1/9/02 10.30 a.m. Genesis 1:1-8
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. 6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day.
Michelangelo painted Rome's famous Sistine Chapel to retell Genesis' story of creation. He had 6,000 square feet of ceiling to cover, the size of four average house roofs. Anyone who has painted a ceiling with a paint roller has caught a hint of the physical difficulty of such a task. But Michelangelo's plan called for 300 separate, detailed portraits of men and women. For more than three years the 5'4" artist devoted all his labors to the exhausting strain of painting the vast overhead space with his tiny brushes.
Sometimes he painted standing on a huge scaffold, a paintbrush high over his head. Now and again he sat, his nose inches from the ceiling. Occasionally he painted while lying on his back. His back, shoulders, neck, and arms cramped painfully.
In the long days of summer, he had light to paint 17 hours a day, taking food and a chamber pot with him on the 60-foot scaffold. For 30 days at a stretch he slept in his clothes, not even taking off his boots. Paint dribbled into his eyes so he could barely see. Freezing in the winter, sweating in the summer, he painted until at last the ceiling looked like a ceiling no more. He had transformed it into the creation drama, with creatures so real they seemed to breathe. Never before or since have paint and plaster been so changed.
But, as Michelangelo knew very well, his work was a poor, dim image of what God had created. Over the plaster vault of the Sistine Chapel rose the immense dome of God's sky, breathtaking in its simple beauty. Mountains, seas, the continents, all these, and much more, are the creative work of God, the Master Artist.
Show O.H.P. Pictures of sistine chapel and beautiful scenery whilst playing 'Morning Mood' Peer Gynt by E.Grieg.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
What or who existed before any material thing or person? God. Before time began God was. When time ends, God will still be. When we think of this it puts life in perspective. When we step out of time to be with God all material things will be inconsequential, unless they have hindered us in our walk with God.
I suppose we are familiar with the video of the potter working at the clay as it rotates on his wheel. He is being creative but not in the way that God was. Why? Because he started with something and, using materials, energy and talent given by God, made a pot from something else. God started with nothing and made everything.
We may admire a pot someone has made, but how much more can we admire the handiwork of God who made the enormous, hot sun and the small, cold snowflake.
Why did God create? I think there are many answers and here are some that occurred to me. It is in God's nature to be creative and to give life. We are made in God's image and reflect that nature. We enjoy being creative, whether we make pots, engage in Do-It-Yourself, bake cakes or prepare sermons. We derive satisfaction and enjoyment by being creative. Those of us who have been unable to do a job because of ill-health or redundancy will have experienced this loss in some way.
God also created to reveal himself to his created order, and especially to humans. Romans 1:19 ...God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,...
God's revelation of himself is seen in the created order and in Jesus. It is not enough to simply acknowledge this, but we have to respond in penitence and faith.
While we are talking about creation we must consider evolution, albeit briefly. This is because some people believe that science and/or evolution has disproved the accounts of creation in the Bible.
We need to realize that the account of creation in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 are focused on what God has done, rather than how he has done things. It is a theological rather than a scientific document. The two studies do not necessarily oppose one another. Darwin believed in a creator God.
We do need to realize a number of things about the theory of evolution. It is a theory with big gaps. It assumes the world came about by chance. But when two atheists Fred Hoyle, the Astronomer Royal and leading mathematician Dr Chandra Singh calculated the likelihood of the world happened by chance their conclusion was that it was 10 with 40,000 zeros to one. Dr Singh said it was like looking for a grain of sand in all the beaches of the universe and finding it.
We also need to understand that there are many missing links in evolution. Francis Hitching is a science writer and commented that it is a common belief among Darwinian evolutionists that reptiles evolved into mammals. But, he says, there is a total lack of intermediate fossils. Even more than this, it is hard to see how it could possibly have happened. How, he asks, did mammals evolve their jaw and their ear?
All reptiles have a lower jaw made up of at least four separate bones on each side, and a single bone in each ear. But every known mammal, alive and extinct, is the opposite: it has a one-piece jawbone, and three bones in the ear. All these bones fossilize readily, yet there is not a single fossil species with two bones in the ear or with two or three bones in the jaw. Nor has any Darwinist offered a plausible explanation WHY these changes should have occurred, or HOW they might have happened.
Whilst evolutionary changes can be observed on a small scale a widespread proof of evolution has yet to be made.
There are some Christian scientist who believe God created the earth in six twenty four hour days. Others that God created in six longer periods of time. Some that God uses evolution to change animals he has created.
Evolution is taught uncritically, almost as fact in many schools. This is bad science.
One problem with evolution is that is teaches that everything was and is created by chance. If we accept this where is the value in people, animals and things? The philosophical implication is that the earth, people, animals and material goods are not as valuable as if they were gifts from a loving, creator God. Our instincts and values reflect these God given values, for example in the way that we value human life and the earth.
The word translated 'God' is 'el-o-heem' in the Hebrew. In some contexts this might be translated 'gods' because it is in the plural. But here, and in many other occasions in the Bible, it expresses the great power of God. It also hints at a doctrine clearly revealed in other parts of it, namely, that though God is one, there are three persons in the Godhead; Father, Son, and Spirit, who were all engaged in the creative work.
We see this in verse 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.
The word for Hebrew word translated 'hovering' is used for the way a bird broods over its eggs, tending them, waiting for them to hatch. In the same way God the Holy Spirit was brooding over this 'earth soup' of sky, sea and land. In the Bible the Holy Spirit brings order out of chaos, and good out of bad.
God created by commanding things. For example, 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
God used words and things happened. In John 1, which has parallels with Genesis 1, we read about Jesus; 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
You could suggest that God the Father willed the creation and God the Son and Word, carried this out working with the Spirit. Colossians 1 supports this, too; 15 He ( Jesus ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
"Who made you?" someone once asked a little girl. She replied, "God made me that much," indicating with her two hands the ordinary size of a newborn infant, "and I growed the rest myself."
She was right in thinking that she, and indeed everyone have been created by God. She was wrong to think that God has made everything and let us get on with things in our own strength. God is intimately involved with his whole created order all the time. Revelation 4:11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
The universe is not like a wind up watch, God setting it in motion and leaving it to go on until it runs out of energy. He is like the battery in a modern watch, giving the energy to sustain all things. If the battery is taken out of such a watch it stops working. If God was to remove himself from the created order every material thing would disappear, and things would resort to the state they were in before time began. Just imagine that God withdrew his sustaining power from the created order everything would suddenly disappear. You, me, this church, the ground we are on, etc.
In a brochure on stewardship by Robert H. Roberts identifies 12 marks of our consumer culture :
1. Commodification - everything has its price.
2. Insatiability - enough is never enough.
3. Adoration of the unpossessed - we focus on what we don't have.
4. Winner Takes All - superachievers get most stuff, others get less.
5. Feverishness - we end up with a frenetic life.
6. Instant Gratification - we want pleasure NOW.
7. Debt - something owned is something owed.
8. Deprivation - we feel something important is being withheld from us.
9. Self-Absorption - our self-interests are more important than others'.
10. Devalued Vocation - our income is more important than spiritual calling.
11. Environment Abuse - our technology is dramatically changing God's earth.
12. Escalation of Needs - when consumer needs are met, new needs arise.
As Christians we should enjoy the material things God has given us. James 1: 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. However, we should have a correct outlook and realise that: these things are gifts from God and we should be thankful; we are responsible for their wise use; we are not to let them own us; and they are temporary. One day they will amount to nothing. This goes against what the world tells us which is that material things are permanent and of value. But we should not be deceived. There will be many people in hell who invested in the material at the expense of the spiritual. So we should not concentrate on the material but the spiritual!
In verses 3 - 8 we see how God worked with the 'earth soup' I described when we looked at verse 2. In verse 3 God's first creative word called forth light in the midst of the primeval darkness. Light is necessary for making God's creative works visible and life possible. In the OT it is also symbolic of life and blessing
Verse 4; Everything God created is good (see vv. 10,12,18,21,25); in fact, the conclusion declares it to be "very good" (v. 31). The creation, as fashioned and ordered by God, had no traces of disorder and no dark and threatening forces grouped against God or man.
Verse 5; God called the light 'day'... See vv. 8,10. In ancient times, to name something or someone implied having dominion or ownership (see 17:5,15; 41:45; 2Ki 23:34; 24:17; Da 1:7). Both day and night belong to the Lord (Ps 74:16). This was the first day. Some say that the creation days were 24-hour days, others that they were indefinite periods. But we need to realise that the sun and moon had not been made yet, cf. verses 14-19, which suggests that the periods, at least up until then were not necessarily of 24 hours.
There are two accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. They do not conflict, just as a map of the United Kingdom does not conflict with a map of the whole world. Genesis 1 describes the creation of the universe as a whole, while Genesis 2 gives a more detailed account of the creation of man and says nothing about the creation of matter, light, heavenly bodies, plants, and animals, except to refer to the creation of animals as having taken place at an earlier time.
To summarise, we, and the whole created order depend upon God for our creation and our continuing existence. This should lead us to concentrate on Him resulting in awe, praise, worship, devotion and service of Him.
A city missionary visited a poor old woman in an attic room who had scarcely enough money for her bare existence. He observed a strawberry plant growing in a broken teapot on the windowsill, and on a subsequent visit remarked how it continued to grow and with what care it was watched and tended. "Your plant flourishes nicely; you will soon have strawberries on it." "Oh, sir, it is not for the sake of the fruit that I prize it. It is a great comfort to have that plant living, for I know it can only live by the power of God. As I see it live and grow day by day, it tells me God is near." This lonely Christian wanted something to remind her constantly that life in its continuance and growth was a direct result of God's activity. In a way it expressed her awe, humility and worship before God.