Back to the Future
October 2, 2016
As we wait for the return of Christ, as we endure suffering and trials, and as we sojourn through this world that is fading away, it is good for us to remember the beginning of Genesis and the greatness of our God.
Our God is great. Our God is powerful. Our God is first. Our God is sovereign. And we can say such things because of this one simple fact: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Brothers and sisters, this never gets old. Moses wrote down this account of creation so that God’s people throughout all of history…. From the little Israelite children back then to the woman at the well to your believing grandparents and to all the future people who have repentance and faith coming to them…. God had Moses write these words down for us so that this would never get old…. So that our awe and worship of God would never get old.
Therefore, let us praise the Lord.
Let us praise the Lord because of his order. He created and started what was formless and void and dark and deep, and then he ordered it all into realms and rulers. This is fascinating. In days one and two, he created the realms of day and night and the heavens. In day four, he created the sun and the moon and the stars to rule over the day and the night and the heavens. In day three, he created the land and the seas. In days five and six, he created the livestock and the beasts and the fish and the birds and blessed them to be fruitful and fill the land and the seas and the air. This order - this pattern - is quite remarkable. God created realms, and then he gave them rulers. God created kingdoms, and then he appointed kings to rule over them. Or to put it another way, God took what was formless and void, what was unformed and unfilled, and then he formed it all and filled it all. Let us praise the Lord because of his order in creation.
Let us also praise the Lord because of his ultimate rule over all things. While the rulers of days four, five and six were to rule over their corresponding realms, they were only rulers with a lower case “r”. At the end of the day, there is a king above all kings. And he is God. The Israelites needed to hear this fact. They were surrounded by the false religions of the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians among them. And they needed to know that the god of the sun or the god of the moon are really nothing. The fact that God didn’t create the sun and the moon until day four, and the very interesting fact that there was such a thing as light before the sun and the moon, was all a kind of smack in the face for all the false religions of the ancient world, and a huge boost of confidence for the people of Israel. And seriously, any Israelite who remembered day number one ought to have remembered plague number nine. For when Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and when there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days, but when all the people of Israel had light where they lived, that was like God telling Pharaoh, “You Egyptians may bow down to the sun and the moon, but the sun and the moon bow down to me.” There is only one God, and he is the true king. Let us praise the Lord because of his ultimate rule over all things.
Let us also praise the Lord because of his presence and care. When Israelites read that the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters, they would have had in their minds a picture of a mother bird hovering over her young and protecting and feeding them. This means that God is present with his creation. Writes throughout the Old Testament picked up on this avian language and metaphor countless times. In Psalm 17:8, David cries out to God, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings….” In Ruth 3:9, Ruth said to Boaz, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And in Isaiah 31:5, it is written, “Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.” What a wonderful image of God’s presence and care here in Genesis 1. Let us praise the Lord because of his presence and his care.
Let us also praise God because all three persons of the one Triune God created all things. There was God the Father. There was God the Spirit. And, yes, there was God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. For John wrote these words: “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.” And in Colossians 1:15-16, we are told these words about Christ, “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.” The Father, the Son, and the Spirit - the one true God - was there. Let us praise the Lord because all three persons of the one Truine God created all things.
Let us also praise God because of the light. And I’m not just talking about the light here in Genesis 1. I’m talking about what the light here in Genesis 1 actually points forward to. It points to Jesus Christ and his salvation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” John writes in John 1:4-5, “In Christ was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” And Christ himself states in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Brothers and sisters, there is a deep spiritual meaning behind light and darkness. And Genesis 1:3 just oozes the future gospel and glory of Christ that we now have. We are children of the light (Ephesians 5:8). We have been called out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). We are to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). We are to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12). We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). I guess every believer in Christ needs to have a good pair of sunglasses. Let us praise God because of his light.
Let us not just praise God, let us also believe God’s word here in Genesis 1. This is more massive than you think. There are many people in hell and on earth who simply do not believe that God created the heavens the earth. Many of us may think that it’s no big deal because many of us have believed it since Sunday School. But having faith in Genesis 1 is actually a big deal. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at god’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Let us believe God’s word here in Genesis 1.
Let us not just praise God, let us also be humble. Near the end of the book of Job, after having all of his possessions taken or destroyed, after losing his sons and daugthers to a collasped building, after receiving loathsome sores all over his body, and after suffering and lamenting and listening to advice from his friends for over thirty chapters straight, Job got an answer from the LORD. And it was a giant piece of humble pie. These were the LORD’s opening words to Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” Brothers and sisters, when God created the heavens and the earth, we were not there. We were not there. There was only God. And that means that he is first. That means that he comes before us. And that means that we ought to be humble - just as Job was at the end, when he said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Let us be humble.
Let us not just praise God, let us also look forward to the future. Remember what I said last week. The end is wrapped up in the beginning. In verse four, God said that the light was good. But good doesn’t mean perfect. Good doesn’t mean final. Good doesn’t mean consummate, achieved glory. For all of creation was supposed to be catapulted to perfection and glory on the condition that Adam would pass his test of obedience. For Adam and all of creation was supposed to enter into a Sabbath rest just as God entered his rest. But neither Adam nor creation did so. And neither have we. But we will. We have the gaurantee that we will because of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of Christ, there will be a new heavens and a new earth without sin or suffering or death. Because of Christ, what started on the first day of the week in Genesis 1, and what was inaugurated on another first day of the week when Jesus rose again, will become perfect and in the first first day of the week - the eternal sabbath - when Christ comes back. And because of Christ, we will no longer need light of any created kind, for in Revelation 21:23 and 22:5, it is written, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb…. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
In closing, I understand that life can be difficult for us who wait for the Lord. We endure suffering and trials. We are tempted to be worldly. We struggle with our sinfulness. We love ourselves more than we love God. Brothers and sisters, can we revel in the simple fact that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth? Can we we blown away by the theology of Genesis? Or will such things grow old to us? As we wait for the return of Christ, as we endure suffering and trials, and as we sojourn through this world that is fading away, let us go back to the future, and let us remember how great is our God.