“In the beginning God… “Everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.” (Colossians 1:16) As Rick Warren says in the first sentence of his book The Purpose-Driven Life, “It’s not about you.” Life is first and foremost about the one true God.
I recently began a new study on Genesis at our Friday Morning Men’s Fellowship. The material in Genesis is germane to the entire Bible. It is the seed for many of the great theological thoughts and subjects discussed throughout the rest of Scripture – creation, Sabbath rest, man, woman, marriage, work, sin (the Fall), family, civilization, culture, murder, sacrifice, redemption, covenants, races, languages, cities and many other.
In the first two chapters God reveals Himself as God Elohim the supreme, all-mighty, Creator-God, and later as Lord (Yahweh, Jehovah, I Am) the personal Covenant-making/keeping God of man. (God is the ultimate Promise Keeper.) Thus God’s revelation of Himself through only the first two chapters of the Bible calls for our response of worship, awe and reverent fear of the mighty Creator-God and a response of love to Yahweh, the personal God who created us for love and fellowship with Him.
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (Eccl. 12:12) There are books about all kinds of subjects from careers to diet and physical fitness and even great Christian books but none match the Bible itself. (It is still the number one all-time best seller.) The rich and deep message in Genesis draws us back to Scripture as the Source for knowing our God and His ways: “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” (Prov. 2:9-10) But it requires digging hard versus the easy read of some of the books we peruse or watching T. V. “If you look for it (God’s wisdom) as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, (then you will) find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:4-5)
There are two major divisions in Genesis – Chapters 1-11 and 12-50 and this division emphasizes God’s purpose in writing this material down through His servant Moses. (Moses is the human author of the first five books of the Bible – the Pentateuch or Torah.) The first eleven chapters cover major themes as mentioned above and cover a time period of approximately 2000 years whereas chapters 12- 50 cover only 350 years. In fact the rest of the Bible through all the New Testament covers approximately 2000 years.
The creation of the physical universe, which is so vast we cannot even grasp it all, is far less important to God than His creation of mankind – a spiritual being created in His image (God is spirit. John 4:24) with whom He desires intimate fellowship. The major shift of emphasis is when God introduces Abraham and begins to focus on His story of the redemption of mankind beginning with the four major personalities seen in Genesis: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. And then through Abraham and his descendents came the God-Man, Christ Jesus through Whom fallen man could be brought back into loving fellowship with the personal covenant-keeping God, Yahweh, and live happily ever after in heaven. The fairy tale is true. (See Rev. 19:6-9)
How did God create the world? Even among theologians there is much controversy over a young earth or an old earth and some liberal theologians argue for theistic evolution. But God makes it clear that the creation account He gives in Genesis must be taken by faith (versus science). “By faith (not science) we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”(Heb 11:3) God reminds Job and us that no one was there when He created the world. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:4) The theory of evolution has yet to explain how something came out of nothing. Only God can make something out of nothing (ex nihilo). The Swedish botanist, Dr. Herbert Neilson has made this statement regarding the theory of evolution: “My attempts to demonstrate (prove) evolution carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed. And I can hardly be accused of starting from an anti-evolutionary standpoint. The fossil material is now complete and lack of transitional series cannot be explained due to the lack of fossil material. Deficiencies are real. Thus evolution must be based on pure belief (i.e. faith versus scientific facts).” Only God can bridge the gap from 1) nothing to something; from 2) something to life (the complexity of a cell); and from 3) life to humanity – a spiritual being conscious of God and self. “God created man in his own image.” (Gen. 1:27) “Our Grandpa is not an ape or a slop bucket (primordial soup.)” (Dr. Vernon McGee)
Why did God create mankind and the universe? 1) For His glory and honor: “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” (Rom. 11:36 NLT) 2) For His pleasure: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11) 3) For a love relationship with mankind: “For God so loved the world (people) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God wants us to know Him. “What may be known about God is plain to them (man), because God has made it plain to them. 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, so that men are without excuse.”(Romans 1:19-20) Thus the obvious response to God’s creative power and purpose is to daily reflect on this question: Is my life bringing God glory/honor, pleasure and growing in the intimate love relationship He desires to have with me?
Questions for reflection/application:
“Everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.”(Colossians 1:16) From the creation account we see that life is not random chance or “luck” but that God is a providential God of meaning and purpose. The obvious response to God’s creative power and purpose is to daily reflect on this question: Is my life bringing God glory/honor, pleasure and growth in the intimate love relationship He desires to have with me?
We are called to both fear God (the creature is accountable to his Creator and there are consequences for our sins- see Hebrews 4:12-13) and to love Him passionately – with all our being. (Mark 12:30) Which of these is the greater motivator for your obedience? What can you do to grow in both of these responses to the Lord?
“Long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow…” (1 Peter 2:2) Why do you think people don’t read the Bible? Some surveys indicate that only 2% of the U.S. population read the Bible on a daily basis. How can you keep or develop a discipline for consistently reading the Bible?
The shift in emphasis from the creation of the physical universe and major subjects such as the development of cities, cultures and languages, etc. (chapters 1-11) to where God begins to focus on one man and his family reveals God’s deep personal interest in us as human beings with whom He wants a loving relationship. Do you feel you are more interested in things and ideas, etc., than you are in other people? How can this perspective from Genesis inspire us to be more like God in pursuing relationships as our priority?
Until He comes,
Len and Kristen