In the beginning, God created.
Thus starts the Bible. And thus starts today’s message, the first of several messages highlighting what is on a list I have seen of important chapters in the Bible.
Let me be very quick to point out that every chapter of the Bible is important. Every chapter of the Bible is to be impactful. That is because every word in the Bible is inspired by God. As stated in II Timothy 3, all scripture is inspired by God. Every verse is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, the purpose being that the man of God - that the people of God - may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Every chapter in the entire Bible - Old Testament and New Testament alike - is important. But we will today, and through most of the upcoming fall season, be looking at what some Bible experts call great chapters, beginning today with the very first chapter - Genesis 1 - which tells of creation.
Next week, we will consider a chapter in which God teaches His people how He wants us to behave.
In future weeks we will consider a couple Psalms before considering an Old Testament passage that predicts Jesus, and then, how, in the New Testament, Jesus became the Savior. We will also talk about a New Testament chapter that describes love, and another that challenges us to have faith.
And let me mention this. As we discuss the chapters to be highlighted, there may be none that are unfamiliar. Each one is probably pretty well known by all of us. But we are going to consider them anyway to remind ourselves of some of the basics of our Christian faith, and to hopefully come up with some applications we may not have thought of before.
Today, Genesis 1. it starts with the words, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth - the world - the sky and what is below it.
Up to the time of what is recorded in Genesis 1, the earth was without form and void. There was only darkness upon the face of the deep.
Those words indicate a number of things, including there was nothing desirable about the earth. It was, I have read it described, just a mass that was empty of anything useful. There was chaos and confusion. And the deep? That referred to water both on and above the earth.
Up to what is recorded in verse 1 of Genesis 1, there was nothing useful. There was no hope. Except for this, which is a positive thing, providing just a tinge of hope. The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. That means God existed. He existed even before the heavens and the earth were created. In fact, He always has existed, which is a thought greater than my mind can comprehend.
But the Spirit of God was the only positive. Until, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, which brings up some very important points.
First, the word translated God is, in the original, plural, as in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three have always existed. All three were involved in creation.
And consider the word created, which means created from nothing. The heavens and the earth were made out of nothing.
It also means the world as we know it did not just happen to occur. Nor did the world - the sky and what we know as the earth - form itself. The heavens and the earth were created by someone else. They were created by God.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The creation came about over six days, including, on day #1 - verse 3 - the creation of light.
God said, “Let there be light.” And listen. There was light. Isn’t that amazing? God simply spoke the words - He gave the order - and just like that - immediately - what He said was done. God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”
God saw that the light was good. Why? Well, light was needed for His creation to be seen. And think of this. Light is positive and encouraging, is it not? Do we not feel better when there is light? And no, there was nobody around yet - no humans around yet - to feel better, but there were going to be humans around. God was already preparing for them when He created light.
And that was not all. God separated the light from the darkness. And He named each. He called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.
Isn’t it interesting that God did not eliminate darkness? I think that is because darkness - maybe not as dark as it was before the beginning - but darkness has some benefits.
Such as rest. Darkness is a reminder of the need to rest.
I remember hearing some people in Alaska who had moved there from some of the lower 48 states. Everyone I talked to about it said they had no problems adjusting to the darkness of the winters. The problems came in the summer, when it did not get dark until, sometimes, after midnight, with the sunrise scheduled for 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Without darkness, they said, their minds did not tell their bodies to rest. The point being that darkness has a purpose. Which God knew. Which is why He kept at least a semblance of darkness to balance the light.
And listen to this that I read. The daily shifts from dark to light and back to dark can be a reminder that life has lots of changes.
Daily we are reminded and encouraged to rest. Daily we see that life changes. On day #1, God created light.
On day #2 - verse 6 - God - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit - said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
Firmament. That is the expanse above the earth. What we call the sky.
Again, God was already preparing for what was going to come. In this case, the sky would provide a place for the sun and moon and stars. The sky would be needed for birds.
God said, “Let there be a firmament.” And just as it had been with light, when God spoke the words, it was so. That part of creation happened immediately.
But there was another reason for the firmament. In addition to providing a place for the sun, moon, stars, and birds, it separated the waters which were under the firmament - as in the waters on the earth - from the waters which were above the firmament - as in the clouds.
And God named this part of His creation. He called the firmament Heaven. Not the Heaven where we who are Christians are going to be someday, but again, the sky.
On day #2, God created the sky.
On day #3 - verse 9 - God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”
Listen to this that I read to describe day #3. As the land masses congealed, the waters ceased their swirling, rampaging, and eroding work and moved in their ordered channels.
And get this. Sometimes, especially in the Old Testament, waters and seas signify troubles and afflictions. PsalmS 42:7 and 69:14-15 are two examples of that. But what happened on day #3? Just as light on day #1 brought a sense of encouragement, so day #3 brought about stability. God brought some control over problems.
Remember the chaos mentioned earlier? The chaos and confusion before the beginning? Day by day, God was bringing an end to those things being overwhelming.
And yes, we still have problems. But with God, they are manageable. That is one of the lessons of Genesis 1.
Once again, God named what was created. He called the dry land Earth and the water Seas. And He saw that the Earth and the Seas were good. That is the same feeling He had had on day #1 and on day #2.
But He was not done on day #3. He then said, “Let the earth [the dry land] put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.”
That, too, was done, immediately after the words were spoken. The earth brought forth vegetation and plants and trees. God saw that that was good as well.
And it was good because it was evidence of Him taking yet another step in preparing things for what was to come, that being animals and humans being created. Fish were going to need seas, and animals and humans would need dry land. God created both. The animals and humans would need food. God created that. What a lesson this is that He knows our needs and takes care of them before we need them. Part of that happened on day #3.
Day #4 - verse 14 - God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them give light upon the earth.”
Remember on day #2? God created the firmament. On day #3, He concentrated on what is below the firmament. Now on day #4, His creative work returned to what is above. And once again, as soon as He spoke the words, it was so.
What was so? God made two great lights. The greater light to rule the day. We know that one as the sun. And the lesser light to rule the night. We call that one the moon. He made stars also.
And get this. Remember the chaos and confusion earlier? Remember that on day #1, light helped settle things down? On day #3, the control of the waters brought order. On day #4, order was further established with a clear delineation of day and night, and with changes of the seasons of summer, fall, winter, and spring, each with its own characteristics and benefits.
And think of this. What God put in the sky is order itself, as in the sun and the moon and the stars follow set patterns. They have done so since they were created. They move according to plan now. They always will. The order has been used in making space travel plans. The order has been used to know when to plant and help determine what clothes to wear.
And think of this, too. When God created the sun and the moon, He knew exactly what He was doing.
For instance, He created the sun to be 93,000,000 miles away, which is close enough to warm and sustain life - the lives of the plants He had created and the animals and people He was going to create. But it is far enough away to not scorch and burn us up.
The moon? It is right where it is has to be to affect our tides properly. If the moon was closer, there would be great floods daily, but God created the moon for the exact position it needs to be.
And the stars. Do you know we can, if we know how, use the stars to gauge our position, wherever we are? That is the case because yes, even the stars still travel the same paths they did, relative to the earth, when they were first created.
What order God created in preparation for day #5 when - verse 20 - God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.”
For the first part of that, God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds. For the second part, He created every winged bird, according to its kind,
As with all the rest of His creation up to that point, God saw that what was created was good. He then blessed the fish and the birds, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
I read an interesting thing about that blessing. It is the suggestion it was an indication that fish and birds were not created to live forever. The land and the oceans, the sun and moon and stars, were designed to last. But fish and birds would need to propagate to remain.
That is what I read. Here is something I thought of.
Once again, God simply spoke the words, and what He said was done. That had happened on each of the days so far. It did happen on day #5. It would happen again on day #6. Here is what I thought of. If God, at creation, was so powerful that His very words brought instant results, do you suppose that even now His words can be trusted? Including the words He gives to us in the Bible?
Will we trust God, even now? Think about that as day #6 begins - verse 24 - when God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds.”
Fish and birds had been created on day #5. Now it was time for animals on the dry land to be created - cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds. And one more time, He spoke the words and it was so. It happened immediately.
Then - still day #6 - verse 26 - God said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Our. That is plural. Which is a reminder that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all involved in creation.
Image and likeness. That is a proclamation that man was created to resemble what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are like, as in nature, authority, and purity.
Purity. That did not go very well. It was not too long after man and a woman were created that they became impure. Impure as in sinful. But the design was that the final part of creation would be pure. As pure as God.
And authority? That is further stated with God saying, “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
Them. Did you catch that word? God first said, “Let us make man.” But it was not just one man God had in mind. He also had in mind creating a woman. A being, according to Genesis 2, made from one of the man’s ribs.
Concerning that, listen to this that I read. Because the woman was taken from the man’s side, God intends her to stand beside him. That is what God intended to teach in how He created woman. The woman was designed to be the man’s helper and partner. They were designed to work together in making a home. They were to be together in sharing their joys and their difficulties. They were to be together in glorifying God through daily communion with Him.
That last part they did accomplish - they did glorify God - until the woman and then the man sinned. But until that time, they did work together, enjoying all that God provided for them, which included good, nourishing food from plants and trees.
Interestingly, God told the man and the woman what He had told the fish and the fowl. They, too, were to be fruitful and multiply so they could fill the earth. In their case, it needed to be done to subdue the earth. It was necessary for them to have dominion over every other living thing.
But on day #6, man was created, after which, it is recorded, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Not just good, which had been His reaction at the end of each of the other days, but “very good.”
Why “very good?” Well, perhaps He saw that all He had created had turned out exactly as He had designed it. He saw that everything had a purpose and was, at that moment, working perfectly. Everything that had needed to be done had been done, in perfect order. Things were “very good.”
But maybe the “very good” was an answer to the question of why man - and woman - were the last to be created.
As mentioned earlier, it could be because God wanted to make sure everything man and woman would need was already in place before He created them. And that is the way it turned out. Before man and woman were created, God had everything ready for them - light and dry land and the sun and the moon and stars and plants and trees and animals.
But maybe God saved man and woman for last because they - because we - are the crowning part of His creation. Maybe we are special.
Which we are. We know we are because of something that make us different. That something being free will, which is the freedom we have to decide whether to follow God or not.
Of course, the call - the challenge - is certainly that we will follow God. That we accept Him as the great Creator He is.
Part of which is looking around us and seeing His creation, which should amaze us this day and every day.
Think of the variety God has given us throughout His creation. The challenge to think about that has been one of our purposes in looking at Genesis 1. Think of it. So many different kinds of plants. So many different kinds of trees and fish and animals and birds.
I was not going to even start a list of variety, but I guess I will with birds.
For the last two springs, we have had many different kinds of birds in our backyard. Robins have been prevalent, but there have been other kinds, too.
Until about the first of July when it is suddenly quiet except for some screeching, which comes from baby hawks. We have had a hawk family behind us the past two summers. That family has caused the others birds to vacate the neighborhood.
Until just a few weeks ago, when the hawks have left and some of the robins are back. Just in time to dine on the berries one of the bushes in our backyard produces this time of year.
And through it all, many nights I can hear the whoo-hoo-hoo of an owl.
Sizes. Shapes. Even colors. What varieties God has provided . And that is true, not only with birds, but with plants and trees as well. Think of all the kinds of fruits and vegetables we have available to us. And yes, God has created variety with people, too.
Will we stand amazed when we look around us? Will we know the basic fact of our faith that none of what we see around us just happened? That each part of what we see was created? Will we know the Creator was and is God? We will remember that from the great Bible chapter we have considered today?
Will we rejoice that we know who the Creator is? Will our rejoicing lead us to use our free will to worship Him?
And will His power lead us, not only to worship Him, but to obey Him? Including obeying the chapter we will talk about next week, which is Exodus 20, in which God gives us a list of ten ways He wants His people to live. And including accepting the Son part of those involved with the creation. Will we obey God by accepting Jesus as the Savior He is?
Let’s use our free will to be thankful for all of creation. Let’s use our free will to worship God and obey Him.
Today’s closing song is a wonderful review of Genesis 1. It is
We Sing the Greatness of Our God.
we sing the greatness of our God that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing sea abroad and built the lofty skies.
We sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.
We sing the goodness of the Lord that filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with His word and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed where’er we turn our eyes:
In every season of the year, and through the changing skies.
There’s not a plant or flower below but makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Thy throne,
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care,
And everywhere that we can be, Lord, Thou art present there.
God, thank You for Your creation. Not only because without it, we would not be here, but also because all the rest of Your creation offers us so much beauty. And yes, without You bringing order to things, life would be very, very difficult indeed.
Help us to rejoice as we see the beauty You have created. Help us to remember and to proclaim that You are responsible. May that be the foundation of our worship.
And because of what You give us to use and enjoy, help us to always be willing to obey You. Including all You teach us in the Bible.
Thank You. Amen.