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Genesis: Origins  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sometimes the lack of details in Genesis can be frustrating. Jules Verne was a very detailed author. His novel 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is a great story about a marine biologist who ends up trapped on the submarine of the crazed Captain Nemo. The plot of the story is rich and thrilling, but for some reason Verne decides to add random touches of realism to his novel by recording the various fish species that his marine biologist protagonist has the opportunity to observe while in the submarine. He goes on for pages and pages listing species after species. Those detailed sections of the story can be quite tedious reading. Moses, on the other hand, didn’t focus that much on the details in his inspired record of creation in . There are several questions in the story line to which we don’t have answers.
Think about it: God creates light on day 1, but the sun on day 4; how is their morning and evening on the first three days without the sun? On day 2 God separates the water, but we are never told where the waters come from. When God creates the sky on day 2, was it different than it is today, or are the waters above just the atmosphere? On day 3, were there various areas of dry land separated by water, or was there just one big land? We just don’t know. But the fact is that if we demand too much from the text of Scripture, we will either rest our faith on theories that answer objections rather than the objective truth of God’s Word or we will reject God’s Word outright and turn to secularism and science.
I don’t have answers for the questions, but I do know that Genesis is true, and it wasn’t written to be a science book. God is much less concerned about revealing how everything works than He is about revealing Himself. We must be more concerned about seeing Him than we are about seeing all the details.
In , Moses summarizes the creation week by stating that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. v2 informs us that there was nothing before God moved, as creation is described as formless and empty. As the narrative continues, God spends half the week forming creation and half the week filling creation. Today we are looking at the the first three days of creation and God’s forming of creation.
When God forms, it isn’t random; it’s orderly. God’s creation formed an orderly environment that was good for life. These first three days of the universe and really all of God’s creative work reveal His majestic power. So we can see from that . . .

God powerfully forms and orders His creation; therefore, we must trust Him.

How do we trust our forming and ordering God? God’s actions in the first three days of creation reveal four aims that will drive us toward trust.
The sermon has a unique layout. Usually we would walk through a passage and see how the thoughts builds as the author lays out the narrative or argument; however, this morning’s passage has several repeated themes throughout the various days of creation; themes that are repeated even beyond v13 into the last three days of creation as well. So as we walk through these four aims, we will be looking at the passage as a whole to see how these aims are emphasized and repeated in the narrative.
And by the way, I do want to emphasize that this passage is narrative. There are those in evangelical Christianity, Tim Keller is one of the them, who are conservative in nearly every way, but this one. They have been influenced by our society’s fascination of science and have begun to try explaining away the facts of . In order to do so, they have called this passage poetry, but their argument doesn’t hold up. The conjunctions that connect nearly every clause and verse in are those that the Hebrew language uses to mark a sequence of events and are rare in obviously poetic passages like the Psalms. We also can note that Hebrew poetry is much more than high figurative language, although that is a part of it. Hebrew poetry is marked by parallelisms, repetitions that say the same thing in a nuanced way for emphasis. Think of
Psalm 1:1 NASB95
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Can you see the parallelism of does not walk, nor stand, nor sit; counsel of the wicked, path on sinners, seat of scoffers? While there is repetition in it is much different than this kind of poetic parallelism. repeats phrases with the exact same words, while poetic parallelism repeats ideas in different words. is not poetry. And the dismissing of as such is a weak, uninformed argument. Sorry for that little rabbit trail, but I didn’t want that common dismissal of God’s Word to go unaddressed.
Now let’s get to those four aims that drive us toward trust. First, we must . . .

Hear God’s words.

v3 begins with the clause, “Then God said.” This same formula is repeated in v6, v9, and v11. God continues to speak throughout the creation week, creating with His very words. This is the emphasis of
John 1:1–4 NASB95
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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
Our God is a speaking God, and His Word has creative power because the Word is God. This is why in , the author emphasizes the living nature of God’s Word.
Hebrews 4:12 NASB95
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
God’s Word is not passive. It is not like our words that spew from our mouths with no power. We often criticize people who do not practice what they preach. Our words create only lofty images of ourselves and our dreams, but God’s Word is active, it’s piercing, and it’s judging. It is performing actions beyond mere images and dreams; it accomplishes initial creation in the world and new creation in us.
I find it interesting that nearly every time God speaks in this chapter it is eventually followed by a short clause, “then it was so.” When God speaks things happen, which helps us recognize with Isaiah that God has a specific purpose in the Word that He speaks,
So we recognize with Isaiah that God has a specific purpose in the Word that He speaks,
Isaiah 55:10–11 NASB95
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
isa
Here in , the purpose of His Word is to create, and it happens. God is still purposing fantastic life-changing creative things for His Word, and it will be so. That is what Isaiah means when he says, “It will not return . . . empty, without accomplishing what I desire.” This gives us courage to trust the infallible omnipotent Word of God.
But we can’t trust what we don’t know or haven’t heard. In after Paul reminds us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, he asks,
But God’s Word
Romans 10:14 NASB95
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
In order to believe God, to trust Him, we must begin by hearing His powerful Word.
What is preventing you from hearing God’s Word? Are you too busy to read it regularly? Is it too difficult for you to meditate on it? Are worship services too inconvenient for you? If you never hear God’s Word, you’ll never trust God.
Creation reveals the awesome power of God’s Word, a Word worth trusting; so in order to trust God, you must listen to God’s Word. Hear it.
But hearing it is only the beginning, not only do we need to hear God’s Word, but we must also recognize God’s sovereignty.

Recognize God’s sovereignty.

God’s sovereignty over creation is all over this narrative, but a couple of repeated actions specifically highlight it:
First, He separates - in v4 God separated light from the darkness; in v7 He separated the waters below the sky from the waters above the sky; and in v9 He gathers the waters to separate them from the dry land. God’s separation of the light and darkness, waters, and dry land reveal that He sovereignly sets the boundaries of creation. God decides where light will be and where it will not, He decides where the water will be and where it will not. And all the rest of creation is subject to His sovereign separation and ordering.
He also names - in v5 God calls the light day, and He calls the darkness night; in v8 He names the sky heavens; in v10 He names the dry land earth and the gathered waters seas. God’s naming of the day, night, heavens, dry land, and seas reveals His sovereign dominion over each of these things. Naming rights have always belonged in the realm of dominion, and this fact highlights God’s designation of authority and sharing of dominion with humanity by allowing Adam to name the animals. When God names, creation submits to His sovereignty.
Now consider the implications of this for us.
God is still sovereignly naming and separating even though He has ceased from His creative work. When God called Abraham, his goal was to have a people on which He could put His name. In God provides a blessing for the priest to give Israel. In blessing the people in v27 God says
Numbers 6:27 ESV
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
God reiterates this concept in in calling Israel to repentance he offers a promise of forgiveness and healing if His people who are called by His name humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways. According to God called Israel by His name so that they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. In other words they were called by His name so that they might be set apart, or separated, from the rest of the nations.
Now as a new a people of God, God is doing the same thing with the church. The church acknowledged this in at the so-called Jerusalem council:
Acts 15:14 NASB95
“Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
Peter applies the same language to us the church in .
1 Peter 2:4–10 NASB95
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone, and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
God never stopped separating even after creation. God has been sovereignly setting apart a people for His glory throughout human history. It really began with the line of Seth, then the line of Noah, and eventually the line of Abraham. But even in that, as God’s holiness sets Him apart from His creation, we see that believers are set apart from the world by imitating God’s holiness.
Those who hear God’s Word and believe it, trusting Him will follow God in being set apart for God’s glory. We should be different from the world around us. This doesn’t mean that we need to be obnoxious or culturally insensitive, but it does mean that we must take a stand against following the same idolatrous, self-centered motives that the world follows and that we might not fit in perfectly.
We also recognize the that God is calling a

Accept God’s interpretation.

2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB95
and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
We are a people called by God’s name; therefore, we are to be holy, set apart from the world. Just as God set apart the light from the darkness and the waters above from the waters below and the dry land from the sea, so He is setting believers apart from the world. What is preventing you from recognizing the sovereignty of God in your life and allowing Him to set you apart from the world around you. If He has indeed called you by His name, then trust His sovereignty, let Him rule your life through the Spirit of His Son, and He will set you apart.
Acts 15:14 NASB95
“Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
So we see that we’ve seen two of the aims that drive us toward trust: Hear God’s words and recognize His sovereignty. Now let’s see thirdly that we must accept God’s interpretation.

Accept God’s interpretation.

Did you notice God’s interpretation of the events of His creation? Once God had created form and order; three times in this passage God’s interpretation of the events is that they were good. In v4 He says it of the light; in v10 He says it of the land and sea being gathered to their places; and in v12 He says it of the vegetation.
The word good indicates that these things are beneficial, not that they are morally upright. The tone of the idea of good and the context here is not such that indicates any kind of morality. When God created the light, it was beneficial for humanity. When God gathered the seas and dry land appeared, it was beneficial for humanity, and so also when the earth brought forth plants and trees that could reproduce themselves through seed, it was beneficial for humanity. God’s creation is beneficial for us; it is good.
This is why day 2 is the only day when God does not see that it was good. With the still unordered seas and without the still unformed land, humanity had no place to dwell. God called His creation good when it was beneficial for humanity. God’s intent through creation was to make it beneficial for us, and He has never changed.
God’s intent is still to provide what is good and beneficial for us. The question is can we trust Him to do that? Later when the serpent comes in and tempts Eve, he draws her away from trusting God’s goodness. His lies questioned whether God was really providing all that was beneficial for them, or was He holding something back from them? This is often the way we live our lives. We wonder whether God is holding back something beneficial from us.
We pursue elicit sexual experiences because we doubt the goodness of God in providing us with a spouse or the goodness of intimacy within the marriage covenant and so porn and immorality are rampant among believers. We spend beyond our means because we doubt the goodness of God in providing for us financially or giving us what we need and so we have a mounting debt problem among believers. We grow dissatisfied with our spouse when they don’t act like we want them to act because we doubt the goodness of God in providing them for us and so divorce is as high among professing Christians as it is among unbelievers. Kids see their parents as unfair because they doubt the goodness of God in providing them so they rebel against their parents rules and reject their parents’ truth when they leave home. We become annoyed at our fellow church members because we doubt the goodness of God in putting us into one body with them and so we church hop searching for a place where uniformity rules and sacrifice isn’t necessary.
But God is one who provides the beneficial for us. reminds us . . .
Romans 8:28 NASB95
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
And at least eight times the Old Testament reminds us that God is good. Reminding us that God’s provision of what is beneficial is tied to Who He is. In fact in each of the eight times the Old Testament says He is good it is followed by the phrase, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Instead of interpreting the circumstances of our lives through our own understanding, that is, in order to trust God, we must accept His interpretation of our circumstances as reminds us:
Psalm 119:68 NASB95
You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.
God’s actions in the first three days of creation reveal four aims that will drive us toward trust. We’ve seen three of those aims: hearing God’s words, recognizing His sovereignty, and accepting His interpretation. Now finally we must celebrate God’s provision.

Celebrate God’s provision.

Each day in the text ends with the same words, “Then there was evening, then there was morning.” Have you considered how remarkable this phrase is? Here is the eternal God, the one outside of time, Who existed before the beginning, creating in days. God could have created all things with a single word, but He doesn’t. Instead He condescends to us and steps into time and then creates on a schedule. This is mind-boggling to even consider the eternal God acting in accord with a schedule, but He does.
This is God’s gracious provision to us. Even in one of the most remarkable displays of His sovereign power, He limits Himself to allow us to understand how days work, to understand how schedules work, and to understand that we don’t have to do everything at once. What remarkable care God displays in setting this example for us.
God continued to do this in various ways beyond creation as well. This same provision is evident every time He speaks; it was evident in the cloud and fire that guided Israel; it was evident in the still small voice that spoke to Elijah; it was evident in the dreams of Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar; and it was most evident in the incarnation of the Son, who would limit Himself as He took on helpless infant flesh and had to be fed and changed and taught to walk and talk. The condescension of God is worth celebrating and when we recognize that He would do this even when it meant that Jesus would be hungry, weary, thirsty, and eventually dead on a cross, we can trust Him. reminds us . . .
Hebrews 4:15 NASB95
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:14–16 NASB95
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15–16 NASB95
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Heb 4:16
So God not only condescends at creation; he condescends at the cross, and even still today he condescends to indwell us with His Spirit as tells us.
John 14:23 NASB95
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
God cares for and sustains His creation by stepping into time.
Psalm 8:4 NASB95
What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

We must trust the one true, creating God who sovereignly speaks and beneficially provides for us in His creation.

God spoke and He is still speaking; will you hear God’s sovereign words or will you ignore them and rebel? Those of you who are parents in the room have probably noticed a phenomenon that I have come to grips with. If we ask our children to do something like work or homework, they will inevitably not hear us until we have to say it several times; however, if we try to quietly plan a surprise or we tell someone that they can have ice cream or candy or something like that, it is amazing how much sharper their hearing gets. Sometimes we treat God the same way. We ignore the commands we don’t like, and we selectively listen to the revelation that makes us feel good about ourselves. When we do that we aren’t trusting God; we’re rebelling against Him. We must hear God’s words and recognize His sovereignty to trust Him. So listen and submit, always.
God understands what we need better than we do; will you accept His beneficial provision of Himself or look elsewhere for answers? Jesus told a story about a son who took what he had for granted. He missed his father’s gracious provision for him and demanded his inheritance thinking he knew what was the best way to spend his time and money. With so much money, he quickly gained friends who helped him spend his money on the things that he was sure were good and beneficial for a good time, but the money soon evaporated and with it his friends. He ended up working with pigs, envying them for the food that they had to eat, when he came to his senses. He realized that what his father had given him and taught him was beneficial for him, and he recognized how much his father gave up to give him the lifestyle he had grown up in. Sometimes we treat we God the same way. We look at the good things He provides for us, but we think we’re missing out. Surely, what the world is experiencing can’t be all that bad; they seem to be having fun and enjoying themselves; I think God is holding back on me. When we think like that or act on those thoughts, we aren’t trusting God; we’re doubting his goodness and looking for satisfaction in emptiness. We must accept God’s interpretation of what is good and celebrate His provision to trust Him. God is good and gracious, always.
May God work in our hearts to understand His goodness and grace to us as we submit to His sovereignty revealed in His Word.
God understands our circumstances better than we do; will you accept His interpretation or look elsewhere for answers?
God has graciously stepped into time; will you celebrate His provision or take it for granted? Jesus told a story about a son who took what he had for granted. He missed His Father
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