about just the existence of God when we began the book of Genesis, because in our society, in American culture today, there are certain teachings within the scientific community that, that once Christians, especially thinking in terms of theology, that the superiority of science will disprove the existence of God. And the, the temptation is to tout the scholarly figures over you to make you feel less, less of an intellectual individuals in them and they are more qualified to declare it to you, that God does not exist.
But what’s happening in the scientific community today I feel like is a time of a turning of the tide and the identification of God. In fact, Dr. James Kennedy in his book, why I believe States on page 30 that in the scientific community, over 90% of astronomers believe in God today. And what he concludes from this, and he says this, those who have examined God’s handiwork most thoroughly believe in him. In fact, his argument is this, that astronomers and any other field of study in this world, maybe apart from pastoral pastors or something that, that astronomers have some of the highest percentage of believers in God within that community.
Robert, dr Robert Jastrow won one of the world’s leading astronomers himself as founder and director of the Goddard of space studies at NASA, and he wrote what they call a blockbuster book, and he said this, it’s called God and the astronomers, and he says this strange developments are going on in astronomy. One of these was the discovery that the universe had a beginning, and that means that there had to be a beginner. Jastrow went on to say the scientists have scaled the mountains of ignorance and the scientist is about to conquer the highest peak and as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. Within the last couple of decades, 60 notable notable scientists wrote a book. 24 of them were Nobel prize winners. The book was called the cosmos, the bios and the theos, which in English means the universe, life and God, and the co-editor of the book is a yell physicist, Nobel Laureate professor.
His name is Henry Margenau and this is what he concludes in the book. There is only one convincing answer for the intricate laws that exist in nature creation by an omnipotent, omniscient God. When you consider sharing the narrative of Genesis with someone considering the way the world’s created and the omnipotent on mission God that designed it, that the alternatives to that are important to share that something coming from nothing or to believe that in this something, if something does come from nothing, that chaos could create order is by far more. It takes more faith to believe in general in the concept of general revelation and is simply someone of great omniscience. Omnipotence could create this, this universe by divine design and in order, but more than just general revelation. God has also given us special revelation. Moses is declaring for us that God desires to be made known. That’s why he’s writing his books, this transcendent God who has created all of these things, who is beyond us, who is Holy, who is sacred. There’s also imminent, personal and real. In fact, in Genesis, when Moses begins to describe the garden of Eden, he pictures a God who walks the earth with Adam and Eve.
God reveals himself in a special way, which means he is unique and specific in his identification to us as people. That’s why Moses is able to say his name is Lord God and the way that we understand God and his special revelation to us is by two means Jesus. When he walks the earth. And John in the book of John, he declares for us two platforms to identify God truthfully as we desire to know him as he has made himself known. And Jesus prays a prayer and he gives a statement in John 14 and verse six and in John 17 and verse 17 in John 17, Jesus says this, sanctify them through truth. Thy word or your word God is truth. Jesus points to scripture. That’s the special revelation.
No, this guy, Jesus also says in John 14, I am the way, the truth and the life, okay. When you consider scripture as God has, has identified himself, the Bible says now are, or what we learned from scriptures that the Bible gives us a prophetic statements in, in, in the, in the old Testament, uh, identifying, uh, how God would appear as a man and the way God would die and where God would live. These prophetic statements of scripture point to the truthfulness of the claims of the old Testament. In fact, knowing that the dead sea scrolls exists, which are hundreds of years older than Jesus, further validate the prophetic statements that are found there and the importance of scripture itself prophetically, not just prophetically archeologically and historically how you can go back throughout scripture and identify locations and events that have taken place. But I’ll also point to this,
Oh, it’s congruency when you consider not just the books of Moses. When you consider all 66 manuscripts are writings that make up your Bible in these 66 books you find people that are doctors, people that are are shepherds, people that are Kings, writing about God, over 40 authors right within the Bible on three different continents, in three different languages, over a span of 1500 years.
There is no book that even compares to that, and yet when you read these pages of what Moses begins to lay out for us in Genesis throughout the rest of scripture, what you find is one congruent theme in all of it. God’s pursuit, the redemption of mankind in Jesus Christ, that you may know him for all of eternity. God is the great hound of heaven who was after you. He created you to know him and to enjoy him for all of eternity, and so when Moses writes this phrase, Lord God, this, this word of intimacy that we really don’t even know how to pronounce it specifically, he’s saying to us that there is sacredness in this moment and recognizing that this God desires for you to know him, that he has written these pages within scripture, that you may identify him and recognize that you were created for more than just yourself. That those moments in life where things just captivate you take your breath away and you realize that you’re a part of something bigger than you. All of that is intended in this design of this world to point you to this creator who has designed things with purpose
in order that you may know him. His name is Jesus. I am the way, the truth and the life that Jesus is the direction that that Jesus is the foundation of our existence and truth and Jesus is the one who gives life. Got it. When it comes to the balance of believing in God or not believing in God. Matt Chandler often says this with people who struggle. He’s, he finds that within, within the idea of atheism and the rejection of God, that there, there really are two pillars that atheism rests upon. He says that the pillar number one is that people claim that God does not exist and pillar number two is that, and they also hate him.
H M Morris sums it up this way. Therefore, men who reject or ignore God do so not because science or reason requires them to, uh, purely and simply because they want to. When you’re reading the book of James and chapter two and verse 19, James is talking about those who are living out their faith and those who aren’t living out their face. And he says this, you believe that God is one. You do well, keep this in mind. The demons also believe in shutter. What James is saying is the identification of God is more than intellectual knowledge for us. That this thought of God’s existence is more than just to build up our brain and understanding that there is a God, but before you are an intellectual thinker, God’s created you to be a worshiper in your worship.
What Jesus says in the book of Mark in chapter 12 verses 29 and when he gives the greatest commandment, love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, with all your mind and all your strings. This idea of loving God is the same thought for worship.
Worship God with all your mind. Follow your heart if all your strength before you even are a thinker, God’s created you to be a worshiper. What James is saying in James chapter two is just that simply have an intellectual knowledge of God so far short from the reasons which God’s created you. Moses lays out Genesis chapter one through three that we’re going to see as we dive into this further together. His pursuit for Israel is that they find identity, identity and the one who has created them for warship identity and who they are by his divine design more than intellectual thinking. He wants them connected to their creator, that he could direct their steps as we consider the way that God has made this world didn’t create life for you to be separate from him, but he created life for you to be connected to him.
A special revelation just to simply say that you believe in a God and an intellectual understanding saying in this passage in James chapter two even the damned demons believe that God, this idea of even being able to honor these words yo way, and this is sacred, and this is to be revered. And when you look at the beauty of creation and you stay on the prep precipice of, of the grand Canyon, it’s to empower the heart and the magnitude of God’s glory to recognize outside of yourself that this is divine design, that you are created for purpose and you get to honor such sacred words before a Holy God that y’all way has made you for his purpose, that you could connect with him.