Evening, thank you to those who led the praise so well. Let's pray: Father, You are a Holy God, an all-consuming fire, and we cry: 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is filled with His glory'. Lord, we join with every heavenly voice and spirit, and every earthly created being in Your will, and we worship You. Lord, truly, we have to acknowledge tonight, particularly before such a deep passage of Scripture, that Your ways are not our ways, and Your thoughts are not our thoughts - but we bow tonight to Your greatness. You are God, and there is none other. Holy and victorious Trinity, we reverence You tonight, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, world without end, Amen; who was, and is, and is to come. Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. Lord, may You reign now tonight in this place and in our lives, and in the preaching of Your pure word. Come by your Holy Spirit, we pray in Jesus' mighty name, Amen.
We're turning to Genesis chapter 1. As was announced, I'll be preaching in the evenings on Genesis 1, 2 and 3 over the next three Sunday nights - they always like to give me easy ones! Maybe you were panicking there, that we were going to read the whole book of Genesis tonight, were you? Well, why not?
Genesis chapter 1 verse 1, and we're reading down to chapter 2 verse 3: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Then God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters'. Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. Then God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear'; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth'; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day. Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens'. So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, 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 birds multiply on the earth'. So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind'; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, 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. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth'. And God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made".
I'm not sure if the whole series will be called 'Origins', but certainly the first three weeks that I will be with you is called 'Origins'. Tonight we're looking at 'The Origin of the Universe', next week, God willing, we will look at 'The Origin of Mankind', and in my third week with you we will look at 'The Origin of Sin'. Tonight we're looking at 'The Origin of the Universe', and let me say upfront that I am not going to give a lecture on creation versus evolution - I couldn't do it for a start! Nor am I going to give an in-depth commentary of this passage of Scripture in either Hebrew or English. I'm not saying that those are not worthy occupations, but there is just not time to do it, let alone ability. If you've come here tonight for all the answers concerning this passage of Scripture, or for that matter life, the universe, and everything - you've wasted your petrol! You're not going to get all the answers tonight, and apart from it being utterly impossible to do justice to expounding such a passage in the time that we have - in fact, even a lifetime, I believe, wouldn't do that - my objective tonight is to bring ministry to your spirit through the revelation of the Holy Spirit from the living and powerful Word of God. For this reason I have deliberately avoided poring over tomes of books and commentaries and various literature of other men's thoughts, but I have been poring over the Bible, and this passage of Scripture in particular, waiting for the Spirit's enlightenment, to have something that will feed your soul.
The first thing I want you to see from verse 1 is the One who had no origin. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'. Children are wonderful, aren't they? I expect at least one 'Amen' there! Children are wonderful, aren't they? They come out with very inquisitive and intriguing statements and questions at times. One of the most common that I'm sure that some of you who have children will have encountered at some time or other is: where did God come from? Have you ever had that one? Where did God come from? Hmm, interesting! Or, 'Who created God? God made everything, but who created God?'. Is it any wonder that the Lord said that except we be converted, or changed, and become like little children, we will in no wise enter the kingdom of God? Now you might think those are silly questions, and well dare any of us simply kick them into touch, because those two simple, childish questions - we might feel - have within them two profound truths. Without realising it, the child is acknowledging his or her innate understanding that everything needs an origin - everything needs an origin! It's in them and they express it, they think that God needs an origin - we will overlook that for the moment - but they are acknowledging the innate knowledge that for there to be something in existence, someone had to bring it into existence. It had to have an origin or an originator.
But secondly, such a childlike question also grasps a certain appreciation of the mystery of transcendence - that is, there is something about God that we cannot understand. They, in their little infant minds, are trying to grasp an eternal God who is above and beyond us! Now there is nothing wrong with a child asking these questions, the problem comes when the child grows up and acquires the audacity to believe that we actually can answer these questions: where God came from; or even the concept or idea of God that we have invented Him for ourselves; and when we think that we can answer in our intelligence, and maturity, and evolution, other profound moral and philosophical questions. Ironically, right from the first phrase in this whole book - not just Genesis, but the Bible - mankind is faced with the devastating reality that he has not got what it takes to answer life's deepest questions. I want right away for you to confront this: you have not got what it takes! That's why you and I both need revelation, that's why we have the Bible. It is the revelation not just of truth and origins, but it's actually the revelation of God Himself, and the character of who He is, His personality, His attributes, and what He requires of us as human beings, and the message of how we can be right with Him. It's why we have the Bible, and is the message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation: that we have not got what it takes, we need revelation. As Jeremiah 10:23 puts it: 'The way of man is not in himself' - so if it's not in himself, it has to come from outside of himself. That is where our salvation comes from, the answers to life's deepest questions, and indeed our redemption, comes from outside of ourselves.
Right at the very beginning of the whole of the Bible, we see that God is presented to us as a God of grace, a God who gives what we cannot achieve - not only through our own merit, but through our own knowledge. It is our responsibility to receive God's divine revelation, and to believe it! That's where many people stumble. How do we receive God's grace? Well, this is fundamental, what you're going to hear just now, to how we approach God - not only how we approach the creation narrative in Genesis chapter 1, but how we approach the whole of Scripture. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying tonight, I'm not anti-intellectual, and neither am I conceding that the Bible does not hold up to modern science - but we need to resist the, at times, insatiable appetite to understand and explain everything. We've got to come to terms with the fact that the Bible, primarily, is not a book to be explained, it is a book to be believed.
This is fundamental, because it is not knowledge that will get us to God, it is revelation - and in fact it is faith in God's revelation. We read this morning from 1 John: 'It is faith that overcomes the world'. You can have all the knowledge in the world, and you will not overcome. It is faith that overcomes the world, faith not in knowledge, per se, but in the revelation of God that He gives graciously to us outside of ourselves, something that we could not acquire or achieve ourselves. He imparts it to us, and our reaction and response is that we are to believe. Oh, how it thrills me to see how God doesn't take it upon Himself to justify His own existence in Genesis 1 verse 1 - or, for that matter, explain to our satisfaction how He does what He does. He just says: 'In the beginning God'.
Our response, primarily, to that statement, is to be faith. We are to believe what Scripture says. We have every reason to believe - that's a whole other subject - but I want you to understand that this is central to getting to know what God reveals, and in fact getting to know God Himself; because Scripture, as I hinted at this morning as well, is not an end in itself, Scripture is God's divinely given instrument to reveal Him, to get to know Him. 'Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee Lord'.
Turn with me - put your marker in Genesis chapter 1, and turn to Hebrews chapter 11, please. Here is this great New Testament passage on faith, verse 1: 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen' - or the NIV puts it, 'the confidence and the assurance about what we do not see'. Verse 3: 'By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible'. Now here's the question: how do we understand how the worlds were made? Is it by getting a Ph.D. in cosmology? Is that how we understand how the worlds were made? No! Hebrew says 'by faith' we understand that the universe was made out of nothing, because faith is the evidence of things not seen.
Now, here we need a good dose of humility. If you don't already have it, having read this passage, you really do need it! We need humility to understand what we cannot understand by mere intellect alone or research, but what we have to accept by faith in God's revelation. Job in his trials and experience of really being turned inside out through various circumstances - read the book - but at the end of it all he comes to confront God. He knew a lot about God, and he had a great deal of second-hand information that was passed on to him from his forefathers and from his friends, but at the end of the book he has to admit: 'Now my eye sees You, and I repent of all the things that I have said about You'. So often I have felt that way. You remember God had to scold him and reprimand him in Job 38:4: 'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding'. Where were you?! We need humility, and faith is an expression of humility to understand God's revelation.
If you turn quickly to Job for a moment, and look at Job 15 verses 7 and 8: 'Are you the first man who was born? Or were you made before the hills? Have you heard the counsel of God? Do you limit wisdom to yourself?'. There is a need for humility. If you turn to chapter 28 verse 12, and I know that some of these are from Job's friends, but there is wisdom and truth in them nevertheless that agrees with some of what God says later on. Job 28 verse 12: 'But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?'. Now if you were to go to Proverbs chapter 4 and verse 1 - you don't have to turn to it, I will read it for you - it says: 'Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding'. Here is a basic biblical principle: revelation comes from outside of ourselves, and understanding comes by humbling ourselves and having faith to believe what God has said. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'.
Hebrews 11 and verse 6 says: 'Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is', that He exists, 'and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him'. So you've got to have faith before you can understand God, or even know God. What I'm saying is not to stifle intellectual investigation - there is a place for that, there is a place for discovery. We have nothing to fear when unbiased scientific research is engaged in. But what I'm wanting you to know tonight is that to understand the Bible, and effectively to know the living God who created all things, we need faith! It is faith that receives the revelation of God's truth.
So right at the very beginning of this book of beginnings, we read that 'In the beginning God' - that's just like God, isn't it? 'In the beginning God', take it or leave it, believe it or do not. The One who had no origin, and then we see that the One who had no origin is the Originator of all things. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth', God is the source of all existence, He created everything. Now, it does appear, in verse 2, 'The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep', that the universe existed, or at least the basis of our planet was present in some dark and chaotic state before the creation week. Now I'm not going to speculate about that, I don't have the answers about it, and there are various theories. It's not revealed in Scripture, but there is something noteworthy, I think, here. But more than some dark chaotic state before creation week, I'm more interested in the element, the creative element that brought order to the discord: 'And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters'.
This wasn't just a creative element, this was a personality, a Divine Person in the Godhead. The Spirit of God is hovering over the waters, and as we go throughout the whole of biblical revelation, we find that the Spirit is always the One who brings life and light into being. In fact in chapter 2 and verse 7, we will look at it next week, we find that it was the Spirit of God who was the creative instrument in man's coming forth. Verse 7: 'And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life' - and the word in Hebrew for 'breath' is 'ruach', which means 'spirit'. It was the life of God in the Spirit of God that was breathed into the clay form of Adam, and he 'became a living being', or a living soul. Of course it's the Holy Spirit, when we come into the New Testament revelation, the New Covenant, who brings life to us, who brings re-creation and regeneration through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, His life and light. Our Lord Jesus said, of course, in John 6:63: 'It is the Spirit who gives life'.
Here we see Him right at the very beginning giving original life. What lesson has this for us? We've passed a lot of time, haven't we, since then? Yet it is still the Spirit who gives life, it's still the Holy Spirit who brings order to chaos. You need to know this as a Christian: that you cannot live without the Holy Spirit. You can't be saved without Him, but you can't walk victoriously in the Christian life without Him. You need the blessed Holy Spirit. Maybe you have come into the gathering tonight with great chaos in your life, in your circumstances, in your mental or emotional state - I don't know. You need the Holy Spirit, you need His power, and His dynamic, His rule, and His reign and Lordship - the Lord, who is that Spirit, is still at work, and He is the dynamic force of the Christian life.
But we don't just see the Holy Spirit here, we see the whole Godhead in cooperation in creation. We read: 'In the beginning God', and the Hebrew word for 'God' there is 'Elohim', it is the plural of 'Eloah', singular for 'God' - and it's the word that causes us to believe, among many other verses of course in Scripture, that there is a plurality in the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So we see God, 'Elohim', and then we read of the Spirit hovering over the water, and then in verse 3 'God said', then you have the Word of God being spoken - ''Let there be light', and there was light'. The Word of God is the Lord Jesus Christ, the 'Logos'. If you turn with me to the corresponding New Testament passage of Genesis 1, it's John's gospel chapter 1, we see the Logos, the Word of God, His place in the Godhead, and also His role in creation. Verse 1 John 1: 'In the beginning was the Word', the Logos, 'and the Word was with God', 'pros ton theon' is the Greek, it means 'face-to-face with God', describing an intimate, deep relationship between the Father and the Son. So there is a distinction here between Father and Son, and yet it also says: 'And the Word', the Logos, 'was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men'.
So, I take that to mean that Father, Son and Holy Spirit were instrumental in the creation process, but specifically the Word of God, the Logos, Jesus Christ the Son of God in pre-incarnate form was the major instrument of creation. When it says the Lord spoke, and said 'Let there be light', it was not just His spoken word, but the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ in operation. As Hebrews says, 'His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds', by Him and through Him all things were made. What a blessing it is to know that we, with biblical hindsight, can appreciate that not only was the Godhead cooperative in creation, but in our redemption, our re-creation. We're covering a lot of ground and skipping over stuff, but we will look at it in weeks to come: the great fall of Adam, and therefore the rest of mankind, into sin and depravity - and yet we see, as we come into the New Testament, Father, Son and Holy Spirit again moving toward mankind. The Father sends the Son to be Saviour of the world; the Son reveals the Father; the Son does the Father's work; the Son speaks the Father's words; and both the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit into the world. We see these three Persons sharing in the work of our salvation. First Peter 1:2 puts it like this: 'We have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ, and sprinkled with His blood'.
There's a lot of truth, of course, in Genesis chapter 1 - but does it not encourage you to know that the whole Godhead was for us in creation, and the whole Godhead is still for us in redemption? Does that not encourage you? Let me give you some helpful observations from the creation week in Genesis chapter 1. As I said, it's impossible to even begin to delve or to dip our toe into the shore of the depths that there are in Genesis chapter 1, but just a couple of observations. There are several patterns here in chapter 1, one is 'God said', 'It was so', and 'It was good' - you noticed that as we read through the portion: 'God said', 'It was so', and 'It was good'. There is a very simple lesson that I take out of this, and that is: what God says, what He speaks, will come to pass, and it will be for the ultimate good of those who live in accordance with His word. So the lesson is: God is a good God. Maybe that's hard for some of you to take in tonight, because the things that are happening to you at present don't seem to be good, and probably aren't good - but God is a good God.
Romans says He works all things for the good of those who love Him, those who are the called according to His purpose. This is intrinsic: it's when His creation chooses to assert their own will in independence to God's will, that evil comes into the world. We will see that later on in chapters 2 and 3, how there is a great fall when we go against His will - but when we are called according to His will, and obeying His will, we can know that even when bad things do happen (which they will in this fallen universe), that God ultimately will bring it around for our good. Again, that is something that does not come with knowledge but with revelation. It's not to be understood, as such, on a pure human level, but to be believed - we've got to believe that. You'll never grasp that with your mind, or even your emotions, especially when you're going through dark, challenging times. It's something that is grasped with the faculty of the spirit, which is faith.
Another interesting thing to note in chapter 1 are the categories of creation. You notice as we read down, it says: 'According to their kind', this is repeated over and over again, 'According to their kind'. God is a God of order. We have to be careful here what we bring out of this, but of course there is symmetry in creation and the universe. There is a mathematical nature to creation that has made science possible, and laws, and so on. Indeed, even in this chapter, numbers are highly significant. You may not have noticed it in our casual reading earlier, but it's quite remarkable - go home and notice the groups of threes that there are, the groups of seven, and even ten that feature. We don't want to push this too much, but in Scripture, three seems to symbolise God, or something to do with God - probably reflecting the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Seven in the Bible is often the number of perfection, and ten seems to sometimes correspond to completeness. So we find in this chapter that only three times does God create something out of nothing, 'ex nihilo' in Latin', something out of nothing, three times - that's something only God can do. Three times we read of Him making something out of something that has already existed, three times, because it's something only God can do. Three times God calls something by name, and three times He blesses something - very interesting.
Then when we look for the number seven, we find that on seven occasions we read that God saw that it was good - of course, seven means perfection, God saw that it was good. There are seven days, of course, in the week, but in the first sentence in the Hebrew of this chapter there are seven words in the Hebrew language. Indeed, the last three sentences of the passage in the creation account also forms seven words in Hebrew. Then when we look at the number ten, some have seen ten commands of God in the original language, ten commands of God which might well reflect - knowing that Moses wrote this record, and the ten laws of God and the Ten Commandments - even here at the very creation that is being borne out. There is order in God's creation, there is even order in this account of the originations of the world.
Yet, even though our whole existence revolves around certain mathematical and principles of physics and so on, there is nothing predictable or boring about our world or our universe. God is also a God of great variety. In creation as we read it, but we only need to look around us - it's not monochrome, but it's a radiant spectrum of multicolour, it's almost endless. Something else to note: God desires fruitfulness. If you look at verse 20: 'Then God said, 'Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens'', verse 22, 'And God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth'. Now verse 20 says the sea and the sky was already teeming with creatures, but God wanted more! Yet there is room, God wants His house filled with the created expression of life.
Then we come to verse 26: 'Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image', there is the plurality in the Godhead, ''Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, 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'. Before we look at man here for a moment, what I want you to note is: everything up to now has been created as an environment for man. I want you to ponder that just for a moment. Imagine: this is going to be man's home, originally one man. This was given as our home - now, I don't know how palatial your home is, but I'm sure doesn't come close to this one! Here again is the principle of God's grace. This environment was created for man - and I want you to see this - before he was made, before he existed, before he even had a need of it! He wasn't going to be brought into being, and then have to wait on God getting round to making it. He wasn't going to have to search for it, or to build it himself. It was gifted to him to enjoy, it was made before him and he was placed in it, and all he had to do was maintain it. That is profound to me, expressing the heart, the lavish, manifold gracious heart of our God. It reminds me of what our Lord said: 'If God so clothed the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'. For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things'. In another place it says: 'He knows your need before' - before - 'you ask it'! His grace is coming before, preceding, prevenient.
We see from verses 26 and 27 that God gave man dominion over all of His creation. He didn't just place him in it, He gave him authority over it to an extent. Of course, we have a lot of ground to cover, we know that Adam and Eve forfeited that dominion when they gave into the temptation of Satan in the Garden. But we know that in our Lord Jesus Christ - and this is important Christian doctrine that I believe many have overlooked - that dominion, at least in the spirit at the moment, but eventually in total consummation, has been given back to man through the Lord Jesus Christ. The first man, Adam, became a living being; the last man, Adam, became a life-giving spirit. But what I want you to note just now is the central place that man has in God's creation - the central place, he is the pinnacle, the climax is man's creation.
There are two words in this chapter, there is the word 'created' and the word 'made', and they are both different words. They might seem the same to us, but in the Hebrew they are both different. The word 'made' means 'to make something out of something that already exists', and God does that in this passage. Of course nothing exists without Him, but things that He had already made, He utilised them - but only three times in the portion do we have the word 'bara', which is the word 'create', and that means 'to create out of nothing', 'ex nihilo'. It's spoken of matter, it's spoken of life, and it's spoken of man. He created matter, life, and man out of nothing. You might say, 'But He used dust, did He not?'. Yes, He did, but this is hinting at something unique about man, there is something other of him than matter. He is not merely a conglomeration of physical materials, there is something in man that had not existed before, he is unique. It is highlighted here in this expression that He made man in His image. Now there is a lot of meaning there that we cannot explore tonight, but not least that mankind has a spiritual relationship with God in a way that no other created being can have. This is remarkable. Whilst God is transcendent, above us and beyond us, there is an affinity between God and mankind - dare I say it, only that Scripture says - there is a likeness. There is so much different between us, and we tend to dwell on those things - rightly so - in awe and wonder, but there is a likeness that God found pleasure in.
I dare say that you might not feel like the pinnacle of God's creation tonight, you mightn't even think you look like it either! But maybe you're here tonight, and many people that I encounter in private ministry as well as publicly, have identity problems. They don't know who they are, they don't know where they fit in, they feel worthless, they've got very low self-esteem. You need to hear a message from God tonight, and that is: you are very special. Oh yes, we'll get on to the fallenness and sin, don't worry if you think I'm being easy on people - we'll talk about depravity next week, or the third week - but this is what we have in Scripture first: that we, as created beings, in the image of God, mankind with God's breath in us, we are special to God, we are valuable to God. You may have experienced untold rejection in your life, and maybe a problem of acceptance with others or even yourself, but you need to hear what David says in Psalm 8: 'What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet' - that's how God made you! That's how special you are to Him!
Genesis is not only the first book, it's the foundational book in the Bible; and most, if not all, biblical truths are captured here at least in embryo. Genesis is the key that unlocks the rest of the Bible, and you're going to look at it in the following weeks in great depth. We learn so much in this one book: there is one God expressing Himself in three Persons, who created human life as sacred in the image of God. Acts 17 says that from one man He made all nations, that they should inhabit the whole Earth, and He marked out their appointed times in history, and boundaries of their land. We read that mankind has fallen into depravity and sin, that the curse has entered upon us; and consequently God's gracious plan of redemption, based on sacrifice, has been hatched. Yet we also see God electing a nation, the nation of Israel, for His channel of blessing to the world. There are profound themes running throughout this book that then, with tributaries right throughout the whole Bible, we find on every page right to the very last still these themes are present. Though there is great depth and great profundity to the book of Genesis, there is also great simplicity, great simplicity. Do you know there are only 76 separate root words in the whole of chapter 1? In the original language there are only 76 separate root words, and every one of those words is to be found in every language on earth, which means that Genesis chapter 1 is the easiest chapter to translate in the whole Bible. Even a child can read it, and even a child can believe it.
I know I haven't answered probably all of your questions, but Deuteronomy 29 verse 29 says: 'The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law'. We're not called to understand, we are called to believe and to obey. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth', the One who had no origin is the Originator of all things. Do you believe this? Let us pray. I hope that there is a spirit of worship in your heart, a sense of awe and wonder. Will you pour that out to the Lord just now from your heart for Him to receive? He is worthy.
Father, we are completely awestruck and dumbstruck when we consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers. When we read, 'He made the stars also', tailed on with such seeming insignificance - and yet we lift our eyes into the heavens, and we wonder! Yet Lord, these are things that we can see, and we remember what Jesus, Your Son, our Lord, said to Nicodemus: 'If I have told you of earthly things, and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you of heavenly things?'. Lord, we are the heavenly people, and all of us struggle to some extent with these portions of Scripture, but Lord we pray that You will give us the mind of Christ, and You will give us faith to believe and to grasp the unseen realm of the spirit - whereby we just don't know answers to difficult questions, but we know the Living God, and we trust in You, and we believe in You. We thank You for Your revelation of Yourself, the gift of grace that it is, and we thank You that it has been perfected in Your Son - that in these last days You have revealed Yourself in Jesus. Lord, may You help us to embrace everything that You say to us through the written and the living Word, by the power of the Spirit who brings light and life. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered in Scrabo Hall in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'Origins' series, entitled "The Origin Of The Universe" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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