You are on page 1of 6

Genesis 1:3-2:3

UCCD September 15, 2006

Intro
“To be noticed, to be wanted, to be loved, to walk into a place and have others
care about what you’re doing, even what you had for lunch that day: that’s what
people want.” So said Kaysar Ridha, the star of a popular, new reality TV show.
Well, is that what you want? Do you long to be noticed, wanted, loved?
Recent surveys taken in several German and Chinese cities found that some
30% of adults report regularly daydreaming about being famous. Where do these
desires come from? And is there anything wrong with recognition for a job well done,
appreciation, attention?
Regarding this quest for significance, one psychologist said, “We all need to
make meaning out of our lives, and this is one way people attempt to do it.” It seems
the desire to fit in to a bigger picture than just the daily grind weighs on many people.
The daily grind—eat, commute, work, commute, sleep—is what some people call an
“existential predicament.” What does it really matter? Another psychologist
observed the quest for significance “helps us to feel like we are more than just
material animals fated only to obliteration upon death.”
Well, what about you? Do you want to be noticed, wanted, loved? If so,
where does that quest for significance come from?

Well, to consider these questions this morning we’re turning to page 1 of the
Bible, the book of Genesis. We’ll be spending the next few weeks looking at the
foundations of the Bible—Genesis chapters 1 through 11. You will be helped in these
coming weeks if you bring your Bible along with you, as we move through the sweep
of this beautiful narrative.
Last week we saw from the first two verses of the book that the Bible simply
asserts God. It claims that God exists, and that he made... everything out of nothing.
In verse 2 the earth is described as “formless and empty, darkness was over the
surface of the deep.” The earth was originally uninhabitable, but “the Spirit of God
was hovering over the waters,” poised to begin a shaping process to prepare the earth
for its purpose.
This chapter is structured along the lines of 6 days of creative activity,
providing both form and fullness. The first three days provide the form, the second
three days fill the form. “Form and fullness.”
Day 1 separates light and darkness...Day 4 fills the sky with light-bearers, sun and mn
Day 2 separates sky above from waters below...Day 5 fills them with birds and fish.
Day 3 separates land from water and brings vegetation...Day 6 fills the land with
animals and mankind.
And on Day 7, God rests.

Day 1. [v. 3-5.] Remember, the Spirit had been poised, hovering over the world,
awaiting the divine command, and in v. 3 the Word is spoken: “Let there be light.”
This tells us something about God. God is one who speaks. He initiates and acts.
Notice throughout this chapter how many times we hear the statement, “And God
said.” And notice that virtually every time we hear “and God said,” there is the
response, “and it was so.” “And God said...and it was so.” God is one who speaks
and God is one who is sovereign. His word will not return void, it will assuredly
accomplish the purpose for which he sends it out.
If you are a believer, you know that instinctively. God spoke into your life and
re-created you in just the same way! Do you see how amazing this God is? Paul said
of all of us that before we believed the gospel it was veiled from us. “[Satan] has
blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of
the glory of Christ.” 2 Cor 4:4. We were blind. We were helpless. We were not
neutral. But then God said, “let there be light.” 2 Cor 4:6: “God, who said, ‘Let light
shine out of darkness,’ has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Christ.” He awakened us. He made us see the beauty
of Jesus, and so we believed.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. John Newton 1779
God spoke light into being on the first day. He didn’t need the sun. His glory is
blinding. He dwells in unapproachable light. And he assessed it, and saw that it was
good.
The first separation had taken place. Day 1 was completed.

Now, to some 21st century people, the question arises: what does the word
“day” mean? We moderns are well aware of geological evidence and radiometric
dating techniques and star movements that suggest an earth of 4.5 billion years’ age,
and a universe a lot older than that. So what does the word “day” mean?
This is a controversial issue in Genesis 1, so let’s spend a few moments
addressing it. Some people say that the early Genesis accounts are mythical, that the
language is not historical. But the reason people doubt the historical accuracy of
Genesis 1 is not because of the way Genesis reads; it’s because they don’t believe
what Genesis says. They aren’t really interpreting Genesis; they are telling us what
they think about what could have happened when the world began. For them, human
reason trumps the Bible. Let me make 6 points in response.

1. The God who created everything out of nothing (v.1) can do whatever he wants, in
whatever way he wants. Psalm 115:3: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever he
pleases.”

2. This same God created our brains, and our system of logical deduction, and the law
of non-contradiction. In other words, God gave us the ability to do scientific
investigation. So, when we subject him to our scrutiny, it’s like shining a pocket
flashlight on the sun, and inspecting and scrutinizing it. The truth of God’s Word
cannot be inspected (in that way) by man’s reason. God’s Word created reality. God’s
Word interprets reality—truly.

3. Science is only possible because God—as we will see—has made an orderly


universe. All truth is God’s truth, so I expect things in the Bible to correspond with
scientific findings. It is not true that there are 2 kinds of truth: scientific factual truth,
and religious spiritual truth. Although the Bible is not a scientific textbook, the
assertions it makes about science and history (as well as faith) are true.

2
4. The naturalistic Darwinian theory of evolution is an unproven hypothesis that is
taught as though it’s fact. It’s just assumed! The hypothesis goes like this: “non-
living substance gave rise to the first living organism, which reproduced and
diversified to produce all living creatures—and it all happened by random chance.”
So, one species changed over time into another species. The problem is: the fossil
record never shows us the in-between species. So the evolutionists came up with an
alternative hypothesis to the original unproven hypothesis and called it punctuated
equilibrium, the idea that when a species was about to become another species, it
happened really fast, hence the absence of any fossil record! Where’s the evidence?
Actually, the biggest problem for the Darwinian evolutionists is: How did life
happen? What are the chances of life springing up from the pre-biotic soup? One
evolutionary scientist, Harold Morowitz, came up with a probability of 1 in 10 to the
340 millionth power! That’s 1 chance in 10 with 340 million zeroes after it—and he
still believes it! The idea that life emerged by chance in a chemical soup is about like
a tornado blowing through a junkyard and randomly assembling a Boeing 747, ready
for takeoff. It’s like several monkeys jumping up and down at random on a typewriter
and producing the complete, unedited works of Shakespeare. It takes much greater
faith to believe Darwin’s evolution, than it does Genesis 1.

5. There are two legitimate biblical interpretations of the word “day” in Genesis 1.
One of them is that “day” means a 24 hour period. That’s the straightforward reading
of the chapter. “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” And it
makes sense of the OT observance of the Sabbath as a day, a 24 hour period. People
who hold to a literal, 24-hour view maintain that the universe was likely created with
age, just like Adam and Eve were. They were created grown up, and so was the rest
of the world. The light trails of the stars, for instance, were created in transit. So on
their first night Adam and Eve saw the fully completed sky, and gave glory to God.
The second legitimate interpretation is that the word “day” stands for an
“age,” or an extremely long period. There are problems with this view (as with all of
the views) but it’s a possible reading of the text because the word “day” in Genesis
(2:4) and elsewhere sometimes means something other than a 24-hour period. 1

6. As we approach the mystery of God’s creation, we should do so with humility. On


the scientific question, we’re all speculating. The test of faithfulness is to act
charitably toward others who believe the Word of God and hold a different opinion.
Science can be wrong. But “the words of the Lord are flawless.” On
mysteries where God has not given us complete clarity we humbly accept God’s Word
and admit we don’t have complete information. When all the facts are in, there will
be no final conflict between Scripture and natural science. We know God truly; we do
not know God exhaustively. He is infinite; we are very small. At the end of the day,
since we were not there, we believe God’s creation because he told us. Heb. 11:3:
“By faith we understand that the universe was created at God’s command, so that
what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Days 2 and 3 [v.6-13.] The preparation continued here as God separated the
atmosphere from the waters below, and then separated the oceans from dry land
1
We are also signaled that the word day is being used differently because the sun and moon were not
created until the 4th day. Further, the seventh day, as we will see, never ended. We seem to still be in
the seventh day.

3
masses. Trillions of gallons of water moved at his command. This was effortless for
God. God said to the waters: you will go this far, and no farther.
Notice that the plants and trees bore seeds “according to their kind.” Genetic
material was being transmitted. This is an orderly creation. If you went to plant some
tomato seeds and up came eggplant, what would you think? Somebody made a
mistake. That’s because God’s creation is orderly—so we can investigate it and
understand it.
So the days of forming are done, and now we begin the days of filling the
forms.
Day 4 [v. 14-19.] In the ANE the stars and moon were gods to be worshipped, but
here they are simply servants, to mark the passage of time. Their function is earth-
ward. National Geographic says that tiny, barely detectable spots on the surface of the
sun are actually massive storms of energy surging into space that are equal to 200
billion nuclear bomb explosions. But for God, their creation of the sun was effortless,
just the work of his fingers, according to Psalm 8. And the galaxies? They barely
made mention in Genesis 1—did you see the greatest understatement in history in v.
16? “He also made the stars.” It was almost an afterthought. And Isaiah tells us that
he calls them all by name.

Day 5 and into Day 6 [v. 20-25.] Repeated again and again we hear the refrain: “it
was good.” The sky and the water and land are now filled with birds and fish and
animals.
Have you ever considered that there are kinds of birds and fish that have not
been discovered yet—and never will be? Imagine all the self-luminating fish deep in
the Marianas trenches. No one will ever see them. What are they doing down there?
They’re giving glory to God.
Humpback whale: do you know how it gets its food? It lets out a stream of air
bubbles through its blow hole and swims upward in a spiral, breathing out and
creating a curtain of bubbles, trapping the fish and krill. Then it moves up through the
center and eats them. God’s glory is on display in his creation, but it’s not yet
completed.

[v. 26-2:1] The crowning achievement of the 6 days of creation was obviously the
arrival of mankind—man and woman. Everything had been prepared for them. And
only now do we hear, “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Up
until now the universe was good. Now the image of God had come into the world,
perfecting it. Now, it was “very good.”
Notice how the language changes in the creation of man. “Let us create man
in our image...” Who was saying this in the plural? When we consider the Spirit’s
role in v. 2, hovering over the waters, and the creative role of the Son of God revealed
in the NT, we rightly see here a reference to the Trinity. Surely the original readers of
Genesis did not see that, but as revelation unfolds in Biblical history, we see more
light than they did.
To bear the image of God means to be a mirror to reflect his glory, his likeness
to the world. This includes the ability to think rationally, to make moral judgments, to
enjoy fellowship and beauty and art and music and culture and sports. We were to
take these God-like qualities and use them to rule the world as kingly people. Notice
the kingly language in these verses. “Let them rule over the fish...fill the earth and
subdue it...” This is language of dominion. God is King over all, but he appointed us
to carry out the task of ruling!

4
Both men and women were to carry out this glorious calling. It says (v. 27)
“So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and
female he created them.” It’s only through having children that human beings could
fill the earth. In this way, we were to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of
the Lord. We were to be scientist worshippers, exploring and investigating the great
things that God had done in his creation, and giving him praise.
This shows the equal dignity and value of both men and women. Treating
women as second-class citizens violates who they are as image-bearers of God.
Racism is ruled out by the fact that all humans are created to be like God.
Why do we oppose the mistreatment and exploitation of construction workers
in Dubai? Because they are designed to be like God.

This explains our desire for significance in an increasingly impersonal,


technology-driven world. Modern man can no longer answer the question, “Who am
I?” “Why am I significant?” Francis Schaefer said that for modern people holding to
godless theories of natural evolution, “man has lost his unique identity. As he looks
out upon the world, as he faces the machine, he cannot tell himself from what he
faces.” Genesis in Space and Time, 46.
What about you? Are you on a quest for significance? Do you want to be
noticed, wanted, appreciated? True significance comes from being an image-bearer of
God.
But the reason we are frustrated and unfulfilled is that we have taken God’s
image and defaced it. We have dirtied and distorted his reputation in the world, and
condemnation has come, bringing with it frustration, futility and fear.
There is no way back to innocence and harmony, there is only the way forward
to Jesus Christ. You see, he is the true “image of the invisible God.” Jesus once said,
“If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” He is the radiance of God’s glory
and the exact representation of his being. He came to restore the true image of God to
a fallen creation. And in order to do so, he was executed—even though he was a
Perfect Man. He voluntarily took God’s punishment onto himself in the place of
sinners like us. And for those who have placed their faith in him, we have received
redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We are now “putting on the new self, which is
being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:10). That’s
sanctification. Jesus is restoring the image of God to the world. He is beginning and
leading a new creation.

2:2-3. The heavens and the earth were completed in their vast array, and so
God rested. This rest wasn’t the rest of fatigue, but the rest of completion. Picture a
magnificent throne-room with a long red carpet. God moves through his creation,
comes up the stairs, turns around, and just sits down. He is the sovereign King.
And Israel was called in the 10 commandments to follow the same pattern by
devoting the 7th day, Saturday, the Sabbath, to rest from all their labors.
Later, the promised land would be described as a place of rest for God’s
people. As they struggled in slavery in Egypt and wanderings in the wilderness Israel
was promised that one day they could find rest, but most of them failed to enter that
rest, because they would not believe.
Did you notice that the 7th day, unlike all the other days, never ended? It does
not say, “and there was evening, and there was morning—the 7th day.” It doesn’t say
that. Why not?
It’s because you can still enter that Sabbath rest. Today.

5
The NT writer of Hebrews tells us (4:9), “There remains, then, a Sabbath rest
for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work,
just as God did from his.” The rest that the NT talks about is a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ.

You can rest from all your striving and working.

You long for meaning because you were made in God’s image. You are of
titanic significance, but you and I—all of us—have defaced the image of God. But
Jesus came to restore the image to perfection. You need only trust him—and rest.