If a Tree Falls in the Forest...Who Cares?
Philosophers sometimes ask a strange question. I know there is a reason for it, but it does seem pointless. Maybe you heard the question. It goes like this. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Have you ever hard that? Is it just me or is it ridiculous? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound...who cares? Right? I suppose Philosophers do have a reason for asking. It has to do with perception. What they are wondering is, if something needs an observer to exist. I suppose for big thinkers, this can entertain them for hours. But for you and we know that if we see a tree in the forest on one day, and leave the forest the tree does not cease to exist, that is nonsense it is still there, but we are not there to enjoy the tree. We are not there to marvel at the majestic beauty of the tree. We can remember it in out mind, but it is not the same thing without us there. Without us the beauty of the tree is never observed, adn never appreciated.
Believe it or not, and odd as it sounds that introduction, actually is relevant to what we are talking about today in God’s word. We are in in our summer sermon series in Genesis titled “It All starts Here”. And we are in Genesis chapter 1, and 2. Last week we started the series by looking at the very beginnings of creation found in Genesis 1:1-5. I would like to remind you of a couple of things from last week. First of all Genesis is about God-It is about God revealing himself to man. We talked about how God created the universe by speaking it into existence. We talked about how all three persons of the Trinity were present at creation God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Today, we are going to look at the rest of the days of creation.
Let me begin with prayer.
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”
Last week, in Genesis one verse 2 creation was in a state of chaos. The earth was formless and void, and God separated the light from dark. Now, in day 2 God is continuing His work of separating things. Let there be a vault to separate water from water.
Then, verse 9 God gathers the waters.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
God is separating and gathering and this is good. God is bringing form into the world of formlessness. God is bringing order. And that is good. Order, form, reason, logic it is good. The ground in verse 2 was void, now God forms vegetation.
11 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. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
And the land produced and God saw that it was good. God word, God’s spoken word comes to pass, and it was so. It happens.
When God speaks and it happens we call it God’s declarative will. God wills it and it happens. God speaks-Let there be light and there was light. God’s sovereign declarative will is that will that comes to pass as God declares it so. And that is repeated throughout this creation account. So God made....And it was so. This phrase is repeated throughout the creation account.
In Verse 7,
7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.
Again in verse 9
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
Again verse 11
11 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.
God’s sovereign declarative will is displayed by God’s power. It is God’s creative power. It is when God declares and it was so. And it is that same power that creates that raises Jesus from the dead.
17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
And what we also see in the account of creation that God’s Sovereign Declarative will is that which comes to pass and is always good. Verse 3, and God saw that it was good. Verse 10, And God saw that it was good. Verse 12 and verse 18, and it was good, verse 21 and verse 25 God saw that it was Good. Whenever God’s will is followed, Whenever it is so, it is Good.
When God’s will is followed it is good. (Declarative Will)
So already, in the order of creation is the idea of good. That which corresponds to God’s will is good. The opposite of that, that which does not correspond to God’s will, takes a little while to develop. We won’t see that until chapter three.
God is giving his creation form and order in first 3 days.
Days 1-3 God forms.
The next days, 4 through 6 are filling. In Days 4 through 6 God takes what He has sovereignly and orderly formed and he fills them, making them useful, productive, teaming with life.
Days 4-6 God fills.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,
In Day 4, God fills the sky with lights.
God puts lights in the sky to order the sacred times, the days and years. This is interesting sacred times. God placed the stars in the sky to order the seasons, and to bind them to His sacred times. The Nation of Isreal would receive more detail on the sacred times later on in the Torah, but God is preparing for by including it in creation.
Sometimes, people may miss something special that God has for them when they move away from celebrating the sacred times. I know there are valid reasons that modern churches have moved away from using the church calendar. I understand that churches have made mistakes, people have bad associations with church, we want to be modern and we want to relate to the non-churched. But here in the order of creation, God spoke about the sacred times. God intended us to embrace the seasons. Part of the reason for the stars in the sky. is to mark the sacred times.Think about that Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking. The lights in the sky help us to take time to remember what God has done for us. To Embrace the seasons, the physical seasons, as they point to the sacred times, and allow us to give glory to God.
Then, Day 5 God fills the water and sky.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”
And that was good.
22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”
Then God Blessed them. He blessed them. Be fruitful-increase-in number. Fill the water.
Then Day 6. God fills the earth with animals.
25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
There is a phrase that keeps repeating, as God has been making things. It is that God has been making things according to their kinds. In verse 11, God makes plants according to there kinds.
In verse 12 it is trees bearing fruit according to their kinds. And in verse 21, it is creatures of the sea, according to their kinds, and birds according to their kinds, and the animals according to their kinds. But now something different.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Then God said let us make mankind, in our image, our likeness. Something very different happened. Mankind is not made like the plants, and fish and birds and animals. Mankind is made in the image, or the likeness of God. Let us, make mankind in our image. It would be according to our kind. According to God, and he is now using us. God is speaking to someone. Who is he talking to?
We know from Gen 1:2, present with God the Father was God the Holy Spirit, and from other scripture like Colossians chapter 1, and John chapter 1, that God the son Jesus is there. God is speaking to the Trinity. God the Father is saying to God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, let us make a man in our image. He will have a body like Jesus He will be have a spirit like God the Father and he will have a will like God the Holy Spirit. Mankind is created in the image of God, the Trinitarian God.
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Created in the image of God has many very specific important ideas associated with it, and we will cover only a few of them this morning, but know that there are more, and what I have for you is not meant to be an exhaustive list.
There is a lot of confusion over the image of God. The image is not the same as the original. Some religions and heresies teach that we are little gods, or we will one day become a god, or you are your own god. The image or likeness is not the original. WE are not a god, we will not become a god, we are an image of God. We will always be only an image. we do not become the original. A son in is the image of his father, but is not his father. He has some traits that passed on. Perhaps his eye color or his hair color, but other traits that are not, perhaps he is taller or heavier. He may some similar habits and mannerisms, like they may have the same accent and have some of the same favorite things, but other ways they be different. The Father may be a mechanic, and the son may be a doctor. It is like that with us, in the likeness of God. We may become more like God, but we are still an image.
Other people get confused about male and female. God created mankind in his image. Some people get confused, and think he created man in his image and woman in his image. And then they say I believe in a female God, I relate better to that. That is not the God of the Bible, and that is not what the text say. Mankind as a whole species is in the image of God, not the individual genders. God is Spirit. He does not reproduce, he has no need for gender, in that sense. He is referred to as the Father because of important character traits that uniquely identify him as the God of Israel the one true God, and separate him from other false female gods.
God has certain traits that are passed down to the image, and others that are not. We call these traits attributes. The traits that are not passed down to us are called Incommunicable attributes.
The traits God does not pass to us are incommunicable attributes.
These are things that only God has and the image does not. We talked about one last week creating. God creates out of nothing, by His word alone. We are creative, but we create differently. We make or we manufacture. We simply rearrange that which already is. Another one is God is all-knowing. We can know some things, but not everything. This trait is not passed on. God is all powerful, we have some power, but only that which is granted to us. You get the idea, and you can think of other things that God has that we do not. These are called the incommunicable attributes of God.
But there are some traits that are common between us and God. We do share some things with Gods because we are in the image of God. These are called communicable attributes of God.
The traits God does pass to us are communicable attributes.
These are traits such as relational. God is a relational God, and we are relational people. God is a trinitarian God, he is in a relationship with his kind, for all of eternity up to now. Now, He extends that relationship to mankind. For instance God was with Adam in the garden, God not only created one man, but he also created a woman to be with him in relationship. Another, God is rational, and orderly and man is rational and orderly. These are traits that are communicated, or passed down from God to His image, us. These are communicable attributes.
Being in the image of God, containing some of the traits or the attributes of God have applications. I have three of those for you today. These are Dignity Capacity and Responsibility.
Being created in the image of God means we have a responsibility.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
In Genesis 1 28 are several things that God has entrusted to mankind. To subdue the earth, and rule over the fish and the creatures. People have not always recognized the proper responsibility to rule and subdue. In some cases they abused that scared power handed down by God. This led people away from the creator God, and led them to worship the earth. Some people have taken the view that mankind should be subordinate to the earth and the animals and plants. By being in the image of God we are to responsibly rule over the earth in a manner that which is good.
Also as part of the responsibility is to manage the blessing. The blessing contained here in verse 28 is the ability to be fruitful, and increase in number. People who believe that humans are to subordinate to the earth are often concerned with things like overpopulation. They believe that what God has intended for a blessing is actually a curse.
Children, and families are a blessing from God, and this blessing is to be managed responsibly. It is not a mandate or a determination of worth or dignity. From time to time people connect heir dignity and worth on their ability to enjoy the blessing, and that is not true. It is a blessing and unfortunately it may not be enjoyed by all, but that does not determine one’s worth or dignity. worth and dignity is not a factor of the ability to enjoy a blessing. A person’s worth and dignity is because they are created in the image of God.
That brings us to the next one dignity
Being created in the image of God means mankind has DIGNITY.
Mankind is different, we are not animals, and after their kind. We are created in the image of God, we are according to His likeness. That means each and every person, regardless of age. The very young, the very old each has dignity. Dignity from the moment of conception to the moment of death, mankind is in the image of God. Color, race, skills abilities, it doesn’t matter all are created in the image of God.
The world would like you think that dignity is somehow earned, but it is not. The world calls wealthy well achieved well-mannered people dignified. People say you have to earn my respect before I give it. Dignity is bestowed by the creator God to all mankind, to all humans, man and woman he created them in the likeness of God he created them. Inherent to being a human is that each of has dignity. It is part of being human.
Our founding Fathers understood this and echoed this idea in the declaration of independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The early church called the image of God the imagio Dei,.When we understand and view all people as the Imagio Dei we see them differently. We see them with dignity-inherent to their being.
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
When we no longer view people from a worldly point of view, that man or woman in a pornographic movie is now the imgio Dei, the image of God, and not someone to be lusted over. When we view someone of a different race or culture we view them as the image of God, and not someone to hate, but someone with value, someone for who Christ died.
Being created in the image of God, means that the image has worth and value. God places value on His image, he desires to preserve the dignity of his image., You have value in the eyes of the creator God. What value? Infinite value. God the Father sent God the Son to die on the cross because as his image each person has value. That is why Christ died for you.
Jesus Christ died for us, so that we can be conformed to his likeness.
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
To be conformed to the image of His son. To be conformed to image of His son, who has the all the fullness of the deity dwelling in Him.
Our passage from last week.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
Now, we do not have all the fullness of the deity in us. We approach that. remember we are only the image, not the original, but we do have the capacity to have some of that glory or goodness dwell in us.
Being Created in the image of God means mankind has the capacity.
Through Christ, by having the image of God, we have the capacity for good. We have the capacity for righteousness, we have capacity to determine goodness, we have the capacity to have fellowship with God our Father. God saw that it was good. God demonstrated a certain goodness in his creation and we have the ability and the capacity to recognize it. We have the logical mind to perceive that goodness. We have the capacity to know that which aligns with God’s will is good. And we have the capacity to give glory to God.
I began with the story of the question of a tree falling in the forest. It was in regard to an observer determining reality. The world had been created in it’s entirety with fish and birds and plants and animals trees and plants. We read in the Psalms that the Heaven’s declare the Glory of God the skies proclaim the work of his hands. If man had not been created there would be on one for the creation to point to God. Without mankind, the glory of God would go unnoticed. There would be no on to praise him.
God created man as the last and crowing moment of creation. He created mankind so that we could know God, and give his glory back to him. Sometimes people take a man centered view of Genesis and portray God as lonely and in need of man to somehow make him complete. God is a Trinitarian God, he already exists and has existed for all of eternity in relationship with himself. God has the heavenly court and angelic beings he has created for who knows how long. God did not create man to satisfy his loneliness
God created man to share his glory. He created man as means to see the glory of God. He created man so that we could enjoy not only the creation but the God who created the creation. The creation is just a means to display the Glory of God. A means to draw us to the God who created us, so that we can enjoy Him.
It is for His glory that he created all this. It is His sound, It is His echo in creation and he created us to hear HIM. And he created us with the capacity to bring back to Him the glory, the honor and the praise.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.