It's Not About Us
Good morning. This weekend is sometimes called the first weekend of summer, so witht hat being said we will kick off a new sermon series.The series is called “It All Starts Here”. In it we will be looking at the book of Genesis.
Let us Pray
Bereshith. Bara Elohim. In the beginning God. -3 Hebrew Words. Bereshith Bara Elohim- They mean In the beginning God. That is the very beginning of the Bible. In the Beginning-God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Why the Creation Account?
Bereshith Bara Elohim-Now let the controversies begin. Open the floodgates. Start the discussions Logic reason spirituality, faith, they all collide. Right there with 3 words Bereshith Bara Elohim. In the beginning God.
I remember being in College and laying on the hood of my friends car on a particularly beautiful summer evening in the Iowa countryside and staring up at the night sky and seeing millions of stars and wondering. How far does it go? How many stars are there. Where did it all begin? When? How?
Of course I am not the only one who had those thoughts. I am sure many of you did if not all of you. The late Stephen Hawking banked on the fact that everyone thinks about such things. He wrote a book that became a best seller because so many people think about the origin of the universe. It was called a “Brief History of Time”. Maybe you read it. It explained in layman’s terms how the universe began. It explains the Big Bang Theory. Do you know what that is?
In it’s simplest terms astronomers, and physicists see that stars are traveling away from us. So they back things up and do the math and come to the conclusion that the entire universe started a very long time ago, in fact they can calculate it. When all of the matter, all of the energy, everything was compressed into a small single point they call the singularity and then it exploded and began expanding ever since. We are now riding the wave of the explosion. The problem is and one Steven Hawking was working on until the day of his death was what happened before the big bang. How did all the stuff in the point that exploded get there, where did it come from?
Bereshith Bara Elohim-In the beginning God.
Stephen Hawking is not the first to come up with a theory of how the universe began. He isn’t the only one, many many scientists have worked on and contributed to theories on the origins of the Universe.I’m sure many of you here know in far greater detail than I do about the Big Bang theory. As 21st century people we live in a world that is filled with books explaining life, and how it evolved, and the universe and where it came from. There are programs on educational TV about such things and you go through school and learn from Science textbooks about the origin of life. And the whole process of how life on this planet came to be.
Sometimes Christians may feel like there many different theories being recognized, and taught and pushed in the media and in schools. We may feel that everywhere we turn there is talk of all these theories about how the universe came to be. This may sound strange, but I don’t think we are the first people group to feel this way. I tell you why.
When we handle the Bible, we talk about how it is God’s word, and it is. It is without error in the original manuscripts it is breathed out by God. Every single word in it is God’s truth, it is infallible.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
When we attempt to find out what the Bible means for us, we have to remember that the Bible was written infallibly, without error breathed out by God, to a specific people at a specific time. We try and understand what the text meant to them, and then we can apply it to our lives. What was God saying to them, and we then see what God is saying to us.
Genesis was breathed out by God to the Nation of Israel through Moses. This happened during the time of the Exodus. The Nation of Israel had just been led out of Egypt, by a god, that perhaps they did not know very well. It is quite possible that they looked out over the desert at night and looked way up in the night sky. They could see millions of stars, and they probably wondered. Where did all this come from? How did it get here? Why?
They might have had theories. Not our scientific theories, but theories from the other nearby civilizations. The Babylonians had a story. The Egyptians had a story. Other ancient people groups that existed at that time had there own stories of how the universe came into existence. Certainly as we look at those ancient stories we think they are ridiculous and foolish. Some contain monsters, others have gods doing battle, others have gods giving birth to the universe, some have their gods as the universe. All those stories were swirling around the common culture of the Hebrew people. The Hebrews certainly knew those stories. And so it was quite possible that as they lay down at night in the Sinai desert that they ask questions, and wonder where did it all come from?
So as they wondered, God gave to Moses the Book of Genesis, containing the creation account. God was out of his great mercy, out of his grace, revealed Himself to the the Hebrew people. Almost as if it was a personal answer to their questions, through scripture.
God creates uniquely
The creation narrative contained in Genesis is quite different than all the other stories of creation. The creation account in Genesis has some striking differences from all those other creation accounts. And interestingly it is not just those ancient myths either. The creation account in Genesis has noticeable differences in the modern scientific theories as well, and that it seems is what cause the problems.
So we open the text, and read Bereshith Bara Elohim. In the Beginning God created.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Bara means created. It is a singular verb it means to create. It is only used of God, there is a different word when you and I create. We make. Elohim-creates, there is a difference. He calls to existence that which was not. He creates ex-nihilo- as later Theolgians would say. Elohim creates out of nothing. Everyone else just rearranges that which already is.
SO, what we have in that first 3 three words of the first verse of the Bible puts to odds, every single tale story fable and scientific theory ever put forward. Bereshith Bara Elohim. at some point when God decided that we should enter the story God, the all powerful God, the God that seperate and apar from the universe he created created the universe out of nothing. The heavens and the earth, all that we know or see, and that which we do not know and cannot see.
This is different than all the other stories the Hebrews have encountered. They heard of Gods giving birth, thus the universe being a part of the God. Or universes that self-create or universes that is God. These are not the same thing. Even today we still hear things like this. Far eastern religions have a concept of the universe itself being a the power and God is contained with it.In Genesis 1:1-God is separate from it. Now that does mean that God cannot enter it. He can did and does. God walked in the garden of Eden, Jesus walked on the earth the Holy Spirit indwells us. He enters and can be in the universe but He is apart from and separate from it. He created it. He existed before it.
The Big Bang traces the matter and energy back to a point but that is as far it gets. The question that it can’t answer is where the singular point of matter and energy came from. We are left with the idea of the universe creating itself out of nothing. Out of nothing-nothing comes. Nothing cannot, spontaneously create something, that is nonsense event the smartest and most developed minds of today know that is nonsense and continue to search for the answer.
So we part ways with science, we say science and faith is incompatible. And we adamantly oppose people with opposite beliefs. But must we is science and Genesis incompatible? I don’t think so, I think faith and scripture can be compatible, and can be harmonized, actually in any number of ways. None of which involves destroying or dismantling or taking a less than literal approach to the creation story. I will present one way-You can have your own you can research your own I will be happy to help you figure out your one, the truth is that God has only presented us with some information, scripture does not tell the whole story yet we must preserve what we do have and not make it say things it doesn’t.
I happen to believe that creation account does occur over 7-24 hour days. literally, exactly as it says. I also believe that there are fossils . I believe carbon dating is accurate and I believe the universe can be traced back to a single point. I believe that science and faith are completely compatible, It goes like this.
Science and Faith Are Compatible
What if we assembled a group of scientists, and gave then a box. In the box was 1973 Ford truck, and asked them to analyze the box. They would carefully look at the all the features, determine the truck was manufactured in 1973, the steel and various other components were even older, they could trace the electronics and other parts back tot he original plant and come to some conclusions They might come up with dates for some of the parts to be 1972, and even decide that some parts are even older, perhaps they could analyze when the truck was last driven and determine when it went into the box.
However, the one scenario that did not consider is that what if God placed the 1973 truck in the box, seconds before the scientists opened the box. And if God has the capability of creating a truck must he create a new truck? Can God only create a 2018 un-driven truck or is God who was able to create the universe capable of creating a 1973 truck that may appear have been recently driven? Certainly. God can create anything he wants.
Although science can back the universe up all the way to the big bang, it doesn’t mean that God had to create it from the Big Bang are you following that?
For instance a hypothetical example on Day 3 we read
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
Trees, now hypothetically suppose we had a Biologist present. And on Day 4 he cut down the largest tree God created. Would he see growth rings? There is no reason in the text or otherwise to assume that the trees created on Day 3 would look any different than the trees today, I think there is a really good chance there would be growth rings. The biologist would then count back and come to the erroneous conclusion that the tree was created 50 years rather than being created yesterday. Think about soil, and sand, aren’t they decaying matter and eroded rock wouldn’t it have to appear as though it were it created eons ago even if it were created yesterday?
This is just one possible explanation. There are others as well. You can have your own idea’s but I do caution against trying to force the text of Genesis to say something that it just doesn’t say. What does it matter? Why the long explanation why even go into it?
Your understanding of Creation Frames who God is
It’s important because the creation account is fundamental about your understanding of who God is. Understanding, and being comfortable with the Biblical explanation of the creation account is a basis for how you view God. What too often happens is we bring our ideas, our thoughts, and understanding to the text of Genesis and try to bend it to fit with what we are comfortable with. And when we do that we change who God is. See the book of Genesis is not about us.
We try and make it about us. We do everything we can to make it fit us. We read the story of Creation, and we bend it to fit our understanding of the world by calling it myth or changing the the text to be metaphorical or something so that we can hold to the beliefs of the world rather than what God wants to show us. See the book of Genesis is not about us it’s about God. Its about who he is. We read the stories and we place ourselves into them, like how Adam and Eve didn’t listen to God, so we should listen to God now go and listen to God. Or how Noah did follow God’s instructions so he built a boat and was saved. Or how Abraham was faithful and did what God said. Those are good things, those are important things, but that is not what it’s about, it’s about God.
In the Beginning God created. God decided that it was not good for man to be alone. God walked in the Garden with Adam. God made clothes for them after they sinned. God provided the sacrifice for Abraham It’s about God, not us. So we lay on the ground or on the warm hood of a car and stare up at the night sky, the reason all that is there the reason that you ponder it and wonder, the reason it seems all so huge and mind bending is because it is! It is because it point ing to Him Elohim, the creator God!.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
God’s invisible qualities-or who He is is made known through creation. Any one of us, no matter we are on the planet can look at the night sky and see, we can look at the flowers, and the birds and the mountains and the babies, and rain and the snow and the ice, and Know that somehow it had to come from God. And we know something about God from looking at it.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
God Brings Order out of Chaos.
The language here creates an uncomfortable mood. Formless, and darkness, other translations use void. Chaos fits well also. Yet over that uncomfortable scene that mass the spirit of God is still present. The spirit of God is hovering or brooding or watching actively with concern. Even though the Hebrew mind is yet to develop the concept of the Trinity we already see a picture of the one God in three persons, and the Holy Spirit is actively participating in the creation. If you think of it like this that there is this formless void dark watery mass that Elohim, the creator God needs to bring into conformity of his will. The Holy Spirt is brooding over it, anticipating it, concerned to putting into order making It good. Almost as if the Holy Spirit in you can almost hear a groan. As this mass is anticipating creation.
God is Trinity
Now this is interesting. The name of God used here is Elohim. It is the name for the creator God. It means Deity. It is a Plural word. Interesting. Some people suspect that the Hebrew people used a plural word to be respectful of royalty. However, they always used a singular verb with it. As if the word was singular. Although the idea of the trinity was not fully formed in their minds, perhaps, just perhaps God was giving them a picture of what was to come.
Because It wasn't only God the Father and God the Holy Spirit that was there, there was also God the Son Jesus. He was there. Although the Hebrew people did not have this fully formed in their minds yet, God breathed it out through John in the book of John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
God the Father is there at creation, and as he creates he is creating through God the Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit is there brooding over the confusion chaos and darkness and a creation that is in need of God brining it into order and conformity and to be assign roles.
It is then that God speaks.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he 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—the first day.
And God said. God Speaks, and things are created. His word is power. His word creates, and assigns roles, and separates.
God said let there be light and there was light. The darkness, and the confusion was brought to order. God separated the light from dark. He assigned roles. To the light he assigned day and to the darkness night. Order was here and it was good. When God creates, he separates and assigns roles and it is good. When God speaks it is good.
The question for us today is what do we do with the creation account? How do you personally handle it. DO stories of myth or science influence how you read the. Does your view of the text point you to a great and mighty God, who brings order out of Chaos, and speaks all of the universe into existence? Or does that bigness cause you to view God as so distant and out there that he can’t possibly be interested in the daily affairs of man?
Our First reading was from Colossians
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
We saw how the whole Trinity is involved in creation yet that very same trinity is how God is able to be completely personal as well. Jesus Christ who holds the universe together also holds together the church. Jesus Christ who was present at creation and has all the fullness of the deity dwelling in him. Jesus Christ died on the cross to bring us into fellowship with God the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He speaks, he assigns roles he separates the light from the dark
God’s creating power does not just begin and end with the universe. God’s creating power takes place in us. God speaks to us through His word, the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Spirit broods over the chaos, the confusion the darkness and the void of our sin and through the word of God comes our faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God creates in us a new heart, and he renews a right spirit within us, and it is good very good.
In Jesus name.