The Beginning …
Genesis chapter 1 is where we’re going to be today to set the tone. I’m not going to explain to you why we’re calling this series, Kingdom Come. I’m going to let this message today share with you exactly why we’ve named this series Kingdom Come. This is an introduction to us to the theme of this entire series as we look at Genesis chapter one. And as we get ready to dive into this portion of scripture, what I do want to do is set the context for us as we get ready to receive this so we understand exactly how to approach this passage in our minds. Genesis chapter one is written by Moses. In fact, the first five books of the Bible are written by Moses. And if you remember historically where Moses is entering in for us in the timeline of life, he is just let an Exodus of slaves out of Egypt. And he’s helping them find their purpose and identity in light of who God is.
And you can imagine, maybe you could imagine, some of the things that you would be reeling from having lived in the life of a slave. The trauma, the experience of what that is and how you might perceive your identity. I think Moses in writing this letter, he’s writing to people who have been slaves, whose parents were slaves, whose children are now slaves and all of a sudden they’ve been set free. What would you say to those people? How could you encourage them? Genesis chapter one is exactly what Moses begins to share with these slaves as they now begin to shape their worldview from a different identity of slavery, but rather now an identity in God. And I believe that sort of mindset and understanding that the context to this passage of scripture becomes important for us. Why?
Well, it helps us understand where we should expect to go in this section of scripture. And what we should necessarily do with this passage of scripture. I’ve found that when people approach Genesis one that oftentimes what they like to do is start engaging science. As if Moses in writing Genesis chapter one was like, you know, we’ve just seen all these slaves come out of slavery. What should we talk about next? What’s the first thing I want to share with them? I got it. Science right? And then we started talking scientifically and answering questions like, is it seven literal days or not? And what about the dinosaurs? Who was Cain’s wife? Right? You think about that for a minute who was Cain’s wife? But I don’t think that’s what Moses is explaining to all. He’s stepping into the idea of creation.
When Moses starts communicating to us about creation, he’s not getting into the scientific of how God created. But rather why God created. Now, just so you know, in case I’ve peaked your interest in talking about this isn’t necessarily a passage wanting to teach us about how how creation came to being or seven literal days are not literal days. I’m a young earth in my belief, a young earth believer. If you don’t know what that means, it’s okay. We’re going to move past that quickly anyway. I’m not here to explain that today because I don’t think that this is what this passage is communicating for us. It’s not how God created, but why God created.
One of the reasons I put such emphasis on that thought is because when you read Genesis chapter one, Genesis chapter one is a poetic song. It’s not a scientific textbook. In fact, when you look at these sections of scripture, you’ll see it in paragraph form. Genesis chapter one verse one to verse five one paragraph, chapter six verse seven. And you see it breaking out nicely each day of the week. God writing this expressive poetic song, demonstrating not just not how he creates, but why he creates so we get an understanding of who we are in light of who he is,
Purpose. Worth. Meaning to life. The kind of thing a slave would be looking for. My whole life. I’ve been told I’m worthless, treated as less than, but God rescued me. Who am I? Why did he make me? Where am I going? Genesis 1:1 he begins shaping our worldview. This is how it begins. He says in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This word for created is important. In Hebrew, it’s a word never used about anything or anyone else, but God. In the beginning, God created. Created means to create out of nothing. Or to create when nothing else was before it. What it is expressing to us in looking at the world around them, for these Hebrews is that the creation was not by chance. It was not by accident. It was not by some random force. That God made with purpose and intentionality.
In the beginning, God created. The Bible doesn’t explain how we should believe that he exists, but rather it just assumes the existence of God, the most logical conclusion to everything around you, Genesis states in the beginning, God created
God being the author of life. This, statement, this phrase at the very outset of scripture, immediately contradicts several worldviews. Especially I should say atheistic worldview. Because it’s built on the assumption that God made all things. And I wanted to take the bait this morning and just say, okay, based on this statement, let me explain to you every reason why I think it’s logical to believe in God. But I think I’m gonna leave that for a blog statement a little bit later. And here’s one of the reasons why. Gordon Conwell released a study, it’s a college in the Northeast. They just released a study and they surveyed the foundation of atheism throughout the world. And they said this, in 1970 atheism made up 4.5% of the world’s population. By 2010 that figure shrink to 2% and by 2020 that figure will drop to 1.8%.
I think we’ve sort of hit a pendulum in scientific study today. It used to say that if you were a scientist, you could reason yourself out of God. Sort of this thought that elitists could be scientists and they become so intelligent in their science that there was no need for God anymore. It’s those that don’t quite have that level of intellect that might believe in something so superstitious. But I think as science has progressed and the complexity of DNA and really the study of the universe, especially in astronomy, what we’re seeing in science starting to turn back to the idea of a creator God.
In fact there was a book written called, Cosmos, Bios and Theos. It was written by 66 world renowned scientists, 24 of them, Nobel prize winners. And so the Cosmos, Bios and Theos. Theos meaning God, they’re using science to point towards the Lord. And one of the authors by a man named Robert Jastrow, he worked for NASA. He was a physicist and an astronomer. He says this, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He is scaled the mountains of ignorance. He is about to conquer the highest peak. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
The Bible assumes the existence of God. That’s not to say scripture doesn’t give us reason for believing in God. I think it does. But what Moses is doing here at the beginning is to help someone understand their worth value and meaning. He starts with the author of everything. Because apart from him, humanity is nothing more than a commodity. I mean, answer the question. If there is no God, how does a human being find their worth? At best humanity has only ever a commodity, meaning your worth is only based on what you can do. And it begs the question, if you ever get to a place where you can’t do, what does it say about you? Not everyone has the same abilities. Does that make them worth less? Why or why not?
I’d argue from Genesis chapter one that your worth isn’t based on what you do, it’s based on who you are. Before you ever did anything creator God has given you incredible worth because you have been, we’re going to find, made in his image.
So Genesis chapter one. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In verse two, the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water. This is a beautiful picture for us. There’s a Hebrew pool of images here that is expressed throughout all of scripture, I want to identify for you so that as you read the Bible, you’ll see this come into play multiple times. But at first it says this, the Spirit of God hovering or moving over the surface of the water. This way, that it’s moving, it literally means in Hebrew, it’s levitating above it, like a mother bird over her chicks. It’s just watching protectively, with wings, spread it out over top of her children. And so God’s Spirit hovering over.
So you see God creating the beginning of the spirit of God present hovering over, creation, delighting in his creation. And it describes this earth as formless and void and darkness over the surface of the deep and in the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. The Hebrew mind has an interesting thought based throughout the Old Testament on the idea of water. Water has always symbolized chaos, no purpose. You see, it stated here about the earth that when God created the earth isn’t serving its purpose, and so God’s going to begin to create. Each day that he describes in Genesis adds to the purpose of the existence of the earth for which God designs it, until he gets to the sixth day, the crown of his creation.
And so God creates the earth and he’s saying as he creates the earth, it’s not serving it’s purpose. And now he begins to explain the purpose through the days of creation. But as he explains it, he explains it in terms of water or chaos. To the Jews, water always represents no purpose or chaos. When you follow the story of the Jewish people from the Old Testament, they get to the Red Sea. As they get to the Red Sea, they’re worried about Pharaoh going to attack them and kill them as they’re coming out of the Exodus. God parts the water, they go to the water in chaos. They come through the water new.
They get to the Jordan River, and again, they’ve got to cross over and they come with an identity that’s from slavery, having not stepped into the promises of God, yet they come to the river in chaos. They come through being made new in his promise. Same is true with baptism today. You get down to the water for baptism. You go down to the water as the old person, chaos. You’d go under the water and come back out of the water as a new person in Jesus. Order, purpose.
So you see this theme throughout the Hebrew mindset communicated to us in scripture. And then he starts to show us how this purposelessness finds its purpose in God, as he creates it intentionally. And you’ll see this theme from verse three to verse 25 how God designs. I want to go through this quickly. But you see how God communicates this.
God says, let there be light. Verse three, and there was light and God saw the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light day and the darkness, he called night. And there was evening and there was morning one day.
The second day starts for us, verse six then God said, let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate the waters from the waters. And God called the expense heaven. And there was evening and there was morning a second day.
Verse nine God said, let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place and let the dry land appear. And it was so. Verse 13 and there was evening and there was morning a third day.
Then God said, let there be light and the expense of the heavens to separate the day from the night and let there be for signs and for seasons. And for days and years. In verse 19, and there was evening and there was morning a fourth day.
Verse 20 then God said, let the waters team with swarms of living creatures and let the birds fly above the earth and the open expanse of the heavens. And there was evening and there was morning a fifth day.
Verse 24, then God said, let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind and cattle and creeping things and beasts in the earth after their kind. And it was so and God saw that it was good.
As you look at day one through six, there is a theme in the way God creates. He talks about particular areas in which he creates, but he follows the same pattern the way he poetically expresses himself in the creation of all things for purpose. He says, “Let there be,” God speaks. And when God speaks, life begins. And so God in speaking is showing us that he’s creating intentionally with purpose. Everything that exists finds its purpose in God.
But in addition to that, God also speaks because he wants relationship to his creation. And God is revealing himself in his creation. That creation can rejoice in the glory of who God is. And as God speaks, every day as he creates, God also ends with saying this thought that it is good, evening and morning of each day. It is good
When God says it’s good, he’s not inspecting something as if to say, eh, it’s good enough. It’ll pass, I guess it’s good. But rather when God is saying it’s good, he’s saying it is good with this thought in mind. It’s more like a cup of ice cold water on a hot summer day when you’re parched.
I don’t know if you miss summer yet or not, but we went straight from summer to winter today. You don’t get a fall. But you know what that’s like, right? You’re thirsty. That water hits your mouth and it is good. It’s like an Oreo cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory on your birthday, right? It is good.
What God is saying is he’s delighting. He is delighting in his creation. And God is singing a song of beauty towards creation, so that creation continues to sing to the glory of God. He’s writing this poetic song, expressing the purpose for everything that he has designed. And then he ends his creative work with this statement.
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 image, in the image of God, he created him, male and female. He created them. God blesses them and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And look what it says verse 31, and God saw all that he had made and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning of the sixth day.
Sixth day, last thing God creates, mankind.
And rather than just simply say it is good, God says it is very good. It’s showing to the Hebrew slaves that he is delighting in their existence. And notice when God creates mankind, the expression he uses, different than all of his creation. He says, let us make man in our image. What in the world is the us, right? Verse 26, let us make man in our image. I would say this is the first expression of the Trinity being experienced in creation. You remember in the very beginning, right? God said in the beginning, God created? In the beginning God created and then verse two the Spirit of God hovers above. And so you see God, the Father creating, Spirit hovering above.
But the Bible also tells us that Jesus is present at the creation. In fact, nothing exists apart from him that he created all things, Colossians 1:15-17, expresses that. But not just Colossians one, John chapter one says the same thing. It’s interesting the John begins his gospel. I think John wants us to correlate the beginning of his gospel to the very beginning of Genesis in how it’s expressed. In the beginning, remember Genesis one, in the beginning, God created.
And so how does John begin? In the beginning was the Word, talking about Jesus. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God and all the things were made through him and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life and life was the light of man. You can read the word here means Jesus. And the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God, and he was in the beginning with God. So you see the relationship among the triunity of God as he creates. So when God says, let us make man in our image. It’s the triunity of God expressing the creation of this world as it relates to creation and specifically humanity.
So what does it mean then to be made in God’s image? In Moses’s day, kings would refer to themselves or leaders would refer to themselves as the image of God, the favored of God. We’re in this position because God favors us. You’re a slave because he obviously doesn’t favor you. I’m the image of God. But what does God say?
God says he makes everyone in his image. I think in the idea of a king being created in the image of God, he rules and reigns. And what God is saying in this passage of scripture is no, everyone has made in my image and I’ve created all of humanity to rule and to reign, to express my glory in the way they serve in this world.
So you think about being made in the image of God. First, it relates to our ruling, in the way that we care for people. Now, when I say the word ruling, I want to be careful because sometimes when we think about ruling, we think about, I would say sinful ruling or worldly ruling, which is to take from the top position and tell everyone beneath you what to do. But when we talk about ruling from God’s perspective, God uses his ruling and his power to serve for the benefit of others. And when God describes us ruling and reigning in this world, that’s exactly the picture he paints to fill this world and to bless it. To be fruitful and multiply and subdue over the the fish and over the living creatures and over the birds of the sky. Rule and reign and cultivate this earth, make it beautiful and express the glory of God in the way that you serve because you’ve been created in the image of God.
In addition to that, Genesis chapter two carries into the seventh day, verses one to three, we’ll talk about that in a minute. But when you get a little bit further into Genesis, in verses four to seven of chapter two, it starts to rehash the details, specifically, of man’s creation. It goes a little bit further and explain to us what it means to be made in the image God.
Genesis chapter two verse seven says this, then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.
Now you think, the first six days, everything else God created, did God ever form? No.
What it says to us in creation is as God said, and then it was. God speaks and it exists. And when it gets to day six, the final thing that he creates, God pauses and says, let us make man in our image. And then in verse seven when it describes how God does that, we can ask the question what does it mean to be made in the image of God? We see the ruling part, right? But now he’s going to get to the relating part. How we relate to God. Being made in God’s image, does that mean we’re like God in every way? Like when you look at a penny and you see Abraham Lincoln on the front of the penny, is that the image of Abraham Lincoln? Yes. But is that Abraham Lincoln? No.
To be made in God’s image doesn’t mean made in God’s image in every way. I mean, you think about that. That’d be a little weird. Does that mean God has both male and female anatomy? No. What does it mean to be made in God’s image? Verse seven it says this, he formed man from the dust of the ground. Is God made of dirt? No.
So being made in his image, is that talking about our physical likeness? No. God has no flesh and bones the Bible tells us in Luke chapter 24. God is not made of flesh and bones. Jesus became flesh. But it wasn’t until Jesus became flesh that God took on flesh. So God’s not made of dirt. But one of the beautiful things when it describes us is that God just didn’t speak our existence, what it says here is God formed us. God formed you. That that shows this intimate, intricate care for you. That as he speaks everything else into existence, when he comes to you, he forms you. And then it goes on a little further and he says, any breathe into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.
This idea of breath literally means face to face. God gets so intimate with us, he gets face to face with us and he breathes into us the breath of life and man becomes a living being. Giving us the opportunity to relate to God. So when we talk about being made in the image of God, it’s not the physical likeness, in the sense that God is made of dirt, but the spiritual likeness of connecting to creator God. It’s the reason why when you take walks through the woods, you don’t see deer kneeling in prayer or squirrels building places for worship. God made you different. Now everything that exists is created to his glory and gives praise to God, but God has given you this opportunity, being made in his image to connect to creator God in a way that’s different from all other creation.
It’s not just saying to you that you’re a spiritual being. We’re all spiritual beings no matter what. And whether you acknowledge it or not, we’re all created as spiritual beings. It’s that your spirit is individual and intended to find relationship and identity in him because you’re made in his image. It gives you incredible worth and value. Do you think Hebrew mindset, being a slave told that you’re worthless and, and less than, and now you’re trying to walk in this new identity from this God that has brought you out of Egypt and you’re asking the questions, who am I? Where am I going? Why am I here? God made you in a beautiful way different then all other creation for a special relationship to him. And reflecting that relationship to him and how you rule in this world by his divine desire.
Apart from creator God, the best value someone can put on the human being is to treat them as a commodity. In the Lord your worth is inherent by his design, not your ability. Now, let me talk about the last day and this will be the last part I refer to in Genesis for a minute. Genesis chapter two talks about the seventh day. The last thing God creates on the sixth day is mankind. And then we get to the seventh and this is what it says, verse one.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed his work, which he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it he rested from all his work, which God had created and made.
God resting. It’s an interesting thought. What does that mean? To look at this theologically accurately, I think it’s important to note that when God rest, God doesn’t rest because he’s exhausted. God’s power is endless. So God’s not resting in this section of scripture to say to you all, I’m tired. I need to take a break, right? Please don’t send me your prayers. I’m still resting from that whole creation thing. God’s resources are endless, when it comes to us communicating with him, connecting with him. So God’s not resting in the sense that he’s tired. God’s resting in the sense to help us recognize there’s something different about what he’s done up until this point that’s going to mark the uniqueness to what he’s about to do. Does that make sense?
So for seven days, God did this and so now he’s completed this and now he’s stepping into something different. What is that? God is resting from his creating work. Now being finished with that, he’s going into his ruling and reigning work. Creation is done, King of all things now assumes this position on his throne and he moves into ruling and reigning. God created a kingdom for his creation to enjoy and delight in him. But here’s the unique thing about this day that I think scripture wants us to identify. He did this very well in six days. I remember he said, God speaks, life begins. Evening and morning of that day, right? God speaks, life begins, evening and morning, second day.God speaks. Life begins evening or morning, third day. Then when you get to the seventh day notice as you get to the end of it, he never talks about the end. There is no evening and morning of the seventh day.
Interesting. Why does God do that? God does this because his intentions were for that seventh day to never end. For six days, God creates with intention and purpose. And on the seventh day, the King takes his throne to rule in peace with those he has made in his image to delight in his presence all of their days. To rest in his shalom. In his peace. The good King. Genesis wants us to see this God wanting the best for us. Made in his image, to experience his goodness all of our days as we rest under his authority because he is good.
But it begs the question, doesn’t it? What happened? I want you to know, next week we’re going to dive deeper into that question, but let me just give you some thoughts as we end here on that idea. What in the world happen? If on the seventh day, God didn’t end this day for us to enjoy that day that experience for the rest of our lives? What happened? Because when I look at the world around me, it sure doesn’t look perfect. And my soul doesn’t feel peace. Remember John chapter one? Genesis chapter one in the beginning, right? And John chapter one in the beginning?
The Lord knows that humankind has turned against him, Adam and Eve from the garden sinned. The curse of sin is made known throughout the whole world and God knows. And so that’s why in the gospel of John, John starts his story is if to communicate to us that someone is coming and he’s going to make all things new. That’s why in John chapter one when you read the story, he says in the beginning was the Word and then verse 14 the Word (Jesus) became flesh. He took on that flesh and dwelt among us and he was full of grace and truth.
Creator of all things subjected himself to his creation. The maker of flesh becomes flesh because he knows what he created us for, we’re not experiencing because we’ve been separated from him in sin. And in Jesus’s ministry, Jesus does something incredible. I think Jesus wants us to recognize in our minds that Genesis experience which he created us for. He wants us back to that place in relationship for him. So much so in Matthew chapter 11 look what he says, Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you what? Rest. Day seven of creation and God rested.
And when Jesus comes, he’s saying, look, I’m going to make all things new. We’re restarting this. In the beginning, here I come and I’m giving you this invitation. Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Jesus went on to hang on the cross. When God creates, God speaks in Genesis, life begins. God speaks, life begins. Jesus goes to the cross. Jesus speaks. No response. Jesus speaks, but rather than life, there’s now death.
About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Different in creation. In creation, God speaks, life begins. Now on the cross, Jesus speaks, no life, only death. Why? Well, Bible tells us that Christ is forsaken so you would no longer have to be.
On the cross, creator God gets deconstructed so that you can be reconstructed in him. Jesus takes on sin and at the end of the Bible it tells us this, Revelation 21:4, And he (talking about Christ) will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will no longer be any death. There were no longer be any mourning or crying or pain. The first things have passed away. And he who sits on the throne said, behold, I am making all things new. Kingdom come.
The end of the Bible, Jesus sits back on his throne, having made all things new. And the peace for which your soul longs, is restored. God made you with value and purpose, in his image different than anything he’s created. To know him and to enjoy him and to never be forsaken. And what it’s telling us in the New Testament, we’re seeing that Jesus is on pursuit for your soul, that you may rest in him and all things be made new. That your heart may see this theme and attach the story of the New Testament to the creation of all things and the restoring of all things in him. And that your soul would sing the story of Genesis, both now and throughout all the days of your life as you come to know the presence of God in your life and you find your soul restored in him.
And you see this, this story. You think about your life. God’s intentions for the Hebrew slave is to give their soul the opportunity to rejoice in their identity before the Lord. And just as that story was true for them. God’s story for you is for your soul to rejoice in the beautiful creation that God has designed for you in Him. That in making all things he will remake all things new for you. Two chapters in. Two chapters in the Bible, and it is amazing that God’s kingdom would come for you and for me.