The God Who Speaks
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and He called the darkness “night.” Evening came and then morning: the first day. 6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters, separating water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above the expanse. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” Evening came and then morning: the second day. 9 Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land “earth,” and He called the gathering of the water “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” And it was so. 12 The earth produced vegetation: seed-bearing plants according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 Evening came and then morning: the third day. 14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years. 15 They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night—as well as the stars. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, 18 to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came and then morning: the fourth day. 20 Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 So God blessed them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23 Evening came and then morning: the fifth day. 24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” 29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.
So, a sermon series on Genesis. Why Genesis?
Well we’re not going to dive into Genesis simply because it’s the first book in the Bible. We’re not going to dive into Genesis simply because it tells us things about the origins of the world.
No, we want to dive into Genesis because it tells us about the origins of the people of God.
The book of Genesis was written to root God’s people in their identity that they are GOD’S people.
You see, in the first 6 chapters of Genesis we cover a third of human history.
(Walk up to Exodus)
Before the people of Israel can know who they are, they need to know whose they are
14 The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.”
It was God’s idea for this story to be written down.
It was trucking along just fine as an oral tradition.
Because this story was going to be family story for all who place their faith in Yahweh.
A newly liberated people must hear their own story afresh.
WE are a newly liberated people as well.
We must listen to God’s address to his people in this most ancient of narratives.
Let me assure you, no matter how familiar you are with this narrative, or if you’ve never heard it before,
this is the true story of the world,
and it would be in your best interest to listen to it.
You cannot know who you are until you know whose you are.
What is this ancient text trying to do?
What is this ancient text trying to do?
Our focus should be on whatever is the PRIMARY reason this text was written.
An important tool to use when studying a text that wasn’t written in your culture or time is to ask the question,
“What is this text trying to do?”
Entire ministries are devoted in our age to drawing out dimensions of the book of Genesis that simply would not have even been categories for the Israelite people.
For example, what Genesis is not trying to do is convince the people of God about a specific creation account.
“Was the earth created in 6 literal days or not?”
I will say, the Israelites would have taken God’s word at face value, when over and over we are told, “There was evening and there was morning, day 1, day 2.”
but as we will see in a moment, if we stay hung up on reading Genesis 1 as a scientific textbook, we will miss what the text itself is trying to do.
That being said, there is still a place for gleaning insight as to the earth’s age in Genesis, but we will need that reflection to stem from the same reasons for why this text was written for Israel.
1. Set the stage and backdrop for Israel’s story.
Israel is being brought out of the Kingdom of Egypt and being formed into their own Kingdom.
7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.”
This is the exact reason why WE are jumping into this series.
So that we might know WHOSE we are, to remind us WHO we are.
This is critical.
Especially if you’ve been God’s for awhile, and you’re wondering what’s next.
If you find yourself asking questions like
“Where are you God?”
“Why does this still hurt?”
“Where is my joy?”
Then we desperately need to be reminded of our story?
This is our story too.
If you are in Christ, than you are part of the spiritual house of Israel.
And you have been chosen to take part in the grandest story ever told.
The people of God, are not chosen people because God just chose some people, and didn’t choose others.
No, those who are chosen are chosen FOR mission.
We have an opportunity to be caught up in an incredible story.
2. Detoxify Israel from pagan teaching
Stories are not neutral.
Stories shape us.
The crux of the issue that we see in the garden is that the serpent, who we later learn to be Satan, is retelling a story that God had already told Adam and Eve.
Satan goes on sowing false narratives into reality all through time.
But these false narratives have weight.
The Egyptian gods were real “gods” in the sense that demonic forces added fearsome, powerful, painful, and wealthy weight to the tales that the Egyptian people told each other about their pantheon of gods.
The Israelite people were enslaved to these “gods”.
And as they are liberated from these gods and led out of Egypt, the account of creation in Genesis 1 is rebuking these gods and mocking them.
The Egyptians worshipped the sun God Ra.
This deity had a human body and the head of a hawk.
As the sun moved across the sky each day, the Egyptians believed that this was Ra, sailing through the sky on his boat.
And at night, as the sun disappeared, they believed that Ra was in the underworld, defeating the demon of chaos, the snake god Apopis.
Every. Single. Night.
They also believed that the Pharoah had a role to play in assisting with this nightly battle through certain rituals.
Now before you mock this in your mind, it is laughable, but for these people it was dead serious.
These gods were not without power.
Moses in the throneroom.
So now we have Yahweh telling the true story of the world through his servant Moses and what do we see?
“Oh you worship the son God?”
I SAY “Let there be light and there is light.”
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years. 15 They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night—as well as the stars. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth,
Oh you believe that violence is required for the sun to rise each day?
These lights move because I say so.
And I don’t need anyone’s help to do it by the way.
You believe that the creator God is an old man by the end of everyday and has to go into the underworld to regenerate?
I existed BEFORE the creation and I rest after creating.
The god Apopis was viewed as this giant serpent.
In the 5th day of creation we see how Yahweh compares with such a serpent.
20 Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 So God blessed them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23 Evening came and then morning: the fifth day.
So the English translators of the bible are allergic to translating certain words the way they should.
Genesis 1 is an epic telling of the creator God expelling chaos and dividing light from darkness, creating a world and then filling it with,
are you ready for this?
That’s what it’s supposed to say instead of “great sea creatures”.
This is important, because in the rest of Hebrew literature, we see poets like David and prophets like Isaiah using this word, to describe Egypt itself.
9 Awake! Awake; put on strength, O arm of Yahweh! Awake as in days of long ago, the generations of a long time back! Are you not the one who cut Rahab in pieces, the one who pierced the sea-dragon? 10 Are you not the one who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, the one who made the depths of the sea a way for those who are redeemed to cross over?
Yahweh isn’t terrified of the sea monsters of Egypt, he MADE them.
This is how Israel was detoxed...
The 6 days of creation is also a challenge to the gods of this age.
If you don’t have a problem with me asserting that the gods of Egypt were real, but can’t see them active today, then you’re deceived.
A common worldview in America is “humanism”.
Humanism is a system of thought that places prime importance on humans rather than on a supernatural being. And focuses on humans being able to solve their problems by themselves.
This is our cultural and national god.
Humanism is bolstered on one hand by the unbelievable advancements in technology over the last 100 or so years,
but it is bolstered even more by the “gods” who lie behind it,
uttering the same lie told to Eve in the garden
“you can be like God.”
What Genesis 1 does for a people living in 2022, is it shows them that humans are absolutely not autonomous apart from God,
and that while we postulate scientific theories of how the universe came into existent by itself, without the help of a God,
when God tells his own story of creation, he does it in 6 days, and he does it by speaking.
We too, like ancient Israel have a need for God to cut up the sea monsters that lie behind the ideas and systems that enslave US.
These gods are powerful.
We need an even more powerful liberator.
3. Teach Israel about God
“You will be my people and I will be your God.”
The other creation accounts that the Israelite people would have heard always involved violence and oftentimes violent sex.
Tales of mythical deities warring with each other and impregnating each other to give birth to the world, or in some cases, using the dead body of a god to form the earth.
Yahweh’s own account of creation is full of order, full of joy, and good.
Both C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien have creation accounts in their worlds, and in both accounts they have God creating the world by singing.
The God of the Israelite people is not irrational.
He’s not going to wake up one day and accidentally kill them.
He’s not going to be randomly defeated by some other deity.
He’s going to keep ruling His creation, forever.
Now there will come a day when it will appear as if the dragon has won.
But it’s on that day that the dragon will actually suffer it’s most stunning defeat.
Way of Dragon, Way of Lamb.
You see, Satan has ideas about how the story should go.
We see it crop up in the mythologies of man.
4. How was the world meant to be?
God Created It All
Spirit Hovering over the Waters
God Sees, and Separates
Darkness is dispelled as God creates light.
Formlessness is done away with as God forms creation.
Emptiness is now filled with the creation of creatures.
What God Dictates, Occurs
All things have their origin in God’s spoken decree, and are created good.
Evening first, then morning.
“The Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops his covenant. We wake and are called out to participate in God’s creative action. We respond in faith, in work. But always grace is previous. Grace is primary. We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn. Evening: God begins, without our help, his creative day. Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated. Creation and covenant are sheer grace and there to greet us every morning.”
This also presses against the lies of humanism.
God creates the day that we will live in while we are sleeping.
He is always orchestrating His good purposes in the midst of our utter inability to orchestrate them ourselves.
In this ordered world, creatures come from like kind:
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Apples come from trees, giraffes come from giraffes, where does man come from?
Does man come from a man tree?
What is the like kind of man?
“Let US, make human beings in OUR image --- then GOD (singular) makes man. --- Trinity.
It is in the part of the narrative where we see God create a man, it is precisely at this moment when God is not just called Elohim, but YHWH.
A name that brings to mind the very breathing of breath.
It is only reasonable that the God who creates by speaking would be called YHWH
Creation with a priest in it is considered by God to be VERY good.
It is God’s plan in Genesis 1 to create humanity to develop society and cultural community to reflect and image the glory of God.
Other religions in the ancient near east would fashion a temple for their god, and then place an image of this god in the temple.
Yahweh God thinks much grander than this.
In His creation, the whole world is His temple, with a specially designed holy place, the garden of Eden in the middle.
And what image does he place in this holy place?
What does his image look like?
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
Not just one image, but two.
Two genders that together image the beautiful, gendered dimensions of who God is.
A creation with a royal priest.
But not just 1 priest, but priests plural.
A man and woman, tasked with populating the world, caring for the creation, and glorifying God along the way.
But they didn’t populate the world with priests.
They populate the world with murderers.
And this is where the narrative is going to go in weeks coming.
The chaos that was dispelled by God creeps it’s way back into creation through the avenue of sin.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 This one was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and apart from him not one thing came into being that has come into being. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of humanity. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.