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Home School of Biblical Theology Doing Biblical Theology: In God's World and In God's Image: Genesis 1:1-2:3 - Talk 1

Doing Biblical Theology: In God's World and In God's Image: Genesis 1:1-2:3 - Talk 1

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Doing Biblical Theology: In God's World and In God's Image - Talk 1

Genesis 1:1-2:3

If I am to understand the world I live in and my place in it, then I need to understand the past.

Australia, continues to battle with how we should understand our world. The typical Australian worldview is totally different to the Christians.

But even those who call themselves Christians have different views of how we should understand our world and this is expressed in the debate over how the opening chapters of the Bible should be read.

Is Genesis 1-11 mythology with no more historical value than other mythology from different civilisation? Or is it just symbolic? Or is it real history - the record of people and events that really happened?

But for Christians there should be no dispute. Jesus Christ was absolutely clear that he was God, and was there at the very beginning before anything else existed, and that he created the universe.

It is because Jesus confirms the historical reality of Genesis 1-11 that I, as a Christian, look to these chapters for the truth about our world and people in our world. So let’s look at these verses and understand what God wants us to understand.

1. God has always been there and defines true reality.

Verse one describes the beginning of time and space, or everything in our universe as we know it, but clearly God existed before that.

Creation did not happen on its own. It was not the product of chance, nor was it the work of some impersonal force that didn’t care about the universe or creatures it made. Before creation there was God.

But what was this God like? Even before the world was made, God was loving and caring. He already had a close, personal relationship with the other members of the trinity. He had a purpose and a plan to achieve that purpose.

How do we know all this? Well we know it most clearly from the lips of Jesus himself. Listen to John 1:1-3 . Jesus was present at and active in God’s creation as God’s Spirit was present at and active in creation with the father.

And again in John 17:5 & 24 Jesus speaks of love and relationship that existed in the trinity before the universe existed.

And that fits with Genesis 1:26 where God says, “let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”.

And it fits with Genesis 2:3 - God’s made his creation so that he could rest, or enjoy what he had made. But his intention was also that his creatures could also rest, or enjoy God and his creation as well.

2. God made the universe supernaturally.

He is powerful to do what he pleases to do. God speaks and it happens immediately. Notice the repeated expression, “God said . . .” and “let there be…”, and “it was so . . . “. This emphasises that God simply spoke and things appeared that were not there before.

He created from nothing. He is not restricted to using materials that already exist, as we are. He started with nothing – no particles; no energy; no life – and by his word created everything that exists in our universe.

His creation was ordered and clearly structured. Verses 1-2 are a summary of the chapter making clear the two parts of God’s creative work. First he formed the various parts of the physical universe, then he proceeded to fill each part by making suitable creatures and suitable things that would sustain the universe and life in it.

There is a very clear structure in the record of God’s creative work. Look at table 2 to see the parallel between days 1-3, where God forms the basic parts of the universe, and days 4-6 when God fills them with differentiated things.

On day one, having just created space and matter, God makes light or energy and this contrasted with the darkness. On day four he makes the light-producing bodies that fill our universe – sun, moon and stars.

On day two God makes the atmosphere or sky and on day five he makes water creatures and winged creatures that fill the sky and the waters. And each is distinct and according to its kind or family grouping.

Day three and day six are highlighted because on each day God speaks twice.

On day three God makes the land and then makes the vegetation, two separate commands. On day six God creates the living creatures or animals which fill the land, and he also makes people which are part of the animal world, yet distinct from the other animals.

3. People are the focus of God’s creation.

Notice also that there is also a movement from heaven to earth for each of days one to three and days four to six. This suggests that the focus of God’s creative work was our planet earth and people.

The creation of people is the most important part of God’s creative activity because people are created for a special relationship with God and a special position within God’s universe.

Humans are animals, sharing lots of characteristics, yet very different because people are made in God’s image. They are made with the God-like qualities of being able to relate; to love; to think; to create things

And these God-like qualities are to be used in ruling over God’s world as God’s representatives on earth.

People are designed to be a visible reminder to the whole universe that it is God’s world and ruled by God. As humans stamp our creative ability and authority on our physical world, it is a reminder of God’s rule and authority and creative power.

We may be masters of this planet in lots of ways, but the vast size and complexity of our universe ought to remind us of a creator and ruler much more powerful than us. A creator to whom we are accountable.

4. The universe was exactly as God wanted it to be.

Each time God spoke and added more definition to his creation, he was totally satisfied with what he had made and declared it to be good. In verse 31, at the end of creation, God declared it was very good.

God did not struggle to achieve what he purposed before creation. He did not have to settle for less than precisely what he wanted at any point in the whole of the universe. Such is the character of God the creator that everything was done exactly as God intended and wanted.

5. God’s goal was to enjoy that which he had made.

What does God do after he has completed his creative work? Chapter 2:2 he begins to do the very thing for which he created the universe. If I build a house, the end point is moving into the house and living in it and enjoying it.

In the same way God, having completed the creation of the universe with his focus on people, now begins the process of enjoying that which he has created.

So, God’s rest is not inactivity, as though God were sitting down with his feet up. Rest is God looking over his creation and enjoying it – seeing in it his goodness, power and purpose. Rest for God is having his creatures enjoy him, the creator and giving him proper praise and honour as their maker and ruler.

God was never interested in simply making the world and then withdrawing from it. God is never just a great watchmaker who makes the watch and winds it up and then leaves it on the bench. No God always intended to enter into the universe he created and to enjoy it and to be involved in it, especially in relationship with his image-bearers.

Notice, therefore, the seventh day has no end. Rest is the enjoyment of unbroken relationship with God, our maker.

And by implication his image bearer is invited to enter into that rest, that enjoyment of unbroken relationship with God. That relationship that could truly be described as very good and the very thing for which we were made to enjoy and benefit from.

Friends, this is such a wonderful story God has graciously recorded for us. The big question you must now ask is how are you to understand, apply, and benefit from it as Christians in Myanmar? What should we do with this vital information about the origin of all things?

1. Make sure you focus on the key points as God intended.

Christians and especially Christians in the Western world have been badly side-tracked by the details of Genesis 1 and have lost sight of God’s primary intention for giving us this word.

Too often they spend their time arguing whether each day of creation is a literal 24 hour day, or a long period of time.

Too often they get bogged down in attempting to squeeze Scripture in to the mould of the latest scientific ideas and geological time scales – Is the earth young or old? Does God use evolutionary time scales or not? Where do dinosaurs fit?

But if we let Genesis 1 speak for itself, it speaks of God: the creator God who is big, who is personal, who is powerful, who made people in his image and invites us into relationship with him.

It tells us God holds everything together and gives it purpose; and that humans have a unique place in the animal world and in the universe itself, and thereby gives hope to humanity.

More than 3500 years after it was originally written, God still intends Genesis 1 to be the basis of our world-view as Christians. Genesis 1 is the correct way to see the world and our place in it.

As we look to the future in our uncertain world, we find it is connected to the past. What we believe about our origins or beginnings and that of our universe will inevitably determine our belief concerning our purpose and meaning and destiny.

When we confront the absolute sovereignty or rule of God in Genesis 1 , we see the only true existence for you and me and people around us is in the context of being in God’s world, and being under God’s authority and rule.

And this exposes the wrong world-views that govern the majority in Myanmar and in Australia.

True reality is found in God. Our universe is not simply a big machine, with us as unimportant little parts. We are not left simply to admire or worship the physical world we see around us.

Instead we should be moved by the beauty and complexity of what we see around us to recognise the need for and reality of the great creator God who is personal and who has put people at the centre of his purposes and the universe.

We have meaning and purpose in this world precisely because we are created by and for God.

People around the world today – and many in Myanmar – look at the sun or the moon or the stars or the animals or plants and many other things and see them as gods to be worshipped and served in the hope of blessing and safety and provision.

In fact our whole world is very much a ‘God-replacing culture’. But Genesis 1 tells us that these things are not gods, but creatures made by the one true God, who alone should be served and honoured.

The First commandment is to serve God alone. But the first inclination of sinful people is to take a part of creation and make that god in an attempt to avoid or hide from the true God.

Listen to Romans 1:18-23 . When we look at the wonder of our universe we should be able to learn lots about the one true God, but people choose to reject this and worship the creation rather than the creator.

As a result our world is a mess and people are lost and without hope. All the problems in our world – social, economic, ecological, spiritual and racial are all caused by people’s rejection of God.

2. Understand the connection through to Jesus.

We need to understand the big picture of God’s story from beginning to end.

Genesis 1 describes a perfect world, made for mankind to enjoy, care for and have creative input into. Had people not rejected God’s world-view, had they not sinned as we will see in chapter 3, then they would have continued to rule over and develop God’s beautiful world for their own benefit and for God’s glory.

But of course people rejected God’s authority and put themselves in his place with all the terrible consequences and mess that we see and experience in our world today.

But as we shall see, God’s determination was to finish what he started so that his glory would be evident throughout the whole universe. So the father sent Jesus, his word of creation, into the world to once again create order from chaos.

Listen to John 1:1-5 . The future for humanity is hopeless without God’s grace and mercy that made him enter the world he had made in order to clean up the mess we have made.

That’s why Jesus, we are told in Hebrews1:1-3, was the perfect image of God. It is only in Christ that once again we can be the perfect image bearer and therefore enjoy once again perfect relationship with God forever and act for his glory.

That’s why through God’s second creative word, the Lord Jesus, we are already a new creation: God’s re-created people. And one day we will be with him physically in heaven enjoying the delights of God forever.

That’s why the last chapter of the Bible takes us back to the conditions of Genesis 1 , but it is in the future. God will finish his story as he started, his purpose will not fail. He will re-create that perfect world so badly messed up by our sin.

What a great confidence and promise. We made the mess because of disobedience and rebellion. But God has fixed it through the death of Jesus and one day we will enjoy it personally with him in heaven.

Go to Talk 2

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:04  

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