The Beginning

Isis. Gun Violence. Economic Collapse. Unsafe Drinking Water. Global Warming. Racial Tension. Political Instability. Worldwide Pandemics. Technological Blackout. Meteor Collision. Zombie Apocalypse. Fear is everywhere. We cannot escape the constant barrage of news stories or television shows that are designed to incite fear into our lives. And fear doesn’t appear only in the main stream media, but in the pews of our churches. We constantly hear, “The church is dying,” “The culture is moving away from the Lord,” “The younger generation do not like tradition,” “The older generations like tradition too much,” “We are not making budget.” We live in a world that wants us to be fearful. 

      Fear is a lack of faith. Fear underestimates the power of God. We are taught to believe Psalm 118:6, for “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” The reason we do not have to fear is because the Lord is on our side. If people know that the Lord is on their side, why do people fear? Why are people so afraid? I believe that people live in fear because they do not understand who the Lord is who is at their side. It is one thing to say the Lord is on my side, it is quite another to say the Lord the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, Sovereign King of the Universe is on our side. The Bible is a book about God. The Bible teaches us what God has done and what He is like. The foundation to understanding the character of God begins in Genesis 1. Genesis was not fundamentally written to explain all the details of gravity or the various types of dinosaurs or how Cain found a wife. Genesis was written to a fearful Israel so that they would properly understand who God is and why Yahweh is the most powerful God over all others. 

Moses probably wrote Genesis after Israel’s exodus from Egypt and before their entrance into the promise land immediately following his death. Israel had lived in the pluralistic culture of Egypt with their various gods and were going to face the pluralistic gods of Canaan. Moses wanted Israel to know that they did not need to fear because their God was far greater than any other gods. Yahweh is greater, because He is the Creator King and is over all the universe.

The situation of Israel is not much different from our situation. They were tempted to fear the strength and the gods of the culture as we are tempted to live in fear. The words of Genesis may not answer all your questions about science, but they should reveal to you the power of the Creator King of the universe. I pray that you will not fear, but rather that you will know who the Lord is that is on your side.

The Creator King Systematically Speaks Creation

            The reason we should have confidence in God is because he created an ordered world out of chaos through his powerful word. Genesis 1 is a beautiful passage of Scripture. The Hebrew structure and arrangement of the chapter echo God’s perfection and power in creating the world. English Bibles end after the sixth day while the Hebrew structure is clear that it should end when God rested on the seventh day. Moses begins new sections with the “toledot” or “these are the generations” throughout the book of Genesis to help the reader understand the structure. There is also a chiastic inclusion at with Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:3. This means that the same words that are used in Genesis 1:1 are the same words used in Genesis 2:1-3, but in reverse order. The structure is important to fully grasp what God is communicating to Israel through Moses.

            Moses systematically orders the text as God systematically orders Creation. The first sentence, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” provides a worldview for all believers. Derek Kinder observes, “It is no accident that God is the subject of the first sentence of the Bible, for this word dominates the whole chapter and catches the eye at every point of the page: it is used some thirty-five times in as many verses of the story.[1]” God is the main character of the Bible and Genesis 1 highlights the complete perfection of God.

            Moses systematically structured the text using the perfect number 7 to show how God perfectly ordered the cosmos. There are seven days, seven times God said, “And it was so,” seven times, “God saw that it was good/very good,” heaven and earth are both mentioned 21 times (a multiple of seven), and God is mentioned 35 times, another multiple of seven. God perfectly and systematically ordered creation. The days of creation are structured in two sets of three days, three being another number of completeness. The two sets of three days solve the problem stated in Genesis 1:2, “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.” The earth was without form and void. The first set of three days solves the form problem while the second set of three solves the problem of the void.

            Each day has a very similar structure: an announcement (God said), a command (let there be), a report (and it was so) an evaluation (it was good) and a chronology (the first day). We can see this structure in the first day. Genesis 1:3-5, “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.” On the first day God solved the form problem by separating light from darkness. On the second day he separated sky and water and on the third day he separated water from the land and made vegetation. Then on the second set of three days God solved the problem of the earth being void. He filled the earth with the luminaries of the Sun and Moon to light the day and night. He filled the sky with birds and the sea with fish. He provided animals and man to fill the earth with man being the pinnacle of creation to subdue and exercise dominion of the earth.

The all-wise, infinite God perfectly ordered creation. There are scores of books and theories written about the age of the earth and how scientific discovery mesh with the creation account of Genesis 1. There is value in studying and defending particular theories on the creation account, but we do not want those discussions to overtake the main thrust of the passage. The main point of the passage is that God created the heavens and earth. He, and He alone, gave the earth form and filled its void. An old age creationist and a young-earther can agree on that and thus can cooperate and have fellowship in the same church. Israel would have seen Genesis 1 as displaying God’s power and control over the earth rather than trying to figure out exact details of the creation account. Genesis 1 was written to give comfort and hope to Israel as they were surrounded by other gods so we have to be careful not to read Genesis 1 only through our western, rational, scientific minds, but also to see the original intent of the book.

God solves the problem of an earth without form and void by His Word. Creation came into existence out of nothing, or “ex nihilio,” by the Word of God. The One who always existed brought a world into existence by his word. Ten times in the creation account we see, “And God said…” Think of Israel’s history and how they would have heard Genesis 1. They were in bondage in Egypt and God brought Ten plagues upon the Egyptians. God brought them to Mount Sinai and gave them ten commandments to live by. And here Moses explains how God created the world by providing ten words to his creation. In those days, the King spoke a decree and it was done. We see in Genesis 1, God speaks and it is done showing that God, Elohim, is the King of Universe.

God brings order out of chaos with his powerful word. The New Testament continues this theme in John 1,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5; 14)

Jesus Christ is the Word of God the Father. Jesus is One with the King of Universe. He is the Sovereign Creator and creation was created for His glory. Colossians 1:15-17,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

All things were created through him and for him. Genesis 1 repeats Ten Words, “And God said,” as a sign of His perfect work in creation, but now God has spoken his perfect work in the finished work of his Son. Hebrews 1:1-4,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

As God spoke to solve the problem of an earth that was without form and void so now God has spoken to solve the problem of sin and death through the Word made flesh. Jesus emptied himself of his glory to become a servant being made in our likeness.

The Creator became like one of his creatures, being made in the likeness of man to solve our problem of fear. Hebrews 2:14-15 help us understand the Word that Jesus now speaks, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” The Israelites were subject to lifelong slavery until God spoke his Ten Perfect Words against the Egyptians and we were subject to lifelong slavery until God spoke his Perfect Word against death and the devil. Jesus freed us from slavery by dying in our place on the cross and being raised on the third day. God has promised to save anyone from their fear of death by offering eternal life through faith in Jesus’ perfect work of redemption.

Beloved, Genesis 1 is a picture of how God has spoken and how He still speaks. The great problem of Genesis 1 was solved through God’s Word and our great problem today is solved through God’s Word. Jesus still speaks, have you heard His word?

The Creator King Sovereignly Rules Creation

            Moses shows that God is the One who is the Sovereign King of creation not the gods of the opposing nations. Israel would have known and been exposed to the gods of the Egyptians. The Egyptians believed in the pagan gods of the Sun and the Moon. Moses shows how the “powerful” pagan gods are merely God’s creatures along with the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea. Israel always struggled with fear. Many of those who first heard Genesis 1 were those who got right to the edge of the Promised Land only to spend their lives wandering in the dessert because they feared the size of Canaanites. They feared the Canaanites because they did not understand who was on their side. The Lord, the Sovereign King of the Universe, rules heaven and earth. We should not fear those who can only kill the body, but can do no more. We should fear God who is in control of our earthly life as well as the life to come.

            What are you fearful of today? What anxieties keep you up at night? What fears creep into your soul to doubt God? Beloved, our world trains us to fear, but our God is in control. It is a simple message. God is in control. God is not surprised by cancer. God is not surprised by Islamic terrorist. He is not surprised by economic collapse or a shrinking American evangelical church. God is in control. Creation is God’s testimony of His Sovereign power. Jesus says in Matthew 6,

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Look at the birds of the air. The same birds I spoke into existence on the 5th day of Creation. Those birds are an ever-present reminder of my power.  Look at the lilies of the field. The same vegetation I caused to sprout on the 3rd day of Creation.

            When your fears and anxiety start getting the best of you, take a walk and observe creation. Remind your heart that God is in control. You do not need to fear; you need to remember. God is in control. Remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who has been given all Authority in heaven and earth. The One who has all authority is the One whose hands have been pierced for you. You can trust the power displayed in Creation as you can trust the heart of the Creator.

The Creator King Safely Restores Creation

            One of the dominant themes of Genesis 1 is not only that God is the created, but that the creation is good. God looked over all that he had made and said that it was very good. It was perfect. It was excellent. It was spectacular. The creation account ends in Genesis 2:1-3,

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

God rested on the 7th day and made it holy. We gather on this Sabbath Day, the day that God has set apart for us as we look forward to the Sabbath rest of the people of God. The Sabbath is a reminder that God will restore his creation. He will bring about a prefect redemption. Genesis 1:1-Genesis 2:3 does not speak of sin or the Fall. It does not speak of a world that has been subjected to futility, but the original audience would have known of the Fall. Their backs would have born the scares of Egyptian whips. Their eyes would have seen death and decay in the wilderness. We do not see sin in creation, but we all have experienced the effects of sin. The effects of sin are a reminder that the world we live in is not the way it was supposed to be. God rested on the 7th Day because all that he created was very good.

            Today, and every Sabbath day, we model what God did at the end of his creation. God rested. We gather as God’s people and remember that we have rested from our labors. We no longer try to earn God’s favor with our work, but we rest in the finish work of God’s Incarnate Word. Jesus Christ has finished God’s Work. He now sits at the right hand of God ready to come again and fully restore this world to its perfection. Have you experienced that rest? Are you still trying to earn your salvation? Or have you rested in Christ? Our gathering this morning is a reminder of the finished work of Christ. God has brought salvation to his people. Jesus hung on the cross and said as he gave up his spirit, “It is finished.” Beloved, your salvation has been purchased through the blood of Christ. Rest in Him as we wait for the Sabbath rest of the people of God. God saw the Word spoken in the Son and saw that it was very good. The Lord is on our side, let us not fear.




[1] Greidanusm Sidney. 4