The Beginning

September 19, 2021 Speaker: Chris Jessee Series: Genesis: ORIGINS

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Genesis 1:1–2:3

 

Christmas Eve 1968 - this video clip we just heard was the closing part of the 4th of 6 total broadcasts that would happen from the Apollo 8 mission They were to fly within 70 miles above the surface of the moon - seeing the ‘dark side of the moon’ for the first time and continuing to plan for the Apollo mission that would eventually make the famous moon landing.

I thought it would be a unique opportunity to have 3 astronauts share the reading of a majority of today’s passage - thank you for indulging my inner-young-astronauts nerd! 

what you just heard were astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman - the first humans to travel the 238,900 mi to the Moon at this point - reciting verses 1 through 10 of the Genesis creation narrative from the King James Bible.

History.com summarizes the three astronauts thoughts that were shared in this way:

As Apollo 8 rounded the moon for a ninth time, Borman got the prime-time Christmas Eve broadcast started by saying the crew would take the audience with it through a lunar sunset. He described the moon as “vast,” “lonely” and “forbidding,” and added that it “would not appear to be a very inviting place to live or work.” Lovell chimed in that the “vast loneliness of the moon is awe inspiring, and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” Anders, meanwhile, declared himself quite impressed with lunar sunrises and sunsets.

It is estimated that the global television audience that night was over 1 billion - meaning that 1 in 4 people around the globe at that time tuned in to see this broadcast.

Just like these astronauts had a specific audience for their broadcast, Moses had a specific audience in mind for his writings in the book of Genesis.

Biblical dating points to the late fifteenth century B.C. as to Genesis’ writing. That would have been at the time of or following the exodus when Israel wandered in the wilderness.

Here, you’d have God’s people dreaming of the promised land, they would naturally ask about Abraham and the patriarchs and their ultimate origins.

God met Moses with his Word, inspired by the spirit - giving him not only Genesis but what we call the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.

We should note - Israel had just escaped the oppressive ‘polytheism’ (many God’s) of Egypt’s temples and pyramids with its solar and lunar gods. In Egypt, the pagan mythologies had opposed Israel’s ‘monotheism’ (one God).

In Egypt people were taught elaborate myths of love affairs and reproduction among the gods, of warfare marking out the heavens and the earth. Their priests annually mimed their myths, hoping that by reenacting them they would create life. And that was not without effect. Some of God’s people had succumbed to the lavish liturgies of the Nile.

In Genesis, Moses takes these on. These opening lines would forever establish a true understanding about God, the universe, and humanity.

Moses began with a radical and sweeping affirmation of one true God.

It may be easy to think that the Sermon on the Mount was the first radical, up-side-down -or- right-side-up message in scripture. But God’s Word, as inspired through the Holy Spirit has always had a radical, transformative effect by bringing a different message than that of the World.

Why ‘ORIGINS’ as our series title?
OR'IGIN, noun (Websters 1828!)
1. The first existence or beginning of any thing; as the origin of Rome. In history it is necessary, if practicable, to trace all events to their origin
2. Fountain; source; cause; that from which any thing primarily proceeds; that which gives existence or beginning.

Our prayer that we’ll collectively see throughout this series: Genesis is about the origins of grace

Genesis is about grace. The Apostle Paul sums up this major theme in Genesis in Romans 5:20 when he says, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20.
Genesis also provides us with a grand revelation of God’s faithfulness as it recounts God’s fidelity over and over again in the lives of the patriarchs.

The God who Creates

Martin Luther reminds of Genesis’ opening chapters that they are - “certainly the foundation of the whole of Scripture.”

Genesis 1 begins “In the beginning, God,” reminding us that it all starts with God, and thus Genesis sets the stage for everything that follows.

Elohim - plural noun always followed by a singular verb, “God created” - Elohim is best understood to mean one who is mighty/powerful or has the strength to make/create

Trinity present - God who is creating, his spirit hovering over the chaos waters (highly recommend The Bible Project’s work on ancient cosmologies to understand the significance of Moses’ words here in contrast to other ancient cosmologies from Egypt, Babylon and Persia) - we’ll see Christ toward the end of our message as it relates to this passage as well...

ORIGINS-Genesis-open-table

The God who Forms

Verses 3 through 14 capture God’s preparation of the earth to be filled… at the end of this passage, earth will be ready for animated, mobile life. The fixed forms will be in place because God has brought order the chaos by his very word!

God speaks things into existence - We clearly and unequivocally see the power of God’s Word in this passage. We’ll see this again at the close of our passage today...

God’s good creation - God surveys his creation and calls it “good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and “very good” (v. 31).

Forming: Day / Night, Water / Sky, Land & Vegetation

OBJECT ILLUSTRATION: BOARD / BOWL - ANGELA’S ART

The God who Fills

Although “the earth was without form and void” (Gen. 1:2), God forms the earth (days 1–3) and then fills it (days 4–6). Thus begins the remedy for the earth being “without form and void” as we saw at the beginning of Genesis… Let’s look at verses 14-31 in Genesis 1

More on our uniqueness as image bearers next Sunday
God blessed humans uniquely - The climax of this chapter is found in the creation of humanity. The largest number of verses is devoted to this day of creation.
Filling: Lights (luminaries), Birds / Fish, Animals & Humans

BACK TO OBJECT ILLUSTRATION: BOARD / BOWL - As image bearers we primarily ‘form’ when we create, God both forms and fills and we’re called to steward his creation well.

Jeremiah 18 gives us a prophetic picture of a potter and clay, clay that has become spoiled in the making process… but it is promised redemption. As we move into the weeks ahead we’ll see our own created purpose in Gen 2 as well as the ruin that comes through the fall in Gen 3. But, there is redemption promised in Gen 3, even as Adam and Eve are receiving the curse of the fall.

Genesis 1 reveals God as creator, who forms and fills the earth for his Glory but he doesn’t stop there… we’re introduced to the God who finishes

The God who Finishes

[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. [2] And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. [3] So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. - Genesis 2:1–3

Set apart time, some call this the final act of creation, that is the creation of “rest”
When God finished his work, “he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Gen. 2:2).

He did not rest because he was tired, but to enjoy the world that he had worked to create. In creation, the pattern was work then rest. In the gospel, the pattern is rest then work.

Christ’s work is finished

  • John 1 reveals Christ as the Word become flesh
  • God creates by the power of his Word (cf. John 1:1–3).
  • This same Word “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
  • The Word active in creation is revealed as a Person who becomes flesh and blood in redemption to come and save.
  • In Christ, this rest is fulfilled, so that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).
  • Jesus offers the key to enter that rest, since he invites us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
  • He’s seated at the right hand of the father - consider in this passage from Ephesians how we see God Forming and Filling as well…

[19] and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might [20] that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, [21] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. [22] And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. - Ephesians 1:19–23

Amazing truth of the Gospel: Christ worked, now rests. We begin our relationship with him as our Savior by resting in his finished work. Then, our work of obedience flows from the security of our resting in relationship - as sons and daughters of God, restored through his finished work!

Will you bring your emptiness, your chaos or the forms you’ve tried to fill to Christ?

Are you empty, in need of God’s forgiveness and righteousness? Then come to him. His fullness will become yours with a word!

Closing consideration:

God’s Sovereign rule over creation

Not only did God create all things, but he is also in charge of all things. As the Psalms say many times over, God is on his throne, ruling over all his creation. Back in Genesis, we can see he is in charge of his creation because he had authority to pronounce it good (Gen. 1:31). Then he entrusted the care of his creation to Adam and Eve. He is the King, and he entrusted his kingdom to us.

God is Sovereign which, very simply means He Reigns over his creation! Even with everything that seems overwhelming to us in the world today. With so many experts speaking into our lives -generally or directly- it’s important for us not to loose this truth: God is SOVEREIGN.

I don’t share this to shame anyone or call some individual or a group of people out. This isn’t “masks vs. bare faced freedom”, it’s not “vax vs. anti-vax” or even a call for people not to listen to governing authorities or those who give their careers to studies of events like we’re walking through still today. Even as everyone seems to be learning in very real time with very real effects on our daily lives.

This is a call to remember that God is SOVEREIGN over his creation. The truth of who God is, as revealed through his creation and through his Gospel, reminds us that The Gospel is simple in receiving but complex in it’s application of His Lordship over our lives.

His Sovereignty doesn’t end with his creation - he hasn’t spun it into rotation simply to watch from afar - he is also working through his providence.

We should understand more than just the primary ‘divisive’ topics and their effects on us as individuals or our families. We should think through, beyond the moment of fearful phrases - especially as it effects in our relationships with others.

I mention this because I want to caution us as a church about something that I believe is being revealed in us today: our functional gods (lower case g).

Perhaps I can illustrate it this way...

I’ve recently heard testimony of a friend whose wife was talking with a friend at her husband’s funeral. I share this, hopefully with great care for those who have lost loved ones recently. The wife shared at her husband’s loss that even if he had not passed from COVID that God still numbered her husband’s days - that is true for us all.

Our cry in response to the one who has numbered our days is to teach us to do the same so that we might grow in a heart of wisdom. I think it wise for us, not matter where we fall on a number of controversial, medical, political or relationally divisive issues to remember this: the reason we’re called to submit to God’s sovereignty, to grow in a heart of wisdom is for our witness and relationships with others as believers.

Again, our primary focus is not on the divisive news-of-the-day, nor are we unwise in how we live. But we’re called to represent a kingdom that is ruled by it’s own maker… and he shows us how to live for him through his word.

God is SOVEREIGN - he makes claims, calls us to wise stewardship and gives us a spirit -not of fear- but of power, love and a sound mind. May God help us to live well for Him in these uncertain times.

More in Genesis: ORIGINS

October 17, 2021

Abram: Righteous by Faith Alone!

October 10, 2021

God's Covenant With Noah

October 3, 2021

The Fall