Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 years ago

How Genesis 1 Strengthens Your Faith

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, if you would please remain standing and let's turn our attention to genesis chapter one. I'll be reading the whole chapter plus one verse in Chapter Two. If you need to sit please a feel free. This is the word of God. Please give your attention to it. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters and God said, let there be light, and there was light and God saw that the light was good and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the Light Day and the darkness he called night, and there was evening and there was morning the first day and God said, let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate the waters from the waters. And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so and God called the expanse heaven, and there was evening and there was morning the second day and God said, let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place and let the dry land appear, and it was so, and he called the dry land earth and the waters that were gathered together he called seas, and God saw that it was good. And God said, let the earth sprout vegetation plants yielding seed and...

...fruit, trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth, and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation plants yielding seed according to their own kinds and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, according to its kind, and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning the third day and God said, let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the Heavens to give light upon the earth. And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night and the stars, and God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and Accep vorrate the light from the darkness and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was mourning the fourth day and God said, let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens. So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas and let the birds multiply on the earth. And there was the evening and there was morning the fifth day, and God said, let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds, live stock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds. And it was so, and God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the live stock according to their kinds and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind and God saw...

...that it was good. Then God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the live stock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God. He created him male and female. He created them and God blessed them and God said to them be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth and every tree with seed and its fruit. You shall have them for food and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so, and God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the Earth were finished, and all the host of them. May God bless his word to us. Ye may be seated. When you begin a story. It's typical and appropriate to set the setting, usually very quickly in the first few sentences. So, for example,...

...in a fairy tale we might begin you know, a long time ago, there was once a land and that land's name was something and and so on from there. Well, after that point you have that that place, that land, is not just called a land but is referred to specifically as the land. Right. The reason for that is because it's been introduced and specified and we all know what's taught, what's being spoken about, and in that you enter into the story and you begin to understand this, this world that is being created imaginatively. Well, Genesis also begins and tells us a story, a true story, but it begins in a way that's unique to fairy tales. It tells us of a story we already belong to. It doesn't say in the beginning God created a heavens and a earth, and here are their names and let me tell you about them. It tells us about the Earth, the heavens, the ones that we already know, the ones that we are intimately familiar with. Genesis begins by talking about known entities, which is a way to introduce us to this point. I want to make here at the beginning, which is that when we hear Genesis, we hear it not as something that's entirely new, although there may be new information there to us, but it's a part of something that already exists and, more than that, something which we are already set in, which we belong to, which means that we already have a perspective about this story. We already have a sense of what the heavens are, what the Earth are, what animals and beasts and fish and creeping things and day and night, all of...

...these various elements of creation that God created are things that we know, that we have relationships with and in one sense or another. So not only are we in the story already from the from the very beginning, but we have perspectives about it as well. But our perspectives and our interpretations have to be subject to God's, because it's by his will that the earth was created, it's by his will that anything in the earth is sustained, and so only he has the authority to proclaim in any kind of final way what is and isn't, what exists and what does not, what is true and what is false. Now, this kind of general perspective as it applies to us, also applies to the very first people that received this book. Israel is real when they were given these books, Genesis, exodus, Leviticus, numbers and Deuteronomy, most likely before they were entering into the promised land. They had this content. They were coming to it and receiving it from the hand of the Prophet Moses, with a particular perspective, a particular view and experience about the world in which they lived. And so as we think about this passage this morning, I want to start by thinking about it from Israel's perspective. Thinking about it. What does it mean to receive genesis one and one, not necessarily one and following, not necessarily from an entirely blank slate, but from those who have experienced being and in the world and living under God and hopefully, I hope it's true for you, also under his salvation? So go back to Israel for a moment. What would it mean to receive genesis...

...having come out of Egypt? What's their particular experience of the world? Of course, we can say all kinds of things about this, but I'll just say it's very simply. They knew a lot about what it meant to live in a world that was not very good, or, to put it another way, they knew a lot about what it meant to live in a world that would was characterized by sin, by misery. This this state, this condition which man fell into. What kinds of things might we think about Israel, having no nation of Israel, having been just brought out of Egypt, about to enter into the Promised Land? Well, first of all, they were very familiar with pagan worship, with idolatry and false gods everywhere in Egypt, and we have all kinds of testimony to this today, and not only in the pages of scripture, but in our own archeology and the things that we find. And we know what is often attached to idolatry and the worship of the sun and the moon and animals, perverse sexual practices, violence, all kinds of other sins and and offensive things to God. This is something Israel, having lived under this system, under these religious systems, was very familiar with. They saw what it meant for man to look at the world that God had created and to worship it instead of, excuse me, instead of the Creator. What else would it be to be in Israel's position and having just come out of Egypt, can you imagine the store rays of missing brothers and sisters that were murdered during Pharaoh's work of systematic infanticide, is destroying...

...of the children, people that, when they list the names of their children, would say, well, there was also this one and this one and this one, but we lost them. You had a brother, but during the genocide. Can you imagine what it would be like to live with those kinds of realities? Or think about the slavery? The people that heard this, or their parents or their grandparents, would have had the marks of slavery on their bodies, old scars lashed across their backs, hard hands, calloused, missing limbs and fingers that come from strenuous and constant manual labor, and then all the other kind of experiences and things you can imagine of what it would be like and what it is like to live under the tyranny of a tyrant, of a king, of a pharaoh that hated them and sought in every way for them to be weak and servants and slaves. Israel was a people that knew about sin, the effects of it, the misery of it, the terrors of it. They knew about sin and misery. Now, if this is the world that you have experienced, a world so bad that they had ride out to God and said save us, and he did, through all kinds of other judgments and difficulties which you may remember, God's bringing them out of Egypt. Now imagine being in that perspective of recently freed slaves and how striking it would be to hear genesis one how immediately the sinfulness of sin shows up. How the sin and misery that characterizes a fallen world is compared to the world that God made it. God makes this world, and...

...this picture that we have in genesis is this one, this world that is beautiful and diverse. It's well ordered and teeming with life. There's nothing fighting, there's nothing struggling or conflicting. It's just this simple progression and elevation of one event after another after another. And God said and it was so, and God said and it was so, and God said and it was so. These words, these commands that God gives. And let there be light, and there was light, and let the earth bring forth vegetation, and there's vegetation. These beautiful descriptions of his making man and God's placing man sovereignly over all of these things. No sense of man then turning and bowing down to the things that he's made, of Man's rebellion of all of these things. In stead, it simply ends by saying in verse Thirty One, and God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good, and there was evening and there was morning the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the Earth were finished and all the host of in them. It's such a beautiful picture. It's such a happy picture, a blessed picture. It's like, and being in this context of sinfulness, it's like if somebody were to go into your house, or let's say you were buying a house and the house. You went into the House and it was full of carpet and you say, well, it's kind of old, it's stained, it's dirty, you can tell it's not good. But then somebody says, well, let's get a new piece of carpet and see what it would look like if we were replace it, and you plop it down in the carpet and you see them compared next to each other and you say, wow, I had no idea how bad it was. It's kind of like that here in Genesis one. You could say this is how things began and here is where we are.

You get a sense when you come to genesis one, from the perspective that they and we ourselves find ourselves in. We immediately see the sinfulness of sin, the great miseries that have been brought into this world because of man's disobedience to God. But you also see a coloring and a filling out of the character of God. This God who just brought you out of Egypt now is displayed with all of his majesty and creative power. No wonder he was able to part the Red Sea and cause you to draw a walk on dry land, because he did the exact same thing at the very beginning of the creation of the world when he parted the seas and created dry land. You see God's singular uniqueness as the one and true God here. This is no false God here who promises one thing one day and and is and delivers something else on another. Tempt those who are tempted to worship idols and see the one who has made the heavens and the earth should bow down to him. They should not fear Egypt, or love Egypt or want to be back, but should love this one who has made them but is also sovereign over them. God is not just their rescuer from slavery, but he is the one who created them. They belong to him and all of the earth belongs to him. And yet another thing, just one more. You see God's great love for man and his special designs for humans, for mankind, in the earth. You see it a number of ways in genesis one. I'll point...

...out just a few. First of all, the Earth could have been created in a kind of instantaneous way. Certainly on certain moments within the creation account we see that happening. But God describes his created work as one of progression and it has this sense of building, doesn't it? Day One, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six, and when we get today six, we have this crowning of creation with mankind. And even from that, even in the perspective, not only in the numbering, in the buildup of to man, who is the final part of creation, where God now declares that everything is good, you see the way in which God is creating a world that is so hospitable the man, presumably God could have focused in on on the way He created the seas and talked about all the various ways in which he intricately made the sea so that the fish could live in them. Genesis one one or genesis chapter one could be all about God's creation of the seas with the fish, and then just at the very end and say, and like this he made man. But it's not like that, is it? Instead, you have this picture of God creating a home for this particular creature, creating land on which he can dwell, skies and clouds above which are protected, where man is protected from from water and also blessed by it. You see the way in which food and everything is created so that when he places man in the world, it's a place ready to go. It's there for him to enjoy, to fill, to rule over, he says. And in addition to that, he makes man...

...not alone but together, in communion with one another. One of the most beautiful passages in the Bible Verse Twenty Seven. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God. He created him male and female. He created them that jump between the singular and the plural. They're that maybe feels a little bit odd. At first. I think that mash up, to use a modern term, is really on purpose. It's to describe that are bearing the image of God, is is not just as individuals, but we do it together, man and woman together, as people created under him. And all of this begins, in what way, the spirit of God. This is verse too, the spirit of God hovering. The verb there is is like a bird hovering over the waters. I've tried many times to visualize verse two. I don't think I can do it. The earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep. I'm not really sure how you how you imagine that. I read one commentator said this is perfectly clear. I have difficulty. Maybe it is clearer than I know, but to me it seems like the emphasis is on this. There's this kind of thing that exists, there's some kind of creation that has been made right, but it has yet to be filled in the way that God has filled it. It's not a bad thing that is here. It's not like an evil thing, but it said, to use the words of...

...scripture, an empty thing, a deep thing, a mysterious thing, a without form thing. Some some of the commentators in the reformation often describe this. It's kind of like the egg of a bird, if the Holy Spirit is hovering over the over the waters, over this kind of formless void that you can't fully define but that will some but that will soon sort of spring forth with all of this life and power. I'm you see this. They compared it to to an egg. I'm I don't think we want to say that the earth was like an egg at the beginning of the world, but there is something here. There's a theological point that is being made. There is this way in which God is not just there at creation. He is there, he is hovering, he is protecting and guiding and keeping all of this under his control, and I think there's even something of a love there that's going on as well, because you see this same verb in other places where God is particularly setting his presence in a loving way over people, the way the spirit of God, for example, comes down and hovers over the temple, or the way that the spirit hovers, the same word, or a very similar word I'm being used over a Mary at the divine conception of God. The spirit hovers over her and she conceives other descriptions like this in scripture. It shows God's special care and God's special work and all these things. You see how God is making the world and how he is relating to...

...these people. To Go back that he is brought out of Egypt. He is not a distant God. He is revealing themselves to them as someone who has been intimately, carefully, lovingly, singularly and uniquely involved in their existence. From the very, very beginning. Israel would have heard these words and seeing how much it contradicted with the world that they knew in Egypt. But it also spoke to who their goddess, his power over them, his sovereignty over them and his ability to take care of them. But more than that, it was also pointing forward to this land in which they were about to enter into. I won't get into this much now because we'll do it in other places, but God is in many ways picturing here what he will also picture in the land of Canaan, a place where his spirit will dwell, a place where man is to rule and communion with one another, a place that is full of food and wealth and riches. Israel is about to enter into their salvation. God has not only rescued them out of slavery and brought them into a desert, but he will bring them through that desert into the promised land, into a place that will be very good. Our perspective is very similar to this. When he we hear Genesis One, one we also hear when we hear of the beginnings of God making the world, we also feel deep within our hearts the great conflict between the world as it was meant to be, or as it was made to be, and the world as...

...it is now. We also know about genocides, about slavery. We also know about toiling hard and loss of life, the tyranny of evil. In many ways, at least in some ways, this tyranny of man over nature and over other men and trying to rule over God is even more extreme, the deaths more violent and and more terrible. Even today, the people of God are making international headlines for the suffering that they are enduring. We feel very aware that, when we hear Genesis one, that this is not how things are now. We hear, just as they did, the great sinfulness of sin, but we also recognize what we have been saved from, though in many ways were still in that desert wandering period as they were, though in many ways were still in exile and in and suffering under some of these things. Do you remember what we read in First Corinthians nine? You once were these things, you were enslave to these unrighteous things, but God has set us free, and when we consider our God, who has saved us from our sin through the death of his son and the coming of Jesus Christ, we also recognize God's sovereignty in these things. Were reminded of them, aren't we? In Genesis one. We're a mind it that the God who has saved us is the one who also created us. He's the one who truly does have the power to create things, and what a blessed hope that is. When Jesus says to Nicodemus a man must be reborn, regenerated, when God promises things like the New Heavens and the new earth, we are receiving those promises, that salvation, from the very same God who created the...

First Heavens and the first earth. The one who created the body that you have right now is the one who will be able to glorify your body and resurrect your body on the last day. The only difference, though, is that now when we look, proverbal but proverbially, across the Jordan and we look forward to our entering into a complete state of salvation, we look forward to entering into our promised land, that heavenly city, that place that we look forward to is permanent, unlike Canaan, and we also see it brighter and more clearly. We receive the same news that came to them, but the news that comes to us is filled with the content of God coming into the world, of God coming in and taking on human flesh so that he might bring about the salvation of the world. Jesus, in a number of places is referred to as the second Adam, as the one who came to do the things that Adam failed to do. God's, the father's son, this second Adam would come to complete the cultural mandate, to do what Adam and Eve failed to do, to fill the earth with goodness, to fill the earth with a people. And he does that. And so that means when we believe in Jesus Christ and we look forward to the promises that are are still yet to come, we enter into that life now, in that salvation now, and we hope for that salvation to come with a great confidence, a confidence in God who made the world, created the world, saved US and has sent this son to do everything that we see Adam and eve...

...failed to do, this great sinfulness of sin, this great misery that we've been thinking about. We're told over and over again in the pages of scripture that Jesus Christ overcame it. He took sin on himself so that he might defeat sin. He took death on himself so that he would take away its sting. And from that we are rescued out of a dominion of darkness and brought into a kingdom of life. We are taken out of death and broad into life, but not as those who will have to try again, but as victors and rulers, not as those who are called to yet again fulfill all that God has commanded us to do, with the with the threat of punishment if we owe to disobey, and the promise of life if we if we obey, but with life freely given to us as a free gift in Jesus Christ. One more way to think about it is to say that that same spirit who created the world now leads us, guides us and even in dwells US personally. And corporately. This same spirit which created the world has recreated us, has changed our hearts, has caused us to be reborn, to come to life, and is now even making us fit for the kind of union that we lost with God, even a Greater Union, a more permanent one. This is what the Crost of Christ accomplishes and it is our great hope. It is Jesus who rescues us from the Tea Syranny, to...

...sin and tyranny and evil and misery that we see so clearly when we hear genesis one. And so, when you consider the creation of the world, consider what was lost and humble yourself before God because of your sin, but also consider what was regained and reclaimed and promised forever and ever through Jesus Christ, the son. And all this to the praise of the King of Heaven, as we sang earlier, to the praise of our God, our creator, our Savior and our king. Amen, let us pray.

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