Text: Genesis 2: 26-31
I just returned from Israel. I was asked several times how this pilgrimage continues to impact me after traveling to the Holy Land so many times. I responded that on each trip I become more spiritually “rooted.” Rooted in the way that keeps you healthy, nourished and vital. Rooted in the way trees are rooted that don’t fall down in storms and hurricanes. Rooted in the way that keeps you reproducing, growing and strong for a lifetime. I had the opportunity to lecture on Elijah in Tiberius and King David in Jerusalem. People may ask, “Where did that story happen?” and you can point and say, “Right there.” To tell the stories where they happened was a bucket list kind of thing and with each telling my roots sank a little deeper into the Christian faith. Christians are rooted in story; key events that comprise what I call “Salvation History.” The better we know our stories, the better we know ourselves. I don’t want to just tell you these stories, I want to immerse you in them. These stories not only tell us where we have been but reveal to us who we are and where we are going. Our one and only source will be the Bible; God’s Word. Almost every culture and generation have rebelled against the Bible but when the smoke clears and the dust settles, the nation’s fall and the Bible stands. Holy Scripture is how God is most clearly and most often revealed to us, so our approach will be to ask what the events we will cover teach us about God.
Let’s begin…at the beginning.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth The first verse of the Bible is about what God did, not whether God is. If you are spending energy debating the existence of God, I want to suggest you are using what limited time you have in this world poorly. Genesis demands that we start with, “In the beginning God” and if you can’t deal with that you may as well stop right there until you can. The first verse of the Bible calls to each of us to move past our questions, doubts, mis-education and issues and embrace the reality of an all-powerful and creating God!
And since God is the same “yesterday, today and forever” we can be assured that God is still creating. Are you hearing me? God doesn’t just fix broken things, He creates! God can take an addicted person and create sobriety. God can take a sick person and create health. God can take a troubled soul and create peace of mind. God can take a desperate scenario and create hope. God can take a broken heart and create wholeness. God can make a way where there seems to be no way because God is the creator of ways! No situation in which you find yourself is beyond the reach of the God who made the heavens and the earth!
2 The earth was empty and the Spirit of God hovered over it The ancient Babylonian creation accounts are about the gods ordering a chaos already existing; but the God of Genesis created something out of nothing! God the artist. Creation began because God just couldn’t sit still; there appears to be a restlessness to God. Singer Rich Mullins called it, “The restless, raging fury they call the love of God.” I believe God to be both a noun and a verb. God is and God does. The cosmos was empty and God hovered over it. God can’t seem to leave well enough alone.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light and there was light.” The most powerful force in the cosmos is the Word of God! When God speaks the sun shines, blue skies appear, gentle breezes blow and oceans form. When God speaks trees grow, flowers bloom, lions roar and fish swim. When God speaks mountains soar, rivers rage, life emerges and sunsets take our breath away. God spoke the earth into existence with words. Words are the tools with which God creates; the brush with which he paints! Words are powerful things. Words can bring life or death, blessing our cursing, healing or disease, victory or defeat. What if we decided to only use words to create, to encourage, to build up, to evangelize, to equip, prophecy and to praise God? I guarantee you that we would start seeing some light!
25 God made all sorts of animals, each able to reproduce more of its own kind Things under the reign and rule of God reproduce! Jesus commanded the church in the Great Commission to go into, “All the world, make disciples, baptize, teach and keep before them the living memory of God.” He told us in the Great Commandment that we are to love God and love people. If we do these things we are going to reproduce! God’s word is reproductive in its nature. A church proclaiming God’s word will see people saved, celebrate baptism and witness lives being transformed. God’s Word does not return void.
26 Then God said, “Let’s make people.” Note the plural, “Let’s.” This is big. We think of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The “he” is a “we” and the “one” is the “three.” We call this plural way of understanding God the Trinity. God is three in one. Trinitarian thinking is a holy mystery but it is a way that finite beings can begin to get their heads around an infinite God. “Let’s create people.” It is not hard to argue that this is the worst idea God ever had.
31 God looked over all He had made and saw that it was excellent in every way God is good and what God creates is good. God doesn’t know how to make things that are not holy, majestic and wondrous.
Melissa and I love spending time in the Smoky Mountains and love nothing more than coming to a majestic overlook on an exhausting hike. It is like you died and went to a John Denver song. (Play Annie’s Song) I am utterly amazed by the beauty I see and I don’t think I could take it all in if I sat there forever. There is not one fiber in my being that can fathom the beauty of nature as the result of a cosmic accident caused by random forces. As I said on Christmas Eve, it would be like a tornado hitting a big box hardware store and the result being a hundred move in ready homes with efficiently functioning systems and perfect landscaping. How could these misty, blue, mountains possibly come from anywhere but the skillful hand, the infinite intelligence and restless and wild imagination of God?
Chapter Two, V. 2-3 On the seventh day, God rested and God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy So for you scientific folks, let’s address the elephant in the room, “Was creation literally finished in six, twenty-four hour periods or does this refer to periods of time?” I am not sure it matters. What matters is that God exists, God creates, original creation was excellent in every way and when God was done, he took a day and set it apart for holy rest. Holy in the Old Testament means to be set apart for a special purpose. The day God chose was Saturday or what the Jews call “The Sabbath” or Shabbat. Christians changed the set apart day from Saturday to Sunday because that is when Christ arose.
4 This is the account of creation There is so much I didn’t talk about today but if I had a year of weeks just to deal with the creation story alone, there would be so much I didn’t talk about.
So now for the ultimate primordial question, the thing you all most want answered, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” The answer is the chicken. God came first. All stories have to start with something or somewhere.
The big idea of Creation is not about whether there is a God, that is a given; it is about what God has done. And if the universe is something done by God then there must be a larger narrative; a plan, a story. It is precisely that story and our place in it that we will explore in the weeks to come. Creation reminds us: We did not create God, God created us. And if God created us then we are not accidents that occurred in a random and impersonal universe but we are the pinnacle of creation and fashioned in the very image of God.
You matter to God. What is going on in your life matters to God. The things that trouble you matter to God. Your hopes and dreams matter to God. God doesn’t want to slightly improve you or make you 33% better; he wants to create in you! He wants to make you into a new creature with a new way of thinking and a new way of seeing the world. “In the beginning God…” in a very real sense the whole of our story begins and ends in that simple statement.
-Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairveiw Heights, Illinois.