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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Preached At:Lynwood United Reformed Church
 Lynwood, IL
Title:In the Beginning
Text:Genesis 1:1-2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
Preached:May 6, 2007

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1-2; Acts 17: 16-31

By Rev. Keith Davis; 5-6-07


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, for thousands of years, man has been asking questions about his existence, about his beginnings.  Man looks at himself and wonders where did I come from?  How did I get here? Why am I the way I am?


Man search for his beginnings necessarily involves asking questions about the beginning of all things.  Man feels the earth below his feet, he takes a deep breath of oxygen into his lungs, he looks up and he sees the sun, moon and stars above and he asks Where did all this come from?  How did it get here?  How and why does all this exist?


And so man searches for answers.  Man studies nature; man studies animals; man studies ancient civilization, man studies man searching for answers about life.  What does he find?  In an interview between Nova Magazine and a Harvard professor of natural history, the professor was asked to define life.  He gave a very scientific answer, but then he said this: The short answer is we don’t really know how life originated on this planet.  And so man’s search continues.


Man looks to the distant stars and planets for answers.  Nations spend billions of dollars each year launching rockets, orbiters, and shuttles into outer space searching for the answer to our beginnings.  This year alone our nation alone has budgeted 16.8 billion dollars for NASA to continue space exploration and discovery. 


On a related note, last week a European team of astronomers reported a major discovery.  They discovered a planet outside our solar system which they say is similar to the earth’s atmosphere.  They believe this planet is potentially habitable (in other words, it could sustain human life—never mind that it’s something like a million miles away); but researchers are already touting this discovery as a ‘big step in the search for life in the universe.’


What’s so sad in all this, beloved, is that the answer man is looking for is not to be found under a microscope in the laboratory; nor is this answer to be found at the other end of a telescope, on some distant planet out there somewhere in the vast universe.

No.  The answer is right in front of us.  We’re holding it in our hands.  As the Apostle Paul explained to the Athenians, The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would SEEK HIM and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far off from each one of us.  For in Him we live and move and have our being.   


The book of genesis tells us the answer.  The book of Genesis tells us the story of our beginnings and of the world’s beginnings.  It tells the story of the beginning of all life; it tells about the beginnings of civilization; it tells about the beginnings of sin and evil and death.  But most significantly of all, it tells us about the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!          


That’s what we read about here Genesis 1.  This morning we are going to consider the first two verses.  Here, God’s Word Reveals the Truth about the Beginning. 

1) The Creator who was Before the Beginning

2) The Creation which was Brought forth in the Beginning 


1)  The Creator who was Before the Beginning

People of God, if someone asked you what was life like before you were born, many of us could answer that by our knowledge of history or by simply remembering the stories that our parents told us about life back before we were born.  


I was born in 1965, but I could tell you a lot about life before I was born.  I could tell you about the major movements in our nation’s history, the wars that were fought.  In fact, if I thought long and hard enough, I could probably tell you something of significance that happened in just about every century dating back to the early church (and even a bit beyond that). 


So it’s not that unusual for us to know something about life before our beginning.  That’s just being a good student of history.  But within our text this morning we encounter something that is truly mind boggling, something that is beyond all comprehension, beyond all knowledge and thought; it is, in fact, beyond anything we humans can even imagine.

Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  This verse takes us back to the very dawn of history itself, back to the very origin, to the very beginning of everything that we have come to know, and see, and smell, and feel, and hear, and taste, and touch and breathe.  That’s what the name Genesis means—beginnings.


But more than that, Genesis 1:1 takes us back before the beginning.  Genesis 1:1 takes us back before there was such a thing called earth or space or time.  It takes us back before there was such a thing known as man or matter, or atoms, or energy or gravitational force.


When we read the opening verse of Scripture In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth the Bible is telling us that God existed before the beginning.  Notice, the Bible isn’t interested in making an argument for God’s existence.  It merely recognizes the fact that God is.


What does that mean?  It establishes the supremacy of God as Creator and Lord.  It clearly establishes the fact that God is not of this world; God is not of this universe; He is the Almighty Creator (the One of whom the Apostle Paul sing his doxology in Romans 11:36 For from Him and through him and to Him are all things).


That’s exactly what we mean when we say that God transcends this world, as well as time and space.  We, and everything around us, have been created, brought into existence--we and everything around us have a beginning and an end; but God does not.  God is divine; He is eternal; He is uncreated.


That’s what makes God, God.  Unlike everything else in Creation, God is not subject to change. (God is immutable).  Likewise, God is all knowing, all seeing, all powerful and everywhere present. God is infinitely superior; He is immeasurably more powerful; He is inestimably more wise and knowledgeable.


The fact that God was there before the beginning, from all eternity, teaches us that God is also wholly and completely a self-sufficient and independent Being.  Unlike creatures, God does not rely or depend upon anything or anyone else for His existence.  Just take a moment, beloved, to reflect upon our lives here on this planet.  Even if we had to, we couldn’t possibly enumerate all the things upon which we depend for our existence in this world.


Our existence depends upon the constant gravitational pull of the moon, upon the exact position of the earth in relation to the sun, we depend upon our atmosphere containing the right mixture of nitrogen and oxygen and other gases which make it possible for us and other creatures to breathe. We depend upon fresh water, and crops, and animals for food.  


But God doesn’t rely upon anything for His existence.  Besides that, God is also totally free; He is able to do as He chooses. And God is totally autonomous, which means that God answers to no one.  God holds and exercises complete and sovereign control over the universe.


From all this beloved, we can that God was under no obligation, He was under no compulsion, He was under no force or pressure to create heaven and earth and mankind.  Creation was the result of the will of God; creation was the result of God taking the initiative.  God acted first.


That is a very significant point here in Genesis 1:1.  All our life long we hear that phrase: God comes first; the things of God take priority.  We parents try to impress that truth upon our children.  Now we know where this truth is first established.  Right here, in the beginning.


In the beginning, God too the initiative; God created; God acted on behalf of creation.  And every other action that we see from this point on is a response to God’s action.  The fact that the sun shines, and the wind blows, and the fish swim, and the birds fly, and the dog barks, and the grass grows--all that is attributed to the fact that God acted first.

As we know, that theme carries right over from creation to redemption.  There too, God initiates.  We can follow that theme through Genesis as well--the fact that God initiated His plan of salvation; man disobeyed God and fell into sin, but God in His grace and mercy is right there to pick man up and promise that through the seed of a woman, man’s Redeemer would come!



So you see beloved, there is so much meaning, so much significance, so much wonderful knowledge about our God packed within those first three words: in the beginning.  Those words tell us about the God who already existed, who always existed before the Beginning.


2) The Creation which was brought forth in the Beginning 

Secondly, we want to talk about the Creation which was brought forth in the Beginning.  Verse 1 goes on to say that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  I want to call your attention there to two things in particular.


First we consider the phrase ‘the heavens and the earth’.  It refers to the totality of all creation, all of that which God made.  Think of this phrase as an overarching introduction to the six days of creation that are about to be described in greater detail in the remainder of the chapter.   


It’s no different than a wife telling a visitor to her home that her husband built their house (the both floors, the garage, the deck--the totality of everything you can see) by himself. And then she might proceed to tell that person all the details: on the first day he dug the hole and poured the foundation; on the second day he connected the floor joists to the foundation, on the third day he raised the walls, etc. and so forth.


But this phrase might also be something more than a mere introduction.  Some commentators believe that this phrase indicates the very moment when God created the heavens above (not the firmament or sky we see above us, but the actual heavens in which God dwells in all His glory).


That would include the creation of the angels, cherubim and seraphim, all His heavenly hosts.  We’re never told in Scriptures when exactly God created the angels, but we know from Job 38 that it was very early on in Creation. Job 38 says that the angels sang when God laid the foundations of the earth.  So the angels were there by the time of the creation of the earth.   


The second item in this verse that demands our close scrutiny is the word created.  The word that is used here for ‘created’ is a very significant, a very unique word in the sense that no where in the Scriptures is it ever used in reference to the work of man in making or creating something.


This word is only ever used in reference to God’s sovereign and divine activity of making, of creating.  That’s essential for us to understand, for it impresses upon our hearts and minds that God’s work of Creation was altogether unique and set apart from anything that man can do.


This word helps us to see, it helps us to understand, that God is truly the One and only Creator.  As Creator, God did far more than just fashion and arrange, and give shape and order to the universe as we see it today.  No.  God did, in fact, create all things—in the truest and purest sense of the word. God brought forth all things—all that we see, all that exists—out of nothing.


Boys and girls, man can make many beautiful and wonderful things in this world.  Just look around you at this beautiful sanctuary.  This was designed and built by human hands.  And when you drive home this morning with mom and dad, you’ll be driving in a car that was built by human hands.  


But where did man get the material to build this sanctuary?  Where did man get the steel to build our cars?  We get our wood from the forests and our steel comes from minerals buried beneath the ground.  And long before we can use it, that wood and steel has to be taken to the mill and it has to be milled and fabricated and processed before it can ever be used. 


In other words, man cannot walk up to an empty lot with no building materials and suddenly start building a church; and man cannot walk into an empty room and suddenly create a car out of thin air.  That’s silly. But yet, that is exactly what God did when he created the heavens and the earth.


God brought forth all things into being out of nothing.  So in this regard, creation is a singular act of God’s greatness, power, and wisdom that is (and will always remain) unparalleled and unmatched. 


Now, verse 2 turns our attention specifically to God’s work in the creation of the earth.  Verse 2 tells us that the earth was formless (without shape), and empty, and darkness covered the surface, the face of the deep.  What that tells us is that the first thing God did in creation was to bring forth His own building supplies; God called forth the substance, the building material which He Himself would use to create the world, the universe, the planets, the oceans, and man himself.


Now, some have made the rather unfortunate mistake of referring to this ‘formless and dark and empty’ mass as a chaos (suggesting that God creates order out of chaos); others suggest that the darkness here is the presence of evil. But those are two very inaccurate and extremely unwarranted descriptions.


How do we respond to this?  In the first place, we know that darkness was as much of a creation and blessing of God as light itself.  Later on God will separate light from darkness and call one day and one night.   Both serve an important function in life on earth.  Besides, evil can only be equated with the presence of sin and Satan, and God’s creation is called good by God.


And  secondly, the description of this mass as chaos or confusion suggest that the Creator God had made something that was out of His control; it is to suggest that God created a mess, and now somehow God would have to make sense of what he had made—that He would have to somehow bring order and beauty and purpose out of the empty dark, disorderly chaos.


But that’s simply not true.  That’s simply not what this means.  We know that because we know God; we known how he has revealed Himself to us in His Word.  God is a God of perfect order, not chaos and confusion.  


God is the master Architect and Builder; He knows the end from the beginning; He not only has the perfect end in mind, but he also uses the perfect means to accomplish His end, to reach that end.  So, the material which God created, which is called ‘earth’ was very much like the lump of clay on the potters wheel, about to be shaped, formed and fashioned by the Hand of the sculptor.


In our text, we see further evidence of the perfect order and control of God in Creation.  For what does the final part of verse 2 state?  It tells us that the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the deep/waters.  So in verse 1 we are introduced to this God, this Creator, this Being who exists before the beginning, by verse 2 this God is already providing a self-revelation of who He is.

God’s Spirit (literally God’s breath, God’s wind) was hovering over the surface of the deep.  In Later on in chapter 1, in verses 26, we read where this One God and Creator says Let us make man in our image.  And we know from John 1:1-3 that in the beginning God’s eternal Son was also present; He was with God in and before the beginning. 


And so here already God reveals to us that He is one simple Being, who exists in three distinct persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And so we bear witness to the fact that the Creation proceeds from the Father, through the Word (the Son), and in the Holy Spirit.


From these first two verses of Genesis, I hope it is apparent to you, beloved, that the account of creation is so much more than a scientific debate between creationism and evolutionism.  I hope you see that the account of creation is so much more than a debate over the origins of man, and  the age of the earth, and the length of the creation days.    


Yes, we absolutely have to talk about those things, and yes we absolutely have to defend against those forms of false teaching.  But what we must see first and foremost, above all else, is that this revelation, this Biblical account of creation establishes God’s relationship to man, and man’s relationship to God. 


We meet God--who is wholly and utterly distinct, who transcends the very creatures and creation he has made, but nonetheless, He is a loving and caring; He is an intimate and personal God who desires the fellowship and communion with His creatures, with His creation.


By reason of His own eternal decree, God willed to create, to bring forth the heavens and the earth, man and beast, dry land and sea, fish and fowl, day and night, all for the pleasure and for the glory of His own Name.   


So, do you it see now?  Do you see that in creation God established the very root and foundation of true religion?  All that is, and all that lives and breathes, men, women, and children, mountains, trees, and oceans are to give glory and honor and praise to Creations God and King. 

There are countless passages which reinforce this (many Psalm, but I will only quotes from:

Psalm 148:1-5  Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.


Then there’s the wsie words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"--


Later, in Acts 14:15, when the crowd at Lystra wanted to worship Paul and Barnabus as the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes, Pau land Barnabas shouted: Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.


We can’t forget what Paul writes to the Romans, in Romans 1:25, when speaking bout the depravity and sinfulness of mankind, he writes: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen.


Finally, there’s Revelation 4:11 which says, You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.


So clearly, the act of creation—this display of God’s awesome power and wisdom whereby He called forth all things into being from that which was not, this act serves as the foundation, the root, the basis for all service and worship of God.


Perhaps Psalm 24:1 says it best; The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.  As Creation’s Lord, our God has a sovereign right to demand the allegiance and the honor and the worship and the glory of the entire world—of everyone and everything in it!

And the wonder of it all, beloved, is that even though we know that Satan would attempt to destroy all that God had made, all that God had designed, all that God had brought forth, God’s plan was still not thwarted.


For God knows all things and has all things under His power; God had in His plans not only to create, but also to redeem and restore His lost and fallen creation through His eternal Son, Jesus Christ.  Just listen to this from Colossians 1:16-17; 19-20:


For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together… 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.


There we behold the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, that creation and redemption are so wonderfully and beautifully intertwined, that even in the beginning, our God and Creator was our redeemer and Lord.


What a comfort it is for us to know that the God who created the world is powerful and wise enough to rule the world; He’s powerful enough to keep His promises; when man the creature falls in sin, when we fail to serve God and love Him as we ought, still our God is faithful, and He promises to crush the head of the serpent and provide us with forgiveness and victory in Christ.

By God’s power, he has brought us to Christ and by His power He keeps us bound to Christ.  He is the Creator of heaven and earth, and He will accomplish all that He has promised and all He has purposed.  We are His creatures who called to live in reverence and fear of His name and we are called to walk by faith in ways of Jesus Christ His Son. Amen. 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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