Very Good: Creation and Creativity
When God began to create heaven and earth— the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water— God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 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, a first day.
God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water.” God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, that the dry land may appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times—the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” God created the great sea monsters and all the living creatures of every kind that creep, which the waters brought forth in swarms, and all the winged birds of every kind. And God saw that this was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
God said, “Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: cattle, creeping things, and wild beasts of every kind.” And it was so. God made wild beasts of every kind and cattle of every kind, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. And God saw that this was good. And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.” And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.” God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Chapter 2 - The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done. Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created.
I. Mission trip?
III. Shout to the Lord
A. Today, our voice is joining with others around the world. So let us join that chorus. Today, we sing together.
IV. Connection with the choir stoles – the variety of cultures in today’s service.
A. We have been here for 9 months, and we have come to appreciate the rich varieties of worship here at Chaparral.
B. Today is a perfect example.
V. The choir
A. It is wonderful to have a choir who can sing everything from Mozart to Siyahamba (Zulu).
B. Asked Marion about this:
1. They sing different pieces and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5.
2. Marion gets everything from 50 (liked) to -20,000 (hated)
3. Despite their variety and preferences they can lead us in worship with one powerful and beautiful voice.
4. This diversity brings color and vibrancy to our lives together, like the stoles they are wearing today.
C. I have a plain, white stole that I purchased from Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem.
1. Plain white with the Jerusalem Cross, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ.
2. But, although it looks plain, remember that light contains all of the colors and frequencies of the rainbow. And, it takes all of the colors, all of the frequencies to see the beauty of the world around us.
D. We desperately want to live and see life in color
1. True of all of us
2. B/W movies are now colorized
E. Likewise, the many colors and frequencies of worship can create a rich tapestry by which we can see God and express our thankfulness for all that he has created.
F. In fact, these different frequencies and colors make strike each of us in different ways:
1. A member of the choir was telling Marion about a song and how it moved her.
a. Message, meditation or the hugs
2. This is all part of the mystery of worship.
3. I say this is a mystery because we all may see God a bit differently. Yet we still come. Why?
a. What do you hope to see when you come into this place?
b. Or, have you ever asked yourself, “why do we worship?” Or, what is worship in the first place?
VI. These are very important questions, because, they have tremendous implications of how we choose to see God and by extension, how we see ourselves.
A. This is exactly were Paul begins his longest letter: a letter which summarizes much of what Paul’s believes about the living God and our response to God.
B. Romans 1:18-23
1. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools;.
C. Look again at where Paul begins. The creation of the world and how we choose to see it.
1. In fact, in most of his dealings with the Gentiles, he begins with creation.
2. What can be known about God has been shown to us. Where? In the created order. Even God’s invisible qualities.
a. Mercy and rain
b. We all experience the creation in which we live, and this should stimulate us to seek its Creator.
c. However, this is a choice. Honor and giving thanks is one choice
D. Humans can refuse to acknowledge that reality, and in doing so, refuse to honor or give thanks.
1. That is the heart of worship. Honoring and giving thanks to God!
2. And, Paul goes on to say refusal to honor and give thanks to God, as the Creator, is to refuse to let God make a claim on our lives.
3. Instead, we strive to establish our own existence and value apart from the claims of God.
4. How do we see the world? The two ways
E. The results are dire!
1. As a result of misplaced or ignored worship is a false perspective on reality, reason and will are damaged.
2. You do not see the world as it truly is. This is a choice.
3. Look at verse 24, 26, 28 - Therefore…“God gave them over,”
a. What we often think of as sins are actually the result of the rupture of the relationship with God
b. This shift in how we see God often leads to a rupture of relations between humans
c. So, how we see God also determines how we see ourselves and how we see others.
F. But also notice the nature of God’s wrath. What is God’s punishment for idolatry and refusal to see the world as it is?
1. There is no divine cataclysm, no fire from on high sent to consume sinful society.
2. Instead, we find God letting us have our own way!
3. This is the most frightful punishment of all.
4. Why are you here?
VII. So, opening a series from Genesis, what more fitting place to start where Paul starts. In the beginning.
VIII. Genesis 1
A. Most scholars and critics agree that Genesis 1 is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written
B. However, many disagree or debate the meaning of this ancient text.
C. In many cases, modern readers of the beautiful creation narrative in Genesis 1 assume that the author intended to provide a detailed account of the order and duration of God’s creative activity.
1. This is “how” God made the heavens and the earth, or a step-by-step account of creation.
2. However, if the means of creation is all that is gleaned from Genesis 1, far more is lost than gained.
D. A “How-to” may be what we are looking for today as we seek to integrate the theories of science with the theology of faith. But, what if the author had another point in mind?
E. Trying to determine the intent of the author may be easier said than done; given the vast differences in our cultures, generations, and perspectives.
F. Example: Team logos
5. Sun Devils – While not theologically sound…
a. Not hard to figure out why these logos were selected.
6. But, can anyone tell me the name of the teams of the University of Alabama?
a. What is their logo?
i. An elephant? How do these two go together?
b. The elephant was the logo of the manufacturer that made the bags that Alabama used to carry their equipment.
c. Reports saw the logo on the bag, assumed it represented the Alabama team and it stuck.
7. Likewise, in our search for the initial intent of the author, we must aware of the intentions and perspectives we bring to the text.
8. Often, we see what we are looking for…
G. Perhaps the ancients were not as interested in “How” as learning more about the “who” of creation.
1. In fact, if you look through the rest of the Hebrew Bible, you will find several accounts of the “how” of creation
a. Pitching a tent in the Psalms and Job
2. But, we find a fairly consistent perspective on the “Who” of creation.
H. What kind of God creates like this?
I. After all, someday, “the how” of this creation will be gone; the “Who” will not.
IX. Structure of Genesis 1
A. Now, when considering the Genesis 1 narrative, the six days of creation are often assumed to be arranged chronologically. After all, each is a “day.”
1. However, as many have noted, there are inconsistencies in a chronological approach.
a. For example, how did light exist before the luminaries?
b. Or, how was a day marked before the instruments which marked time were created on the fourth day?
X. Therefore, let take a close look at how the literary elements of Genesis 1 are arranged.
A. Each day has the same elements
1. God speaks and creation responses immediately.
a. An act of a sovereign.
b. Parents, if you think you are sovereign in your family, notice that God’s does not have to say, “Did you hear me?” or “I’m not going to tell you again.”
2. God names the parts of creation.
a. We will see later in Genesis 2 that Adam gave sovereignty of the animals of the earth and then tell Adam to name them.
3. God judges the response of the creation
a. What is good, what God calls good.
4. Evening and morning
a. Jewish division of the day
b. Jesus’ body was taken down before the beginning of the next Sabbath
B. Each of these elements is the act of one who is ultimately sovereign.
XI. Description of the days
A. Step back for a moment from the chronology and look at how the days are ordered.
B. Day One – Separation of light from darkness
1. When God began to create heaven and earth— the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water— God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 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, a first day.
2. When light is created, darkness is not eliminated, but delimited.
C. Day Two – Separation of the heavens and the waters
1. God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water.” God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
2. What is firmament or expanse?
3. The use of water here is noteworthy. In the Ancient Near East, water was symbolic of chaos and dread.
4. In both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, God demonstrates his sovereignty by delimiting or striding across the waters, symbolically bringing order, šālôm[i] and security.[ii] Similarly, when Jesus commands the sea to “be still” in the Gospels,[iii] he once again brings order out of chaos, and continues the creative act of the second day.
D. Day Three – Separation of water and land below
1. God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, that the dry land may appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
2. With the waters properly bounded, God sets further limits on the seas so that land may appear and produce vegetation.
3. The power and mystery of that boundary where the oceans come to an end and the land begins should not be underestimated. Eight thousand times a day the battle of boundaries rages across an invisible line drawn in the sand, leaving nearly four percent of the earth’s surface covered in the foam of retreating waves.
4. Each moment that a new wave curls around your feet, an area equal to the entire continent of North America is hidden beneath bursting and fading foam in an ongoing battle for the boundaries. On these sacred shores, the moment that God gathered up the seas and dry ground first appeared is replayed once again.
5. Example: The next time you go to the beach. What makes the water stop right there, on the shoreline.
XII. In each of the first three days, God limits chaos and puts creation in order.
XIII. Next set of three days
A. Notice that the next three days are parallel to the first.
B. Day Four
1. One the first day, light and darkness are given boundaries. In the 4th, the static boundaries are set in motion, given specific tasks and called to actively participate in the work of the Creator.
a. In the ANE there were many “gods.”
b. Example: “The Egyptian god Ra, the god of the sun? No God made that big light for a very specific purpose.”
C. Day 5
1. Likewise, the motionless boundaries between the heavens and seas established on the second day are swarming with living creatures, which fly across the face of the heavens and plunge through the depths of the waters on day five. The new inhabitants of the heavens and seas are then given specific tasks; “Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.
D. Day 6
1. Finally, the sixth day witnesses the creation of the animals that fill the spaces created by the restriction of the seas. Humanity is included in this final day and given authority and responsibility to fill and master the earth.
XIV. In the first set of three, God limits chaos, then in the second, he sets chaos to perform his will at his direction.
A. Both of these actions, delimiting chaos and ordering purpose, are considered “good” in God’s final analysis.
B. Yet, a further evaluation is made once all of creation is complete. “And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
C. Why does God make a distinction after the sixth day? Perhaps the appearance of humanity upon the creative stage adds the final capstone to the creative order.
1. However, on the whole, the actions of humanity upon the earth have been far from “good” for creation, much less, “very good.”
2. In fact, the Bible is filled with stories of the creation finding the good despite of us?
3. So, why is the entirety of creation “very good?” What makes the completed order greater that the sum of its parts?
D. Once complete, creation can create.
1. Pictures from Camelback
2. All of these are taken from Camelback. You don’t have to look far.
3. Creation finds a way!
XV. The power of God’s creation is its creativity!
A. Now, the creation can continue that work of invention and innovation that the Creator has set in motion.
1. Our collective goodness is found in our ability to continue the work (and image) of God; work that is good enough to be shared.
XVI. We are given the freedom to create.
A. To serve and worship with all of the beauty, power and creativity that God has shown to us in what has been made.
B. We have the freedom to love and serve others, thereby creating new life in those around us and therefore in the world.
C. Also, we have the freedom and call to creatively give thanks and honor to God.
D. “Be fruitful and multiply!” is still our mission.
E. Because, worship is not what we do, it is who we are!
XVII. Earlier, I suggested that the author of Genesis 1 may be telling us more about the Who of creation, than how.
A. The same can be said of our continuing creative role as well.
B. Who we are, why we act, why we serve is where true worship begins.
A. Rudy story
1. All for 2 minutes
B. God has called us to the field. To bring light to the dark places and chaos of the world. To participate in the creation!
1. That is exciting.
2. More exciting than 2 minutes on the field.
3. That is the excitement we can all feel look at the world around us.
a. We have been called to create, renew
b. We have been called to participate in the creation of God – Creatively!
C. Light has different frequencies.
1. Together, we as a body are comprise of many frequencies, many colors, yet together we form one Light.
2. We need your frequency, because we don’t know which frequency which color will bring light to the darkness of those around you.
D. Regardless of what color we bring, we have all been called by the Messiah to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
E. And then, we all can worship.
[i] The fuller, Hebraic sense of šālôm representing peace, completeness and wholeness is intended here.
[ii] Job 38:8-11, Psalm 33:6-7, Isaiah 40:12, Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:15-21.
[iii] Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25.