Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beginnings, Pt. 1: "Something Out of Nothing" (Gen 1)


Genesis is a universal, historical, and theological account of God, his creation and man. The new is as old as the Bible, the more things change the more they remain the same, whatever will be has been, and there is nothing new under the sun. People repeat themselves tediously, predictably, and laughably. Chapters 1-11 talk about who God is, what He did, and why he did it.

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you; We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t You just go and get lost.”

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man. After the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this? Let’s say we have a man-making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “Okay, great!”

But, God added, “Now we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt. God looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt.”

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The world that God created is beautiful, rich, and matchless. It’s a wonderful world, a strange planet, and an earthly paradise. The song, “It's a Small, Small World” expresses this thought:
“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hope, and a world of fears.
There's so much that we share
And it's time we're aware it's a small world after all.”

How did God create the world? What did He supply it with? And why did He give life to man?

God Ordered the World from Chaos to Creation
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. (Gen 1:1-5)
On day one of creation, God created the light, and God saw that the light was good (1:4) - the word “good” is repeated daily – once for each day, no more, no less (Gen 1:4, 10 , 12, 18, 21 , 25). The world is suited for us, its properties are jarring, and the conditions are right.

Encyclopedia Britannica says that the earth is a terrestrial body whose solid surface, abundant waters, and oxygen-rich atmosphere have combined to create conditions suitable for life…The Earth is a nearly spherical body with an equatorial radius of slightly more than 6,378 kilometers (3,963 miles)…The Earth's magnetic field shields the planet from the most direct effects of the ionized gas that constitutes the solar wind, carving out a cavity known as the magnetosphere.,5716,108974+1,00.html

Earth’s enormous size keeps it from losing its interior heat so that it remains geologically active. Its density provided enough gravity to hold onto a substantial atmosphere and a large ocean. Its distance from the sun, around 93 million miles, keeps the earth at an average temperature with which life can exist - between the freezing and boiling points of water. If it’s too hot, we become barbecue; too cold, we become Popsicles.

The 23.5 degrees tilt of its axis gives earth her seasons. We can go surfing and scuba-diving in the summer, and skiing and skating in the winter, slipping and sliding all the way.

The earth spins around like a top. It is like a huge spaceship rushing through space at about 60,000 miles per hour. (Understanding the Earth 8, Tom Williamson Morristown, NJ/Macmillan Publishers Limited/84).

Without the Creator, everything was chaos: “the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep” (v 2). It was without shape or content, distinctiveness or quality, time or space – unshaped, uninhabited and unruly. We call this “chaos” – disorder, discord or disaster.

Without God, the earth is a place of darkness, disarray, decay, death and destruction. But God called creation good after he placed His signature on it. Derek Kidner says, “God knows nothing of either conflict or chance in this: only of the watchful Creator who assigns to everything its value (4a), place (4b) and meaning (5a) (Derek Kidner, Genesis 47, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, IVP).

How did God create the world? He spoke the word and it came into order. He did not invent the world from something – that’s left to man; He created the world out of nothing. Man discovers; God creates. Colossians 1:17 tells us that the Son of God holds all things together, all things were created by him and for him (Col 1:16-17). God the Holy Spirit hovers like a dove over the surface of the deep, searches all things (1 Cor 2:10), and renews the face of the earth (Ps 104:30).

God Ordered the World from Creation to Completion
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. (Gen 1:26-31)

What was God’s last declaration about his creation after He made man (1:31)? And how was it different from what He said when he made other created beings (1:25)? God said “very good” when He created man. He rested after that. The creation of man was the crowning achievement of God. He was His grand design, His magnum opus, His crowning achievement, a work of love and the object of His affection. The creation of man completed God’s work and aspiration.

Someone once coined the word “The human machine” in reference to man.
The human brain is the most highly developed in the animal kingdom,5716,42389+2+41468,00.html
We have 75 trillion cells of some 200 different types of cells in our body.,5716,42389+2+41468,00.html

Our DNA, fingerprints, and looks are all different from one another.

And on an average day, you eat 3 1/4 pounds of food, perspire 1.43 pints, and drink 2.9 pounds of liquid. You turn in your sleep 25-30 times, move 750 major muscles, breathe 23,040 times, and speak 25,000-30,000 words. Your heart beats 103,689 times, you exercise 7,000,000 brain cells, and your blood travels 168,000,000 miles.

Being made in God's image (1:27) means that man is a spiritual being. Man has a religious nature - he is created for a relationship with God (Rev 4:11). God has given us communicable godly characteristics of love, truth, wisdom, holiness, and justice. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

Man is also a relational being - male and female he created them (1:27). God intends us to have a healthy respect for our own bodies, one another, and the opposite sex. Man as male and female are coupled to each other, complementing of each other, and find comfort in each another.

Man is also a responsible being. He is to rule over creation. Man is described as in nature and over nature, continuous with it and discontinuous with it (Derek Kidner, Genesis 50, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, IVP). Man is not like animals, rocks, or trees, but we are not unlike them because we are part of creation, and, definitely, we ought not mistreat any created being.

God Ordered the World from Completion to Commission
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Gen 2:1-3)

God commissioned the seventh day as a sanctified day, a day to rest our bodies and to separate ourselves unto God (2:2-3). Rest does not mean relaxation, inactivity or sleep, but to be still, to cease from toil or strive or work, especially in order to regain one's energy.

It is a holy day, not a holiday or an hour of extra sleep, a day of fun-filled festivity, or a long weekend’s holiday. It is a day consecrated to God, set apart for the worship of the Creator, and observed in the house of the Lord.

Rabbi Sidney Greenberg distinguishes a holy day from a holiday:
On holidays we run away from duties,
On holy days we face up to them.
On holidays we let ourselves go,
On holy days we bring ourselves under control.
On holidays we try to empty our minds,
On holy days we attempt to replenish our spirits.
On holidays we reach out for things we want,
On holy days we reach up for things we need.
One brings a change of scene, the other a change of heart.
One pampers our bodies, the other nourishes and challenges our soul.

A person who is rested is good for another day, the daily grind and the week ahead. He recovers his composure and maintains his edge and benefits his family. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. A weekend of play makes us dread Mondays. Real rest means time for reflecting on God, reviewing your personal life, and renewing our body, mind, soul and spirit.

Conclusion: God made the world for you and me. His creation is not from something, but from nothing; it is not simply creating something, but creating something good. Without God all is chaos, man is incomplete, and life is impossible. Ray Stedman said: God is absolutely necessary for the completeness of life. Without God you cannot understand the world around you. You can't understand yourself or your neighbor or God himself. You will never have any answers without God, but if you have fallen away or excluded God and found misery and heartache and darkness and futility and emptiness and boredom - all the things that are a result of man attempting to live without him, Genesis declares that if you return on the principle of faith in God you will find help, spiritual health, and happiness, in every realm of life.

God’s creation reveals His mighty power at work, His wondrous order of things, and His loving kindness to man. So let us live our lives thankfully, orderly, usefully, creatively, and humbly as a response to His greatness and goodness.


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