Genesis 1-11 Series
“In the Beginning” – Genesis 1:1 – Sermon #1
Today we are starting a new sermon series that I have called “In the Beginning”. Another title for this series could be: “How We Got to Where We Are”. We will be looking the first eleven chapters of Genesis. I have prepared a road man brochure, so you can see where we are headed.
A mom was talking to her son about all the wonderful things God had made. She asked him questions like, “Who made the sun?” and “Who made the rain?” His answer always, “God did!”
One evening, she looked at the toys scattered on the floor and asked, “Who made this mess?” Without skipping a beat, her son said, “God did!” Our world is a mess, but we can be sure, “God didn’t make the mess!”
I felt the need to do this series for 2 reasons:
- As believers/true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we want to know what God has said about the origin of the universe. And most people want to know where we came from and how we got here. Surely, we are not merely the chance products of mindless evolution. Did God create all things?
- If you believe that every single person on this planet has been created by a Sovereign God and that we are unique because God made us in his image, then you will have a totally different view of the universe and your place in it than what is taught in school and what so many in our world hang onto.
In these first 11 chapters of Genesis is the very beginning of all that exists. And I want you to know that I accept the words of Genesis 1-11 as literal truth from God. When I read those chapters, I find them to be an amazing description of the “beginning” and yet, they are so simple.
And, because I believe they are all literally true, I reject outright the notion that these chapters are myth or legend or poetry. I challenge you to read those chapters and to conclude that “In no way was this ever meant to be a fairy tale.” It seems so obvious that God intended for these chapters to be taken as the true account of the origin of the species, of the human race. That is my unapologetic approach in this sermon series.
For well over a hundred years, from the time of Charles Darwin – mid 19th Century, until the present day – unbelievers, skeptics, infidels, and doubters of all varieties have leveled their rhetorical guns at Genesis 1-11. They have attacked this section of God’s Word from every possible angle. We are told again and again that science has proved that these chapters cannot possibly be true, that evolution must be accepted as fact, and that no intelligent person could ever actually believe in a literal Adam and Eve, a literal serpent talking, a literal Garden of Eden, a literal Cain and Abel, a literal Noah, a literal ark, a literal, worldwide flood, and a literal Tower of Babel. Children are taught that these things are nonsense – the product of a pre-scientific era.
And sad to say, but many well-meaning Christians have drunk the Kool-Aid and accepted this rhetoric. Many find it easier to just be silent so they won’t be mocked, or they make compromises so they can live at peace with the unbelieving majority.
Let me just say this: Compromise with the unbelieving world will never work. If they’re going to take aim at us, we might as well come against them with guns blazing.
By the way, these chapters present us with a number of questions, like:
1) How long were the “days” of Genesis 1?
2) Were Adam and Eve real people?
3) Where was the Garden of Eden?
4) Did God really make Eve from Adam’s rib?
5) Why did Satan appear to Eve as a serpent?
6) Could all the animals talk back then?
7) What is original sin?
8) Why was Adam sentenced to toil and sweat and Eve to pain in childbirth?
9) Where did Cain get his wife?
10) Why did God tell Noah to make an ark out of gopher wood?
11) What is gopher wood?
12) Was there really a flood and did it cover the whole earth?
13) What happened to the dinosaurs?
14) Who were the “giants” who roamed the earth in Noah’s day?
15) Before the flood did some people live to be 900 years old?
16) Is it true that it never rained until the flood?
17) Why did God use a rainbow to make a promise?
18) Why was Canaan cursed and what does it mean today?
19) What really happened at the Tower of Babel?
And then, there are some other deep theological questions like, “Did Adam have a bellybutton?” and, “How did Noah keep the ark clean with all those animals on board?”
A more serious question, “Is it possible to reconcile the Bible with modern science?” Or, “How does Gen. 1-11 help us understand the roles of men and women in the home and in the church?” “How does Genesis 2 apply to the question of homosexuality and gay marriage?” “What can we learn from Genesis 1 about cloning and stem cell research and from Genesis 9 about capital punishment and abortion?” “What is the biblical foundation for marriage and the family?” “Is euthanasia wrong?” “What is the biblical basis for human rights?” “Why is racism wrong?”
These are just some of the questions I expect we will encounter in this series. And just so you know, I am not going to be able to answer all questions, because the Bible doesn’t tell us everything – God keeps some things as mysteries for us to search out but in the end, to trust Him.
I believe that what the acorn is to the oak, Gen. 1-11 is to the rest of the Bible. Everything God wants us to know starts right here. Genesis is God’s eyewitness testimony to the creation of the world. It establishes that there is a God who reigns supreme over the universe. It tells us that God made us, that he established the rules for life, and therefore we are totally accountable to him.
There are three questions we all must answer eventually:
Genesis tells us where we came from, and it also tells us why we are here. We were made by God, and we were put on the earth to know God and to serve Him. And in serving Him we find meaning, purpose, fulfillment, satisfaction, and a sense of self-worth. We were made for God and the more we know about Him, the happier we will be.
I urge you to ask the Lord for his guidance in this study. Pray: “O Lord, reveal yourself to me as I study your Word. Show me who you are that I may know who I am. I want to know you so that I might know your purpose for my life. May your Spirit give me an open heart and ears to hear what you are saying to me. Amen.”
Gen. 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. This is a declaration, not an argument. The Bible doesn’t argue for the existence of God, it simply declares that God is and that He is the Creator of all things.
I want us to consider four implications arising from Genesis 1:1. If this is true, then what?
#1: The Universe Had a Definite Starting Point
“In the beginning,” refers to the beginning of all created things. This is where everything starts. This means that our physical universe is not eternal – it has not always existed. There was a time when matter as we know it did not exist. There is a time when the heavens and the earth did not exist. Only God is eternal, everything else had a beginning. Even time itself was created by God.
Children like to ask – and we adults secretly wonder – who created God? The obvious answer…no one created God. He existed before the beginning. He was, He is, and He will always be. We might not fully understand what that means, because God existence goes farther back than our minds can imagine. He goes far beyond the reach of chemistry or biology or history or mathematics or quantum mechanics. He dwells in eternity, which means no telescope can find him and no computer program can define him.
Augustine was asked what God was doing before He created the world. He thought for a moment and then replied, “He was creating hell for people who ask questions like that.”
#2: God Created Everything Out of Nothing
The Apostles’ Creed opens with: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” God created the sun, the stars, the moon, the planets, the comets, and the asteroids.
Dr. Peter Edwards, an astronomer, wrote, “You’ll never, ever, get your head around how big the universe is. It’s just vast. It’s enormous! There’s no way that the human mind can comprehend the true immensity of the universe.”
Then he describes the Hubble telescope zooming in on a very ordinary patch of the night sky. He wrote, “If you imagine holding up your finger with a grain of sand on it and looking at the patch of sky that grain of sand blocks out, that’s the range that the Hubble telescope is zoomed in to.”
Dr. Edwards continues, “What the telescope saw was incredible. There are 10,000 galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. If this tiny patch of sky is like every other, then we can calculate…that the visible universe contains around 100 billion galaxies. Each one of those galaxies contains around 100 billion stars. That means the visible universe contains something like 10,000 million million million stars. That means there are more stars in the visible universe than there are grains of sand on the earth.” And the incredible thing…God hung each one in space and calls each one by name (Ps. 147:4). No wonder the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
When you see the Grand Canyon or the Canadian Rockies, you can’t help but be overwhelmed at the mighty power of God to create such magnificence. Each snowflake testifies to his uniqueness.
Someone wrote, “The galaxies shout it out, the wildflowers sing it out, the rippling brook joins in, the birds sing it, the lions roar it, and all creation joins in, the heavens declare it, the earth repeats it and the wind whispers it—’He is there!’” Truly, “This is my Father’s world.”
The technical term for creating out of nothing is ex nihilo. He spoke and the stars filled the sky, birds began to fly, fish began to swim, roses began to bloom, the snail began to creep, the coyote began to howl, and the hummingbird started to hum. Listen to Heb. 11:3: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
Based on Gen. 1:1, we know – God is/God acts/God creates. We don’t create, only God creates. We take existing material and fashion it into something else. Only God creates something from nothing. This makes Him greater than creation. He is absolutely supreme over all things – nothing is greater than God. Many choose to believe in evolution as an excuse to reject God’s sovereignty.
#3: God is the Owner of All Things
Because God is the Creator, he is also the owner of all things. We need to grasp this – Since God made us, he has the absolute right of ownership over us. This is one reason why some people fight so bitterly against Genesis. People want to be free, do their own thing, live the way they want, do whatever they feel like doing, whenever they want to do it – nobody has the right to tell them what to do. But if God created us, he owns us and we are accountable to Him for everything we say and do. That’s does not fit for some people.
Martin Luther wrote, “I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that he has given and still preserves my body and soul, my eyes and ears, and all my members, my reason and all the power of my soul, together with food and raiment, home and family, and all my property; that he daily provides abundantly for all the needs of my life, protects me from all danger, and guards and keeps me from all evil; and that he does this purely out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I am in duty bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey him.”
#4: True Wisdom Begins with Genesis 1:1
Wisdom and truth and the search for God all start right here. If we want to end where the Bible ends, we better start where the Bible starts. This is to say: If you can believe Gen. 1:1, you won’t have any problems with the rest of the Bible.
There are 2 options: Either we were created by God, or we evolved over billions of years by the random acts of mindless, purposeless, materialistic evolution. You are free to believe what you want. I choose to believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. If you don’t believe in God, you are forced to believe that nothing plus nothing equals something.
Everything begins with God – Life, Truth, God, Understanding, Wisdom – it all begins with God. Gen. 1:1 is the first verse of the Bible. This is where wisdom begins. Skip past this and nothing else in the Bible will make sense. You’ll know the details of daily life, but you’ll never understand where you came from, why you are here, and where you are going when you die.
This worldview is out of step with the majority of people today. Because we embrace God’s truth, we will always be out of step with those who have pushed God out of the main thing in life. I choose to be Theo-Centric/God-centered. I believe God must be at the very center of life. In Him is life and apart from Him there is no life at all!
The evolutionist mindset and that of many in our world today is that we cannot make room for God. If God is more than myth or legend, then our modern society is in big trouble. They have taken Him out of the marketplace, out of the schools, out of Government…they have removed Him everywhere but from the Christians heart.
In the NT there is a verse that runs parallel with Gen. 1:1; John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”That verse reminds us of the first verse in the Bible.
Before creation, there was God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why did God create the world? Because he wanted to. Before creating He already knew about you and me and He planned for our redemption. John 1:1 introduces us to our Redeemer. We are here because God wanted us here.
It started with eternal love, and then there was a purposeful design – God’s mighty creation. As we will see, this will lead to a great fall which necessitated a willing Savior. Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16 are very close together. The God who created you also loves you.
Someone wrote, “All the other creatures God created boldly proclaim, ‘Love made me” – only man, with his back turned to the sun, does not say ‘Love made me.’” But when this man turns to receive the gift of Christ, then he too knows in his heart ‘Love made me.’”
There are huge moral issues that we face if we believe the first words of the Bible. If God created me, then …
He knows me.
He sees me.
He knows the truth about me.
I cannot hide from him.
I must someday answer to him.
If we believe that God created us, then …
Our heads should bow.
Our knees should bend.
Our wills should yield.
Our hands should serve.
Our minds should worship.
Our hearts should love.
God loved us and made it possible for us to spend eternity with him. We believe that God created us/made us and we did not make ourselves. God created everything that exists merely by speaking it into existence words, He is supreme. As a result, we gladly bow before Him in worship, wonder, adoration, and praise. In him we live and move and have our being. We owe him everything. He alone is the Lord.
Let me close with this story – in a Scottish seaside inn, a group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid was walking past their table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, leaving an ugly brown splotch.
The innkeeper surveyed the damage. “That stain will never come out,” he said. “The whole wall will have to be repainted.”
“Perhaps not” said a stranger. “What do you mean?” asked the innkeeper. “Let me work with the stain,” he said, standing up from his table. “If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.”
He picked up a box and went to the wall, taking pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He started to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and shading. Soon a picture began to emerge as the random splashes of tea were turned into the image of a deer with a magnificent rack of antlers. He added his signature, paid for his meal and left.
The innkeeper was amazed and looked at the signature. That man was Sir E.H. Landseer, the famous painter of wildlife. He had turned a mess into a thing of beauty. We need to let our Great Creator do the same for us. Let God turn your mess into a masterpiece of His grace “In the beginning. God created…” Let’s pray…
Benediction: (Based on Psalm 91:1-2, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 32:7) “Creator God, Maker of all things, fill my heart with confidence and hope in Your Sovereignty. You are my refuge, my sanctuary, and my safe place. Nothing touches my life without Your knowledge and permission. As my sacred hiding place, You alone are trustworthy and the only true source of peace. Amen.”