Genesis 1 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Chaos to Creation

Genesis 1:1-2:3

INTRO

-Why are we studying Genesis? 

-Serves as the foundation for the rest of the Bible and our lives. If we understand the purpose/reasons/rational behind the beginning of the book, the rest of the book will start to make sense

-Imagery/ideas that are begun in the Genesis will see fully fleshed out in Revelation

-There has been a lot of ink spilled on how to interpret Genesis, fun stuff worth discussing, but not what we’re going to be focusing on through our study

-These chapters deal with so many of the issues we’re facing today: what does it mean to be human? Who is God? Why do bad things happen? Where did things go wrong? How did we get here? How are the 2 sexes supposed to interact with each other?

-What I would like to propose to you as the purpose of the Bible from beginning to end is: worship. Genesis 1 is meant to demonstrate why God is superior to all the other false gods people have created, we’ll see that explicitly on day 4, thus God alone is worthy to be worshipped, praised, and glorified.

READ/PRAY

-We are storied beings. All of us have a story we use to frame everything that takes place around us.

-How do you think of yourself? You are a product of your story! You’re the athletic one, you’re the smart one, you’re the musician, you’re the finance guy, the boss mom, whatever it is, all of us have built up some kind of narrative in our minds about who we are why we’re the way we are.

-I think the most obvious example of this is spending time with your family! Don’t you have a tendency to revert back to how you were in high school? Same issues come up, same jokes are told, same stories are brought back to life

-That’s just a little example, think of how stories have affected cultures: George Washington chopped down a cherry try “I cannot tell a lie.” Columbus: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Who “discovered” America? Weren’t there already people here?

-Founding of the city of Rome: Romulus and twin brother Remus founded Rome on the site where they were suckled by a wolf as orphans.

-Out of the competing stories that were enacting and affecting the cultures around them comes the one true story.

-By referring to the Bible and this narrative as a story, does not mean it’s untrue! I wholeheartedly believe the events recorded here actually happened! Just as much as I believe the story that I was born on October 12, 1988 in Lake Forest hospital, just outside of Chicago-land. I don’t remember it, I know I’m here, I know that’s my story, I believe it to be true, just as I believe the events written down by Moses here in Genesis 1 are a true account of what happened.

-With that said, nothing explicit in this text to tell us who the author of Genesis is: tradition tells us Moses wrote the first 5 books of the OT (Pentateuch) and I haven’t seen an argument to convince me otherwise! As Heb. 1:1 reminds us “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” One of those prophets was Moses!

-Over these next 3 weeks as we look at the beginning, I want to remind us what we in the EFCA believe regarding the beginning. We’ll come back to it again, so you don’t need to memorize this, but this is what our SOF says.

  1. In the Beginning (1-2)

-Verse 1 serves as the title to this whole book (Genesis is the Greek transliteration of “beginning”), verse 2 tells the background of what’s going on, and when we get to verse 3 that begins the narrative telling what God did.

-It’s important to note how carefully crafted this first section is. Verse 1 has 7 words, verse 2 has 7×2 words. God is mentioned 7×5 times. In this context, 7 refers to completion/perfection.

-This verse has some profound theological truths that I want us to realize:

-In the beginning. There was a time when there wasn’t anything. God has no beginning or end, that just blows my mind, because all of us have a beginning, but no end. It almost feels like “once upon a time,” but this one is telling us how everything came to be.

-God. The subject, the main part, the focus of these first 7 words (in Hebrew) is Elohim-God. What is the first thing we learn about God?

-created. This Hebrew word means “making something new.” New City Catechism Question 2: What is God? God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

-All these things are deep, rich theological truths from just the first verse!

-Need to talk about the first rule of hermeneutics: the text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean when it was originally written. There is meaning, purpose, and intent to the words of the text. Always, always, always begin with the meaning to the original audience.

-Space travel wasn’t a “thing,” very limited in their scope of planet earth, so when we come across words like “heavens and earth.” We generally think of the 8 planets (RIP Pluto), stars, galaxies, and a big blue ball spinning around the sun. When the original audience heard these 2 words they thought: sky and land. Sky is everything above, land is everything below. They weren’t dumb, they just didn’t have the same grasp of some of these things we’re blessed to witness today.

-Similarly, vs. 2 uses some words they would understand differently than we do: without form, void, darkness, deep all refer to nothingness. Similarly the “waters” is the primordial state before anything came about.

-“Spirit of God” this word translated spirit is fascinating throughout the Bible: breath, wind, spirit. Remember this idea when we get to the flood which is going to serve as a new creation, God causes a ruach to blow over the earth and blow away the waters. This finds its ultimate fulfillment at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:2 the sound of a mighty rushing wind. God’s final act of recreation was finally here! 

  • God Said (3-31)

-“God said” is repeated 10 times in this section, pointing to another 10 times God would lay the rules by which His people are meant to operate in the 10 commandments. 

-The theme of “separating”: light from dark, water from water, water from land

-Repeated phrasing, “God said” begins each day, “And there was evening and there was morning” ends each day.

-Days 1-3 are creation of the different areas, days 4-6 are the filling of those same domains (we’ll see that as we walk through)

Day 1 – Light

-Light is created to contrast to the darkness that pervaded this primordial world

-This begins a theme throughout the whole rest of the Bible: light is good, darkness is bad. John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

-Notice how easy this is. God says something, it automatically happens. Contrast that with some other competing stories of how the world came to be:

-Babylonian account of creation: Marduk kills the goddess Tiamat (the salty sea) and uses her carcass to fashion heaven and earth

-Other ANE accounts talk about the gods being stressed by work, so humans are created to bear the weight of their working.

-In contrast to these oppressive, mean, and chaotic ways of the world coming into being comes this story of a speaking God.

-That tells us another theological truth about God: God speaks and is thus relational. He’s not far off removed from ever interacting with His creation, instead He is a speaking God who cares about His creation.

-Some astute observers may note that light/darkness comes before the sun and the moon. I’ve known some people who refused to become Christians because of that fact! 

-First things first, Hebrew people didn’t necessarily see a contradiction with this, dawn/dusk are light without the sun. 

-Second, did you know astronomers recently found light spread throughout the galaxy that has no known source? “They’re saying that there’s as much light outside of galaxies as there is inside of galaxies” I love seeing science catch up to what God has revealed to be true!

Day 2 – waters 

-The dome above and the waters below. Heaven/the skies were viewed as a big bubble of water (makes sense as water comes from above and below!) Separation once again between the 2 waters

-“And it was so.” 

-This leads to it now having sky, air, etc. 

-Seas were often seen as gods in ANE, but this says it’s something God made

Day 3 – land 

-Begins by separating the water from the land. Almost looks as if the water is drawn away to expose that which is underneath it.

-Notice God naming things. In ANE thought naming was equated with ruling/governing/creating. Points, again, to God being a relational God 

-This separation is good. But he doesn’t stop with just creating land, the land becomes hospitable for the subsequent creatures: vegetation, seeds, fruit

-“According to their kind.” God orders all of these things, creates boundaries for them, allows them to flourish.

-Boundaries bring about creativity, unstructured freedom is chaos!

Day 4 – sun and moon

-First 3 days are creating the environment, these next 3 correlate to the first 3 and fill them out

-Day 1 is light, day 4 is the where the light comes from: sun and moon. 

-First, notice that they’re not named anywhere? Other religions viewed them as gods, here God won’t even refer to them by name! They’re called “the greater light” and “the lesser light.” God doesn’t play by everyone else’s rules, He is the one true God, no other god can compare to Him so He isn’t even willing to mention their names.

-Notice as well, the purpose of these lights: separating again the day from night, signs and seasons and days and years. Their purpose is to keep seasons and reminders of God’s continued faithfulness.

-These lights, these signs and seasons are good.

Day 5  – the waters/spaces are now hospitable and filled with creatures

-The space created by the separating waters are now filled with birds, the waters below are filled with all sorts of sea creatures! 

-They are created by “kinds,” God’s limitless creativity is bounded by His creation.

-This creation is “good.” Unique in that they are the first ones blessed by God, and given a mandate: Be fruitful, multiply, fill the sea and the land.

Day 6 – land creatures and humans

-“Let the earth bring forth.” Where the previous creation was out of nothing, this day the creation is refined.

-It also is a much longer section than any of the previous days, where the previous ones were in double speed, day 6 comes to a screeching halt and emphasizes everything that happens.

-Land animals are all created “according to their kind.” And they’re good.

-Then the pinnacle of creation: humans. The only thing in the entire created order that represents God – other things point to him, humans are made to image/represent Him.

-This “image of God” idea is worth studying further, I don’t have time today, but what this refers to is being his representatives/serving at His bidding. At the time, kings would have statues made and then distributed throughout their kingdom to bring their “image” to rule/reign over their entire domain. So when God creates humans in his image, they are meant to be distributed throughout his kingdom to bring his “image” to rule/reign over His entire domain.

-Then these humans are blessed by God, in what is known as the “creation mandate.”

-Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion over fish, birds, animals. Part of this creation mandate is the command to work in subduing the earth. The Garden of Eden wasn’t like an all-inclusive resort where you sit back sipping Mai Tais and watch the world go by, Adam and Eve are given jobs to do in ruling with God over the created order. We’ll look at that a little more fully next week.

-This section ends with everything being tov maod – very good. Only reason I remember that is my Hebrew prof would speak Hebrew in class, if you answered right you’d get tov maod, and my motto for the class was: lo tov – no good!

-One last thing to remember, before we get to the last day: Keep everything in its’ proper order/kind! Humans are not animals and should not be treated as animals. Animals are not plants and should not be treated as plants. Seems like an obvious point, but our world is confusing these things! Even down to being gendered beings: male and female TOGETHER image God into the world! Male in and of itself cannot adequately image God, and female in and of itself cannot adequately image God. We’ll look more fully at this next week, again.

-These 6 days serve as the foundation for the rest of creation, and then God finishes His work. 

  • God Rested (2:1-3)

-Look at the wording of this finishing: where else does God say He’s finished? When Jesus dies on the cross, bearing the penalty for all of the sin that came about when creation was thrust back into chaos – just as God finished his work in creation, there His work is finished in redemption.

-Then this day is unlike the previous days because God blesses this 7th day. Up until this point it’s the creation that’s blessed, this time God blesses a day and sanctifies it.

-Just as God rested, so He commands his people to rest. In Ex. 31:13 God tells His people: “‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” This pattern of 6 days on/one day off actually sets God’s people off as unique from everyone else. It demonstrates to everyone our trust in God. Prevents work from becoming an idol. Ultimately, the sabbath rest reminds us that we are not God! We can’t work 24/7 and thrive, we need rest.

-Now – notice this 7th day has no end. All 6 previous days said “evening/morning the ___ day” This is a way of saying everything was as God intended it to be.

-Just as God rested, so we’re to find our ultimate rest in Him. Augustine: “Our hearts our restless until they find their rest in Thee.” 

-This story gives us a glimpse of God’s heart toward his creation, His desire to live in perfect relationship with Him, and our job of joining with God in bringing order from the chaos of the world around us. Do you see that as your aim, as your story, as your reason for living? Where do you fit within this storyline that God has used to reveal to us? 

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